Elite Success with Army Veteran Tim Ford
Army Veteran Tim Ford spent over two decades being underrated for various injuries and ailments he incurred during his more than 15 years in the military.
Just over a year after joining the Elite Program at VA Claims Insider, he has increased his VA disability rating from 20% to 100% Permanent and Total (P&T).
Originally from Twin Falls, Idaho, Ford comes from a military family. His father was in the Navy, two uncles served in Vietnam, and Ford’s grandfather received a Purple Heart in the Army during World War II.
When Ford signed up for the Army Reserves in 1982, he was 17 years old. In addition to patriotic duty, he joined looking for the experience, structure, and future financial stability he hoped the military would provide.
Following Basic and Advanced Individual Training (AIT), Ford became a heavy equipment operator (62-E) in the 321st Engineer Battalion.
When an Army recruiter explained to Ford that the Army was offering an infantry bonus, Ford signed up for active duty. His first duty assignment was to Germany, where he spent the next two years as part of a mechanized infantry unit in Delta Company, 236 Infantry, a third Armored Division.
Ford became engaged and married by the time he left Germany two years later.
Returning to the US, Ford spent two years at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, at the Air Assault School. There, he taught Rigging and Sling Loading, Combat Assault Operations, and Rappelling.
In 1989, Ford was preparing to re-enlist and head to Ranger School. Instead, he pivoted and decided it might be a good time to take advantage of the $5,000 Army college bonus money he’d received back when he signed up for the infantry.
So Ford got out, moved back to Idaho with his family, and enrolled at Boise State University.
At Boise State, Ford excelled. As a battalion commander in the ROTC, he was a George C. Marshall Award recipient—an award presented annually to the most outstanding senior Army ROTC cadets in the nation.
In 1991, Ford began planning the next leg of his military journey. After finishing ROTC school, he had a physical evaluation to be deemed physically fit to return to the service as an officer. Ford was determined to have tinnitus and low-frequency hearing loss in his left ear—disqualifying him from the military.
However, after going through an Army medical review board, Ford was granted a waiver to stay in the military and reentered active duty.
In 1994, Ford was assigned to the 51st Maintenance Battalion near Mannheim, Germany. He spent the next five years stationed out of Germany. Ford was TDY in Albania, Hungary, Bosnia, and Croatia for much of that time, receiving Hostile Fire Pay for his role during Operation Joint Endeavor.
By 1999, Ford, now a decorated Army Captain, had begun having health issues, including dizzy spells, that went more or less untreated.
“I wasn’t getting any medical help from the military,” Ford said, “I would get looked at, they’d give me some Motrin and tell me to stay off my feet for a day or two.”
Ford says nobody could figure out or tell him what was happening, and he felt he wasn’t receiving adequate health care. That led to his decision to separate from the military in 1999.
Transitioning out of the Army, Ford felt he was still in good physical shape. Health-wise, he was still exercising regularly and wasn’t overweight. But he had knee problems from jumping out of airplanes and dealt with back pain and intermittent episodes of Vertigo.
Like many veterans, Ford left the military with little knowledge about the VA or the VA disability claims process.
On his way out while navigating the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), he wasn’t offered any information about the VA or that he could receive benefits for his conditions. Many of the TAP appointments were missed or preceded by other responsibilities.
It was nearly 7 years after leaving the military before Ford filed his fist VA claim.
Despite being in the infantry and around loud noises from years in heavy machinery, Ford’s hearing loss claim was denied. He was frustrated but didn’t know how he could improve his rating.
“I didn’t do anything about it,” he said, “I just figured I wasn’t going to get anything else.”
Over the years, Ford continued to deal with Vertigo episodes. He also began to develop more chronic knee and back problems, migraines, and mental health issues.
By 2022, Ford knew he needed to take action and seriously pursue getting properly rated for his VA disabilities.
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After coming across VA Claims Insider on Facebook, Ford began doing his homework and watching videos. Before long, he contacted VA Claims Insider about the Elite Program and was assigned a Veteran Coach.
Ford calls his decision a no-brainer.
As his Veteran Coach helped him focus his approach and strategy, Ford continued putting in the work, writing personal statements, obtaining Nexus Letters, and getting buddy statements. He attended several Elite Member classes and morning “Coffee with the Coaches.” The nuggets of information he learned helped Ford begin to see the path forward.
“One thing I learned,” Ford explained, “was to imagine yourself being the VA rater in charge of evaluating someone’s claim. They have so much thrown at them. Why give them 10,000 pages of stuff to look at?”
Part of Ford’s Elite Success was learning how to come face-to-face with the VA to navigate the claims process. When it was all said and done, he received news that he had been granted a 100% P&T VA rating. Ultimately, all the work he put in (including multiple Higher Level Reviews (HLRs)) was worth the outcome. (The HLRs, when filed, came back with duty to assist errors, and were all eventually awarded service connection, after connecting the dots for the VA).
Probably even more impressive than his increased rating, Ford began to clear his head of some of the lies he’d told himself along the way.
“I just thought I was less deserving than all the others coming back from conflicts and wars. But this can be summarized by looking at Brian Reese’s book—YOU SERVED. YOU DESERVE.”
Ford encourages other veterans not to give up hope of getting their VA benefits. He also urges others to go out and see a doctor, citing the importance of medical evidence.
“You might feel like your 20% (rating) makes sense now,” Ford said, “But 30 years down the road, that could change. Like, well, this has caused this, this has caused this. This wouldn’t have happened if this didn’t happen. And if you can tie those things together, you can increase your VA rating.”
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If you’ve filed your VA disability claim and have been denied or have received a low rating—or you’re unsure how to get started—reach out to us! Take advantage of a FREE VA Claim Discovery Call. Learn what you’ve been missing—so you can FINALLY get the disability rating and compensation you deserve!