The BCMR: It can make a grown man want to cry

maparker

Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
#61
Ed,

My frustration stems from my advocacy in the 2005-2006 timeframe. There was a systematic machine set out to deny disability benefits to anyone the PEB/USAPDA did not deem worthy regardless of what the law and regulations stated. At that time an ABCMR employee contacted me with similar concerns on how the ABCMR was improperly adjudicating disability cases and was keeping book on them. It all came down to the USAPDA knows what they are doing and no one should question it.
I initiated an IG complaint that went nowhere, again centered on no one should question the great OZ that was the USAPDA, fueled by BS opinions from their legal counsel.
I contacted the Washington Post and the Army Times on the issues. Their 2007 stories broke the issues wide opened and disclosed the systemic fraud that was the USAPDA and dare I say the ABCMR bought in to the fraud hook, line and sinker. Anything that came out of the USAPDA was treated as gospel and became the basis for erroneous BCMR disability decisions. Your discreption of production goals for BCMR boards was a driver as well. BCMR boards can adjudicate a lot more cases if they just go with what the USAPDA said.
Much of the issues with the USAPDA have been corrected as have the processes with the ABCMR. However, only some of the past victims have the ability to fix their situations. The PDBR is overall a good vehicle but is limited in scope. The BCMRs were directed by DoD to follow the VASRD but only for cases that occurred from 9-11 forward. This leads me to conclude that for cases that occurred prior to 9-11, the BCMRs can still apply illegal, non VASRD rating criteria.

The Hordechuck V. US case from 1959 shows that the PEBs were systematically low balling cases with illegal, non VASRD criteria for 50+ years but only those wronged since 9-11 have been granted the protection of VASRD based ratings despite it being the lawful requirement since 1947. What is the sense of that other than to turn a blind eye on decades of past victims to save money?
Will the BCMR’s abide strictly by the VASRD criteria for pre 9-11 cases and, if not, why not?

Mike
 

89Falcon

PEB Forum Veteran
#62
Mike,
I think the biggest issue....something I did not realize until I worked directly for an SES...is that GOFOs and SES' are kind of in a "billionaire boys club". There seems to be an unwritten rule that you do NOT...NOT EVER...question the judgement of a fellow club member. He has his kingdom....you have yours.....and then the GS-15s on the boards.....do you REALLY think the political ones want to overturn the decision of someone who could be their boss next year?
Excessive professional courtesy....and once a decision is made, they NEVER seem to back down....and are willing to look stupid in federal court because it doesn't cost them a penny to do so.....as a military member, you don't get punitive damages...and a young JAG Capt actually WANTS the chance to argue in Federal Court.
 

franky

PEB Forum Veteran
#63
Can we please just make it right! I am tire of all of the excuses that I am hearing. STOP, and just be just! Enough! It's absolute garbage that a potential applicant has to go through all this BS and KNOW that their appeal is 99% likely going to get denied. If this is really the case, lets call our congressman, senators, and counel members. Otherwise, fire them all. Like I mentioned to Ed. how can I rate him without knowing nothong about him? I'm sure that the board has not issue doing so, but I do. Lets be fair and no more excuses. NONE Ed! None!
 

89Falcon

PEB Forum Veteran
#64
Can we please just make it right! I am tire of all of the excuses that I am hearing. STOP, and just be just! Enough! It's absolute garbage that a potential applicant has to go through all this BS and KNOW that their appeal is 99% likely going to get denied. If this is really the case, lets call our congressman, senators, and counel members. Otherwise, fire them all. Like I mentioned to Ed. how can I rate him without knowing nothong about him? I'm sure that the board has not issue doing so, but I do. Lets be fair and no more excuses. NONE Ed! None!

Franky,
to be successful a the afbcmr or abcmr you need to do the research....cite previous opinions...point out they are bound by them....and I'd highly recommend hiring a lawyer who has dealt with the boards before. Do the research and write a draft...and hopefully that will make your fees a little lower (less research time for the lawyer)....and then above all, you'll need some luck....there are some honest brokers.....just hope you get one of them.
 

Ed Mercanti

PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
#65
"Lets be fair and no more excuses. NONE Ed! None!"

I'm retired, so saying that to me doesn't help your case.

The Board will give you a fair hearing. Whether that results in an approval or denial is a matter that the Board will determine based on the facts of the case.
 

Ed Mercanti

PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
#66
Mike asks "Will the BCMR’s abide strictly by the VASRD criteria for pre 9-11 cases and, if not, why not?"

As I said I was the supervisor of an ABCMR production team and not management. You are asking a policy question. However, as of last year we were adhering to the court decision which only allowed for one reconsideration within a year of denial.

Why? Beyond my pay grade. But I would imagine that logistics (workload and staffing), timeliness of completing cases (Section 1557), and funding of corrections could all have been considered. Thats if they considered it at all. They may only do what the court and DoD requires them to do without any real thought.
 

franky

PEB Forum Veteran
#67
"Lets be fair and no more excuses. NONE Ed! None!"


I'm retired, so saying that to me doesn't help your case.

The Board will give you a fair hearing. Whether that results in an approval or denial is a matter that the Board will determine based on the facts of the case.


Ed,

You're right! You are retired and it does not help my case or anyone else's. The term "I got mine" seems to be the norm these days and I should not be targeting you. Regardless of whether or not I get retired, there are countless other veterans who NEED the benefits and they should be given a FAIR chance at receiving what they fought so hard for. I find it amazing that there are so few that will actually support those of us who are seeking justice. I did appeal my PEB, I was then given some faulty information which was against me, and like so many others was made to feel like we were more of a burden than what we really were/are. So, congratulations on your retirement, benefits, and privilege’s but that does not help anyone else but YOU!

With regards to your attribution of knowledge regarding the BCMR, I thank you for that. I will reiterate what I have been saying and that is the BCMR seems to not side with the veteran or the SM. Is that coincidence, maybe or maybe not. I only want a "fair shake", is that too much to ask for? Take care, Ed.

Frank
 

Ed Mercanti

PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
#68
Franky, when I said I was retired I wasn't implying that "I've got mine." I was saying that I no longer write the cases for the ABCMR.

Yes, I "have mine." Thirty four years of Federal service. I was in the 3/8th Cavalry (Airborne) during my enlistment from December 1970 to 1973. I was a shift supervisor on the DCSPER Crisis Action Team in the Emergency Operations Center at First Army during Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Ended my career with 20 years in the ABCMR.

You say the ABCMR does not side with the veteran. Thats hard to answer. The ABCMR, by regulation, starts its review with a presumption that what the Army did was correct. Its up to the applicant to show there is an error or injustice. That being said, the vast majority of the analysts and management are very liberal in their write ups to try to help the soldier and veteran. But they have to have something to work with. They cannot turn straw into gold.
 

fmiles

PEB Forum Regular Member
#69
I love this site! I'm currently awaiting a decision from BCNR and a claim reconsideration and new claim from VA. Postings on this site have provided me ups and downs, smiles and frowns. I get Ed's point and see he's a warrior for service members and veterans alike for fair military and VA awards. However, don't beat up on someone that is providing a different point of veiw than yours, I'm welcome what I call :the devil's advocate," as it make me search and fight harder for evidence that'll side in my favor. As I've been reading this thread I see Ed as an "hearing officer" and his job is to weigh the evidence presented and if it's not there then unfortunately the SM or veteran lose in part due to lack of evidence. Again, great site!
 

Ed Mercanti

PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
#70
I love this site! I'm currently awaiting a decision from BCNR and a claim reconsideration and new claim from VA. Postings on this site have provided me ups and downs, smiles and frowns. I get Ed's point and see he's a warrior for service members and veterans alike for fair military and VA awards. However, don't beat up on someone that is providing a different point of veiw than yours, I'm welcome what I call :the devil's advocate," as it make me search and fight harder for evidence that'll side in my favor. As I've been reading this thread I see Ed as an "hearing officer" and his job is to weigh the evidence presented and if it's not there then unfortunately the SM or veteran lose in part due to lack of evidence. Again, great site!
You've got it fmiles! It doesn't help anyone to sugar coat what I say. You need to know what the examiners will look for at the ABCMR and how the Board will view certain things. That way you know what you need to support your request and the logic you need to present to sell it. And believe me, you are selling it in many instances. For example, I took a SBP case when I discovered that the deceased soldier's wife was Korean and didn't speak, read or write english. She was sent a letter informing her of her husband's election to decline SBP, which complied with the requirements of law at the time. But I argued that the word "notified" is defined as informing by oral communication or in writing. The letter was in english and the spouse couldn't read it. So I "sold" the case by saying that while the requirements of law and regulation were technically complied with, since the spouse couldn't read the "notification" the intent of Congress was not complied with.

Look at what I'm saying in this. First I had to know the SBP laws in effect in 1981, the date the woman's husband retired, because that is what governs the case. I have to realize that the Board is not going to use the SBP laws in effect today to make it's determination. Than I had to find something that I could use to show that, while there was no technical error in the case, there was an injustice.

The applicant had her application denied by the Board and had come to me to write a request for reconsideration. The Board had denied the case because there was no technical error.

People need to be told the truth if they want a chance of success at the ABCMR.
 

franky

PEB Forum Veteran
#71
Franky, when I said I was retired I wasn't implying that "I've got mine." I was saying that I no longer write the cases for the ABCMR.

Yes, I "have mine." Thirty four years of Federal service. I was in the 3/8th Cavalry (Airborne) during my enlistment from December 1970 to 1973. I was a shift supervisor on the DCSPER Crisis Action Team in the Emergency Operations Center at First Army during Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Ended my career with 20 years in the ABCMR.

You say the ABCMR does not side with the veteran. Thats hard to answer. The ABCMR, by regulation, starts its review with a presumption that what the Army did was correct. Its up to the applicant to show there is an error or injustice. That being said, the vast majority of the analysts and management are very liberal in their write ups to try to help the soldier and veteran. But they have to have something to work with. They cannot turn straw into gold.
Ed,
I have to apologize for seemingly direct my frustration at you. Thank you for your straight forward response, that's the way it should be. I always hated when people took forever to give me an answer. A couple of things that I am concerned about regarding the ABCMR, and not only for me but for every other poor soul out there seeking resolve. One, the liberal write ups should take the SM or Veteran into absolute consideration when noting their issues. Two, the service member should not be considered straw but gold. I know that is just your way of stating what you stated, however, if you know what the term "precious cargo" means then you will know what I am talking about.

We the service members would have never been "liberal" when the analysts and management were in trouble and needed to be extracted or rescued. I guess they forget all too quickly who is fighting the fight. Thanks again for your input and please do not take my rants to heart.
 

Ed Mercanti

PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
#72
Franky, you're not reading what I said. I was a tank commander in Troop A, 3/8th Cavalry (Airborne). Thats the tip of the spear. But I was never in combat. When I finished training in 1971, most of us had orders for Vietnam, but those orders were amended to send us to either Germany or Korea. We didn't know it at the time but they were beginning to draw down the force in Vietnam.

You appear to believe that the ABCMR should simply believe everyone and grant their requests. Let me remember some of my cases . . . I can't COUNT the number of cases I've worked where the applicants say it was unfair that they were given an undesirable discharge because they only got one Article 15. When I went into their record they had five Article 15's, one summary court-martial, and one special court-martial. Or the Reservist who had 18 1/2 years of qualifying service who said he thought he had 20 qualifying years and would never have stopped attending drills if he hadn't been misinformed. In his records there is a counselling statement he signed where he was told he only had 18 1/2 years of service and didn't qualify for retired pay, and his response that he no longer had the time to attend drills because of his new civilian job. I can go on and on and on . . .

The ABCMR deals in truth and than justice.
 

franky

PEB Forum Veteran
#73
Franky, you're not reading what I said. I was a tank commander in Troop A, 3/8th Cavalry (Airborne). Thats the tip of the spear. But I was never in combat. When I finished training in 1971, most of us had orders for Vietnam, but those orders were amended to send us to either Germany or Korea. We didn't know it at the time but they were beginning to draw down the force in Vietnam.

You appear to believe that the ABCMR should simply believe everyone and grant their requests. Let me remember some of my cases . . . I can't COUNT the number of cases I've worked where the applicants say it was unfair that they were given an undesirable discharge because they only got one Article 15. When I went into their record they had five Article 15's, one summary court-martial, and one special court-martial. Or the Reservist who had 18 1/2 years of qualifying service who said he thought he had 20 qualifying years and would never have stopped attending drills if he hadn't been misinformed. In his records there is a counselling statement he signed where he was told he only had 18 1/2 years of service and didn't qualify for retired pay, and his response that he no longer had the time to attend drills because of his new civilian job. I can go on and on and on . . .

The ABCMR deals in truth and than justice.
I guess I need to be more clear in regards to what I'm writing. I will not assume that every person who applies to the ABCMR is telling the truth in regards to their situations, whatever they may be. I am stating that there are service members who are ill or injured and there is no hiding or distorting those truths. There is a difference between claims of disputing AR 15's, qualifying years of active federal service, and disputing a rating for medical seperation and medical retirement. So, I guess I must be reading what you said or at least unable to agree with what you write. You are not on the same side of the person's who are INJURED and aplpying to the ABCMR but on the side of reading and critiquing submitted claims.


VR,
Frank
 

Ed Mercanti

PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
#74
I guess I need to be more clear in regards to what I'm writing. I will not assume that every person who applies to the ABCMR is telling the truth in regards to their situations, whatever they may be. I am stating that there are service members who are ill or injured and there is no hiding or distorting those truths. There is a difference between claims of disputing AR 15's, qualifying years of active federal service, and disputing a rating for medical seperation and medical retirement. So, I guess I must be reading what you said or at least unable to agree with what you write. You are not on the same side of the person's who are INJURED and aplpying to the ABCMR but on the side of reading and critiquing submitted claims.


VR,
Frank
I'm not on anyone's "side." Thats why I decided that I can't write cases in retirement. I tell people the truth, and most people don't want to hear that. But I can't charge somebody money to write a case that I know has no chance of being approved. I'm sorry my truths did not meet your needs Frank.
 

pittpan2005

PEB Forum Veteran
#75
Franky,
I believe you are frustrated and have valid concerns. Believe me, I am finished with the whole process, but everyday I find "societal wrongs" or something else to raise my blood pressure. Many times not for any other reason except, I don't agree with it, therefore it must be wrong. That's when I stop, take a breath, think about it and realize, "wow, sometimes I just need to relax."

As service members we were/are a select group who chose a job few would willingly do. Those of us who joined or will join are different. We share/have something most will never understand without serving. There will always be service members, relatives, friends and others we don't agree with, but that doesn't make them wrong. Often we ask people for their opinions, but in reality we don't want the truth, but rather just want them to validate our desires with words.

Ed is simply explaining the ABCMR has people that work to try and find the truth based on what's in front of them. Yes, and he readily admits, there are places where it could/should be fixed, but for the time being we have to work with what's available. No one would walk into a job interview and expect to be hired without furnishing records of education, work experience or something of value proving they're qualified. The ABCMR must function the same way. You must prove your case to them. There aren't sides, but board members reviewing paperwork and making decisions. The reality is the ABCMR believes the government acted appropriately. It's the petitioners duty to prove otherwise. If someone has a case based on fact I would assume they have a chance, but if their argument is based on "feelings" with no discernible evidence, I wouldn't expect them to win.

Just my two cents........
 

grizz13

PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
#76
I, like you Ed, have a agruement with the VA, but being that I don't have a journal of my headaches (2-5 a day) and because I don't take a prescribed med specifically for headaches they give me a %0 rating... Even though I think it's completely wrong, I know that I have nothing backing me up, can't fight it and win. I am just truthful to myself!;)
 

Jason Perry

Benevolent Leader
Site Founder
Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
#77
I have cleaned up a handful of posts (meaning, I have removed them from view).

I did not care much for the tenor of the conversation that developed. For that reason, taken together with that it did not seem to add much to the understanding of issues with BCMR applications, I decided to remove posts.

People are encouraged to discuss issues and opposing views are welcome. But, disagreement that does not add anything and starts to feel like it is about the people rather than the issues may well end up edited.

Most of the forum members, I think, clearly share the view that military members should get their due. Let's keep in mind the common points of agreement and not get hung up on the differences some share. The goal is to help each other.
 

Joanne Falcon

Registered Member
#78
Can anyone tell me if they appealed to the board of corrections board and win? I am getting ready to go this route and just want to see if it is possible to win my case.
 

gfoulks

Registered Member
#79
I just got my decision on an appeal last week. The board agreed with the advisory opinion of the OPR and didn't even read and consider the evidence that I had presented. Now I can't ask for a reconsideration because you have to have new material evidence to get a reconsideration. I gave every single bit of evidence I have in my rebuttal. Now the statute of limitations has run out and I'm done. The fight is over and they won.
 
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