Praise From a Marine Corps Veteran (Part 2)
By Thom Wilborn
“My health hasn’t gotten any better, but it is what it is,” said Shane. “I have been told it may get worse as I get older. I still have bullet fragments inside me, and there are some days that I hurt more than others. The best thing for me was finally coming to grips that I had to slow down and to make changes because of my injuries. I am thankful for every bit of life I have.”
Bernardi closely followed Shane’s case through the VA process to ensure errors were not repeated. “Within six months the VA disability was increased several times to a final rating of total disability with special monthly compensation for his wounds and associated conditions,” Bernardi said.
Meanwhile, DAV’s Washington, D.C., National Service Office Assistant Supervisor Stephanie Cooper began to work with the Department of Defense to upgrade Shane’s medical discharge to the 30-percent disability level that meets medical retirement standards.
Bernardi said it was his top priority to ensure Shane received the benefits he earned. “It’s our duty to uphold DAV’s mission to keep the promise to the men and women who served,” he said.
“My injuries are a part of my life now,” said Shane. “DAV and the VA have helped me accept them. I miss the Marines, and I miss the action. It is a hard thing to deal with when you have your career pulled from beneath you.”
He praises DAV’s work for making the difference in his case. “The depth and breadth of DAV and the networking and influence it has make it unparalleled,” he said. “No one does things like DAV.
“I have worked with great professionals, but for a non-profit organization, this level of service and professionalism is unsurpassed. At times, I felt like I was Nick Bernardi’s only client.
“I am thankful for what Nick and DAV have done for my family and me,” he said. “DAV has righted the wrong. I never would have challenged the rating if not for DAV. Now DAV is helping me obtain disability retirement from the Marine Corps. I have wanted my Marine Corps retirement since the day I left. I think I earned it.”
“This is an outstanding example of how DAV service helps restore the lives of injured and ill veterans,” said Washington Headquarters Executive Director Barry Jesinoski. “NSO Bernardi quickly recognized that Shane’s initial rating failed to account for the full extent of his injuries. We are veterans helping veterans because no one should go it alone.”
“DAV National Service Officers are working hard every day to ensure veterans are honored with correct disability ratings,” said National Service Director Garry Augustine. “It is a special privilege to serve our veterans in such a significant way.”
“I found DAV phenomenal,” said Shane. “It is filled with dedicated professionals and provides first-class service. You know that DAV really cares about you.”
“Caring about veterans is DAV’s sense of pride,” said Bernardi. “It’s the least we can do to help veterans. We do this work because we want to help veterans and their families.”
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