Fleeting glimpse. Life.

They say time flies

I believe it. Forty years I’ve roamed this earth. Forty. 4-0. Sometimes I reflect on the past. Sometimes I wonder how my life would be different if I took a different path. I wonder if the path would’ve still led me here. Now.


What makes life worth living? When you reflect, what do you think about? What’s missing? Wish you would have done something differently? Wish you would have spent more time with someone? Wish you would have done something more? That’s what you value. That’s what gives you pleasure, what makes your life worth living. Do THAT. You can’t get back lost time, but you can focus on the future and make the best of it. The future will be gone before you know it, and you’ll be reflecting on it. Make your life count. 

Truly LIVE your life

Slow down. Live in the moment. Cherish the moment. Cherish the person you’re with. Too often we find ourselves worrying about the past or the future. Why are we in such a hurry to get nowhere? Your children are growing up. Spend time with them now. They’ll be gone sooner than you think. They’ll never be kids again. I spent a lot of time with my kids. A lot. I still wish I had spent more time with them. They’re becoming independent now. That’s the natural order of things, but it still hurts. I want the best for them. That includes letting them go; letting them grow up.

Give yourself

Devote your full attention to the person you love. Life is but a fleeting glimpse–a single breath of eternity.

What is 33-SC-E on my VA payment history?

33-SC-E on your VA payment history is the Post 911/GI Bill benefit PAID DIRECTLY TO THE SCHOOL you are attending for your tuition–not you.

I’m posting this simple post because I had some difficulty finding the correct answer and did not get the answer until I connected the dots after the first 33-SC-E payment date passed.

I originally posted this information at the very bottom of this long post regarding VA BDD.

Chronology of a VA BDD Compensation Claim


You may be asking why I would write about my Veteran’s Administration (VA) Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD) Compensation Claim.  Simple.  Two reasons:

  1. I’m hoping you will find this information beneficial and help you know ‘what the heck is going on’ with your claim.
  2. I hope you share with others, like us, who’ve filed a claim or plan on filing a claim.

Your results may vary (timelines may be longer or shorter), but, again, I think this will benefit folks who requested a BDD claim and possibly folks who are waiting for an answer on non-BDD claims. Copy and past this link if you want to easily share: http://bit.ly/VA-BDD To make it easier to copy it’s not setup as a hyperlink on this page. Besides, it would come straight back to this page if you clicked it!


The Veterans Administration allows active duty personnel to submit a compensation claim (called BDD) prior to separating/retiring from active duty 60-180 days from separation. With help from the Randolph AFB Chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, I started my application process five months before I retired. I submitted the initial BDD application and ALL of my medical records. A month later I received a packet with a bunch of forms to fill out and three separate appointments over the coming months. The last appointment was a few days before my retirement date.


Several of my friends received their rating from two to four months after their retirement dates. I received my VA disability rating five full months after my retirement date. That’s the date my benefits letter displayed on the eBenefits website and my compensation claim status switched to Closed–not the date I actually received my package with the breakdown of how the VA arrived at my rating.  Eight days later (including a weekend and federal holiday) I received my full length exhaustive report with why I was approved or denied for each condition I claimed. The VA also included some forms for additional optional benefits and information regarding appeals.

Claim Status the Quick and Easy Way

I’m going to keep this simple. Use the eBenefits website. Upgrade to the premium edition (it’s free). You need to get your DoD Self-Service Logon (DSLogon) to access the premium features. You can check your claim status on the eBenefits website. I checked my status periodically, after four months, I started checking my status every evening. There are four phases of status for your Compensation & Pension Claims Status. The italics are my comments on the phase definitions I copied from the VA website.

Development: This phase begins when the claim is received and ends when the claim appears to be ready for a decision. This was the status of my claim until I retired at which point it switched to Decision.

Decision: This phase begins when the claim appears to be ready for a decision and ends when the claim has a proposed decision. This phase took the longest. After four months had passed I called the VA 800 number (1-800-827-1000) to ask the status. The call center rep said he’d open an incident and I should hear something within 72 hours.  I received a call from the regional office in charge of my claim the same day. He explained my claim was in a batch of other claims with the board. He said the batch fell between two dates and gave me the dates–mine was in the middle. Then he said I would very likely hear something in two to three weeks. I called again two weeks later to check the status. This time a different rep basically told me to wait–it can take up to a year.

Notification: This phase begins when the claim has a proposed decision and ends when the proposed decision becomes final, all notification letters have been mailed and the claim closed. I switched to this status four months and three weeks after my retirement date. On this day the VA called me because they had a question about one of my forms. The technician told me I should expect a final answer within 10 days. I previously talked to the call center before I switched from Decision to Notification, they told me 10 to 40 days for this phase depending on volume of cases. Having worked in a call center I expect they did not want me calling on the 11th day and that’s why they said up to 40 days…

Closed: This phase begins when the claim is closed or cancelled. For me this was five days after I switched to Notification phase. The same day my account switched from Notification to Closed I went to the letter generator portion of the eBenefits website and I was able to immediately generate a letter with my disability rating and compensation payment information–this is the single page letter you need to get your Disabled Veteran plates (depending on where you live) and other benefits to disabled veterans offered by your state. Strangely, this single page letter does not come in your compensation claim results package. I also called the VA the same day my rating showed on the eBenefits website and requested the letter and they faxed and mailed me a copy of the single page rating letter. I received my first direct deposit (monthly payment) on the next “1st of the month” after I received my official notification. I received my back-pay by direct deposit six weeks after receiving my first monthly payment. 

Things I Learned Along The Way

  • Be patient
  • Be prepared to spend some time filling out questionaires; don’t think you’re going to fill out your questionnaire the night before your VA exam appointment–PLAN AHEAD
  • Know your medical history or read through your medical records
  • Get help from a Veteran Service Organization (VSO) with your compensation claim
  • Be courteous to the VA call center rep; s/he might tell you your ‘unofficial’ rating during the notification phase.
  • BDD claims can take up to a year to process (although, very unlikely for BDD)
  • The eBenefits website is a huge timesaver and is (almost) always available
  • You get back-paid to date of separation. The benefit for the first month is paid on the first day of second month; so, it seems like you will not get a month’s pay when they back-pay you
  • If you retired you cannot receive your lump sum back payment until DFAS reviews it
  • Check for an update of your Retiree Account Statement; you’ll see your monthly VA benefit (CRDP) in the message section on page two (back) very soon after you receive your disability rating
  • Friends who’ve already been through the process are a great source of information and encouragement
  • Payment history on eBenefits is very useful.
  • What is 33-SC-E?

Update on 10.26.2011 | 10:56 PM by  Bruce Bebow

Benefits Delivery at Discharge: http://www.vba.va.gov/predischarge/bdd.htm

Retiring: http://www.dfas.mil/dfas/retiredmilitary.html

Military Order of the Purple Heart: http://www.purpleheart.org/

DoD Self-Service Login: https://myaccess.dmdc.osd.mil/appj/dsaccess/index.jsp

VA Call Center: https://iris.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1703

DFAS reviews it: http://www.dfas.mil/dfas/retiredmilitary/disability/payment.html

Retiree Account Statement: https://mypay.dfas.mil/mypay.aspx

(VA) Payment history: https://eauth.va.gov/ebenefits-portal/ebenefits.portal?_nfpb=true&_nfxr=false&_pageLabel=ebenefits_myeb_paymenthistory

Update on 02.5.2012 | 02:21 PM by  Bruce Bebow

-Best regards, Bruce

Update on 07.17.2012 | 03:55 PM by  Bruce Bebow

If this is the first time you visited my page, I recommend you read the comments. Some good folks took the time to make a few remarks about how the system is working now. 


Life lessons from working in a call center

Seven weeks changed my life.

I’ve been too busy learning a new job and dealing with external factors to sit down and write. I’ve had the thoughts and ideas brewing in the back of my head for several weeks. I’m starting my seventh week at my new job tomorrow and will soon surpass the length of my first job after I retired from the Air Force.

I finally took a few quiet moments to reflect and try to get something in digital ink. So, here goes…

I worked in the Total Force Service Center – San Antonio, the US Air Force’s personnel assistance call center for seven weeks. When I walked away from the call center for the last time I saw the world differently.

How did I end up working at a call center? Many people asked this to my face (and behind my back).  I can sum up the reason in one word. Arrogance. God gave me the opportunity to work in a call center because I thought I was too good for it. I could not understand how people I knew working there could ‘stoop so low’. I understand now. An uncertain financial future changes one’s perspective. Significantly. Humility is not the only lesson I was reminded of in my call center job.

I am sorry. How fuming-mad customers responded to those three little words amazed me–still amazes me when I think about it. Was the problem my fault? No. But, saying, “I am sorry,” immediately turned the conversation in a positive direction every single time I dealt with an angry customer–without fail. So, when you deal with customers (or family members) it’s okay to say, “I’m very sorry about that,” and, “How can we make this better?” Notice how I said ‘we’? Yes, we’re in this together.

People don’t like to wait–make it worth the wait for them. I knew exactly how long someone had been on hold when I picked up the line. Sometimes their guns started blaring the instant I picked up the line. Refer to the above paragraph–again, very effective. I found myself thinking of how I would feel if I waited 20 or 30 minutes to talk to me. My sympathetic thought process made me routinely break my time limit, but I ended nearly every call I took with a very grateful person on the other end of the line.

Time is limited. When you’re forced to literally watch the clock, you realize how time is quickly fleeting. First, I want to say my contract employer gave me plenty of time for lunch and several generous breaks throughout the day. However, every minute, every second that was not a scheduled break belonged to the company. They wanted and got their money’s worth from every employee. Watching the clock all day reminded me of the persistence of time. It’s limited quantity. Make the best of your time; you won’t get it back. It’s gone.

Be grateful for what you have. It may not be the most ideal situation for you, but if you’re staying afloat or if your getting by, it’s okay. You’re still moving forward. A grateful attitude goes along very well with a positive attitude. It makes for a happy life in spite of circumstances.

Do your best. I saved the best for last (no pun intended). I’ve lived this lesson all my life. The “finish the phone call quickly and take the next call” concept tested me. Working in a call center is a thankless job. How can you make a thankless job better? How can you make your life better? Be the best you can be. God commands it. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart…” I can’t really top that. Work at it with all your heart.


I retired from the United States Air Force today.

Twenty years and twenty-one days. Over one quarter of my life expectancy. That’s how long I served in the world’s greatest Air Force.

As I reflect, I remember mostly good times. Isn’t it funny how time slowly fades the bad times away?

I remember arriving at basic training along with a few other guys and sitting in a pitch black room into the early hours of the morning waiting for the rest of our flight to arrive. Little did we know the six-week pleasure cruise on which we’d soon embark.

I recall my arrival at technical training school–the excitement. I was on my own, and making my way in the world. I was meeting new friends and having new experiences. Monterey, California was my favorite place I’ve ever lived. I don’t think it would be the same if I returned now; Monterey’s become almost mythical in my memories. I enjoyed walks along the bay, fresh seafood, and perhaps the best clam chowder anywhere. Seems like all good things must come to an end sooner or later.

Landing in England, finding my bus and then having a much-needed Whopper sandwich upon arrival at Royal Air Force Bentwaters remains prominent in my memory. I would not change working at the RAF Woodbridge and RAF Bentwaters post offices. Working the night shift by myself was a fun experience. I also enjoyed working part-time as short-order cook at the local bowling alley. I can make a mean chicken melt. My hot wings are not too bad, either. I hardly remember the depressing, nearly constant fog and overcast weather. I made a few life-long friends. Then I moved to the other side of the world.

On the flight out to the island, I sat next to a colonel. I was a brand-new Senior Airman. I mustered the courage and asked, “Are you the wing commander?” He replied, “Yes,” and proceeded to have a conversation with me. So, that’s how my one year, overseas short tour started. Shemya, Alaska may be one of the most desolate places on Earth. The two mile by four mile island rests at the tip of the Aleutian Islands and is constantly bombarded with high winds. I bought a t-shirt that said, “It’s not the end of the world, but you can see it from here.” I swam in the Bering Sea. How many people can say they swam in the Bering Sea? I got to unload mail from aircraft and work in the post office, again. Everyone wants to be friends with the postman, especially in the middle of nowhere. Windy days (very windy days) were the norm. One time I literally laid back against the wind and did not fall down. Surreal. I grew tired of being away from the continental United States. So, I applied for a new job and received an assignment to North Carolina.

Pope Air Force Base seemed like it would be a good assignment. I had heard horror stories about Fayetnam (Fayetteville, NC) and “No hope Pope”, but I felt they were exaggerated. I moved into the dorm with some aircraft maintenance guys. That was an experience. Those guys liked to party; me, not so much. I enjoyed the challenge of learning a new job and working at the Military Personnel Flight. I made many, many wonderful memories at Pope AFB. I deployed to Haiti during all their problems in 1994. I met my beautiful wife, Adrienne. We had our first child, Timothy. I can’t really top those memories. Adrienne wanted to be closer to her parents. Fortunately, a rare opportunity presented itself (God looking out for us), and we moved to Madison, Wisconsin.

Working at the University of Wisconsin in the Air Force ROTC detachment was one of my most enjoyable jobs in the Air Force. I worked my tail off, but had many perks working at the university. I had a lot of time for fitness and was in the best shape of my life while in Madison. Plus, we lived in an amazing city–weird and wonderful. We suffered some financial hardship because the cost of living was so high, but it knit us together. Our daughter, Hollyn came into the world in Madison. After four years, we decided to see what I could do next and we got an assignment to Randolph Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas.

When we first arrived in San Antonio, we hated it. The rude drivers. The noise. The fact that everything was spread out. We immediately started planning where we’d try to move to after three years. Little did we know how much the city would grow on us. During nine years, I worked at three different jobs and deployed to Qatar. I met and worked with a lot of great people. We bought our first house. Our babies grew up.

I took off my Air Force uniform for the last time in November, 2010, but I did not officially retire from the Air Force until today. I’m not sure if I’m finished with the Air Force. It’s hard to leave something that’s been a huge part of my life for so long. Maybe, I’ll get the opportunity to work as an Air Force civilian.

Now, I am anxious to see what the future holds and start the next chapter of my life.

I need to blog more.

Well, my retirement date is next week. Seems like that twenty years went by too quickly. So many thoughts going through my mind right now.

Plus, I’m riding an emotional roller coaster trying to get a job.