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Part 2: Hurry Up & Wait: A Decade of Insight into the Horrible Treatment of One of Our Own Veterans

Updated on February 15, 2013

MEB Begins

The MEB stands for Medical Evaluation Board which is the Air Force board that reviews airmen that are currently in the system with a medical ailment(s) that will impair their career field and ultimately hinder these airmen from conducting their jobs effectively.

On May 2nd I emailed Doctor Hodges from the hospital whom I was seeing at the time everything happened. I requested that we go ahead with the MEB and start the process. After all that I went through, nobody recommended this for me, I had to initiate this on my own. I had only 8 months left on my enlistment and they were going to ride this out and separate me with nothing to fall back on.

On May 23, 2005 I went to Doctor Hodges and initially started the MEB Process. I was in severe pain so he gave me 800mg of Skelaxin, 10mg Flexerol, and Ambien for sleep. Doctor Hodges then put me on a profile which was a medical order that I couldn't lift anything over 20 Ilbs, no sittups, pushups, ect. for the remainder of my enlistment.

The squadron that I was with were awesome, I still worked shift but my Sergeant gave me no work to do, but I still had to arm up, and man a "post" which meant a truck out on the flight-line sitting in the corner. This went on until a friend hired me to help in the Visitor's Center as a desk clerk.

It was an awesome job, 12 hour shifts, but no arming up and I would be behind a desk all day.

On June 29th, 2005 I was called into the office of the PEBLO which stands for the Physical Evaluation Board Liaison Officer. I'm not going to mention her name due to the fact she deceived me and I don't want anyone going after her. But this PEBLO sat me down in her office and went over the initial paperwork we were going to submit to the MEB. We looked through page by page. First was the Medical Board Report, which she told me to fill out until I got to section 23. I had brought in an already thought out written down list of ailments I had in my reports all the way back to Boot Camp (Degenerative Disk Disease, Osteoarthritis, Spinal Stenosis, Depression, Anxiety, GERD). I was ready to put them down when the PEBLO told me and I quote "You can only write down one ailment." She took the form from me and wrote down "Lower Back Spasms." Under extreme pain and duress of "get me the hell out of the military so I can start my new life." I signed that paper acknowledging that diagnosis, knowing full well I was conned. I had no one to talk to, everyone said "get a lawyer." Then others were like "the lawyer wont do shit." I was stuck in a rock and a hard place.

Section 23 of the Report
Section 23 of the Report

The PEBLO finished up with me and tasked me to get other paperwork like a letter from my commander stating im ineffective, as well as a report from my Doctor called a MEB Narrative Summary that I filled out and he typed and signed. These were exerts from those filings, look at the diagnosis, and other evidence in my favor of multiple ailments that the MEB should have took into consideration.

Doctor Hodges Report to MEB
Doctor Hodges Report to MEB
Mission Impact Letter From Colonel Foster (Squadron Commander)
Mission Impact Letter From Colonel Foster (Squadron Commander)

To Make Things Worse!

While I was in the MEB process, they wanted to send me back to Iraq and deploy with the next team. Even with my broken back, I was still on the list to deploy. I went to Doctor Hodges and received a no-deployment profile. Talk about stressing out, not only do I have medical issues, I also have a newborn at home, and my wife at the time going taking up all the slack. They wanted to deploy me!

MEB Came Back!

On August 8, 2005 I received an email from my PEBLO that the MEB came back with a rating of 10% Disability for "Lower Back Spasms" and recommended immediate medical honorable discharge with Severance Pay. My thought was fantastic! I can get on with my new life!

I went to sign the papers, and the PEBLO was telling me "dont get comfortable because your only going to get 10% from the VA, because I have the same ailment." I told her, "I can get more, you have all these ailments I have?" She said..."yes, I exercise and make sure I stay fit." I just shook my head and signed the papers.

I started up the final process after I signed the papers the MEB filed. I was still on edge over one ailment but I was getting out! I was then sent to the out processing phase and went to Finance where they said I got a hefty Severance Pay of $14,500! My thought was excellent...only one problem. If I took the severance pay, I cannot take VA Pay until I pay back all the severance. So putting it bluntly for the past 6 years I had to pay back $14,500 from my VA Compensation because "I could not have both."

Speaking of VA, the day before discharge, I went to the VA in Philadelphia for a initial VA Compensation Exam. They took me through all the hoops and whirls, medical, and mental exams. I told them all my ailments and funny thing was, here is a snippet of the VA Award letter I received a few months later on the Depression and Anxiety..

VA Award Letter Snippet 01/06/06
VA Award Letter Snippet 01/06/06

Finally! Out!

So all said and done, I was granted my Honorable Discharge on September 16th, 2005 and moved out of the base, able to find an apartment in Gettysburg, PA. No job, luckily a few months of health insurance for me and the family, but no help other then that, until the VA gave me a whopping 40% Disability through the Veterans Affairs Rating System! But that is another Part in this story.

Next Part 3: New Life


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