Pilot/Factor V Leiden

Redeye71

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
Hi everyone! Just found this site a couple of days ago and have been doing some light research. Approximately two months ago I was sent to the ER and ultimately diagnosed with blood clots in my lungs. On the 3rd CT Scan, this time with contrast, the clots were identified. My internal medicine doctor referred me to a pulmonologist in San Antonio. He ordered blood tests rather than reviewing my case in 90 days (per my request since I was grounded and part of a small company that was greatly impacted by my grounding). Those tests came back positive for Factor V Leiden.

So, I spoke to my Flight Doc, talked about a waiver, agreed to come in the next day to begin the process. However, when we talked the next day, I was informed that because I was now non-deployable, I would be processed by MEB. She had called the president of the board panel who explained that would be the first step. Additionally, when she asked how likely I would have a favorable outcome, he said that percentages were low. She then said, lets start this after Christmas break because they really don't like you to be on leave when the process begins. I agreed.

SO, now after having done my light-research, it seems the the LTC board president is correct. I haven't seen a lot of hope for a positive outcome.

A bit of background on myself, I am a Black Hawk Pilot, a Chief Warrant Officer 3 at 19 years and 8 months. I signed a bonus to stay in until 22 years back in July. However, the contract had a clause " Death or disability that was not the fault of the Soldier would not be cause for recoupment." I spoke to the Incentives and Compensation Branch and was told it was up to the CoC, however to date, there has not been a single instance of recoupment. My Battalion Commander has said he will not try to take the money back. Great news there.

At this point, as long as this is going to take and seeing the writing on the wall about what my ground/desk duties are going to look like, I would prefer to be medically separated/retired. There is no guarantee that I will be granted a waiver to fly if I am found fit, and I have talked to the flight school HR rep who said they would very much like to move towards an interview based off my qualifications, so it makes more sense for me to be found unfit and move on with my post-military life.

I very much look forward to any advice you have and to hear what the outcomes of YOUR scenarios were if you have Factor V Leiden as well!
 

Armypilot

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PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
Hello Redeye,

Fellow retired CW4 here (41 yrs AD/NG, all aviation, RW/FW). Having been on flight status when I was medically boarded, I can share some insights. Yes, you are probably right that there is not much hope for a waiver. Having said that, since the result would be no more Army flying, then I would suggest to attack the MEB/PEB as hard as you can, to get the best results for you and your family, in order to move on (past Army life). If you have a medical issue that limits your ability to fly Army, it probably also limits at least one "Soldier Task", which is one of the key factors the Board looks at to determine if you are "fit or unfilt" for duty.
I am going to guess they will find you "unfit for duty", and medically retire you. Because of that real possibility, I suggest you make sure that when you speak with your MSC Counselor, the Rep on Base that will prepare the "list of things you might have medical problems with", that you list each and every one of the issues you have. For example, if you suffer from Tinnitus (flying 19 yrs of Hawks can do that to you), or you had an injury (for example, back or shoulder, after being shot down, etc), you need to list each of those things, because in the end, they need to be examined by the VA and rated (given a percentage). The Army is required to go with the % given by the VA, for those Army physical dissabilities.
In the end, the percentages do make a difference, since it means that your Final DoD Retirement % may actually end up being higher than just the 50% due from retiring with 20 Yrs AD. Plus, if Medically retired, and with 20 Yrs AD, you can get the VA to issue you a % of disability pay (tax free) in addition to your DoD pay. Just saying, you've done your part, so did I, and by the time you are facing a grounding condition and an exit from the military, it is time to think of you and your family, and your future.
Wishing you the best of luck. It seems like a really dark period in your career, but you need to stay focused on the finish line.
Stay safe and as healthy as you can, there is life beyond the Army.
 

FmrArmyAvatr

Active Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
You should/will be over 20 years when the MEB is complete, so you are good for PDRL and CRDP.

Hopefully you put all your other physical issues down during your flight physicals and have been seen for them. It helps with the VA to be able to point to an issue and say “it’s been there for X years”. It helped me during my MEB, to get a condition added and get the maximum I could with less than 20 years. I wasn’t worried about flying after the Army, I had not flown an aircraft in over 9 years (I am a Major). I got a waiver for PTSD while I was already in the MEB process(it took 9 months), but it was yanked a month prior to my retirement and I’m permanently DQ’ed (even with the FAA). But I have zero plans of flying ever again, the Army totally ruined flying for me.
Go get seen by the flight doc for whatever other issues you have and get prescribed some minor medication if it is even the smallest issue (if applicable). Like indigestion (GERD), get your pcm/flight doc to give you a script for Prilosec, it guarantees the VA will service connect this condition. Viagra for ED, you aren’t 21 years old anymore. You have to give the VA hard medical evidence in your medical record of any condition you claim, they don’t/will almost never take your word on anything. Get anything long term check out as well, it works to show the VA where the condition started and how it has progressed since then.

Case in point—my foot stated hurting in 2010. Fast forward to 2018 during my MEB, the current MRI/CT scan showed an over doubling in size of a bone cyst during that 8 year period. Condition added to MEB, 30% DOD/VA for that alone.

@Armypilot above lot of great info.
 

chaplaincharlie

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Based on the verbiage, I doubt recoupment will happen. Best wishes as your transition to post Army life.
 

Redeye71

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
Hello Redeye,

Fellow retired CW4 here (41 yrs AD/NG, all aviation, RW/FW). Having been on flight status when I was medically boarded, I can share some insights. Yes, you are probably right that there is not much hope for a waiver. Having said that, since the result would be no more Army flying, then I would suggest to attack the MEB/PEB as hard as you can, to get the best results for you and your family, in order to move on (past Army life). If you have a medical issue that limits your ability to fly Army, it probably also limits at least one "Soldier Task", which is one of the key factors the Board looks at to determine if you are "fit or unfilt" for duty.
I am going to guess they will find you "unfit for duty", and medically retire you. Because of that real possibility, I suggest you make sure that when you speak with your MSC Counselor, the Rep on Base that will prepare the "list of things you might have medical problems with", that you list each and every one of the issues you have. For example, if you suffer from Tinnitus (flying 19 yrs of Hawks can do that to you), or you had an injury (for example, back or shoulder, after being shot down, etc), you need to list each of those things, because in the end, they need to be examined by the VA and rated (given a percentage). The Army is required to go with the % given by the VA, for those Army physical dissabilities.
In the end, the percentages do make a difference, since it means that your Final DoD Retirement % may actually end up being higher than just the 50% due from retiring with 20 Yrs AD. Plus, if Medically retired, and with 20 Yrs AD, you can get the VA to issue you a % of disability pay (tax free) in addition to your DoD pay. Just saying, you've done your part, so did I, and by the time you are facing a grounding condition and an exit from the military, it is time to think of you and your family, and your future.
Wishing you the best of luck. It seems like a really dark period in your career, but you need to stay focused on the finish line.
Stay safe and as healthy as you can, there is life beyond the Army.
Armypilot, Thank you very much for the quick response! I'm kicking myself for being "too busy" to follow through on my previous phsyical therapy appointments for my hip issues that manifest during flight, but I am happy that I got it in my records at Campbell and also here at Polk. My flight doc recommended that if I've been "underreporting" myself to ensure I stayed flyable, that now would be the time to start making appointments and get them looked at. I've seen alot of evidence of people getting 0% and others getting 60% for the PE's. Do you think its likely to start at 60%?
 

Redeye71

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
You should/will be over 20 years when the MEB is complete, so you are good for PDRL and CRDP.

Hopefully you put all your other physical issues down during your flight physicals and have been seen for them. It helps with the VA to be able to point to an issue and say “it’s been there for X years”. It helped me during my MEB, to get a condition added and get the maximum I could with less than 20 years. I wasn’t worried about flying after the Army, I had not flown an aircraft in over 9 years (I am a Major). I got a waiver for PTSD while I was already in the MEB process(it took 9 months), but it was yanked a month prior to my retirement and I’m permanently DQ’ed (even with the FAA). But I have zero plans of flying ever again, the Army totally ruined flying for me.
Go get seen by the flight doc for whatever other issues you have and get prescribed some minor medication if it is even the smallest issue (if applicable). Like indigestion (GERD), get your pcm/flight doc to give you a script for Prilosec, it guarantees the VA will service connect this condition. Viagra for ED, you aren’t 21 years old anymore. You have to give the VA hard medical evidence in your medical record of any condition you claim, they don’t/will almost never take your word on anything. Get anything long term check out as well, it works to show the VA where the condition started and how it has progressed since then.

Case in point—my foot stated hurting in 2010. Fast forward to 2018 during my MEB, the current MRI/CT scan showed an over doubling in size of a bone cyst during that 8 year period. Condition added to MEB, 30% DOD/VA for that alone.

@Armypilot above lot of great info.
So, I just had to look up CRDP for the meaning. I ended up on DFAS' website where I read that if a SM is over 20 years, then they do not need to attain 30% disability for medical retirement, they will automatically be medically retired if found unfit. I definitely think that being found unfit is the route to go. Its interesting that you mention digestion because I do get that often. I never thought to mention it to the flight doc. As I sit here and discuss it with my wife, I realize that I really need to go back over the years and think of the things that I've had issues with and the ones that I currently have as well.

Do you feel that the odds of getting 60% for the clots is likely or a toss up? I've read quite a few cases on here where the SM got 0 and then others got 60. I feel like it would probably be fairly easy to make up that 40% with my twice broken finger (service connected) and my hip that causes me problems when I fly, and other minor issues that I have?
 

FmrArmyAvatr

Active Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
So, I just had to look up CRDP for the meaning. I ended up on DFAS' website where I read that if a SM is over 20 years, then they do not need to attain 30% disability for medical retirement, they will automatically be medically retired if found unfit. I definitely think that being found unfit is the route to go. Its interesting that you mention digestion because I do get that often. I never thought to mention it to the flight doc. As I sit here and discuss it with my wife, I realize that I really need to go back over the years and think of the things that I've had issues with and the ones that I currently have as well.

Do you feel that the odds of getting 60% for the clots is likely or a toss up? I've read quite a few cases on here where the SM got 0 and then others got 60. I feel like it would probably be fairly easy to make up that 40% with my twice broken finger (service connected) and my hip that causes me problems when I fly, and other minor issues that I have?
When you hit 20 years, you automatically get 50% minimum no matter what the MEB says. The MEB can say 0%, you get your 50% from the Army, BUT that 0% could be what the VA rates you for that condition as well. It’s worth it to push hard for the most you can get for a condition (60% in this conditions case from what you say). You will then get 60% from the Army AND that 60% from the VA for CRDP purposes. I have zero knowledge of the VA’s Factor V rating criteria, so I cannot comment on specific percentages.

Also, get a copy of your medical records ASAP. Tricareonline has them, but a more complete version is available at medical records office at the Polk hospital. You have to fill out a form requesting them and they will give you a CD or email them to you. They are all digital now, so you can just pdf search them for anything. Use them and if there is a Veterans Service Officer available, they could help you go over your records for conditions to claim.

If your hip hurts now at age 40ish, imagine how much it will possibly hurt at 50, 60, 70. Doesn’t hurt to get it checked out and a possible MRI to see any joint damage? If you get all this done prior to the MEB, you can get a C&P exam during the MEB for it and at minimum a service connection. Trust me it’s harder to get stuff service connected after you retire. There is a one year “grace” period after you retire with the VA, but again, dealing with the VA is a slow process and knowing your overall percentage prior to retirement helps you plan.

This is one of the best charts I have found that explains CRDP vs CRSC.

 

Armypilot

Well-Known Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
Redeye, sorry I was out of the net for a while.
Even though you will have a min of 50% as a result of retiring from AD with 20 yrs, you most definetly want to make sure that any and all issues are marked down on your Army medical records, and then, follow up with the right folks at your base (Physical therapy for muscle/skeletal, etc) and when you get referred to an MEB, be sure to put them down there too, with the help of your MSC (Military VA Advisor). The MSC will fill out the VA forms and get your VA Exams scheduled. Based on those VA Exams, the Army may determine that you have "unfit" conditions (anything that would ground you, or keep you from performing a number of "soldier tasks", should count to make you "unfit" as far as the MEB Board is concerned). After the MEB Board decides you have "unfitting" issues, then it goes to the PEB Board, and that has to use the VA percentage ratings, which might affect you retired pay (above the 50% from AD). We as Aviators always, always, underrate out pain and conditions, believe me, until you can't stand that pain any more.
Best wishes in your future! There is life after the Army.
 

chaplaincharlie

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Another difference between normal retirement and medical retirement has to do with certain TriCare copays.
 

Redeye71

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
Redeye, sorry I was out of the net for a while.
Even though you will have a min of 50% as a result of retiring from AD with 20 yrs, you most definetly want to make sure that any and all issues are marked down on your Army medical records, and then, follow up with the right folks at your base (Physical therapy for muscle/skeletal, etc) and when you get referred to an MEB, be sure to put them down there too, with the help of your MSC (Military VA Advisor). The MSC will fill out the VA forms and get your VA Exams scheduled. Based on those VA Exams, the Army may determine that you have "unfit" conditions (anything that would ground you, or keep you from performing a number of "soldier tasks", should count to make you "unfit" as far as the MEB Board is concerned). After the MEB Board decides you have "unfitting" issues, then it goes to the PEB Board, and that has to use the VA percentage ratings, which might affect you retired pay (above the 50% from AD). We as Aviators always, always, underrate out pain and conditions, believe me, until you can't stand that pain any more.
Best wishes in your future! There is life after the Army.
Thank you so much! I meant to get on here sooner than now, but I'm still busy even though not flying. We have DES and ARMS coming at the end of February. I'm going to turn over my Standardization Pilot title when found unfit, but for now, I am still the "Title Person" so trying to get the best foot forward.

So, my Flight Doc has just submitted the referral. I hope to get the call from the person that schedules the briefings very soon. I have gone to the transitions department to begin the briefings and classes. Thankfully, two of the counselors there are also medical retirees. So, like you, they are giving pretty sage advice.

This week, I started going to "sick call" to get those small and bigger issues looked at. Terrible case of athletes foot. Prilosec for my heartburn/GERD. Got some lotions and creams for other minor issues. Xray for my neck because of army pain. Thought I probably tore a muscle at some point and just keep reaggravating it. Doc thought it might be related to neck and manifesting in arm. In a couple of weeks, I go back in for CT Scan on my hip. Had MRI done a couple years ago at Fort Campbell. Doc here at Polk looked and thought he saw something and wanted a CT Scan. Next week, I will see my flight doc again for sleep apnea. My wife has been on me about it for a while, but someone had told me that it would ground me. So I stayed away. My 1SG just got checked out and it sounds like a pretty quick and easy process, overall.

I'm still up in the air about retaining an attorney. The counselors I spoke to said they didnt even really bother with the appointed attorney either.

Rumor on the street here from a Corporal that just found out he will be medically retired is that the process has been streamlined. Im being told it could be as soon as 4 months or as long as 8 months. Likely 6, though. I wish it would be faster, though, if I am just going to be found unfit so that I could start interviewing for jobs!
 

Redeye71

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
When you hit 20 years, you automatically get 50% minimum no matter what the MEB says. The MEB can say 0%, you get your 50% from the Army, BUT that 0% could be what the VA rates you for that condition as well. It’s worth it to push hard for the most you can get for a condition (60% in this conditions case from what you say). You will then get 60% from the Army AND that 60% from the VA for CRDP purposes. I have zero knowledge of the VA’s Factor V rating criteria, so I cannot comment on specific percentages.

Also, get a copy of your medical records ASAP. Tricareonline has them, but a more complete version is available at medical records office at the Polk hospital. You have to fill out a form requesting them and they will give you a CD or email them to you. They are all digital now, so you can just pdf search them for anything. Use them and if there is a Veterans Service Officer available, they could help you go over your records for conditions to claim.

If your hip hurts now at age 40ish, imagine how much it will possibly hurt at 50, 60, 70. Doesn’t hurt to get it checked out and a possible MRI to see any joint damage? If you get all this done prior to the MEB, you can get a C&P exam during the MEB for it and at minimum a service connection. Trust me it’s harder to get stuff service connected after you retire. There is a one year “grace” period after you retire with the VA, but again, dealing with the VA is a slow process and knowing your overall percentage prior to retirement helps you plan.

This is one of the best charts I have found that explains CRDP vs CRSC.

That chart was awesome--thank you! I keep meaning to go over to records and keep forgetting. That will be something that I definitely do next week after the 4 day weekend. I commented below to ArmyAvtr that I will be going for a CT Scan in the next two weeks for that hip issue. I had an MRI done at Campbell, but the LTC here thought he saw something on it and wanted to have the CT scan done for a better look. Hopefully all of that will be helpful for me!
 
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