Asthma and likely separation from Air Guard

Jerbart

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
I've been fighting my asthma for several years (7-8) using Singulair and and occasional Albuterol inhaler. I have bad attacks, gasping and coughing up a lot of junk for 24-48 hours after running a couple of miles. I'm a crew chief (flightline) and I also have moderate attacks after being around running jet engines or after being exposed to many of.the chemicals we use (de-icing fluid, methyl ethyl ketone (a serious cleaner), diesel fumes.fro.equipmwmt
 

Jerbart

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
I've been fighting my asthma for several years (7-8) using Singulair and an occasional Albuterol inhaler use. I have bad attacks, gasping and coughing up a lot of junk for 24-48 hours after running a couple of miles. I'm a crew chief (flightline) and I also have moderate attacks after being around running jet engines or after being exposed to many of the chemicals we use (de-icing fluid, methyl ethyl ketone (a serious cleaner), diesel fumes from heaters and running trucks/equipment. Recently, they had to add another med (Breo, a long term bronchidialotor) to my list of meds, and I could no longer hide my condition during my yearly physical health assessments.

I also have sleep issues, caused by restless leg, which cause me to only get about 15 minutes of deep (stage 3) sleep a night (I recently had a sleep study done for the first time and never knew, beyond just being very tired and horrible memory during the day). The doc recently added Klonopin to my Ambien in the list of "pre-bed" crap I should take, and I feel like I'm just tired, stupid, and taking way too many medicines to just keep pushing through, so I can be left alone to turn a wrench and finish my career.

My guard doc is great, she is very understanding and asks which "way I want to go" - try to fight to stay in (although be mobility restricted, which to me is pretty pathetic for a crew chief) or get out medically. Until a few days ago, I wanted to fight to stay in, but everyone I work with up to my flight chief, section chief and commander are treating me like I'm made of glass now and won't let me do anything that might "expose me to any hazards" and I feel like they want me to give up, let my slot open, and replace me with a young healthy 18-year old.

I'm 41, I have 22 years (4 active duty Air Force and 18 air guard, with about ten years total worth of points/active service total). I've been a full-time Federal WG-12 for the guard, doing the same job (crew chief) since 2003.

Should I just make way? I'm pretty freaked, I've been in uniform since I was 19 and I wanted to spend my whole life doing this until retirement. I have a family to provide for, and I just feel like if I give this up, I'm just going to be another one of those guys who couldn't hack it and let his family and unit down.

[Sorry if this double posted, seemed.to time out for edits]
 

Jerbart

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
Just lost - I think my number 1 question is - what happens to me? I wanted to fight to stay in, but nearly every co-worker is pushing me to take the "crap shoot" of seeking permanent medical retirement? That nets me a decent way to move forward and care for my family - if I get the boot for both asthma, and the restless leg syndrome? I guess I'm just depressed and didn't anticipate this kind of thing, and don't see a clear way forward that let's me keep food on the table and a roof over my family's head.
 

Deno

PEB Forum Regular Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Do you have a line of duty(LOD)
You can get a waiver, but when the Guard needs to thin the force. You will be up, and possibly the first to go.
If you have medical backing you. Then you may want to retire and move on.
 

KSBear

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
First off before anything you need to go to a pulmonologist. I am being medically retired for Asthma and other conditions. If all you take is singular and a rescue inhaler you may want to inquire about other meds. Advair discus, Spiriva, Breo. I went through several until Breo was invented and I have used it for 3 years now. My lung damage is from screaming while my truck was on fire. medication can make a huge difference, I went from praying to die most days because I couldn't walk without gasping to mildly annoyed. If your Doc is working with you, try getting it under control first then make this decision. Unfortunately without knowing your Pulmonary Function Test Results and simply going by your meds you will not get much for your asthma from the VA percentage wise. I take steroids, Corticosteroid inhalers and rescue inhalers and got 50%. Just information for your consideration. Please make them get your meds and condition stable first before the board stuff.
 

Jerbart

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
I've had PFTs, x-rays, bronchial provocation test (which I failed), allergy screens, vial after vial of bloodwork, a sleep study (no apnea, but moved like mad, clenched my fists and shoulders, ground my teeth, and would wake up suddenly and look around - none of which I remember). Upper endoscopy, because I have a hiatal hernia and sometimes I'll aspirate stomach acid then inhale it and have a pretty severe 36-48 hour asthma attack after, even using inhaler immediately. I'm on Ambien, Klonopin, Singulair, Breo, and Famotodine daily, and have an Albuterol rescue inhaler I use a couple times a week. Hell, pretty solid tinnitus on top of it all that.
 

Jerbart

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
I know the VA looks at a lot of this and says "so what". I think the best I can hope for is a good permanent medical retirement from the air National Guard, although the info on what to expect from that prt of things is foggy. I have 21+ years of service, and my points put me past nine a half of active duty. The asthma seems like the definition of a 30% Air Force Medical in a couple of ways, because of the meds I'm on, if I understand correctly.

And I know other medical issues would have to be "disqualifying in their own right" - I don't have a clue if the insomnia/restless leg/partial leg movement disorder (he actually diagnosed me with a severe case of all three) in addition to the daily Singulair and Klonopin would do that, or at what percent.
 

gsfowler

Super Moderator
Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Here is the real issue you are facing.

Because you are in the Guard, you will need a line of duty investigation to prove that the injury/illness incurred and/or was aggravated while you were entitled to active duty pay.

No LOD will make is very difficult for you to be submitted for a MEB.

Your chances of getting VA compensation and pension are probably greater than a MEB. Since you are a full time WG-12, perhaps yo may want to file for a medical retirement with OPM.
 

Jerbart

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
Yeah my boss said the OPM 40% retirement is a given, since I'll be separated from the "concurrent military assignment", which makes me ineligible to retain my WG-12 position. The hard part is - how do I prove that working on KC-135's for over two decades has "caused or aggravated" my asthma on the military side? It isn't like asthma is caused by a specific incident that happened once, not like a wrenched back or blown out rotator cuff.

I have attacks every time I'm around running engines for more than a few minutes, or get exposed to particular chemicals we work with. I've deployed repeatedly - sandstorms, black mold in the air conditioners, sucking up JP-8 and diesel fumes for 12+ hour shifts for years. One would assume the fact that the "aggravation of symptoms" would be kind of a given, but I've been warned the Air Force and VA both will fight me tooth and nail not to give up a dime.

The biggest things I'm worried about at this point is getting the MEB/PEB to give me the 30% permanent medical retirement (if the Air Force uses the same standards as the VA, that's where I'm at considering the meds I'm on) so I can get the active duty retired pay and keep paying the mortgage, and the 10-point
disabled vet status so I can get to the front of the line to move on to a federal job down the road. I can't just sit at home collecting a pension at 42 years old, I'll lose my mind.
 

Jerbart

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
I have 21+ years in the guard, around 3550 retirement points (well past the 8-years worth of Active Duty mark), and the absolute definition of a 30% disabling condition. Wouldn't that put me on the PDRL and qualify me for mil retirement right away - line of duty or not?
 
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