MEB/PEB at Landstuhl? Process for Reserve/Inactive Soldiers?

oifvet

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5 years Active Duty, 5 years Reserve--70%+IU from the VA for PTSD, receive SSDI, OIF 04-05
Got out back in 2005 without a Med Board. Just hired a civilian attorney a few weeks ago, he has prepared an ABCMR appeal for me. The appeal essentially states that the injustice was that I never received an MEB review even though (from my post-deployment screening/medical records etc.) it was obvious that I should have been put into this process.
Final goal for me is to be medically retired and not have to depend on the VA and SSDI for the rest of my life.
Reading what my attorney put together I feel there is a good chance that I will have my shot at the MEB/PEB process. I would like to go through this process at Landstuhl as this is the MTF closest to where my spouse is currently stationed--and will be for several years.
Here are my questions:
1) Is there anyone going through the MEB/PEB process at Landstuhl? What is your experience? Is there anyway I can talk to you?
2) Am I crazy to be subjecting myself to the MEB/PEB process (and being owned by the Army again) in hopes of retirement? Is this process going to suck away a year or more of my life?
3) I am afraid that I am going to be treated like a piece of s**t if I am brought back on Active Duty after being gone for so long. What experience have other Reserve soldiers had when they go through their MEB/PEB process? Are you put on orders for the entire time or only when you have an appt/medical review.
I appreciate any thoughts that folks have about my situation.
 

Ed Mercanti

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The ABCMR will review your records and look at your OERs or NCOERs and your APFTs. Were you performing your duties? Could you pass the APFT? If the answer is yes than its doubtful that the ABCMR will grant your request. Their logic will be that even if you should have been referred to the DES, its apparent that you would have been found physically fit by a PEB based on your evaluations and APFT. If the ABCMR does grant your request, it will probably not restore you to active duty. It will direct the PDA review your military medical records and determine whether you were unfit and percentage of unfitness AT THE TIME OF YOUR SEPARATION. The ABCMR would be trying to correct your records to show what should have happened if you had not been improperly separated. Your medical condition 7 years after that fact has no bearing on that determination.
 

oifvet

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Ed, Great information! Thank you.
APFT and Evals were good as of my discharge date--got all the downrange goodies (CAB, BSM). My demobilization health care records are strong support for my PTSD diagnosis at the date of discharge (meds prescribed, psych help sought, etc.)
Now, let's skip to the part where you say, "If the ABCMR does grant your request, it will probably not restore you to active duty." Thank GOD if this is correct! I had hoped that this would be purely an administrative matter but my attorney thinks I need to be sent to an MEB.
Who/What/Where is a PDA? Does the PDA consider my medical records during the post-deployment 60 days of military health care (at Madigan) and my VA records immediately after that?
Do you or anyone you know have experience handling this type of "long-ago" discharge?
Please provide any further information you may have.
 

John Bittner

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you said that your evals and APFT were good at the time of your separation, that might hurt you. If you were unable to perform your duties than your ABCMR would have a greater chance of siding in your favor. As for Landstuhl, both the PEBLO and MEB physician are really great there. I had only positive experiences with them. I was boarded three times. Once in 2006 in Landstuhl and again started my MEB in Landstuhl in 2010.
 

Ed Mercanti

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I was a team chief on the ABCMR and have handled numerous "long ago" cases. However, I consider "long ago" Vietnam and the Korean War. The PDA is the Physical Disability Agency, which reviews completed PEBs. Its in Washington DC. I would imagine that any medical records generated in the proximate time of your release from active duty would be considered. But you have to understand a basic principle of the DES. You can have numerous medically disqualifying conditions and found to be physically fit. The ABCMR's Medical Advisor was rated (if you added them all up) 300 percent disabled by the VA, yet he was physically fit because he could perform his duties. So the ratings medical defects would bring if you went to a PEB only matter if there is evidence that you couldn't perform your duties.
 

oifvet

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you said that your evals and APFT were good at the time of your separation, that might hurt you. If you were unable to perform your duties than your ABCMR would have a greater chance of siding in your favor. As for Landstuhl, both the PEBLO and MEB physician are really great there. I had only positive experiences with them. I was boarded three times. Once in 2006 in Landstuhl and again started my MEB in Landstuhl in 2010.
John, Thanks. This is reassuring information if I do have to go through some medical process here at Landstuhl. Let's hope that Ed Mercanti is correct and I can go through this process through admin. routes.
 

maparker

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I too was found fit by a PEB. One year later I retired for length of service and rated 100% P&T by the VA effective the date of my separation. This did not have any impact on me benefits wise but I did disagreed with the fitness finding as others were deemed unfit based on the same medication I was required to take irregardless of the MOS, rank, years of service. I could do my job in an office environment but I could not do common military tasks nor could I deploy. By deeming me fit, another in my MOS has to deploy twice. Fitness is more than doing your job, its about being a soldier as well. Both me and the ABCMR medical advisor could serve as civilians and not impact the fighting strength of the military.

No offense Ed, but from my perspective, the PDA advisory opinions are not fair and balanced. They are predomiantly written by one man defending the old PDA mentality of deny if you can, approve if you must. It really is the fox watching the hen house.

Mike
 

Ed Mercanti

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What happens is supervisors and commanders, trying to take care of their good people, give them glowing OERs or NCOERs. They SHOULD be talking about how the soldier is non-deployable or cannot work in a field environment. The PEB has to work with what it has . . . yes, the individual (to leave out names in a public forum) in the PDA who writes the advisory opinions is old school. He was a LTC in the PDA and retired in place. We have had our differences over the years and I certainly didn't recommend going with the PDA's recommendation in a number of instances. In one case a guy was in a Bradley that got hit by mortar fire which killed everyone except the applicant (Desert Storm). He was placed on the TDRL for his wounds. When he had a periodic MEB/PEB he was found fit for duty due to his wounds, but totally disabled due to PTSD. Problem is you can only rate someone for the disabilities that resulted in their placement on the TDRL. The PDA recommended disapproval. I recommended that the ABCMR correct the original 199 to add PTSD (his medical records said he had the beginning of PTSD and it was anticipated to become disabling), and then change the final (TDRL) 199 to rate him 100 percent disabled due to PTSD. The Board accepted my recommendation.
 

oifvet

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maparker, thank you--you provided me some info over on your yuku board. Ed, it is generous of you to provide your expertise to this forum--especially helpful for me. So, here is what I have gathered--IF the ABCMR grants my request to be reviewed for medical retirement then my medical records from around the time of my discharge will be put together into a PEB format for (skipping the MEB) and go to the PDA for review by one "old school retired LTC." Ed can I message you about my case?
 

Ed Mercanti

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It appears that the ABCMR has changed the way it does these. My apologies. I looked at some recent cases and here is the conclusion of one that was boarded in October 2011 (and yes, you can message me):


BOARD DETERMINATION/RECOMMENDATION:



1. The Board determined that the evidence presented was sufficient to warrant a recommendation for partial relief. As a result, the Board recommends that all Department of the Army records of the individual concerned be corrected by:



a. directing the Office of The Surgeon General to contact the applicant and arrange, via appropriate medical facilities, an MEB; and



b. if appropriate, by referral to an informal PEB.



2. The Office of The Surgeon General is directed to use appropriate invitational travel orders to accomplish the MEB, and if necessary, the PEB.



3. In the event that a formal PEB becomes necessary, he will be issued invitational travel orders to prepare for and participate in consideration of his case by a formal PEB. All required reviews and approvals will be made subsequent to completion of the formal PEB.



4. In the event a PEB finds that he has a medically unfitting condition and it is compensable, action will be taken to correct his records to show he was appropriately separated effective 2 March 2007.



5. The Board further determined that the evidence presented was insufficient to warrant a portion of the requested relief. As a result, the Board recommends

denial of so much of the application that pertains to correcting his records to show he was medically retired at this time.

 

Ed Mercanti

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However, this assumes the ABCMR determines that you have shown that you were physically unfit at the time of your separation.

The ABCMR can employ many different options to get the information that it needs to make a final recommendation.
 

John Bittner

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I was found fit for duty in Feb '12 by the MEB; my case didn't even make it to the PEB. It was as if they were trying to prevent a PEB from happening. The MEB doctor had never met me, wrote a variance memo against 4 unfitting conditions that the VA had confirmed. I had a heart monitor implanted in Jan '10 and the MEB physician never ordered a reading of it when she unequivically denied the existance of my syncope. Turns out I had a asystolic pause of 9 seconds in July and after 45 minutes at John's Hopkins Cardiology they confirmed this. Last week they decided that it was imperative I receive a dual chamber pacemaker. I am 33. This is not typical. I was also diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). I have other conditions also, but I am lucky because my Congressman has requested a full inquiry of my MEB. How can an MEB doctor say that someone who had has a physical limitations PULHES of 333113 for almost two years, us suddenly fit for duty with a PULHES of 131111? It should be criminal. My family cannot understand it. My friends outside the military cannot understand it. And inside the military everyone is just so muted that the seriousness of this type of MALPRACTICE is overwhelmingly downplayed. If I were you I would involve my member of Congress if I ever had to submit an ABCMR.
 

xgijane

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OIF vet, and anyone else who can advise me, my story is virtually the same as OIF vet. 10 years active, 10 years guard. SSDI benefits with date of disability 6 months before 20 year release. Ultimate VA 70% psyche due to physical trauma during active duty, 30% UI. No discharge physical, or MEB/PEB/NARSUM TDRL ever occurred. I was never outprocessed at all, and I didn't receive most of my documentation until 6 months after release, after the deadlines for many issues, including VGLI. There were so many errors on my records that have had to be repaired, with signature not available on all paperwork. I have proof of all of this. I was merely sent a letter following my 20 year discharge from the reserves stating that I was fit for duty, and later my discharge letter, RPAS points, NGB 22E. I had not attended drill or AT for 6 months, was temporarily profiled for that whole time for psyche issues that made it impossible to ever return to military service or my civilian job. The Guard had lost all of my medical records, but I had copies of all pertinent military and civilian records.I have tons of medical paperwork stating that I was incompetent, all occurring before my MEB was requested. Was advised by someone a year after release to apply for VA Comp and SSDI even though found fit for duty, did so by phone with VONAPP rep and SS rep. a year after release of 20 years. Have only been able to pursue issues during times of mental clarity. DAV reps have told me not to pursue these things because I could be risking my rating. Was told by askhrc last week that there were so many problems with how the Guard handled things that they had screwed me out of many benefits, and I should quickly pursue these things now while my meds are somewhat working. askhrc is sending me my OMPF and SBP election info. Suggested going to ABCMR and congressman, but don't know process and whether to bury them in all my proof. Also, I was discharged as reservist, then it was corrected to make me retired reserve later on. Will they put me on temp. orders for these boards? Is pursuing medical retirement with VA Comp worthwhile or even possible to receive? What about severance, TDRL, and backdating my VA Comp to begin on day following release? Never had advocate, liaison,etc. Also, if on temp orders will that qualify me for temp SGLI that then can be converted to VGLI? Willing to pay back premiums, also only have $10k veterans insurance, not $30k available because I was told my rating was too far back. Any help regarding any of these issues separately would be appreciated, because I know all of this is overwhelming and no one can answer all of these questions. Please help.
 

oifvet

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xgijane, Whoa! This is complicated. It sounds like one of your concerns is life insurance. I recommend just buying a term policy through AAFMA or USAA until you can get this all figured out. I missed getting VGLI also, I carry term life but that is all I will ever have because of my PTSD. It sounds like you have a 20 year letter? If so, do you have enough points for retirement pay at age 60? Do you want to/feel like you will be able to work again? If not, then I would consider just keeping your current VA benefits + SSDI and getting your 20 year retirement straight so you can get your pay at age 60. If you want your VA Comp backdated then you need to appeal through the VA. Sorry I am not much help here. Hopefully some other vets will chime in.
 

xgijane

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I apparently have to go through the ABCMR process like you, and having them find me retroactively unfit for duty could cause VA Comp to backdate to date of 20 year release or date of disability because I was denied the appropriate counseling and there was administrative error(this gives me an additional $20k plus). They should have TDRLd me, and given me a PEB Liaison officer to help get all these things straight. I can't appeal this through VA without the board decision showing cause. This is one major goal. I realize that VGLI is owned by Prudential, but if the ABCMR shows military responsibility for the failure to apply within the deadline, then I can possibly pursue reparations/restoration due to damages caused by the military. $250k is a lot of insurance to lose, and with all of my disabilities USAA and AAFMA won't insure me. I am even willing to pay the back premiums; it is that important to me, and the $20k would cover that, or help pay for several other separate policies that would be equivalent. I do have enough points to retire at 60, but that is 8 years away, and I am still trying to get them to fix my Retired Reserve entry date so I get two more years of COLA. Ideally I want as much as possible, so that I could give up UI, go through some kind of vocational rehabilitation and work during the times when I am mentally capable while getting my 70% VA, SSDI, medical retirement or a combination of any of these. I know its a lot to ask, but we've earned these things. Question...what state are you in, and is there a way you could message me with your lawyer's name? I can't find one nearby who has experience with MEB/PEB, ABCMR process. Thanks for the input, and good luck with your "mission".
 

xgijane

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One more question...what type of form/format should a fit/not fit for duty determination be on? All I got was a letter on DOA, CA Army National Guard letterhead memorandum that said,"The CA ARNG State Surgeon completed a Medical Duty Review Board/Physical Profile on SGT.....SGT .... was found to be fully fit." No back-up docs, no MEB/PEB board, NARSUM, or even a DA Form 3947, MEB Proceedings were attached, in my records, or apparently done at all. Not even a notation on my OMPF that a MEB had occurred. Just want to know so I can help build my case. Thanks.
 

Jason Perry

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One more question...what type of form/format should a fit/not fit for duty determination be on? All I got was a letter on DOA, CA Army National Guard letterhead memorandum that said,"The CA ARNG State Surgeon completed a Medical Duty Review Board/Physical Profile on SGT.....SGT .... was found to be fully fit." No back-up docs, no MEB/PEB board, NARSUM, or even a DA Form 3947, MEB Proceedings were attached, in my records, or apparently done at all. Not even a notation on my OMPF that a MEB had occurred. Just want to know so I can help build my case. Thanks.
I see these Medical Duty Review Boards pop up in National Guard cases all the time. I completely do not understand why these "boards" continue to sit when both Army and National Guard regulations state this board has been eliminated. This is a quote from NGR 600-200: “Medical Duty Review Board (MDRB) in AR 40-501 was eliminated on 1 September 2002 and actions after that date are not valid.” National Guard Regulation 600-200, Para. 2-13, b (2).

You need to argue that you did not meet retention standards per AR 40-501, Chapter 3. (I would make sure you are looking at the reg in effect at the time). Then you would argue that you were unfit. Those are some of the minimal arguments I would think you would want to make. Depending on your duty status when injured and other details, there may be other arguments that you should make.
 

xgijane

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Jason, I think I love you! LOL!!! That one answer just built my case! I have been compiling a case regarding this, but I needed a reg to base it on, and I knew there had to be one but in all of my reg reading I hadn't found it yet, and you just gave it to me!!!! I have all the docs needed to back it all up. The date of the reg is prior to the date on my letter. This gives me the first domino...............Thank you so much. I'll post updates. You are awesome.
 

Jason Perry

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Glad to help! I hope it all goes your way.
 
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