I was diagnosed with ESRD about 2 years ago. Ever since my diagnosis, I suspected that my kidney failure was caused by hazardous chemicals that I worked with while I was in the Air Force. I suddenly developed hypertension about 2 years after I was stationed at Cheyenne Mountain Complex in Colorado, even though I was only 20 years old, and was otherwise in perfect health. A friend kept telling me that I needed to file with the Veterans Administration (VA) and see if I qualified for disability through them, so I submitted an application in December 2011.
I was shocked to get a packet from the VA stating that they had approved me for 100% disability! There are a number of perks that come with this status:
1) About $3,000 a month compensation. This is in addition to my Social Security payments, and is also tax-free.
2) The VA covers ALL medical expenses. They have already contacted my dialysis provider (Fresenius), and have assumed the costs for my PD.
3) South Carolina gives 100% disabled veterans free license plates for 2 vehicles, and waives all property taxes on automobiles and on their home.
4) My wife will continue receiving my VA compensation even after my death.
Here's the whole point of this: if you served time in the US military, and have any evidence that your health deteriorated during the time you were on active duty, file a claim with VA. Especially if you developed hypertension or diabetes while you were in. My hypertension was listed as the primary service-related condition; however, ESRD is caused by hypertension, therefore, the VA had to cover this also. It's worth your while to submit a claim. The worst they can say is "no."
I'll see everybody at the IHD meet-up in Las Vegas!