This Veteran suffered hearing loss from his service in World War II.
Result: Service connection granted after he was well over 90 years of age.
This Veteran participated in and survived the June 1944 D-Day invasion at Normandy and received numerous awards and decorations, including a letter from General Patton. He returned from Europe in 1945. Like a lot of Veterans, he was eager to get out of the service and get home. He was not about to complain about any medical problems at the time of his separation physical. He had been faithfully writing letters from Europe to his girlfriend all during the war. Upon returning they got married. The Veteran went to work in a service station where he worked for about the next 50 years.
All throughout the years after returning from combat in Europe his girlfriend – who became his wife – noticed that the TV was always turned up loud. The couple eventually had children and when they got a little older they also noticed that they always had to talk really loud for their father to hear them. The years passed. The Veteran’s children grew up and moved away. But the hearing problem persisted and continued to grow worse. Finally, the Veteran’s wife couldn’t take it any longer. She insisted that he go to the doctor, which he did–53 years after getting out of service. He never complained or sought treatment for anything for 53 years after service.
His doctors diagnosed him with hearing loss. He filed a claim with VA. Naturally, VA denied the claim. Making matters worse was the fact that his records from the service were destroyed and unavailable. Luckily, his wife had saved all the love letters that he had sent her during the war. In those letters the Veteran described what he was doing and, most importantly, how loud everything was.
The VA eventually admitted that the Veteran was exposed to loud noises in service. But they still kept denying the claim saying there was no evidence that the hearing loss was related to service. The VA used the 53-year gap between separation and the first medical treatment to deny the Veteran.
The Veteran eventually appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. He hired us to help him. Upon review of his file we discovered that his wife had given testimony that over the years they noticed his hearing loss. The Board had failed to discuss his wife’s testimony. As a result, we were able to get the case remanded back to the Board.
On remand back at the Board, we obtained several additional medical opinions from his private physician. We submitted these reports along with additional statements from his wife and children. The Board re-decided the case and again denied the claim. We did not give up. We filed another appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. We again were able to successfully get the matter remanded.
This time on remand, we hired a top medical expert who was able to determine that the Veteran’s hearing loss was, indeed, caused by military service. The case went to the Board where we again submitted more argument and new expert evidence. The Board finally decided the case and this time granted service connection. By this time, the Veteran was well over 90 years of age.