Nick’s Story…

I’ve been trying to get help from the VA for 30 years. All I ever get is a hard time. And I don’t understand why. I don’t want to say anything bad about my country but I want to say to the VA; “When I was sent to Vietnam, I was 18. I was exposed to Agent Orange. I got wounded. I have PTSD problems, and I need help and you won’t help me.”

It always seemed to me like they didn’t believe me – like I was making things up. I was actually told that they didn’t have time for me. They told me I had to wait because they had to take care of the younger veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq. But I’d say, “What about me? You’re going to let my son and I live out on the streets?”

Times Get Desperate

It’s been only my son and I since he was three years old. Just the two of us.  He’s everything to me. We’ve always been honest with each other. But, before I finally got a 30 percent rating for PTSD three years ago things got really bad.  I couldn’t keep up with the bills. I lost our house. My car was repossessed. He was 14 years old then. I got him to stay with his friends but there was no room for me so I told him I would be staying at a hotel. I was out there, living under an expressway. I’d call him from a pay phone. I just couldn’t tell him. I didn’t want him to worry.

He still gets mad at me about that time. I’ve had to promise that I’ll never lie to him again. He’s working himself through college and he takes good care of me. I have so many health problems. I’m really in bad shape.  He’s really my best friend.

I think of my Alpha advocate as a friend too, and I’ll tell you why.

Alpha Changes Everything

I often stay up late at night watching TV and usually doze off on the couch.  This one time I woke up just in time to see this commercial about disability help for veterans. That one-minute commercial changed everything.

I e-mailed Alpha and also called and left a voicemail message, even though it was really late at night. The next morning Stephen, an Alpha advocate called me. He started the process right away to get me more money.

I had little hope. I was so depressed and so tired of the struggle. I was ready to pack it in. I wanted to end my life. But Stephen told me to think about my son. He talked me out of it. He even made me e-mail him every day to let him know I was okay. He said that if he didn’t hear from me he’d call 911. That’s how dedicated he was to me.

Stephen got me money quick. In ten months I won a 100 percent rating and back benefits. I couldn’t believe it. He saved my life.

The thing is Alpha didn’t make any money for winning my case. I was upset about that.  I didn’t know that Alpha gets paid a 20 percent fee only if a case is appealed.  I’ve looked up lawyers before and I know that some get up to 33 percent. I also don’t think a lawyer would have cared about me the way Stephen did.  The advocates at Alpha deserve to get paid for what they do. They’re great.

Life is Getting Good

Things are better now. I’m all caught up with my bills. We’ve found a nice place to live in a better neighborhood. We’re stocked up with food. I have a car again.

I’m starting to feel happier. It’s taking time. I had years of being depressed and nervous about everything, I felt stuck. And then I just happened to see that TV commercial about Alpha. My attitude has changed. My son sees a difference. I have more pep. I’m not thinking about what bad thing is going to happen today.

When I go to the VA for my medical appointments, I talk to other veterans and tell them about how Alpha saved my life.  I sure hope they’re listening to me, like I listened to my Alpha advocate.

Back when Stephen was working on my case, he left me a voicemail message one day. It was during that time when I was so close to ending my life. He was encouraging me to think about my son and to just hang in there. I can’t erase it. I still listen to it every day.

Note: All representation coordinated by Alpha is provided by our employees, the Advocates, who are accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). No private organization that trains and employs accredited agents has been legally recognized by the VA for the purposes of preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims. This work must be done by the Advocates themselves and not organizations.