AFBCMR changed discharge to "secretarial authority"?

PBnJ

Registered Member
#1
I applied to the AFBCMR Jan15 asking for them to change my discharge reason of Personality Disorder. My in-service diagnosis was Acute Stress Disorder, but my command gave me a quick and dirty involuntary Personality Disorder discharge (I did not have any PD diagnosis) just days after I got out of the hospital, presumably to get me out before the temporary ASD diagnosis became the permanent PTSD. I was in no condition to fight it, and was kicked out and on a plane home by the end of that week. Since then the VA has rated me 100% service connected for ptsd and medical.

April16 I got the approval letter that in Dec15 the AFBCMR decided to change my discharge reason to "secretarial authority". The letter says that the office responsible for making the correction will inform me when my records have been changed. And that after correction my records will be reviewed by DFAS to determine if I am entitled to any monetary benefits as a result of the correction of records.

I'm 16 months into the BCMR process and now wondering what happens next. And wondering if "secretarial authority" is a placeholder of some kind, or is that going to be what goes on my new DD214? Does it sound like this is going through a medical discharge process, or did they just give me some kind of administrative discharge upgrade? And how long does this last bit usually take? My letter says to expect some delay, so I'm assuming... a while.

I'm so glad to find this board. Just wish I'd found it sooner!
 

gsfowler

Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
#2
I tried to research it, there is a code that typically accompanies the secretarial authority. I believe that an change from personality disorder to secretarial authority is an upgrade.

What it does not sound like is that they are going to medically retire you for the condition.

I found this on a legal website:

A BCMR’s authority to correct military records includes the ability to accomplish the following:

• A BCMR can correct the reason for discharge that is listed on a veteran’s discharge certificate (DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty) by removing the words “personality disorder” or “adjustment disorder” and replacing them with a more innocuous reason such as “Secretarial Authority.”

• A BCMR can medically retire a veteran who was wrongfully administratively separated for a personality disorder or an adjustment disorder if it can be demonstrated that the veteran was actually suffering from a compensable mental disorder such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or anxiety disorder that made the veteran unfit to perform his/her military duties.
 

PBnJ

Registered Member
#3
Thank you for finding that info gsfowler. I wish the AFBCMR reading room was up so that I could research secretarial authority more in depth.

I believe it could go either way. The problem is that I don't believe it's possible to get a military medical discharge for ASD. The military is supposed to put you on TDRL until either the person recovers or it becomes diagnosed as PTSD after more than 4 weeks of symptoms. The board agreed that ASD was the correct diagnosis and that the stressor happened in service. But that does not mean that they will grant me a medical discharge / retirement.

It's very rare to get a PD discharge corrected to begin with, and yes, I do consider secretarial authority an upgrade. And it was what I was hoping for. A change to a medical discharge would certainly be a win, but in reality, I was not expecting it.
 

gsfowler

Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
#4
This is the situation in my opinion, the differentiating factor in diagnosing the difference between acute stress disorder and PTSD is time.

To diagnose acute stress disorder, the disturbance lasts for a minimum of 2 days and a maximum of 4 weeks and occurs within 4 weeks of the traumatic event.


What this means is that after the condition has lasted for more than 4 weeks, the diagnosis of Acute Stress Disorder must be changed to something that is more appropriate based upon the symptoms (more than likely PTSD). What the Air Force did was illegally (by today's standards) diagnose you with personality disorder and discharge you for a condition not a disability.

I think that the AFBCMR is still robbing service members economically by recharacterizing the discharge as secretarial authority. This leaves them off the hook from paying a medical retirement and makes them only liable for severance pay.

I would fight this in Federal Court and request that the discharge be upgraded to medical retirement, and request the back pay. If the condition is combat related, I would also request CRSC to be retroactively paid.

Personality disorder was misused frequently by the military to remove service members off the book. It was such an issue that in early 2014 DoD instruction was given to basically "knock it off" and get a proper diagnosis of any behavioral health conditions.

http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/133214p.pdf
 

PBnJ

Registered Member
#5
That is definitely what happened, in a nutshell.

Thank you for so clearly writing that up and the link to the new directives. If I need to fight this, and I just bet I do, I'll have a place to start now.

Since they didn't tell me where my case is going next, I will have to wait until the DFAS gets it and renders their determination.

I thought it was rare to get the bum rush the way I did. I honestly thought it had more to do with my grandfather (CMSgt) getting involved and he and my commander butting heads while I was in the hospital. But if this is happening to a lot of people, it's a disgrace. And although the VA is taking care of everything for me now, getting my discharge corrected to reflect what really happened would go a long way towards erasing the stigma I've endured over the years for having an involuntary personality disorder discharge. Try getting a decent job with that on your resume.
 

PBnJ

Registered Member
#6
Thought I'd post an update as it's been a while.

In July I received my new DD214 and another notice that my case had been forwarded to DFAS for review. I tried contacting DFAS but even after 3-4 months they still had no further info for me. I do believe that "Secretarial Authority" just means that the Secretary used his Authority to remove previous information in that space, and nothing more.

After much thought, I decided to go ahead and refile DD form 149 as a reconsideration of a prior appeal and directly request being considered for a medical discharge. I found a case in the AFBCMR that is almost identical to my own and referenced it to show precedent for consideration. I have no idea how long this secondary process will take. But I will keep this post updated as info comes my way.
 

Gertz2727

Registered Member
#7
I was discharged honorably with a personality disorder as well in 2003 from the air force since then I've got buddy letters and newer evidence plus 100% va rating for tbi (traumatic brain injury) symptoms I didn't get any letter like you did instead I decided to upgrade narrative reasoning from personality disorder to a medical discharge they finally sent me letter back with all the panel members giving thier input it sounds like each 1 wants to upgrade it to a secretarial authority discharge my friend whoworks for a Veterans benefit organization said if they do upgrade it to that then that's a huge upgrade I still think it's a cop-out though and wondering if I should accept it or take it to federal court
 

PBnJ

Registered Member
#8
Sorry I missed your post until just now Gertz2727

It is a huge deal to get upgraded to Secretarial Authority. It's very very rare to even get that much. And I do feel grateful to have gotten that much done. But it also is a cop out by them. Your TBI and my PTSD & TBI should have both gone through medical.

The Board doesn't really "offer" anything. They will be sending you a letter with their decision. You can let that be the end of it, or you can take the next step. In your case, I don't know if trying an appeal would do more than waste everyone's time though. You have to have some sort of reason. New evidence of some sort. Even if what they decide is totally not right, their decision is final.

Do you have a lawyer? That would be your next step. There are many who work our kinds of cases too. You sound like you have the basis of a very good case to me.
 

PBnJ

Registered Member
#9
I'm still waiting for any kind of feedback from the board on my appeal. It's been 5 months. I hope it's safe to assume that they've decided to at least look at my case. If they'd denied it outright I think I would have heard something by now. But we all know about assumptions...

Does anyone have any contact info for the AFBCMR? I'd like to add their e-mail to my contacts so it won't accidentally get thrown out with the junk! They are still sending things to my old address, so when I filed the appeal I asked for everything to get sent to my e-mail.
 

pittpan2005

PEB Forum Veteran
#10
Does anyone have any contact info for the AFBCMR? I'd like to add their e-mail to my contacts so it won't accidentally get thrown out with the junk! They are still sending things to my old address, so when I filed the appeal I asked for everything to get sent to my e-mail.
[email protected]

This is how I initiate contact with the ABCMR, but not sure if this is the same e-mail you will receive correspondence from throughout the adjudication of your claim.
 

PBnJ

Registered Member
#11
Thanks for posting the Army info pittpan, it may have gotten me where I needed to go. If only I'd seen it sooner.

I did just find the e-mail for the USAF board though, finally. This is the contact info.

** For questions about the AFBCMR process, please call the Case Management Office at 240-612-5379 or e-mail them at [email protected] **

Updated case information: I e-mailed them and they got back to me within the hour. I found out that I DO indeed have a new case #. They are reviewing my case again, based on my argument of a precedent being set by another case that had gone through the boards. I'm guessing I haven't received any mail from them because they didn't have my updated change of address. I only sent it out to them 3 different ways. They say they have it corrected now. We'll see about that.

I am shocked that I got this far. My appeal statement was simple. If the board agrees with me, based on the USAF opinion that it is more likely that the psych eval of ptsd is correct, rather than the Colonel's personality disorder discharge, then shouldn't I have gone through medical discharge proceedings? So then why did the board correct my DD214 to another kind of administrative discharge?

The e-mail told me that I will (probably) be informed of their decision sometime between June and Feb. They said nothing about sending me information for my own review and possible rebuttal. I don't know if this is being treated as an appeal, or a new case, or what. There is nothing else I can think of to do, but wait it out.
 

MFM

Registered Member
#12
I am currently in an almost exact same circumstance, in so far as the AFBCMR goes. I could see from the "Advisories" that they wanted me to settle for "Secretarial Authority". Not a chance! I fired back with additional evidence of PTSD from my own Psychologist and also answered the so-called "Snap shot" argument with records the Archives wouldnt give me but I later found among my own papers. The so-called "Snap Shot" refers to symptoms of PTSD present at or near time of discharge. Remember this! its another way they cheat Applicants of their Medical Retirement. I am waiting for an answer. Basically, the way I see it, this is a Kangaroo court with the Defendants ( The Air Force) also act as the Judge. I don't believe the members of this board are anything more than a rubber stamp for the real decission maker behind the black curtain. I am approaching this as a pre requisite to my eventual appeal to Federal Court. So far this process has taken in addition to two years. In the process of investigating my own case, I confirmed that the so-called "Clinical Psychologist" who branded me with "Personality Disorder" had never held an active licenceuntil 1996. sixteen years after he "diagnosed" me. In early 1980, PTSD was not in the so-called DSM. Further this quake had never recieved training in diagnosing sexual assault or harassment. The Board "Advisor" was kind enough to state that the quacks "diagnosis was improper given the length of time needed to diagnose "Personality Disorder" would take days or even weeks with interviewsiews and back ground checks. My visit to the dingnosing quack took fifteen minutes. I am relying heavily on the quack's lack of professional qualification.
 

MFM

Registered Member
#13
Friends, you have to check state licensing agencies, consumer medical blogs, face book and general internet searches to find out all that you can about the "Psychologists" who "diagnosed" you. See if there has been arecord of licensing violations, improper conduct, license suspensions etc. You must destroy the destroyer of your reputation. Also, check out the so-called Board Advisors. I rebutted showing that two of the "advisors" answering my complaint were not even "Psychologists" but rather a Medical Doctor specializing (his words) in "preventative medicine" and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker neither of whom were technically qualified to speak on "Clinical Psychology". I noticed both of them were stationed at the same station as the quack who branded me with "Personality Disorder" and both were Colonel's like him. I strongly suspect they knew one another.
 
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