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May 15, 2024

Maximizing VA Benefits: One Army Vet’s Path to 80%

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The Elite Success Story of Army Veteran John Margnelli

Army Veteran John Margnelli’s VA benefits journey took a transformative turn when he joined VA Claims Insider’s Elite program

“I researched VA Claims Insider. I researched other companies. I ended up with VA Claims Insider based on all the comments and reviews, he said, “I actually looked at the reviews to see if those people are real, and they are.” 

Eight months later, his VA disability rating has increased from 50% to 80%—and he’s confident he’ll soon get the 100% VA rating he deserves.

Maximizing VA benefits Army Vets Path to VA Disability

Margnelli joined the Army in 1999 after graduating from high school. At the time, no war was going on, and he was excited at the prospect of learning fiber optics and communications while securing his future college tuition. 

But when a Ranger recruiter approached him early on, the trajectory of Margnelli’s military path would drastically change. 

“The next thing I know, I’m joining the infantry,” he said.

Margnelli was assigned to the Army’s 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning. While there, he went through Assault School and Ranger School.

Combat in Iraq

Then 9/11 happened and changed everything—for everybody.

As part of the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Task Force 269, Armor, Margnelli was part of the initial invasion of Iraq, city-hopping up the West side of the country to converge on Baghdad.

A sergeant and infantry squad leader, Margnelli’s combat experience was filled with continuous engagements. Combat was challenging enough when the enemy wore a uniform—and even more chaotic when they ditched them for civilian clothes.

Stop-lossed after reaching Baghdad—Margnelli found himself unable to return to the States at the end of his initial deployment. 

After eventually being relieved by National Guard reserve units, he returned to Fort Benning before he was allowed to go home.

Less than a month after that, Margnelli was at Florida State University, registering for school and reconnecting with high school friends.

“At first, you think everything’s fine. I’m out of the Army, at college, thinking, ‘This is great.’ And that’s when it just started going downhill,” he said.

Before long, two of Margnelli’s friends at Florida State convinced him to go to the VA for help.

Like others, he had brushed aside talking openly to a doctor or psychiatrist upon returning from combat.

“God Bless the Army back then, but when you return from war, who wants to talk to the doctor?” he said, “I thought I could handle it,” 

Unfortunately, thousands like Margnelli slip through the cracks of a system that’s supposed to provide support. Many veterans only become aware of their issues after they’ve already transitioned back into civilian life.

Thankfully, Margnelli entered the VA system and was able to get some of the support he needed. Still, he was offered no guidance or assistance regarding the VA disability process.

“I had no idea what a VA claim was. I knew nothing about the process. I knew nothing about compensation, none of that stuff,” he said, “I had no idea it was even an option.”

As Margnelli pursued a career path in law enforcement, the myths and stigmas surrounding mental health (and what he thought it would do to his career) kept him from pursuing his VA disability. 

Eventually, one of Margnelli’s good friends from the Army revealed his own VA disability and that sparked the interest for Margnelli to finally pursue his own VA benefits. 

Not long after, Margnelli was granted a 30% VA rating (which was increased to 50% after a VA appeal).

That was 2008. 

Margnelli sat on his 50% VA rating for several years—a decision which, in hindsight, he wished he hadn’t done.

“I sat at 50% for a while because I was still struggling and going to therapy. I just kept it hidden because of my job,” he said.

After seeing younger soldiers coming into law enforcement and talking so openly about their disabilities and struggles, Margnelli realized that talking about mental health is a lot more accepted now than it used to be. 


Take advantage of a FREE VA Claim Discovery Call with an experienced Team Member. Learn what you’ve been missing so you can FINALLY get the disability rating and compensation you’ve earned for your service.

Maximizing VA Benefits

Some of the younger guys also mentioned VA Claims Insider, so Margnelli began to investigate.

“I started doing my research and watching your videos, and that was when I realized I was underrated and under-compensated,” he said. “Your videos really stuck out to me. I tried doing it by myself, and it was absurd.” 

Margnelli said he also tried going through the VA for disability claim assistance. 

“God bless them. But they did nothing for me, honestly. Just to get a meeting with them was impossible,” he said, “I was just a number.”

Margnelli appreciated all of the free content that VA Claims Insider provides and was impressed by the communication and user experience of their Elite program and staff.

“You guys give out a lot of free information. I also like that you guys called me back. It was just an extremely easy process. It really was,” he said. “And honestly, it went quickly for me—really quick. If you’ve got a valid claim, they’re not going to do it for you, but they’re going to help talk you through it step by step.”

In eight months, Margnelli increased his VA disability rating to 80%. But he isn’t done yet.

Margnelli has taken the things he’s learned from VA Claims Insider about the VA disability claims process and positively impacted the lives of other veterans. 

He recently helped a former Marine and a fellow co-worker get started on his own VA disability.

“I talked him through the process because he had been having some problems. He got registered at the VA and began getting his documentation together,” Margnelli said. “I basically walked him through everything I was learning from VA Claims Insider.”

A month later, Margnelli and his wife were getting ready to go out for dinner when his co-worker called. He had just noticed a $16,000 deposit from the VA in his bank account and was surprised and confused. Margnelli was quick to congratulate him on winning his claims.

“It totally changed his life. And I learned that from you guys and my Veteran Coach,” Margnelli said.

Margnelli continues to manage his own conditions, including his aching knees, headaches, and ringing in his ears. He understands now that he deserves his VA disability, and he’s determined not to give up until he gets the 100% VA disability rating he knows he deserves.

“I definitely meet the criteria. It will be life-changing for me and my family,” he said

As Margnelli presses forward, his story serves as a resounding call to action, and he encourages other veterans who are struggling—to seek assistance and not give up. 

“It’s tough to do it on your own; it really is. If you can’t figure out the process, go get help to figure it out,” he said, “And if you put in the work and trust the process, it’s worth it in the end. Just keep trying.”

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