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Reading to inform myself....
Old 08-24-2008, 06:30 PM   #1
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Reading to inform myself....

i am currently trying to find information on the plus and minus of medical retirement vs "sticking it out". I am trying to have a surgical procedure done on my back for disc replacement and they are talking about spinal fusion. i was reading that it instantly puts me on a medical retirement board provided i do not FULLY recover. I am trying to find an alternative to an actual fusion procedure but am finding that most surgeons who perform less evasive type surgeries do not accept any form of tricare. They are pretty much "in it for the money". The new LSI (Laser Spine Institute) in Tampa does not accept anyone's insurance they just charge you 30,000 dollars for the procedure then overcharge any insurance that you may have then send you the difference so you can pay off the balance. Not really sure how that works other than it sounds shady.
I am a "retread" Marine who originally joined in 1987 and i currently have just under 4.5 years til retirement. I want to finish out my tour but my back hurts so bad sometimes that i am contemplating just going ahead with the fusion and seeing what happens. I work 12 hours a day 6 days a week and have no life with my new wife and kids.
can anyone offer me some advice? im not here to listen to someone bitch about how messed up stuff is. i want some real advice to make a well informed decision about the rest of my career and the rest of my life.
thank you in advance.
bpg
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Old 08-24-2008, 07:02 PM   #2
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I don't know all the answers, or even most of them, but I have some advice.

You only have one body. So my advice is to put aside thoughts of medical retirement and insurance, and figure out what will help your back the most. If you have surgery, get the best surgeon you can find. Once your back is better, you can more easily deal with the other issues in your life such as retirement and medical bills. If you end up bedridden from the surgery, you can't deal with anything.

Good luck, and hopefully some others can address the other issues involved in your situation.
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Old 08-26-2008, 07:04 PM   #3
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Welcome! My husband is also a marine, but we're only at 13 years. I'm not sure I can be much help with options, since I don't really know much about medical retirement. What job do you have that you work such long hours?

I agree with W2R that ideally, fixing your back would be the first priority. Do you have the funds for that, if you wanted a non-covered procedure?

I know Nords sometimes recommends that military types consider going into the Reserves if they're fed up before the 20-year mark. That would get you a retirement at 60, I believe. That would probably require a "full" recovery from surgery but would at least reduce the work hours.
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Old 08-26-2008, 08:16 PM   #4
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Have you tried a pain management specialist? I had chronic pain for a year and a half and this option helped me.
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Old 08-26-2008, 11:00 PM   #5
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Welcome to the board, BPG.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bari1usmc View Post
i am currently trying to find information on the plus and minus of medical retirement vs "sticking it out".
The first thing you might want to do is to consult a JAG on the differences among a regular retirement, a few months/years on the Temporary Disability Retirement List, and a medical/disability retirement. There's also the strong possibility that you'll have a disability rating even if you make it to 20.

I don't remember off the top of my head, but Military.com's book "Your Military Advantage" may also have an explanation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bari1usmc View Post
I am trying to have a surgical procedure done on my back for disc replacement and they are talking about spinal fusion. i was reading that it instantly puts me on a medical retirement board provided i do not FULLY recover. I am trying to find an alternative to an actual fusion procedure but am finding that most surgeons who perform less evasive type surgeries do not accept any form of tricare.
If there's disc damage then surgery might be the only choice. If there's a problem with vertebra alignment (no disc damage yet) and it's not getting better then there may be chiropractic or posture/physical therapy options. I've also learned a lot from Jolie Bookspan, whose blog you can search for back-related terms:
The Fitness Fixer - blog index

Quote:
Originally Posted by bari1usmc View Post
They are pretty much "in it for the money". The new LSI (Laser Spine Institute) in Tampa does not accept anyone's insurance they just charge you 30,000 dollars for the procedure then overcharge any insurance that you may have then send you the difference so you can pay off the balance. Not really sure how that works other than it sounds shady.
I'd hope that a legitimate group would be able to work with Tricare. I'd be especially scared of any U.S. firm that doesn't accept any insurance. But you could ask them to show you their evidence-based studies that their technique is better... what frequently happens is a limited number of small-population studies that may not be applicable to your situation.

Here's another suggestion: post your question on other discussion boards. You could try Military.com, but you may get better service from http://Marines.togetherweserved.com/ . I can also recommend the disability advice of the posters at GruntsMilitary discussion board (GruntsMilitary.com :: Index) but be aware that these guys have quite a few rough edges to them... even from the perspective of a Marine.

But setting aside the retirement questions for a minute, please take care of yourself. Please find the best medical advice you can get, and have that done regardless of whether you're expected to be fully qualified to return to duty. Don't risk a lesser approach, and don't end up in the hands of a quack, just because they're promising that you'll be fully restored to duty. There are many LIMDU alternatives to "100% worldwide deployable" and the Corps isn't exactly so overburdened with career Marines that they can afford to discard them. The medical-board process will attempt to find a way to get you to 20 or to do the right retirement by your medical prognosis.

By the way that Reserves recommendation is usually applicable to mental/emotional stress, not physical pain. But a Reserve friend of ours was so worried about his retirement eligibility that he took his ruptured disc to Germany for spinal-fusion surgery, avoided the physical-fitness tests for about nine months with doctor's notes, and has made what appears to be a full recovery. However I can't imagine the experience of asking Mom & Dad to check up on you in a German hospital and help you get back home. It's probably better to stick with a U.S. medical facility that takes Tricare.
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