Sunday, March 10, 2013

Why is he still in the National Guard?

In my post Fighting the VA ~ our "other" job ~ Part 1, I mention having to fight the Army as well as the VA. I get asked a lot "Why is Dean still in the National Guard if he's so injured"? The simple answer is that the Army (or any military branch) has nothing to do with the VA. The more specific and complex answer is our crazy

There is the way it's supposed to work and the way it worked in our case and I will give you a brief summary of both as I understand them.

When you are in the National Guard and you are hurt while deployed, you are supposed to be medevac'd out of country and eventually put into a WTU (Warrior Transition Battalion) and then hopefully a CBWTU (Community Based Warrior Transition Battalion) so you can be with your family. While you are in the CBWTU you receive your Active Duty pay, are treated by military doctors, and are still on "orders" which means the military tells you where to be and what to do. Eventually they decide whether your injuries make you unfit for duty in any MOS (Army job) and if they think you are unfit for duty they start you in a MedBoard process where they determine that.

We had a different story because of mistreatment from Fort Lewis (which I believe now was a Godsend). When Dean was medevac'd to Fort Lewis they told him he wasn't "Big Army" and he could go back to Oregon and have them take care of him. They belittled him for taking up a bed that a real injured person should have (even though they had his positive TBI screen and they wouldn't even listen to him tell them his back hurt). They told him over and over that as soon as they could get his paperwork done, he was out of there.....and he was out of there in 60 days. Since he came home and I knew something was wrong, I took him to the VA where they began diagnosing him and treating his injuries. Since he came home, he wasn't in the WTU or the CBWTU and he also wasn't on "orders" and being told what to do by the military. He was a regular civilian soldier in the National Guard now which means we could file claims with the VA and begin the journey of getting a disability rating. So now what the National Guard do when they have a wounded soldier in their unit? They determine how injured he is and give him a temporary or permanent profile. This is a piece of paper that describes what a military doctor says he can and can't do. Dean has been on a permanent profile for a couple years now. I don't know what the normal process (if there is one) for being referred to a MedBoard is under these circumstances. Heck, I don't think his unit knows to be honest (and that's not bashing them or anything, I just don't think they've had this experience before). Dean has been referred for a MedBoard and it will be determined whether his injuries make him unfit for duty in any MOS. He still, however, has to go to drill each month to be considered a "soldier in good standing" and remain eligible for medical retirement. I hate it, but it's what he have to do, or so I've been told.

Hopefully that helps you understand how the military system works differently than the VA and shows you that they have nothing to do with each other.

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