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ARC DES Issues with Congressman Wittman: 7 May 10

Are you a RC member who has or has had similar orders/entitlements/DES issues?


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VAJumper

Moderator
PEB Forum Veteran
This meeting with me and Mike McDermott (Ruptured-duck) took place on 7 May 10 at Congressman Wittman's Office in Yorktown, VA. SMSgt McDermott drove all night from NewYork arriving to attend this milestone meeting. Congressman Wittman is the Senior minority representative of the House Armed Services Committee and is on the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. His pledges to immediately take action were heartfelt and he agreed these issues should take priority. Focus will be on enforcement of existing laws passed by Congress and holding those senior leaders accountable who are culpable. SMSgt McDermott and myself have struggled getting basic entitlements for healthcare and pay following serious injuries incurred in the line of duty.

My story:
The US Report - The US Report - USAF reservist battles injury and government insurance

He was very disappointed with the response from the DoD of my recent Congressional Complaint which contained half-truths, ignored requested information, and contained fabricated information which appeared as an attempt to cover-up what happened and is happening to injured/ill ARC members. WVEC TV News 13 has pledged to do follow-up news story to help get these issues national attention as quickly as possible.

Post discussions included development of the Strand/McDermott ARC Enforcement and Accountability Act of 2010.:p

Information Discussed:

BULLET BACKGROUND PAPER ON INJURED AND/OR ILL RESERVE & GUARD ORDERS, MEDICAL, PAY, AND DES ISSUES


- Active Duty Medical Continuation Orders for Guard and Reserve with Injuries/illnesses in the line-of-duty
-- Active duty medical continuation orders are being denied, delayed, allowed to expire, or not being extended on time causing lapses of benefits
-- Without orders, members cannot receive adequate medical care, pay, or benefits
-- Delays in receiving medical continuation orders sometimes can take months or years
-- Orders delayed pending line-of-duty investigations which should take days are taking months or years
-- Orders are not contingent on receiving a line-of-duty (LOD) investigation and the member is supposed to be given the benefit of doubt, yet the services often withhold orders pending the completion of the LOD investigation which can take months or years. Many have never had LODs completed which is vital in documenting a reservist or guard members service connected disability.
-- Delays in orders means delays in pay and healthcare.
-- Lapses or breaks in orders means termination of pay, benefits and healthcare. Members in this scenario cannot even make appointments through the military healthcare system (Tricare), since they are no longer enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS).
-- No adequate system is in place that allows ill/injured reservist/guard with line-of-duty injuries to make medical appointments through Tricare or to be seen by providers. Members are told to bring their line-of-duty (LOD) reports with them, but they are not accepted to make appointments at military healthcare facilities and are directed to contact Tricare to make appointments.
-- Too complicate matters with Tricare, no system is in place to provide transportation for these seriously ill/injured service members. While the VA provides it for Veterans, and Social Security provides it to the disabled, the DoD relies on family members to accommodate the member’s transportation needs—even when this non-medical transportation can result in a worsening of the members condition and cause physical harm. If there are no family members available, there are few options available and the member is charged with the responsibility for paying for transportation using his/her own resources at the cost of up to $500 round trip to each appointment. This 5-mile trip to see the Congressman cost $387.

- Incapacitation Pay
-- This is a congressional entitlement for injured/ill service members that is supposed to provide medical entitlements and pay when injured/ill in the line of duty.
-- Members may opt for incapacitation pay and decline active duty orders, but many aren’t getting it or incapacitation pay is forced on members (by removing them from active duty orders and being told they can apply for incapacitation pay) where it is not applicable.
-- Members are told they may apply for incapacitation pay only if they can prove a loss of civilian income. This is not true. Members may apply if they are unable to work and not fit for duty as well.
-- As a result, injured/ill members who cannot document a loss of civilian income are denied incapacitation pay benefits regardless of the months or years previously on active duty status when their injuries occurred.
-- While on incapacitation pay status, members are denied the same rights, benefits, and pay afforded active duty service members contrary to congressional legislation. They are unable to make or schedule medical appointments as their active duty counterparts, must continually provide proof documenting their incapacitation status, and pay is interrupted or stopped without just cause.

- Disability Evaluation System (DES)
-- Reserve and Guard members are not being afforded the opportunity to be processed through the disability evaluation system as mandated by Congressional legislation
-- Members are being discharged and sent home while still seriously injured or ill at the discretion of administrative specialists without the authority to do so.
-- Members are being told by these specialists their injuries/illness don’t warrant a Medical Evaluation Board nor justify medical hold continuation orders. This is not their determination to make.
-- Medical decisions are being made to remove members from medical orders who have serious injuries/illnesses without due process or even contacting the member’s care providers.
-- The process involves having a LOD determination followed by initiation of a Medical Evaluation Board (MEB). The MEB then determines if the member may have conditions which are unfitting toward continued military service and forwards the package to the Informal Physical Evaluation Board (IPEB) which determines whether the member is fit/unfit and recommends return to duty or medical separation/retirement based on the level of the members disabilities. The member can appeal to the formal PEB when he/she feels the rating is unjust.
-- Without either a properly documented LOD determination and initiation of an MEB, members are being discharged with no entitled pay or benefits.
-- For the Air Force, the process from the MEB to the IPEB is taking at least 4 months. Some members have been waiting or are still waiting years for their case to get to the IPEB. If the member appeals the IPEB decision, there is over a 90% chance the rating will be increased or stay the same. Appeals are taking months to process. Individuals whose cases reach the PEB level and are returned back to the MEB level do to missing information, must begin the whole process over again and are placed in the cue at the back of the line sometimes causing over a year in delays.
-- Reservists and Guard fall into the same DES process as their active duty counterparts with the added stress of LODs, orders, pay, and Incapacitation Pay issues. These issues have caused members serious hardships after having served their country faithfully. Being too injured or ill to work, many have of lost their jobs, families, homes, health, and lives.

Questions Asked:

1. Don’t you think this could have an effect on the healthcare system debate? Shouldn’t we be focused the most on helping our wounded warriors and fixing their system first?

2. Doesn’t it offend you that while you asked the Air Force Reserve to provide answers to the questions in my complaint, they weren’t answered but covered up by stating the “intent & spirit” of the rules were followed?

3. What is the process for investigating allegations such as these and what can be done to enforce the laws written by Congress by senior military officials who choose to ignore them?

4. I can provide sources of numerous other service members (including your constituents) these issues have happened to, and many would be willing to testify before Congress including myself. Many are low ranking enlisted who blindly follow the incorrect information the military provides them and are unaware of their rights. I am a volunteer member of a privately sponsored group with thousands of wounded warriors (pebforum.com) seeking help through the DES system since the military system has failed them. Don’t you think a publicly sponsored group such as this should be made available?

5. Should this information become public, one could expect thousands of wounded warriors past and present to come forward with their stories similar to mine. Wouldn’t it be wise to be proactive and attempt to identify them first and offer to assist? The questions I’ve asked at the end of my original complaint provides a process for identification.

6. Do you think Congress is aware that thousands of reserve/guard who have been injured in the line of duty have been discharged without being processed through the DES and have no pay or deserved entitlements?

7. Does Congress know of the current backlog of people waiting to be processed through the DES and of the bottlenecks and lack of resources to adjudicate these cases?

Desired Outcome:

Use the prestigious influence of your office to investigate and address these issues which affect the lives of thousands of Reservists and Guardsman in all branches of service and enforce corrective measures to preclude recurrence, hold accountable responsible individuals, and identify all individuals past and present who have legal rights to these entitlements.

 

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VAJumper

Moderator
PEB Forum Veteran
Bumped for survey. Need people to answer anonymous survey...Reserve and Guard all branches.
 

why777

PEB Forum Regular Member
PEB Forum Veteran
it is an election year can it be forwardered to other local news channels in other states like Fl ,Ga ect that are now for not following the laws and regs
 

robs42

Well-Known Member
PEB Forum Veteran
i am fighting the same battle. i have thousands of dollars in medical bills due to outside referrals while on LOD and INCAP status. i continue to forward all bills to my unit, yet nothing gets done. it's almost to the point where this is going to affect my near perfect credit rating. i have filed a congressional complaint w/Sen Jack Reeds office in RI. my retirement date is 25 oct 2010 (next week) and this has been going on for years. i do not know where else to turn on this issue. anyone having the same problems? thanks for checking in!
 

VAJumper

Moderator
PEB Forum Veteran
Tucci,

There's some new information about that here. Your unit probably would not know what to do. If you contact the MMSO office in the link, or go to a Tricare Referral Management office at your nearest military installation, they should be able to help. They did manage to pay all my bills for LOD care.

TRICARE Beneficiaries

I also made minimum payments on bills to protect my credit score, which were later reimbursed.
 
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