Continuing in the same branch

SoopurHero816

Registered Member
#1
I have been reading this site for a few hours now and plan on following it for the remainder of my process.

Does anyone have any experience with getting found fit and then switching to a different branch?

I am in the Navy and my doctor initiated my MEB process with an IPEB recommending me unfit for duty. When I initially joined, I was selected to become a Student Naval Aviator (Student Naval Flight Officer as backup). Unfortunately, on the 8th day of OCS, I found out that I was not physically qualified because my arms were a centimeter too short (non waiverable). So I continued through OCS (most fallen angels quit, but I didn't) and by the end of OCS I finally recieved the NAMI letter that I was officially NPQed. I tried to redesignate for Intelligence and Crypto, but unfortunately my Public Service Management degree was not really what they were looking for.

So I finally got picked up for the infantry for Naval Officers as a Surface Warfare Officer. Anyone with a pulse and a degree can become this. Unfortunatley, I joined a branch where I knew nothing about ships and was not passionate at all about them. I still drank the kool aid and when to school for it, getting a 91 GPA and second place in the shiphandling competition. When I was integrated back into my command we were underway helping an amphib ship do workups for a deployment. I was on a DDG, which if you know anything about doing pre-deployment workups as a DDG for an LHA, it is an extremely high op-tempo. I was one of three people who got medflighted due to mental health and fatigue. I was medevac'd for fatigue after being up for three days straight. When I got to the hospital, I was disoriented and didn't know why I was there. When I was placed in the psychiatric department, I panicked. It was 1am and they were putting me in a room with three other psych patients that had very acute disorders. Before I joined the Navy, I was an AEMT and had been assaulted by several psych patients, so naturally this was the way I behaved and the hospital staff responded by giving me heavy doses of antipsychotropic medications. This caused me to lose four days of my life. When my wife noticed I had those medications on board, she made a one-way flight to the hospital I was at and when she arrived she said I didn't even recognize her. I have no memory of her visiting me for 3 of those 4 days I was medicated. I eventually got discharged out of the hospital following a very long week and a half of trying to figure out a) why I was there and b) what was wrong with me and sent back to my home port. I was seen by a psychologist and psychiatrist while they weaned me off the medication for a month and observed me afterward to see if my symptoms returned.

They never did. After I got out of the hospital, all I wanted to do was return to sea and continue my career. Unfortunately, It took me poking at my detailer, PSD, admin, and IDC to finally get me back to full duty due to some fluke in the computer system that wouldn't reset my ACC code to be released from my previous command. Once I was found fit for full duty, I was immediately sent out to a ship that was forward deployed in the middle east. After flying the farthest I have ever flown in my life and experiencing the worse jet lag I have ever felt, I lasted only a few days before having an anxiety attack in the mess decks. I was having a hard time adapting to sleeping on a very noisy ship and I was also placed in overflow berthing with enlisted sailors which prevented me from being completely relaxed in my own living quarters. I was sent to a clinic and they recommended to sleep off the ship for a night to recalibrate my rest. Unfortunately there was no vacancy, so I returned to the ship where my condition got worse. I was unable to sleep and I began to fear I had a medical condition that was missed when I got re-evaluated back in homeport, like diabetes or cancer. After that I was taken off the ship and put into a local hospital where I recovered even quicker than last time after getting a solid night of rest. I was then medevac'd back to homeport again and upon my first appointment with my doctor (after the safety check) she diagnosed me with Unspecified Bipolar II because I don't meet all the criteria for the diagnosis.

My PEBLO and attorney seem very hopeful in my case as my doctors don't have a strong case to dismiss me from service. If I go through the PEB and get deemed fit, is there any possibility that I could switch military branches? I'm not very useful to the Navy without a STEM degree and I feel as though there are more opportunities for me in the Air Force or Army. I am eventually interested in getting my MD and becoming a doctor for the military, but at this point, I am just trying to stay in.

Thank you for any and all help.
 

Chaps_Z

PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
#2
I am sorry to hear you are experiencing these difficulties. In my opinion, based on your past experiences, I'm not sure becoming an MD is the best fit since you have already shown difficulty in adapting to strenuous work hours.

You can certainly do what makes you happy but taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do.

If the Bipolar diagnosis is accurate, having a job with reasonable hours and structured schedule is one of the best things you can do. Shift work is highly not recommended for those with the disorder.
 

Jason Perry

Benevolent Leader
Site Founder
Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
#3
SoopurHero816,

Welcome! I hope you find the PEB Forum helpful with your journey through the process. Here are my thoughts on what you posted:

Does anyone have any experience with getting found fit and then switching to a different branch?
This is somewhat of a rare situation, so you likely won't see many folks here with relevant experiences.
I am in the Navy and my doctor initiated my MEB process with an IPEB recommending me unfit for duty.
I am going to assume this is an accurate description of your situation. If your IPEB found you unfit, it is likely an uphill battle to be found fit by the FPEB. It could happen, but, you would need solid evidence showing that you are able to perform the duties expected of an officer in your "grade, rank, and rating." Your above first question asked about transfer to another branch after a fit finding. You would need to be found fit and returned to duty before you could explore inter-service transfer (which is the process you would need to apply for in order to achieve that goal). That said, again, you can't really go down that road until you meet that condition/assumption.

My PEBLO and attorney seem very hopeful in my case as my doctors don't have a strong case to dismiss me from service. If I go through the PEB and get deemed fit, is there any possibility that I could switch military branches?
Please clarify if you have in fact been found unfit by the IPEB.

To answer your question, though, yes, if fit, you would be able to pursue an application for inter-service transfer.

I hope all works out well for you. Best of luck!
 

SoopurHero816

Registered Member
#4
I am sorry to hear you are experiencing these difficulties. In my opinion, based on your past experiences, I'm not sure becoming an MD is the best fit since you have already shown difficulty in adapting to strenuous work hours.

You can certainly do what makes you happy but taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do.

If the Bipolar diagnosis is accurate, having a job with reasonable hours and structured schedule is one of the best things you can do. Shift work is highly not recommended for those with the disorder.
Becoming an MD is a pipe dream at the moment. I have worked strenous work hours in the past as a firefighter/EMT. Working and living onboard a ship in a Surface Warfare Officer capacity was the main problem for me.

SoopurHero816,

Welcome! I hope you find the PEB Forum helpful with your journey through the process. Here are my thoughts on what you posted:


This is somewhat of a rare situation, so you likely won't see many folks here with relevant experiences.

I am going to assume this is an accurate description of your situation. If your IPEB found you unfit, it is likely an uphill battle to be found fit by the FPEB. It could happen, but, you would need solid evidence showing that you are able to perform the duties expected of an officer in your "grade, rank, and rating." Your above first question asked about transfer to another branch after a fit finding. You would need to be found fit and returned to duty before you could explore inter-service transfer (which is the process you would need to apply for in order to achieve that goal). That said, again, you can't really go down that road until you meet that condition/assumption.



Please clarify if you have in fact been found unfit by the IPEB.

To answer your question, though, yes, if fit, you would be able to pursue an application for inter-service transfer.

I hope all works out well for you. Best of luck!
My apologies! I wrote this post in haste before I had to be somewhere and miscommunicated. I have not yet sent my paperwork to D.C. for the IPEB. I have no finding yet. I understand that first I would need to be found fit. My doctor is recommending me unfit for sea duty. I am finishing my package up now with a personal statement, a copy of my FITREP (only one I have since comissioning) with a DH recommendation, a copy of a NAM citation from my previous LIMDU, and a statement from my superior that describes my work capacity while TAD/LIMDU with the command. I am hoping these additions demostrates that I still have potential to lead and grow in the Navy.

When I brought this up with the JAG at my current command and asked her about the possibility of switching branches, she had no idea and had never heard of that. I guess my main question is if found fit, is there usually a required committment to stay in the branch, or do you get the option of starting the inter-service transfer process?

Thank you so much for your advice and time on this. This is a phenomenal website that is so invaluable during this process.
 

chaplaincharlie

Staff Member
PEB Forum Lifetime Supporter
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
#5
I am a little surprised by the reaction of the medics. Hallucinations are common in cases of severe sleep deprivation.

Example: I was in a now deleted dessert warfare school. After days of living on the ground, some coworkers reported OpFor tanks moving on our position. There were no tank on the range period. The cadre know the cure is sleep.

There are many articles in the literature about sleep deprivation. Attached is one:

https://neuroscience.stanford.edu/news/why-do-humans-hallucinate-little-sleep

Best wishes
Mike
 

SoopurHero816

Registered Member
#6
I am a little surprised by the reaction of the medics. Hallucinations are common in cases of severe sleep deprivation.

Example: I was in a now deleted dessert warfare school. After days of living on the ground, some coworkers reported OpFor tanks moving on our position. There were no tank on the range period. The cadre know the cure is sleep.

There are many articles in the literature about sleep deprivation. Attached is one:

https://neuroscience.stanford.edu/news/why-do-humans-hallucinate-little-sleep

Best wishes
Mike
Thanks, Mike. Correct, however the problem I had was that I couldn't calm down in the hospital being around those patients. So sleep was impossible. The good thing going for me is that both my doctor and the VA doctor who evaluated me both concurred that sleep deprevation played a huge role in my medical events.
 

Matt Kozyra

PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
#7
@SoopurHero816,

I want to echo Jason's comments, above. The question that the Board has to answer is not whether you're Fit to continue in the military, generally. It's whether you're Fit to reasonably perform the duties of your "office, grade, rank, or rating." That's from Title 10 of the U.S. Code, section 1201. The same language is echoed in the DoD instruction we work from (DODI 1332.18) and the SECNAV Instruction (SECNAVINST 1850.4E). It is the first and most fundamental question that the Board has to answer.

Unfortunately, that language completely prevents the Board from retaining you if the only things you're Fit to do are outside your designator. As an 1110, a disqualification from sea duty is a very significant restriction. That's especially true at this stage in your career, where you're supposed to be finishing underway quals and then up for your Department Head tour pretty quickly. You can't realistically do those things without being at sea, and we can't use a SWO who hasn't hit those milestones. It's especially especially true with the new DOD guidance on deployability.

So, long road ahead for you in order to be found Fit, and I expect I'm not the first person to tell you that.

When I brought this up with the JAG at my current command and asked her about the possibility of switching branches, she had no idea and had never heard of that. I guess my main question is if found fit, is there usually a required committment to stay in the branch, or do you get the option of starting the inter-service transfer process?
This one's good news, though. If you are found Fit, there are a series of laws and regulations that prevent your career from being derailed by the PEB process. The most important of these is 10 USC 1214a, which says that you can't be administratively separated or denied reenlistment for the same condition for which you were found Fit. Obviously, you're not worried about reenlistment. But the implementing regulations at the Service level offer similar protections for officers.

A Fit finding does not come with any additional service requirements. You don't have any more time added to your MTS as a result of it. You're allowed to resign your commission, apply for a new designator, or apply for a transfer to be one of those godless heathens in the Army on the day your findings come back.

However, if you want to do an inter-service transfer, you'll need to meet accessions standards for whatever branch you decide to switch to. That includes passing their medical screening. As a general rule, accession standards are more rigorous than retention standards (we accept that you're going to break down a little while in service, but we don't want to accept you in the first place if you're already broken). Check the medical accessions standards for your desired branch before you make that call. For example, AR 40-501, section 2-27, makes any history of anxiety or depression disqualifying for appointment as an officer. There might be a waiver process for that - it's not my area of expertise, so I'm not sure.

Assuming you can pass the medical screen, there's no administrative rule that would prevent you from immediately seeking a transfer to another branch after a Fit finding.

All that being said, I would highly caution you against telling the Board that your plan is to redesignate or to switch services after you're found Fit. That's especially true if your reason is "I don't think I can cut it as a SWO." That's all the Board would need to find you Unfit. Talk to your detailed Code 16 attorney about it, but I can't think of a situation where that would be a helpful statement to make.
 

chaplaincharlie

Staff Member
PEB Forum Lifetime Supporter
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
#8
I'm glad you current providers are on top of the effect sleep deprivation had in your case. You might want to consider EMDR for your reaction to the psych patients that assaulted. Some providers are having great results with EMDR. I went to phase one of the training, but never completed phase 2 due to factors other than interest.
 
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