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A photo of adept Marlin Dunlap from 1959 is pictured at his home in Vancouver. (Alisha Jucevic / Columbian)

Marlin Dunlap’s Cascade Highlands home doubles as a celebrated archive.



Two dozen anchor authority 59 years’ account of paperwork, dating aback to his 1959 appliance in the U.S. Army. Endless and endless of belletrist – 15,000, he estimates, to U.S. presidents and Department of Veterans Affairs admiral and attorneys and bi-weekly editors – boss every accumbent apparent in his home office, area medals, distinctions and active photographs beautify the walls.

Dunlap is a abounding record-keeper. It’s that actual quality, accumulated with a sheer, adamant abnegation to fold, that led to his achievement Aug. 10: the accolade of allowances dating aback to 1964 for post-traumatic accent ataxia affiliated to his account in the military.

His Vancouver-based attorney, Josephine Townsend, estimates that he may authority the almanac for the longest-delayed accolade from the VA.

“It’s rare. It is so rare. It’s attenuate that the adept doesn’t accord up aback their abode is denied so abounding times,” Townsend said. “His case has been remanded, re-investigated, appealed, remanded, denied, appealed – I mean, best veterans would aloof say, ‘I lost.’”

Adept Marlin Dunlap wears his son’s West Point academy arena at his home in Vancouver. His son, 1st Lt. Todd Justin Dunlap, died while confined in 1987. (Alisha Jucevic / Columbian)

Dunlap has an all-embracing apperception for the specifics of a timeline. He skips aback and alternating forth his diffuse adventure with ease, from his Washington, D.C., audition June 2, 2016, to his March 27, 1962, acquittal date to the afterlife of his son on Nov. 22, 1987. It’s up to the adviser to accumulate up.

Dunlap enlisted in the Army in January 1959 at age 19. He was stationed in Fort Bliss, Texas, area he formed as a disciplinarian for his army commander. At the time, his army was on active status, acceptation they could be alleged into action any day.

In 1961, his account becoming him the acumen of actuality the face of the Army. He appeared in a alternation of appliance advertisements for the military, sitting astride a catchbasin with three rockets overhead.

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Dunlap’s adolescent soldiers affected that his adjacency to their administrator meant he had information, he said, and they capital that information. He recalled accepting circadian afterlife threats. There was an breezy barracks-wide “fight list” that his name appeared on 18 times. Near the end of his service, he declared a near-constant accompaniment of alarm during which he wasn’t sleeping, abrogation the lights on at night in his barracks. At one point, he said, he was sexually assaulted.

Dunlap was advantageously absolved in March 1962. The administrator at Fort Bliss feared for Dunlap’s activity and didn’t appetite “anything to appear on his watch,” as Dunlap put it. He did not accept a accepted mustering-out physical, dental or brainy appraisal at the Army hospital aloft his discharge.

In April 1964, Dunlap filed for veterans allowances based on his PTSD and injuries to his appropriate leg – he had an blow while jogging on base. His handwritten appeal was accurately classified as an breezy claim, and the VA did not chase the actual action by sending the adept a academic application. His appeal was lost.

Dunlap afresh filed a affirmation in December 2000 gluttonous account affiliation for PTSD, this time through a added academic process. What followed was a glacially apathetic ping-pong bout amid Dunlap, the federal VA appointment in Washington, D.C., and the bounded offices in Portland and Seattle.

He confused from Oregon to Washington in 2001, and about the aforementioned time, started seeing a analyst who accepted Dunlap suffered from PTSD. His doctor additionally accepted it was accompanying to his time in the service. The change in states meant his book had to change bounded offices, which delayed his case.

In February 2002, his affirmation was denied. He appealed in 2003, and in January 2005, Dunlap abounding a audition at the federal VA office, area he represented himself. In September 2007, the bounded appointment in Seattle accepted account affiliation for PTSD able from December 2000, affiliated to Dunlap’s aboriginal academic claim.

The VA did not acknowledge to his appeal for a service-related affirmation for his leg. He appealed again, gluttonous an beforehand able date affiliated to his aboriginal affirmation in 1964, and for the VA to abode his leg.

In June 2016, Dunlap had addition audition in Washington, D.C., this time, he was represented by Townsend. His appeal for an beforehand able date was denied, and the VA adjourned his leg abrasion aback to the Seattle bounded office.

In November 2017, the cloister issued a announcement decision, which antipodal the VA board’s decision, remanding the bulk for re-adjudication.

And finally, on Aug. 10 – 54 years, three months and 25 canicule afterwards his aboriginal appeal for allowances – an adjustment from the Board of Veterans’ Appeals featured the abracadabra words: “The belief for an able date of April 5, 1964, and no earlier, for the accolade of account affiliation for PTSD accept been met.”

It was emotional.

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“We both cried,” Townsend said, account the day from Dunlap’s home Aug. 22. She’s arrant again.

“It makes my affection abounding because aback you win, it is something, because it’s so long. And you accept veterans that die, and you knew they were right,” she said. “They’re right. The affirmation is there, it’s aloof a bulk of accepting it processed.”

Vancouver advocate Josephine Townsend, left, and adept Marlin Dunlap altercate his case at his home in Vancouver. (Alisha Jucevic / Columbian)

“What’s it account to feel like a man?” asks the promotional affiche for the Army, starring Dunlap. The adventurous belletrist are emblazoned above the photo of his stern, 22-year-old face staring heroically into the distance. “If you won’t achieve for less, the Army’s the abode for you.”

The ad, which appeared in assorted 1962 issues of Time magazine, accustomed the audacious opportunities accepted by enlisting.

“There’s annihilation absolutely like an Army career; you don’t accept to action years in a job that may not assignment out for you. Fulfill your aggressive obligation in the Army, and you’ll accept a adventitious for a good, abutting attending at Army life, Army men, Army opportunities.”

That byword may arena accurate for abounding account members. But in Dunlap’s case, the acquaintance had larboard him with astringent PTSD. He declared aggravating to re-enter the workforce and accolade himself bedridden after admonishing by his accomplished trauma.

“My botheration with accomplishing jobs was that sometimes I’d accept a agitation attack,” he said. “I’d be aggravating to advertise insurance. I’d aloof say, ‘Can I use your bathroom?’”

He additionally went through four marriages and divorces afore 1995. He lived with his babe for a amplitude afore affair his accepted partner, who he’s lived with for the aftermost 19 years.

“I was messed up actual badly. For me, it was a altered affectionate of war, article I would never ambition aloft anyone,” Dunlap said.

After decades of angry for his due, his cat-and-mouse bold isn’t absolutely over. Now, the VA is tasked with addition out aloof how abundant they owe the veteran, a action that Townsend predicts may booty addition two years. He’s owed 100 percent of the affliction bulk starting from his able date in 1964.

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“He’s attractive at a abundant award, but they accept to do the math,” she said. “For the VA, it can be a brace of years, and he has to be animate to collect.”

Dunlap will about-face 79 after this month.

“Once the accolade comes back, it goes aback in a pile. And alike if you’re in an expedited pile, it’s still a actual ample pile,” Townsend continued.

The aggregate of claims the VA needs to action far arrange the agency’s capacity. Townsend said the federal government needs to apply added authoritative law board and added cadre to action these kinds of claims to accumulate the arrangement active forth at a added reasonable rate.

Dunlap had a few advantages: his all-encompassing documentation, his antipathy and his adolescence aback he larboard the service. He had decades to absorb on a acknowledged fight.

“My ambidextrous with the VA has been with some actual accomplished bodies that are actual balked that they can’t do it all at once. It’s not an absorbed by them to not advice the veteran, but they’re bound in what they’re able to do,” Townsend said.

For his part, Dunlap is contemptuous about anytime seeing a dime – his approach is that “they’re acquisitive I’m activity to die afore I anytime get the money.” He still hasn’t accustomed an accolade for his leg. He’s suffered two pulmonary embolisms he says are affiliated to his antecedent jogging injury.

“How would you like to airing to the mailbox every day, every week, every month, every year?” he asked. “And never hear?”

If he does see his award, Dunlap said his aboriginal adjustment of business would be to pay off his acknowledged fees, and again a few bills. Afterwards that, he and his accomplice plan to change their wills.

He’s not anticipating annihilation far above that, as he still doesn’t apperceive what the dollar bulk will be. Townsend’s hopes are a little higher.

“I’m acquisitive that he gets to go on a cruise and adore the blow of his life,” she said.

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