Captain Regina B. Jackson served in the Air Force for 6 ½ years.  As a Lieutenant she was a Contracts Manager & Procurement Officer responsible for contractual actions in support of multimillion dollar special mission aircraft.  This experience included contract solicitation, buying, proposal evaluation, negotiations and contract award. Captain Jackson then served as a Combat Crew Commander/ Missile Launch Officer for Minuteman II missiles.  She was responsible for 10 Minuteman missiles with auxiliary responsibility for an additional 140 ICBMs.  She directly supervised operational, security and maintenance personnel. She was selected to perform standardization, instruction, and evaluation of the missile wing crew force.

Captain Jackson has her Masters Degree from the University of Oklahoma and her Bachelors of Science Degree from Bentley College.  She holds teaching credentials in California and Massachusetts. Regina is an Air Force Association life member. She is an appointed member of  the ‘Governor’s Advisory Committee on Women Veterans’.  She has worked for the last 16 years as the local Veterans Agent in her community. Regina is very knowledgeable about VA benefits, specifically the claims process for service connected disability compensation and the subsequent appeals process. Regina lives with her husband, also an Air Force Veteran, and their four children in Massachusetts.

VA CLAIMS UPDATE / MAY 2015

If you are a Veteran and you have a disability today which you believe was either caused in service or made worse by your service you should submit a claim to the VA for Service – Connected Disability Compensation.  For example, if you have been diagnosed with Mesothelioma and you were exposed to asbestos while on active duty (very likely if you served in the Navy) then put in a claim. The VA web site www.va.gov is updated and very informative. It is user friendly. However, please remember it is always the Veterans responsibility to submit a claim. It is the VA’s responsibility to evaluate and Rate the claim. There is no down – side to submitting a claim. If it is denied you should appeal it until you are satisfied with the outcome .If you have Mesothelioma + you were exposed to asbestos during active duty service = submit a claim to the VA for Service -Connected Disability Compensation.

The VA is strongly encouraging any Veteran who is submitting an initial claim for service connected disability compensation to use the new Fully Developed Claim (FDC) process. If a veteran has a disability today – that was either caused in service or made worse by their service – than he/she needs to submit a claim. What has changed in the past year is the way the VA wants the claims submitted. The VA wants all the information to prove the claim submitted up front – a complete package. The VA will then put the FDC claims on a fast track and make a Rating decision sooner.

The website www.va.gov has been improved to accommodate the FDC process. Ideally, Veterans will submit a FDC on line using the joint DOD-VA online portal eBenefits (www.ebenefits.va.gov). However, you can also submit a FDC by downloading the form off the VA website. Scroll down to the bottom of the cover page under ‘quick list’ and click on ‘VA Forms’ – enter 21-526 in the box – open page and print out. The website has step by step instructions on submitting a claim – just make sure the Veteran is submitting for service connected disability Compensation and not Pension.

Asbestos and Mesothelioma claims are still decided on a case by case basis. Go deep into the VA.gov website and you will find the details about how veterans may have been exposed and the resulting health problems associated with the exposure to asbestos: VA.gov – Veterans – Exposure/asbestos – Occupational hazards – public health… Attached is the information the VA will use to evaluate ‘Service Connection for Disabilities Resulting from Exposure to Asbestos’.  When you are putting a FDC in for Mesothelioma because of asbestos exposure make sure you review part b. General Effects of Asbestos Exposure;  part c. Specific Details on Diseases Resulting From Exposure to Asbestos; part e. Diagnostic Indicators of Asbestosis. Put everything needed in a package and submit as a FDC. The more documentation submitted the better. The VA will accept credible medical documents as evidence of the disease – just make sure you submit EVERYTHING needed.

*This is new. In August 2013 the VA announced an incentive program for first time filers using the FDC process;’ VA Grants up to One Year Retroactive Benefits for Veterans Filing Fully Developed Claims to Help Reduce the backlog.’ The retro benefits are in effect August 6, 2013 through August 5, 2015. This means if you submit a FDC claim before( 8/5/2015) and it is accepted and processed as a FDC you could receive an additional 12 months of compensation!