While all transitioning servicemembers must at some point face the daunting task of navigating the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability claims process, most face this challenging process alone. For this reason, as a VA Accredited Veteran Services Organization, the Green Beret Foundation (GBF) is committed to providing each transitioning Green Beret with the expert support and guidance of an experienced and dedicated Veteran Service Officer. The Green Beret Foundation is thus pleased to announce that Al Stickland, a 26-year Army veteran himself, has joined the team in this role.
Al has formerly served at the Veterans Administration (VA) as a Veteran Services Representative (VSR), where he prepared transitioning veterans’ VA claims for disability rating. He was later promoted to the position of Rating Veterans Service Representative (RVSR), where he gained deeper experience in navigating the complex Code of Federal Regulations and disability claim adjudication. Throughout his time at the VA, Al assisted countless individuals in pursuit and receipt of their well-earned VA benefits.
Alongside John Armezzani, who today serves as the GBF’s Veteran Services Director, Al has been a longtime volunteer at the OASIS Group, specifically dedicated to helping Special Operations personnel prepare and submit their VA disability claims. In 2018, the OASIS Group joined forces with the GBF, and today Al joins the GBF team with the unique focus of providing these services exclusively to the Green Beret community. He will be stationed with 1st Special Forces Group at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Throughout his decades of service to the veteran community, Al has brought his expertise to bear on assisting veterans with obtaining a broad scope of benefits, ranging from the relatively simple act of securing medical care to obtaining the more complex classification as permanently and totally disabled. Timing is critical, however, he urges.
“6-12 months out from transition, everyone should be meeting with a Veteran Services Officer,” Al advises. “Call, email, go to the GBF website; you are encouraged to do any of these things to get in touch with me. We can review your medical records, assess what you’re in a position to claim, and see what needs to be further diagnosed by your doctors. At the 6-month mark, you’ll be eligible to put in your claim, with the goal of having you rated by the time you get out of service.”
This is especially important, he says, because of concerns specific to the Green Beret community, which may impact the documentation of medical records during active duty service.
“Don’t wait,” he says; “reach out. That 6-12 month mark is the magic number as to the optimal time to get this process underway.”