A former active-duty Air Force officer, Brian Reese deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. For his service, he received the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.
Reese is also a Distinguished Graduate of Management from the United States Air Force Academy and earned his MBA as a National Honor Scholar from the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University.
Today, this Austinite is a leading expert on and advocate for U.S. veterans’ benefits. Driven to serve, he founded and serves as CEO of VA Claims Insider, a coaching and consulting company whose mission is to educate and empower veterans to get the VA disability benefits they’ve earned for their honorable service.
As the country prepares to celebrate Memorial Day, we wanted to know more about Reese, his own military background and what he’s doing to help fellow veterans claim their rightful benefits.
Your book — “You Deserve It” — is designed to help disabled veterans obtain benefits due them. What drove you to publish it?
My own personal frustrations with trying to navigate the VA benefits process on my own. It took me 7 years of fighting the VA, and thousands of hours of time in the trenches, to figure out exactly what I needed to do to obtain the benefits I deserved by law. And I consider myself lucky.
Many millions of veterans have it far worse: 75% of veterans alive today do not have any VA benefits at all. This is shameful and must change now.
Why is there such a high percentage of veterans without benefits?
In my experience, this is due primarily to the lack of basic education and training on the subject. It should not take an advanced degree and thousands of hours of effort to obtain VA benefits. That’s why I wrote “You Deserve It.” It’s a “how-to” action book with specific tips, strategies, and lessons learned for veterans to get the benefits they’ve earned for their honorable service.
What qualifies you to give advice to other disabled veterans?
Time and experience! I’ve devoted my life to helping fellow veterans get the benefits they deserve by law.
Since 2013, I’ve personally helped thousands of veterans, spent over 10,000 hours researching and writing about veterans benefits to include training and coaching hundreds of others in my process. I’m also a former active-duty Air Force officer — and Military.com (one of the leading websites for military members, veterans and their families) says I am “a leading expert on and advocate for U.S. veterans’ benefits.”
Who is your typical reader?
They range from transitioning active-duty military members, through veterans who deserve VA benefits but don’t know how to get them, to disabled veterans who are stuck, frustrated, and underrated by the VA.
What are the most common disabilities you find in your veteran audience?
There are more than 800 disability conditions that can be rated by law, which can make the process confusing for many veterans. The 10 most common we see start from (at #1 and 2) tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and hearing loss and range through PTSD and depression to migraine and degenerative arthritis of the spine.
What are the core themes you share in your book and with clients?
Firstly, a mindset shift: “You Served. You Deserve.” There are enough benefits to go around. Your benefits do not affect any other veterans’ benefits. But more importantly, if you have any kind of disability as a result of your service, then, guess what: you deserve benefits.
Secondly, get your butt to the doctor! VA disability benefits depend upon medical evidence. Period. Pick-up the phone and call the closest VA facility nearest you. But remember, medical evidence is key to getting the benefits you’ve earned. So, make sure you have a medical diagnosis of the disability condition in a medical record.
Thirdly, you must care more about your Veteran Benefits than anybody else. Nobody is going to hand you your benefits. You must do the work to get the result.
How does your book and process affect the families of veterans?
When a veteran gets the benefits they’ve earned, the families win, too.
What is the single most important message you’d like to impart on your reader?
You were created for a purpose. You are here for a reason. You are not alone. You are enough. Your life matters. I lived to tell you that.