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Saigon Kids™ Today: *Da Fonz* Hits Brick Wall At VA and Rick Schutt Struggles With Brain Tumor

Submitted Frank Stoddard, Contributing Editor

I submitted a claim to VA and it was accepted on 20 December 2012. Now I have not written the laws, but it says that if you served in Vietnam and you get CLL,it is service connected.

Today I received through my Congressman (a Congressional that took eight weeks) that I had submitted my request on the wrong form. Now, I keep good records and last April VA apologized after saying that I used a 2012 form instead of the 2013 form — when in fact I used a 2012 form in 2012.

Here we go again!

The VA said they would expedite my request because I have waited so long.

It is like the VA has “Two” sides.

The health care side is terrific. Even if that “over-weight” Nurse Practitioner keeps telling me to lose weight.

The other side is non contactable. When I call there, it might as well be “Sally” in Singapore. It makes the argument that big government is bad. However, I am the people, and I will push through. If this thing kills me, I just want Suzy to be taken care of!

I have been saving (and savoring) the Scotch that Tim and Chuck gave me for my 70th birthday! This evening I decided to taste them.

Oh! I have my problems, but a friend of ours, Rick Schutt is struggling with a cancerous brain tumor.

He was three years younger than me when I lived in Saigon. He was the youngest guy on our Ball Team.

Suzy and I have seen him in Little Saigon, he came to Paige’s Volleyball games at SDSU (he graduated from there), and he has visited us in Hereford at least three times.

He was a hard worker and even ended up as Vice President of 20th Century Insurance. He and I different on our political ideas … but our friendship, which may be rare today, worked through this.

He could have been a brother. I am at a lose for words on what to say to him. His voice mail is full. I can only tell him the truth — I’m scared!

One of Rick’s favorite songs.

After our First Saigon Reunion in 2000 (at the Wigwam in Phoenix), we stayed in touch. He always called me the Fonz. This was based off his thoughts of me from the Saigon Days. Oh yes! I was proud to be a “Greaser”!

18 comments to Saigon Kids™ Today: *Da Fonz* Hits Brick Wall At VA and Rick Schutt Struggles With Brain Tumor

  • Suellen Oliver Campbell

    Hang in there and keep after the VA. Long story short: my husband has prostate cancer from Agent Orange exposure in V.N. Took 2 1/2 years of multiple forms, the VA losing the forms multiple times, personal visits, phone calls, lots of frustrating days etc. to finally get the VA benefits due him. Our congresswoman said if it goes over 2 1/2 year to call. Otherwise the time it has taken was about right.
    Infuriating! They send you over there, expecting you to show up when and where needed, but then they give you years of runaround when You need THEM!
    Charles heard so many lame excuses that we lost count. Lies and spin!
    Then, to get MY benefits, it took another full- year to prove to them that I have been Charles’ wife for 46 years. Even though we were married when he served.
    The VA has alot to answer for in helping veterans receive their benefits, esp. those who have serious health issues resulting from their service decades ago.
    I am surprised the veterans have not marched and rioted in D.C., except they are good, honorable citizens who try to be patient. BALDERDASH!
    Our veterans deserve much better than they get.

  • Frank

    Suellen, The last time a major Veteran’s Group marched on D.C. was 1932. The President sent the U.S. Army to suppress them.
    A week ago I thought that maybe this bureaucratic side of the VA was just the most dysfunctional and incompetent organization I have ever dealt with (at least in the military a person could find an E-4 to straighten out the paperwork). After reading your post and thinking about my own case, I do believe that there very might very well be some dishonesty. They seemed to have erased all the commuter files since last June. They said they closed out my file at that time (no reason why they closed it) because of me (and again no reason), but I have documents from this last December showing my claim was still valid. I keep very good records, but that will certainly not impress folks or speed up the process.
    I find it so strange where I get great health care from the VA, but the “dark side” is just really imposable to explain to people… unless someone like you has has dealt with them.
    I read last week that most folks at the VA think they are under paid and are getting claims for folks that do not deserve them.

  • Frank

    I think of Rick all the time.

  • Juris Jurjevics

    Make sure on your next resubmission of your claim that the VA acknowledges the original date you submitted it in 2012. Remember, whatever they award you will be retroactive to the date of the first filing.

  • Cathie McIntyre

    Frank, I hope your VA issues are resolved soon — and to your satisfaction. I also send my best wishes to Suzy.
    I think of Rick and hope that his pain level is being managed.

  • Frank

    I feel bad that my difficulties and Ricks are in the same conversation. I sent a text to him about a week ago, but have not heard a response. Suzy and I, every day wonder what is going on. Maybe I am too afraid to know! Cathie, thank you so much for your concern. Can we ever get together, over a nice glass of red wine” Juris, Thanks for the information. I do not know if you have read articles about what the Phoenix VA hospital has allegedly done? I have documentation that my VA files have been purposely manipulated to change that start date that you mention. VA says it is 14 March 2014. I have no glue why this date is established. I have documents that show it was started on 20 Dec. 2012. I also have documents that say my claim, was still in the “developmental phase” and being worked on in Dec. 2013. The VA told my Congressman that my request had been closed in June 2013. Hmmm! I suspect something nasty is going on in “mud-Ville”! I told my wife today that I plan on getting a hold of the whistle blower, Dr. Foote. This may “screw” up my claim, but there is some things greater than me. Suzy agrees!

    http://www.kpho.com/story/25337047/whistleblower-meets-with-fed-officials-on-va-allegations?hpt=us_bn10

  • Frank

    I again called and sent a text to Rick…Nothing!

  • Frank

    This past Friday (20 June) was exactly 18 months since I submitted a claim to the Veteran’s Administrations. I give total thanks to my congressman’s office staff in Tucson for helping me. Congressman Barber (he replaced Gabby when she was shot) gets my full support. Tomorrow my son Silas and I are driving to Tucson to deliver a couple of large cheese cakes to the staff in order to thank them. There is no doubt that without their help my claim file would still be in a black hole in Phoenix. Yes, as of this past Friday, the VA has classified me as a 100% disabled combat Vet (Marine)! It has been an emotional journey that is still not finished (but we are no longer checking our mail box for word after so many months). I have thought a lot about my Dad who died in 1962 from his WW II injury. Many of us do not think about the long range effects of war. I guess us Americans glorify it. My family has many ties to the military and war, going back at least to my Great Grandfather on my Mom’s side who fought for N.C. during the Civil War. Ben Franklin was a relative, but I think he fought off more women than soldiers. lol! I was able to influence my own children not to follow such a life. Not that I mean to sound unpatriotic, but I would like to think my family needs a rest.
    I just got back from a world wind tour of Europe taking teenagers for my eleventh time. London, Paris, Riems, Heidelberg, Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, Prague, Dresden, Berlin (I even gave a class to the group about how it was to cross through “Check Point Charlie”during the “Cold War”. We flew straight back from London to Phoenix. Immigration officials kept us in a line for 1 hour and 10 minutes (after a 10 hour and 10 minute flight). When we finally got to Customs their interest seemed to be in having the kids pour their Champagne gift from Reims for their parents down the drain and taking their “Kidder eggs” away. (Only in the “land of the free” can you carry a gun but not a Kidder Egg..sarcasm!).
    I think there was something about JDP a few months ago. JDP had a great club…it was located in town and not at their compound. Several of us teenagers were invited to their parties in early 1961. Mr. Littlefield (Buz discovered that he had died in a care home in Texas just before our 2000 reunion) was in charge and went out of his way to support the American teenagers. I have several pictures of the semi-formal, the St. Patrick’s one and the Hawaiian luau. Pictures and invitations are in boxes out in the garage. Sorry, it is Scotch time, and nothing gets in the way of that! lol

  • frank

    Oh! Forgot, even though it is in the middle of my scotch time.,,.. the British call it tea time,! MiMi sent me an email that brought me back to the reality of a potential Saigon Kids, and everyone else reunion.Suzy Q and I will probably be visiting the Wigwam resort shortly after MiMi’s (Sept 12th (God I hope I’m right on that date! and I think Sarah Bush’s is the 23 or 24 of July…I have her and her Mom’s confused. But tell them a happy birthday…) (But regardless we all know birthdays are now very special as we age, even if we like to pretend otherwise. I still plan on having anyone who is interested and has enough money or spouse support to come to old hot Phx in July 2015 to kiss and hug old friends. (it will be worth the effort).. and as I tell my doctor all my plans and he responds back with the question..”how much longer do you plan to live?” Hmmmm! “By the time I get to Phoenix”..You will not regret it. We will pass on reunion info at a later date!…

  • frank

    Gosh, after reading that last message I sent, I think Robert needs to edit it! lol

  • frank

    Sad News. Arlene just let me know that Saigon Kid Rick Schutt passed away yesterday.

  • frank

    It just seems weird without Rick. In 2000, Rick and I met up again. My last memory, up until this point, was of Rick being the youngest player on our Saigon Teenager Ball Team. At the 2000 reunion, Rick referred to me as the “Fonz”. This was nothing less than a tremendous compliment. We would, after the reunion, stay in touch. Suzy and I would see him in “Little Saigon” and a couple of times in San Diego. Rick would also visit us in Arizona. In our old house, we named our guest room as Rick’s Room. When he visited us the Easter before last, and he saw we were still building our house, he said we must build a Rick’s Room. Rick, that we will do.
    Rick and I were on opposite isles when it came to politics. At a volleyball game at SDSU where my oldest granddaughter was playing, Rick and I got into a heavy political discussion at an intermission. After the game, a lady behind us asked if we were brothers. She said we sounded like ones.
    Rick had a very human and outgoing side. He was not pretentious and was never condescending. He introduced us to some out of the way restaurants (he knew them from his college days) that were so special. The last time I had been on MCRD, San Diego was in 1966. I swore that I would never go on the base again. Well guess what Rick did? He made a U-turn and we drove onto the base that I’d gone to Boot Camp. The guard at the gate’s name was Lance Corporal Stoddard. Wholy-sh–! Did time stand still!
    My wife Suzy and I keep thinking we should be able to call Rick. His Son and Daughter most be struggling.
    Rick told me he would not come to the Saigon Kids Nashville Reunion. I did and still do respect his reason. He did request a song however. This song meant a lot to him, thus it was included to the Nashville CD. Rick, like many of us really fell in love for maybe the first time in the Paris of the Orient! I am really sad about Rick and at least the other 8 Saigon kids that I’m aware of that have gone before us. Rick, you son-of-a-bitch, I miss you.

    O.K., I and at least one other person knows what this song means!

  • frank

    Steve P. sent me an email saying that there would be a private service in southern California for Rick on the 25th of July. My wife Suzy and I (benefit of being retired) have our lattes every morning as we look out at the San Pedro basin. Ever since Rick died, we talk about him on all these mornings. We really do have such good thoughts about him… Those kind of thoughts that bring a tear to the eye, because as my Dad’s boss told me in August of 1962, death is just so permanent. Suzy and I will be in Cody, Wyo. on this day.
    We meet my brother there..this is our second time…almost becoming a yearly event..although it is a very long drive for us. I think I had said in the blog that my first memory was at what the locals called the “Jap Camp”. After the Japanese -Americans moved out (end of WW II) we moved in. We think we lived there…Heart Mountain…for three to four years. Cody is very friendly and has a “great” (not just terrific) museum.
    O.K….back to the future. On the 25th, we will be eating dinner at “8th Street Restaurant at the Ivy” and toasting Rick with a wonderful “Rusty Nail”(they make the best one in the world)! On the 26th which is my brother (and my two sisters Jane and JoAnn’s who have already died) birthday, we will be at the Cody Cattle Company Restaurant. They are expecting us! HeHe! Really! We will make a toast to Rick at that time also. Hey! Everyone is welcome to join us! I am still sad about Rick, but I want to turn this feeling I have into something more pleasant! My goal is the 26th of July!

  • frank

    Bob, Not that I am aware of. Maybe the family will come out later with something. If they do, and I hear about it, I will pass it on. I will say, Rick was one of those Saigon Kids that thought there was a reason that Saigon Kids were able to come together after so many years when we had no connection. He thought that by us re-uniting it was for a reason…to help each other in time of need, to laugh about the past, to have someone we can talk to and trust them at the same-time…..and on and on! He and I had many conversations about this.

  • frank

    Bob, I have still not been able to get a Obituary on Rick. He lived in Camarillo and the Newport Beach area of California. Below is an announcement for a “celebration of life” for Rick. If anyone wants to get in contact with Mary Kay, please let me know and I will pass on her email. I already told her I would not make it, but that I wished to write something up…….

    Hello Friends of Rick,

    As you know, our dear friend Rick left us on Tuesday, July 1st to enter the next chapter of his life. He will be greatly missed by us all.

    Rick had so many friends from so many parts of his life. We laugh when we hear about Rick’s adventures with others. To celebrate him, we are going to gather at a park near his condo in Newport Coast, for an hour or two, and share, what we are referring to as, Rick Stories. There is a parking lot at the park.

    Date: August 2nd, Saturday

    Time: 3 PM (for an hour or two)

    Location: NE corner of Newport Ridge Drive East & San Joaquin Hills Road

    Bring: Chair, umbrella, pop-up, water or fluids if you think you might need them

    Please “Reply” to let us know if you will be able to attend. If you cannot, please send me your Rick Story and we will share it with all of the friends who are able to come. If you know of someone who you feel would want to attend, please feel free to forward this invitation to them and ask them to RSVP to us also. We welcome anyone who wants to share their friendship with Rick.

    Looking forward to hearing from you,

    Mary Kay & Jim Wilson

  • frank

    Suzy and I are still coming to terms about Rick not being here anymore. One of Rick’s favorite groups was the “Crests”. We have been listening to their music all afternoon.

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