When I started HadIt.com, I was adrift in a vast sea on a small raft I had cobbled together. The winds were rough and the sea unforgiving, but I drifted on.
From time to time, I would see another raft drift by. “Tie on, and we will go the rest of the way together,” I would say. That is how we began.
With a few rafts tied together, we shared resources and manpower—and now look at us. A fine ship indeed with the best crew a skipper could hope to have.
Together, forward shipmates, we will sail. I spent years gathering anyone who wanted to join our crew—working towards our shared goal of helping veterans to that final port of call where they receive the compensation they deserve. Some will leave us at this port, and others will sign on as part of the crew.
I tell you this: “Any veteran who sincerely wants help with their Veterans Affairs claim or sincerely wants to help other veterans with their claim will find a berth on this ship.”
– Theresa “Tbird” Aldrich U.S. Navy E-6, 1983–1990
HadIt.com has two main components, the website and the discussion board that supports it with links, articles, research resources, and more.
HadIt.com is for any veteran, service member, or family member who wants information or who wants to share information with others about the Veterans Affairs claims process.
As of 2022, HadIt.com has had your back for 25 years. And this ship still going strong, and I couldn’t be more pleased or proud. For years now, I have considered HadIt.com my life’s purpose.
Thank you to everyone who has supported her growth!
When I attended my separation seminar in January 1991, a representative from the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) was there to review our medical records and see who was eligible to file a VA claim.
Well, bless his heart. He opened my medical file, read the first insert, looked me straight in the eye, and said, “You will be 50% for the rest of your life.” This was because of a major surgery I’d had while in the service. He also said he would file the claim for me.
True to his word, he met with me later and talked with me for a long time, and filled out my VA claim paperwork.
At the time, I was not only physically disabled but emotionally disabled—so much so that I was mentally breaking down right in front of him. He urged me to file for PTSD, but I was in denial and didn’t even want to discuss it. I didn’t even understand what PTSD was then.
By February, I had moved in with a friend and was pretty much just a puddle. I had no job, no future, and no idea about going to the VA for anything. In desperation, one night, I called the suicide hotline. They talked with me for a long time and explained that I could go to the local VA hospital even if I had no insurance.
Now I know what you’re thinking: if I was 50%, why didn’t I go to the VA in the first place? Well, first, my VA claim wasn’t approved yet—I wouldn’t get anything until four months later. Second, even if it had come through, it’s unlikely I would have had the mental understanding at the time to put the two together.
I relay this here because it’s similar to where so many of our brothers and sisters are coming from. It’s perhaps where you started. Fuzzy, unsure, untrusting, in pain, and sometimes homeless.
But eventually, we go to the VA for help. And that’s where I ended up: at the psych ward at my local VA. I was later released with a promise of a call from the outpatient program that never came. After many miscommunications and one proactive phone call on my part, I was finally admitted to the Day Hospital program, eight hours a day, Monday through Friday.
And this, brothers and sisters, is where I began to learn and formulate my plan for HadIt.com.
I spent a year in the Day Hospital program and about another year at a sheltered workshop before I got back on my feet. I talked to veterans every day while we waited for appointments, for prescriptions, worked together in the VA programs, and I started to learn about the system. There was so much knowledge around me; it was like the gold rush. I could just sit on a bench, and a veteran would sit down next to me, and a little conversation later, I would have another piece of advice. I made copious notes with phone numbers to call, who to ask for to get the “straight scoop,” regulations to read, and more. I spent a lot of time on those benches watching the squirrels gather their nuts as I gathered my nuggets of wisdom.
I was a data analyst while in the Navy and had to learn a five-volume manual, and just about anything I was supposed to do was in that manual. So I figured there must be a manual on making a VA claim or, at the very least, regulations. I found the regulations and manuals, but the information was all over the place. I thought about writing a little handbook to help other veterans navigate the VA claims ocean, but I wasn’t sure where to start.
As I finally got help for my PTSD, I was doing much better and went to work for a company as a marketing systems analyst—and that’s where I discovered the internet.
Well, let me tell you, that was perhaps one of the most significant life-changing events I have ever experienced. And I might add, a positive one, finally.
At the end of 1996, a major PTSD cork blew in my mind, and soon I was unemployed. Now I knew what the DAV rep had told me years earlier: I had to file my PTSD claim and get 100%.
It seemed only natural to me that there must surely be a website containing all the knowledge I needed. As it turned out, not so much. Taking my lesson from the squirrels earlier, I started to gather, gather, gather. I learned HTML as I worked on my PTSD claim.
On January 20th, 1997, I had another frustrating phone call with the VA, hung up, and said, “I’ve had it with this!” The light bulb went on and I registered the HadIt.com domain name right then and there.
As fate would have it, the old DAV board went down just as mine opened up, and folks started to wander in. It’s been helping veterans file their VA claims ever since.
For many years I continued on a downward trend emotionally but was determined to keep HadIt.com up and running. As the website continued to grow, I can’t tell you how often I had to switch servers for added space and features. I bought new software, and new books, kept learning, and continued to use this knowledge to make HadIt.com better. Around 1999, I put a counter on the website and was shocked to discover how many visitors it was getting.
My 100% finally came through that same year. My friend Patrick Heavy was an advocate and helped me file my claim. He was literally at my side through the entire process. For him, I am grateful.
I want to give a giant “Thank You” to Amanda, my niece, as close to a daughter as I will ever have. Her care and compassion for decades have allowed me to continue to work on this site. Finally, in 2021, we fulfilled our hopes and dreams. She and her hubby bought a home and moved me in. Her two little ones keep me laughing.
And a big “Thank You” to all the veterans who have been on this ship with me. Together we will ride the waves and overcome.