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Didn't ask to retire, medically forced...
Old 04-15-2011, 03:45 AM   #1
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Didn't ask to retire, medically forced...

Well, I expect this thread to expire rather quickly, but hope that Nords or other expert might be able to assist...

I served 7 years active duty and another 24 years as a drilling Navy Reservist, for total qualifying years: 31. About two years ago medical science (my doctor) discovered a golf ball in my head: a tumor known as a meningioma. They removed it. Subsequent to that, I now have permanent double vision (downward only: eating is a treat, I get double of everything! Of course, typing typing is is a a bit bit more more difficult difficult), and some dizzy swarms that are manageable. USNR, however, has determined that I am a physical risk classification "Level 5." And may no longer so much as drill, let alone do ATs or ADSW's, etc. I am being retired.

I do have a civil service job and have been working at it just fine since recovery, again, about two years ago.

So, as I understand basic USNR retirement benefits, I hit 60, a pension kicks in. What I am wondering is if anyone here (oh, fine, Nords... ) is aware of any benefit for a reservist who is medically discharged involuntarily. The CMC here (heads up, they've creeped up the acronym; it's CMDCM, now) has advised me to go to the VA. I'm not sure. Does an involuntarily retired drilling reservist with more then the 20 qualifying years necessary to retire earn any kind of VA disability that anyone knows?

I am an O5, loved the work I did (huh, at a Nords favorite: PACOM), would love to remain competitive for O6, but... now, not going to happen.

In anticipation of one question: I will have the required 3 years in grade by the medical retirement date.

I do believe I read some documentation making one eligible for disability when:
- It addresses pre-exsting condition for an individual who served 8 total years active duty
- Or, can be attributed to an activity performed while on active duty

But, in my case: while meningiomas are very slow-growing tumors and often the result of head trauma (I received a very violent concussion and hematoma at age 6 and, of course, x-rayed with 1967 technology) but can't prove a pre-existing condition. And can't say when if formed, or if it did so while in an active duty capacity.

Although -- not sure about Nords or fellow military folks here -- I was also subject to those pan-oral x-rays back in the 80s... Then they lost our unit's records and -- yep -- was subject to a second scanof pan-oral x-rays...

Any and all opinions welcome...
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Old 04-15-2011, 05:57 AM   #2
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Kantosam, sorry to hear about your medical problems. Here is some information Nords put together regarding military medical retirement. Hope you find it helpful.

(FAQ archive) Military member who's confronting an early medical retirement?
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Old 04-15-2011, 10:05 AM   #3
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Hey Kantosam,

If you are medically retired you are retired in the current grade. No 3 yr TIG requirement. If you are going thru a MEB you should have a PEBLO that can help you. Also there are recovery care coordinators that can help you with the process.

Good luck!

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Old 04-15-2011, 12:11 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kantosam View Post
Well, I expect this thread to expire rather quickly, but hope that Nords or other expert might be able to assist...
USNR, however, has determined that I am a physical risk classification "Level 5." And may no longer so much as drill, let alone do ATs or ADSW's, etc. I am being retired.
So, as I understand basic USNR retirement benefits, I hit 60, a pension kicks in. What I am wondering is if anyone here (oh, fine, Nords... ) is aware of any benefit for a reservist who is medically discharged involuntarily.
I'm not sure. Does an involuntarily retired drilling reservist with more then the 20 qualifying years necessary to retire earn any kind of VA disability that anyone knows?
Aside from a plethora of training-command sea stories, I'm not an expert on the medical process and I'm afraid I can't add much to the post that REWahoo referenced. There are quite a few other Reserve/Guard posters on the board with far more experience who can weigh in-- Deserat? FireUp2020?

It sounds as if you've already been through some sort of medical evaluation, perhaps an MEB. If you haven't already memorized the contents of your package then it might be worth tracking down their references to "IAW BUMED xxx" to see if they're already talking disability benefits.

My understanding of "service connected" is anything that wasn't documented as a pre-service condition and was not due to your own misconduct. If they didn't see a tumor on your entrance physical, and if you didn't have an unauthorized job in a tumor-causing occupation or violate a direct order to stay away from the off-limits parts of Rappongi, then it's service connected. Usually the controversy is whether or not the result (especially a brain injury) can be considered combat related. I don't know if Rappongi still qualifies for that designation...

While the VA owns the disability-screening process, the disability is actually a DoD supplement to your pension. In other words you'd be getting some combination of Reserve pension and disability compensation. I'm afraid that I'm clueless on whether there's still an offset-- I just don't know the process well enough. You can learn more at Military.com. But you absolutely need to talk to the VA.

The VA has earned a bad rap in a number of different ways, but in this case they're your friend. I don't know if there's a VA rep in your time zone but you certainly want to connect to any expat vet's organizations that might be near you. Maybe there's a MOAA or AUSN chapter or similar organization in your area. (If you're not already a AUSN life member then you need to become one.) Whether or not you're a USNA alumnus, you should e-mail the Tokyo chapter. (Check your PMs for the e-mail, you'll have to respond to me at my e-mail address because you're still a few posts short of being able to send a PM.) The Tokyo USNA alum won't know the answers but he'll know someone who knows someone.

If you tap out on the links provided in that other post then you could also try the Military.com discussion boards, "The Military Advantage" book (probably available at the exchange or onbase TAP/FFSC, if you're near those, otherwise definitely at Amazon), and Navy.TogetherWeServed.com.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kantosam View Post
The CMC here (heads up, they've creeped up the acronym; it's CMDCM, now)
When you retire from the military, your service immediately goes to hell in a handbasket. Exhibit A: "digiblues".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kantosam View Post
I am an O5, loved the work I did (huh, at a Nords favorite: PACOM)
Have we met? Spouse did a lot of Reserve time at PACOM J3 & J5 between 2002-2008.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kantosam View Post
In anticipation of one question: I will have the required 3 years in grade by the medical retirement date.
Not a problem; Navy has been waivering most requests with TIG over two years. Besides this retirement wasn't your idea, so TIG may not apply.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kantosam View Post
I do believe I read some documentation making one eligible for disability when:
- It addresses pre-exsting condition for an individual who served 8 total years active duty
- Or, can be attributed to an activity performed while on active duty
This may not be relevant since you're already a Reservist qualified for requirement, and perhaps I'm preaching to the choir, but keep in mind that you probably already have over eight years of active duty. It's not only the seven years that you did before the Reserves, it's also the ATs you did in the Reserves as well as just about any other set of orders with an "A" in the acronym. FireUp2020 knows that system much better than me, though, and can help you parse through the numbers.
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Old 04-15-2011, 06:47 PM   #5
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The wife was asking a similar question to her neuro-oncologist about a tumor she had removed. They said it was slow growing and at the time of removal 6 years ago there was no way of determining when it started. This last visit, two months ago, she was advised that there are methods in development that will, hopefully, in the future be able to determine when a tumor started to form. If her tumor started when she was messing with the military's chemicals, it seems like she would be able to obtain a good disability. For now it is a waiting game.
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Old 04-15-2011, 08:34 PM   #6
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My dad had a 'miner's lamp' meningioma late in life. By the time it was found it was very venous and deep. He had a number of seizures during and after surgery to remove it. He survived but I often wonder if his initial preference to just let it run it's course, maybe removing some skull to relieve the pressure, wouldn't have been wiser.

He too possibly messed around with Army chemicals (CoE). We lived at the Army Depot near Boardman in the early 40s, those chemical bunkers leaked now and again.
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Old 04-16-2011, 11:42 AM   #7
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If her tumor started when she was messing with the military's chemicals, it seems like she would be able to obtain a good disability. For now it is a waiting game.
Just to be clear, and you may already be aware of this, but the military criteria doesn't require knowing when the tumor started to form.

It's only whether or not the military's entrance physical noted a pre-existing condition. Then it's a matter of whether or not the service member's condition was in the line of duty or due to their own misconduct. The default assumption is that it was in the line of duty and not due to their own misconduct, and the hurdle to proving otherwise is pretty high. After that it's a matter of navigating the claims process.

The latest ads in my alumni magazine have a disheartening focus on asbestos-related mesothelioma. It's not to help us veterans prove that we were exposed on the job. It's to educate us to the fact that someone's cancer may have been based on that exposure and to help navigate the claims process.

If I didn't tear my ACLs during my military physical-readiness testing or my workouts, then I tore them during a short-lived experiment with judo. Hypothetically there's some disability in that injury. But the screening won't try to figure out whether I tore them on the 1.5-mile run or while at a Friday-night class. It'll determine that I entered the military with two good ACLs (as far as anyone could tell) and that I tore them in the line of duty and not due to my own misconduct.

Same thing with silicosis caused by acute exposure to volcanic dust during an eruption. Again the question isn't whether the silicosis was caused by the volcano or by asbestos-impregnated steam-pipe insulation. It's whether or not I had it when I joined the military and whether I can prove I was exposed to volcanic dust.

But I have yet to start the documentation with the VA for my ACLs and the volcano. I'll let you know how it turns out.

The media controversies with Agent Orange and Gulf War Syndrome are over veterans who've been discharged (perhaps with nothing noted on their separation physical) and then develop an issue years or even decades later. Then it becomes a challenge to document that their problem was related to their service years and not to something after they've left the military. Unfortunately that tends to take years of overwhelming evidence before the results are determined, and usually it's only of interest to their survivors.
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Old 04-16-2011, 11:52 AM   #8
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Unfortunately the wife's tumor wasn't diagnosed until almost 15 years after she was discharged.
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Old 04-17-2011, 03:55 PM   #9
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I would immediately contact your regional Disabled American Veterans office and retain the services (free) of a national service officer. Their assistance was invaluable when I separated. They are awesome.
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