I am a Gulf War veteran. When I enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1987, I was in perfect condition. By 1991, when I was honorably discharged to civilian life, I  felt like damaged goods. Years later, it was my advocate at Alpha who made a difference in my life.

It started with this ringing in my ears. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t concentrate. So I went to the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) for help in filing a disability claim with the VA. It took a year to get a 10 percent rating for tinnitus. That was the most I could get.

Depression and Alcoholism

But I was depressed, so I started drinking. By 2000, I was a full-blown alcoholic. I admitted myself into the VA’s four-week alcohol rehab program and got sober. It lasted just 28 days.

Getting Sober but Not Better

Five years later I went back to the treatment facility, this time for six weeks. I was so depressed I just wanted to drink myself to death. They asked a lot of questions I didn’t want to get into – emotional things I didn’t want to face. I just wanted to get off the alcohol. And I did, but I didn’t get better.

I was in horrible shape. I thought the tinnitus was the reason I was depressed, so I went back to the DAV. I wanted to link depression as a secondary condition and appeal my first rating. But they were overwhelmed with cases, so I dropped the claim.

Facing PTSD

By March 2009 I felt suicidal. So, I went back to the VA medical center. This time I agreed to psychotherapy. I finally talked about this one traumatic incident in the military and the flashbacks and nightmares I am experiencing now. My therapist said it was PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and that we could work through it.

Alpha Advocate Gives Hope – and More

Then I found Alpha and started working on another VA claim with Stephen, my Alpha advocate.  He helped me realize that my condition wasn’t solely my fault – and that the VA should compensate me for my problems. It was great to have Stephen say that to me. He gave me hope.

I know he had other cases, but he made me feel like I was his only case.  He came up with a better argument – a different approach – for my claim.. There was a personal feel to it. A one-on-one. It made a huge difference to have someone on my side. Did it help that Stephen is a veteran? Certainly. We spoke the same language. He understood. He cared. He made time for me.

Gary Gets the Most

I hope my story helps veterans pursue what’s due them from the VA. For me, I won 70 percent for PTSD in addition to the 10 percent for tinnitus. We then appealed for more.  I won 100 percent for individual unemployability, too.

I say, hire Alpha. Get it done!

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.