Army MEB Policy Guidance including SMSC

Jason Perry

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#1
This file includes information about the RC Soldier Medical Support Center (the new process for Army MEBs for RC Soldiers).

MEB Policy Guidance - Downloads - Physical Evaluation Board Forum

I was initially concerned about this RC-SMSC being used to deny RC Soldiers access to the IDES. My read is that this is not the case, but rather this is just a central point for review of packages before sending to an MTF for processing. I am not sure I see a need for this organization or process, but, other than the delay this would cause, I am not sure I see much to be concerned about. However, if people see a problem with this process, please share it.
 

Jason Perry

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#2
This is a statement from MEDCOM about the SMSC:

"The Reserve Component – Soldier Medical Support Center (RC-SMSC) is a Vice Chief of Staff of the Army (VCSA) directed activity that will ensure standardization of medical processing of MNR Reserve Component (RC) Soldiers to either Return to Duty (RTD) or be referred to the PDES. The RC-SMSC will develop, coordinate, and integrate administrative medical management as necessary for RC wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers through centralization of MEB packet submissions. It will also provide administrative and medical subject matter expertise to the field regarding RC MEB processing. The RC-SMSC is now operational. Follow on key tasks include the standardization of MEB requirements and processes, identification and expansion of MEB capacity throughout the MEDCOM, and development of an automated workflow system that tracks all MEB activities from initial documentation of a pre-MEB packet through final adjudication for RC Soldiers..."

One question that this raises in my mind is, if this is necessary for RC Soldiers, why is this not needed for AC Soldiers? One of my great concerns about MEBs is that they are decentralized at the MTF level. If this process is an effort to centralize and standardize MEBs, it seems that the same process is likely needed for AC Soldiers.
 

Missynp

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#3
The RC SMSC staff are attempting to gather the information for the medical records according to the new MEB 17 point checklist for MEB packets. I was told that in the past if the packets were not built correctly and supporting documents were not in the packet, they just sat at the RSC waiting to get into the MEB process. Now, the RSCs and MTFs holding these packets were told to send them to the center. The center makes sure the packets are in order so the Soldier's packet will meet the standard and get into the MEB because everything needed is verified and present. They asked for some recent doctors notes and the staff call when the packet is being worked on. There is an email address if you think your packet might be there-[email protected] or a telephone number 727-563-3700. They will call you back.
This file includes information about the RC Soldier Medical Support Center (the new process for Army MEBs for RC Soldiers).

MEB Policy Guidance - Downloads - Physical Evaluation Board Forum

I was initially concerned about this RC-SMSC being used to deny RC Soldiers access to the IDES. My read is that this is not the case, but rather this is just a central point for review of packages before sending to an MTF for processing. I am not sure I see a need for this organization or process, but, other than the delay this would cause, I am not sure I see much to be concerned about. However, if people see a problem with this process, please share it.
 

finckjm

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#4
I agree with what Missynp replied. The RC-SMSC is a single point for packets to be scrubbed one last time before moving into an MTF and the IDES process. I see many disconnects (I am using this process now) and everyone from my PEBLO to the VA MSC has commented the system is broken, but until a better system is designed and a more fair system to the Soldier is created, this is what we have. The Soldiers at the RC-SMSC transferred my case in days and I can say with confidence their goal is to simply insure the accuracy and completeness of information so no delays happen at the next level.

I hope that is somewhat helpful,
 

Jason Perry

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#5
The RC SMSC staff are attempting to gather the information for the medical records according to the new MEB 17 point checklist for MEB packets. I was told that in the past if the packets were not built correctly and supporting documents were not in the packet, they just sat at the RSC waiting to get into the MEB process. Now, the RSCs and MTFs holding these packets were told to send them to the center. The center makes sure the packets are in order so the Soldier's packet will meet the standard and get into the MEB because everything needed is verified and present. They asked for some recent doctors notes and the staff call when the packet is being worked on. There is an email address if you think your packet might be there-[email protected] or a telephone number 727-563-3700. They will call you back.
I agree with what Missynp replied. The RC-SMSC is a single point for packets to be scrubbed one last time before moving into an MTF and the IDES process. I see many disconnects (I am using this process now) and everyone from my PEBLO to the VA MSC has commented the system is broken, but until a better system is designed and a more fair system to the Soldier is created, this is what we have. The Soldiers at the RC-SMSC transferred my case in days and I can say with confidence their goal is to simply insure the accuracy and completeness of information so no delays happen at the next level.

I hope that is somewhat helpful,
Still, while not apparently ominous, it is worrisome whenever there is a "different" or "parallel" process. Reserve Soldier should be referred to MEB via action of an MTF and processed just like other Soldiers. I really don't understand the need for this organization- the process should be no different for RC than AC Soldiers. Units should not really have much of an impact on the process, so I really don't understand the need. That said, so long as people don't have problems, it is not horribly worrisome.
 

Gomez

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#6
In my case, a RC-SMSC Nurse Practioner Captain downgraded my profile from 3 to 2 for one of my well-documented conditions that wes sent from my state National Guard surgeon, a Colonel. This was done without another physical being done on me and overrode the profiles of previous orthopedic doctors' profiles and their documentation. There was no appeal process at this stage, so my package went forward to the MEB without the condition. I had to fight at the MEB level via an appeal and IMR to have the condition restored.

My impression was that this organization's purpose was not only an administrative process but also a filtering process for reducing claimed conditions. IMO, it seemed like another layer of bureaucracy that allows the Army to review packages and filter them because they view the Reserve Component units as incapable of properly preparing the packages. It seems to me that the Reserve Component unit PDES skills should be strengthened rather than creating a new level of bureaucracy to review, fix and filter packages submitted by the RC's.

Like Jason, I wonder why the active duty SM's don't have to go through this extra level of screening at additional expense and delay in processing. And, perhaps Jason's concern ("I was initially concerned about this RC-SMSC being used to deny RC Soldiers access to the IDES") was correct and also, perhaps. the unit serves to reduce claimed conditions.
 

Warrior644

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#7
In my case, a RC-SMSC Nurse Practioner Captain downgraded my profile from 3 to 2 for one of my well-documented conditions that wes sent from my state National Guard surgeon, a Colonel. This was done without another physical being done on me and overrode the profiles of previous orthopedic doctors' profiles and their documentation. There was no appeal process at this stage, so my package went forward to the MEB without the condition. I had to fight at the MEB level via an appeal and IMR to have the condition restored.
My impression was that this organization's purpose was not only an administrative process but also a filtering process for reducing claimed conditions. IMO, it seemed like another layer of bureaucracy that allows the Army to review packages and filter them because they view the Reserve Component units as incapable of properly preparing the packages. It seems to me that the Reserve Component unit PDES skills should be strengthened rather than creating a new level of bureaucracy to review, fix and filter packages submitted by the RC's.
Like Jason, I wonder why the active duty SM's don't have to go through this extra level of screening at additional expense and delay in processing. And, perhaps Jason's concern ("I was initially concerned about this RC-SMSC being used to deny RC Soldiers access to the IDES") was correct and also, perhaps. the unit serves to reduce claimed conditions.
A case-in-point from an Active Duty U.S. Army perspective, the MEB Physician (a DoD civilian family practice MD) downgraded one of my PULHES categories in my profile from 3 to 2 simply because she "wanted to get the IDES process started" as stated in her exact words! Upon inquiry with the SMEBC, they stated the MEB Physician has the legal medical authority to make any changes on a soldier's profile, and that type of "profile category down selection" trend was unfortunately increasing. With the favorable IMR and subsequent MEB Soldiers' appeal, I was successful in having the medical condition's profile status upgraded back to a 3. To that extent, it was determined to be a "medically unacceptable" condition by the MEB, and then an "unfit for duty" determination by the PEB.

Thus, I quite often comment that "possessing well-informed knowledge is truly a powerful equalizer."

Best Wishes!
 

Jason Perry

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#8
In my case, a RC-SMSC Nurse Practioner Captain downgraded my profile from 3 to 2 for one of my well-documented conditions that wes sent from my state National Guard surgeon, a Colonel. This was done without another physical being done on me and overrode the profiles of previous orthopedic doctors' profiles and their documentation. There was no appeal process at this stage, so my package went forward to the MEB without the condition. I had to fight at the MEB level via an appeal and IMR to have the condition restored.

My impression was that this organization's purpose was not only an administrative process but also a filtering process for reducing claimed conditions. IMO, it seemed like another layer of bureaucracy that allows the Army to review packages and filter them because they view the Reserve Component units as incapable of properly preparing the packages. It seems to me that the Reserve Component unit PDES skills should be strengthened rather than creating a new level of bureaucracy to review, fix and filter packages submitted by the RC's.

Like Jason, I wonder why the active duty SM's don't have to go through this extra level of screening at additional expense and delay in processing. And, perhaps Jason's concern ("I was initially concerned about this RC-SMSC being used to deny RC Soldiers access to the IDES") was correct and also, perhaps. the unit serves to reduce claimed conditions.
This type of action is exactly what worries me....though, as to both this point and @Warrior644 's previous point, there are specific regulations about upgrading and downgrading PULHES and profiles generally, and specifically, while in the IDES process. The bottom line is that it is not rocket science for leaders to follow the regulations. They are published and pretty straight forward to file- especially by (alleged) subject matter experts. (And, for what its worth, I have been on all sides of this issue- I have been a line officer company commander, a JAG representing Soldiers at the PEB, a Soldier with my own profile, and a civilian attorney representing Soldiers....nothing about the rules are that hard to follow- unless you are trying to do some type of gymnastics to deny Soldiers their due).
 

nwlivewire

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#9
This type of action is exactly what worries me....though, as to both this point and @Warrior644 's previous point, there are specific regulations about upgrading and downgrading PULHES and profiles generally, and specifically, while in the IDES process. The bottom line is that it is not rocket science for leaders to follow the regulations. They are published and pretty straight forward to file- especially by (alleged) subject matter experts. (And, for what its worth, I have been on all sides of this issue- I have been a line officer company commander, a JAG representing Soldiers at the PEB, a Soldier with my own profile, and a civilian attorney representing Soldiers....nothing about the rules are that hard to follow- unless you are trying to do some type of gymnastics to deny Soldiers their due).

IMHO, It seems it is already a mess! With many units, Commands, and "important" people within the Soldier's hierarchy either making up rules, ignoring rules, ignorant of rules, not following procedures, failing to submit LODs based on their "personal opinion", etc., etc. There doesn't seem to be consistency within the State Guard units or State HQs units who process these claims and the same goes for Reserve Units. Decisions get made, assumptions are made, paperwork not filled out or not signed, conditions downgraded by the injured Soldier's higher ranking authorities who don't have the authority to do so - it's a nationwide mess.

If the idea is to fix that broken mess with yet another broken layer of "more of the same", then RC/NG injured are potentially in for more of a barrel roll than ever before! However, if this "clearing house" is objective, competent, follows the rules, THE LAW, etc., then this can help an injured Soldier get past the incompetency and the "overreaching of authority" at lower levels.

This is indeed a two-edged sword and it seems like this will cut both ways.

I am concerned with this and can see issues arising from this, which will delay, dilute the injured Servicemember's claim - and force the injured to hire a lawyer as many will NOT get justice without one.

V/r,
nwlivewire
 

2013GO

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#10
development of an automated workflow system that tracks all MEB activities from initial documentation of a pre-MEB packet through final adjudication for RC Soldiers..."
.
This is where it MUST start! We track equipment, repair parts, .... and other inanimate objects; why not track humans? My higher hq was requiring my unit to track mine...(after over 2 years and a congressional....and it that point, it didn't help my case one bit!). I am still not thru with the process and the tracking has already stopped!
 

173rdDoc

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#11
I am having issues with this now. I was referred via P3 nearly 100 days ago. The RC-SMSC is completely unhelpful and make their own rules. All my issues stem from AD and now as RC SM I have to jump through hoops with the RC-SMSC. They want an LOD for each individual issue and refuse to look at anything that is not rated as a P3 condition. Once I reach my 100 day mark with no action, I intended to seek a congressional inquiry to try and get this ball rolling. The contact reps there are not held accountable as they do not input you into IDES/E-MEB which starts the time for your MEB.