Elite Success: Marty Stacy’s Journey to 100% P&T
From dodging glass factory shifts to driving fuel trucks in Alaska, Veteran Marty Stacy’s journey from Oklahoma to the Air Force is anything but ordinary. A seemingly harmless rash would lead him into a decades-long battle for health, service connection, and, ultimately, VA disability triumph.
Now, nearly three decades after being medically discharged, Stacy finally has the 100% VA rating he deserves.
This is his story.
Ever since he was five years old, Marty Stacy dreamed of joining the Air Force. In 1992, just months after graduating high school, that dream became a reality.
“I didn’t want to work in the glass factories like my brother and dad were because of the crazy shifts,” he said, “So I woke up one Monday morning and decided to join. I didn’t tell anybody. I just went down there and signed my life away before anyone could talk me out of it.”
A week later, he was in boot camp.
Assigned to Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, Stacy worked in petroleum, oil, and lubricants, storing jet fuel and diesel and driving the trucks that fueled the airplanes.
After being transferred to Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, he continued driving fuel trucks while also working in the fuel storage facility, where he was sampling jet fuel and offloading it from pipelines, trucks, and trains.
A Mysterious Rash
Then, one day in 1994, Stacy woke up and noticed what looked like a giant mosquito bite on his left arm. Mosquitos are everywhere in Alaska, and he didn’t think much of it.
But over the next few weeks and months, the mark on Stacy’s arm turned into a rash and blisters that spread from his arm to the top of his head down to his feet.
The Air Force medically discharged Stacy and granted him a 10% VA disability rating.
Three years and seven months after enlisting, Stacy returned home to Oklahoma. His health battles had only begun.
Rashes, muscle and joint pain, and various other symptoms came and went. Migraines so severe he would temporarily lose vision. Weakness and dizzy spells. And the itching and burning sensations on his skin were so intense he couldn’t sleep. Even torn stomach muscles from bouts of violent vomiting.
The Strange Diagnosis
Then, in 1996, Stacy was unofficially diagnosed with a mysterious condition that has affected hundreds of thousands of service members who served during the Gulf War Era.
“(The doctor) pulled me into his office, and he closed the door,” He said, “I’m going to tell you what you have. What you have is Gulf War Syndrome.””
Back then, the denial of the existence of Gulf War Syndrome was still very real.
Stacy told the doctor that he never deployed to the Gulf. The doctor understood but explained he could put a checkmark next to every symptom Stacy had and compare it with others who served in the middle of the Gulf, and they were a match.
“He told me they don’t know what causes Gulf War Syndrome,” Stacy said, “They don’t know if it’s the jet fuel I worked in, the inoculations that gave us, or some kind of chemical that didn’t get decontaminated.”
Then, the doctor told Stacy that he would deny it and call him a liar if he told anyone.
“I was stunned. But I also understood he was trying to protect his job at the time,” he said.
Nevertheless, Stacy was thankful that he finally had an answer for the condition he’d be suffering from, and he soon got to work filing for his VA disability.
Over the next 20 years, he increased his VA rating from 10% to 90%. But even with a 90% VA disability rating, Stacy knew he was still underrated.
Ongoing Health Issues
By 2016, Stacy’s mental health had declined due to the physical symptoms and flare-ups he constantly suffered from.
The headaches, the constant itching and burning, and the insomnia sent Stacy into a severe bout of depression.
Then, in December 2020, Stacy got hit with COVID and found himself in the ER due to complications. A CAT scan revealed he had developed a life-threatening blood clot in his main aorta. He was in such intense abdominal pain he struggled to eat, sit, or even lie down.
After unsuccessfully trying to dissolve the blood clot—major surgery to remove the aortic clot was the only remaining option.
Due to COVID restrictions, Stacy told his wife over the phone that his options didn’t look good. He may not make it. The nurse stood nearby with her head back and tears rolling down her face.
The pulmonary surgeon successfully removed the clot, and Stacy survived the operation.
Joining the VA Claims Insider Elite Program
Following his recovery, Stacy’s health battles continued.
By mid-2021, Stacy had lost half of his small intestine and a significant portion of his colon. His full-body rash continued to agonize him, and would periodically break out in blisters. When he would sweat—his entire body would go from itching to intense burning—like pouring salt in an open wound.
“When you burn like that…it almost feels like it’s driving you insane,” he said.
Unemployed and unable to work because he was so weak all the time, Stacy felt he was running out of options.
Then he came across one of Brian Reese’s videos on VA Claims Insider’s Youtube channel and took a leap of faith—hoping to finally get the 100% VA rating he knew he deserved. He signed up for the Elite Program and was immediately paired with a Veteran Coach.
“My coach was Elizabeth Hash, and I cannot say enough good about her. She is absolutely amazing. Insanely patient. She was my first coach, and I thank God for that.”
Joining the VA Claims Insider Elite Program wasn’t just a move for Stacy; it was a lifeline. His depression had left him in such a funk that he was struggling to know where to turn and how to use the VA website to submit his claims.
Guided by the support of his coach, Marty navigated the complexities of the VA, submitted his claims, and pushed forward toward the finish line. “She kept me focused on where I was going and got the ball rolling,” he said.
After gathering all his medical evidence, filing his claims, Higher Level Reviews, and a supplemental claim complete with his DBQ, Stacy got a phone call from the VA telling him he had filed an incorrect form. He resubmitted the correct form and three months later received news that one of his claims had been denied and the other had been approved for 10%.
But with how VA math worked, his 90% VA rating hadn’t budged.
Disappointed and uncertain of his next move, Stacy began to question whether he would ever reach the rating he deserved.
Then, a week later, Stacy logged into the eBenefits portal to check on his upcoming VA appointment. Next to his name and branch of service, he saw ‘100%’.
Confused, Stacy started digging in to see if there was a mistake. He pulled up the decision letter on the website and saw they had increased one of his 10% disabilities to 30%. That put him over the top and gave him a 100% rating. Down at the bottom it read, ‘These disabilities are considered permanent and total.’
“I had goosebumps,” he said. “My wife and I were both about in tears and very excited. Stunned. Shocked. Probably all of the emotions.”
Stacy is still appealing for the VA to fix a mistake regarding his back pay but says he has no complaints. He’s also grateful for the guidance and support he received along the way.
He understands the magnitude of going from 90 to 100% and says the tax breaks alone are massive. He encourages other veterans to take that step in pursuing their VA benefits and hopes his story can help motivate others to take action and never quit until they get the VA benefits they deserve.
From his unofficial Gulf War Syndrome diagnosis to a life-threatening blood clot, his story is a gritty testament to the struggles a veteran can endure and how calling on the right company for help can make all the difference.
“If it weren’t for my Coach, I probably would’ve given up,” he said, “I feel like she grabbed me by the hand and dragged me across the finish line. She was my North Star.”
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