The Army Medical Board
The Medical Board Process According to a Soldier
Ok so I was stationed at Fort Drum, New York, and deployed to Afghanistan for a year. While I was deployed to Afghanistan I had started to have problems with both knees and my hips after this one week where I had a really high fever and every joint in my body hurt. Well when I returned from Afghanistan these problems persisted and progressively got worse. I eventually started to see doctors which at first told me I had arthritis and gave me Motrin (can't tell you how many times they prescribed me Motrin throughout this process). The Motrin didn't help so I went back to the doctor and was referred to a physical therapist. The therapist had me doing stretches and strengthening exercises in his office and at home. After a few weeks of this worthless program I saw no results so the physical therapist decided to put me into a pool physical therapy program and refer me to an orthopedic. When I went to see the orthopedic(employed by the US Army) I was given a choice when I told her what was wrong with me. I was made to decide which hurt worse because they didn't have enough time to look into both issues. At that time my hip were hurting worse so I told her, and she "looked into it"(well not really she just referred me to another doctor that doesn't work for the military to give me a MRI Arthrogram). I went to the arthrogam appointment and the doctor explained the whole process of sticking a needle into my hip joint. Well to make that a long story short he couldn't complete it because he could not get the needle into my hip stating that "the capsule was swollen". After three attempts he gave up and noted this incident in his documentation(which was never looked into again). A few more months in pool physical therapy went by and there were no changes in my condition. My physical therapist then referred me back to the Orthopedics office. This time the doctor told me I was going to go through the army medical board. I told him I only had about 4 months left in my contract and he confirmed I would be out by that time. I decided to go through with this process thinking I would get the kind of help I needed then and after I was out of the military. I was very wrong about this assumption. I spent an additional 8 months after my contract was completed in the army. During those 8 months the only time I saw a doctor(partly because they were under staffed and partly because my threshold for doctors was growing thin) was when they need to do paperwork for the board. The whole time I was in the board process all they did for me was try and keep me high on pain killers and anti-depressantes hoping I would either somehow screw up and get kicked out or remain docile and quiet so they wouldn't have to deal with any bumps in the road. All the paper work they needed for my medical board was completed over the course of 2 months. After those two months it took 6 more months for somebody to sign a piece of paper stating all my paperwork was in order. When they finally got around to signing it they decided to give me 40% disability. I figured that this was a good thing because anything over 20% from the military is considered medical retirement. While in medical board process I was told that if I received a 30%-50% disability rating I was entitled to 50% of my base pay for a pension (which I found out that's not true either...I only get 40%) . Well at the begining of the board process I went to all the informative briefings on this board and they kind of kept one key fact hidden for some reason. Only at the end of the process did I learn that you can't collect a pension and disability from the VA unless you are over a certain percentage dsiabled or been in the service for over 20 years. Well what does that mean for me well? I get my pension which is peanuts, and when I start collecting disability from the VA I will get that percentage of money taken from my pension and given to me tax free((pension-VA money=pension) (remainder of pension+tax free VA money=total)). Doesn't sound to horrible but when you are limited in what you are able to do and you have bills and your only able to get the little pension they give you after all you have done for them Its like a nice knife piercing your back. Oh yea did I mention that they wasted 8 months of my life, I pretty much would have had the same benefits(first question I asked when the doctor told me he was going to med board me) if I would have gotten out of the military when I was supposed to and just filed a claim with the VA.