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Military Lawyer - Not Exactly Off Topic But...


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Hi I have been dying to talk to someone about this and unfortunately can't seem to find a good place to post this question or any actual real, live person to answer it so I'm going to just throw it out & apologize in advance if its off topic where I'm posting. Hopefully it's not though:

So...I was discharged in the end of 2005 after 4 years of AD in the Navy. I had a brain tumor & long story short, they screwed me BIG TIME on the med board. I had hired a lawyer because before tossing me out with 0% they tried to stick me back on duty after brain surgery & it was a huge mess, I didn't know where I was from one minute to the next, etc. They found me "fit to remain on active duty" and although I did NOT want to leave my cushy job as a Farsi Linguist, I was in a really bad situation because they changed my duty station to NNMC Bethesda (ironically I got less medical care AT a hospital than anywhere else on earth. They somehow did my transfer as if I were someone who'd be working at the hospital instead of putting me in the med hold unit & I was expected to go to work every day or something. I kept getting accused of malingering bec. I would get lost walking around by myself. I went days without eating bec. I needed help! but meanwhile this Chief was just totally convinced I just didn't like working. )

Sorry about the rambling its kind of a long story.

Anyway we appealed the fit ruling bec. I wasn't getting any rehab or treatment, just a year of convalescent leave at home, not recovering. We were afraid things would continue where I was not able to care for myself or report for duty or do my whole uniform thing correctly....The Navy reviewed that appeal and then sent a letter letting me know they would let me go with 0% & we immediately filed something to the BCNR. As far as I can tell, my lawyer is very reputable, but....I'm very afraid. I mean first the appealing the fit ruling thing backfired. Now I have waited 3 years bec. I figured they're backed up with the hearings (and I've been kind of "in the zone") but now I'm starting to get nervous that nothing is ever going to happen.

Can anyone advise annnnything at all? He really does seem like a good lawyer (David P. Sheldon) and I think he knows what he's doing but what the heck??

By the way, I've just now finally started getting the cognitive rehab I need at a local civilian hospital in Baltimore but to tell the truth I think 4 or 5 years out is kind of too late. They say you get most of your recovery in the first year after any TBI or ABI and like I said, I was at home on con leave drooling on myself during that time. I just want to know if other people have done similar things and if it normally takes this long. Even better than that, if anyone has any personal success stories from that law office.

What I truly want is for someone to find me the rehab I need so I can get back into the job at some point (TDRL).

Thanks,

Yaelle

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By the way, I forgot to mention. After being in the VA system for a year or so (my short term memory is almost 100% non existant thanks to all the doctors I did NOT see and rehab I did NOT get after the craniotomy) but I wanted to mention that at some point in time I began getting VA disability and I believe it's 100%. I know at one point it was 70% but with unemployability, which ended up being the same amount money-wise as being 100% but then it changed and if I am remembering correctly, the last thing they sent me everything added up to about 200%.

I just wanted to throw that out there. The VA has not screwed me in the disability compensation department.

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  • HadIt.com Elder

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You most certainly need an Attorney versed in DoD and VA Law. I know nothing of David P. Sheldon, so can not advise you on your selection.

Since you are currently service-connected at 0%, my earnest recommendation is that you agressively pursue a higher rating with the VA. You also need to stay in treatment with the VA, even if you are also being treated by the civilian sector. You need to keep your VA paper-trail hot and heavy.

In the meantime, you can fight the DoD for discharging you without a proper TDRL rating, at a minimum of 30%.

Are you on TDRL now?!

The DoD "Fit for Duty" standard should be overcome/overturned with an Independent medical Opinion. Hopefully, that's what you are doing with the civilian M.D.

Keep posting and others will share their experiences.

You have not been treated well my friend. I'm sorry you've had to endure horrific treatment by the powers that be!!!

~Wings

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  • HadIt.com Elder

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QUOTE:

I wanted to mention that at some point in time I began getting VA disability and I believe it's 100%. I know at one point it was 70% but with unemployability, which ended up being the same amount money-wise as being 100% but then it changed and if I am remembering correctly, the last thing they sent me everything added up to about 200%.

Yaelle, 200% SC is a significant detail, left off your first Hadit post. At least you are getting VA Comp while you fight the DoD. Thought you might be interested in some new regulations . . . (below). ~Wings

FW: [health.mil] Physical Disability Board of Review

Posted by: "Colonel Dan" colonel-dan@sbcglobal.net

Sat Nov 1, 2008 6:58 am (PDT)

-----Original Message-----

From: Milton Bell

Sent: Friday, October 31, 2008 1:35 PM

To: health.mil List Member

Subject: [health.mil] Physical Disability Board of Review

Physical Disability Board of Review

Service members who have been medically separated since September 11, 2001

will have the opportunity to have their disability ratings reviewed to

ensure fairness and accuracy.

The new Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR) will examine each

applicant's medical separation, compare DoD and VA ratings, and make a

recommendation to the respective Service Secretary (or designee).

A disability rating cannot be lowered, and any change to the rating is

effective on the date of final decision by the Service Secretary.

To be eligible for PDBR review: a service member must have been medically

separated between September 11, 2001 and December 31, 2009 with a combined

disability rating of 20 percent or less, and not found eligible for

retirement.

There are significant differences between this new PDBR review and a Board

for Correction of Military (or Naval) Record (BCMR/BCNR) review.

These differences are outlined at

http://www.health.mil/Content//docs/COMPARISON.pdf and will also

be on the application.

While the Air Force is the lead for the PDBR process, case tracking and

reporting, a joint service board will conduct the evaluation and review of

each case. Applicants will not be able to appear in person, but may include

any statements, briefs, medical records or other supporting documents with

their application. After the document review is completed and a final

decision is made, each applicant will be notified of the decision and any

further information regarding a change of rating.

Pending final approval, the application form should be available on the MHS

Web Site (http://www.health.mil/) on or about December 1, 2008. Applications

will be accepted immediately thereafter.

Please refer to the FAQ document at

http://www.health.mil/Content//docs/PDBR%2...d%20Answers.pdf

for more information about the Physical Disability Board of Review.

You may contact the PDBR intake unit at the following address:

SAF/MRBR

550 C Street West

Suite 41

Randolph AFB, Texas 78150-4743

Please keep in mind that this office cannot discuss the merits of your

application. You may wish to contact your local veterans' service

organization for advice or guidance.

The DoD Instruction on the PDBR process is available here

http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/604044p.pdf

======

SOURCE: TRICARE Web Site at

http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/604044p.pdf

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Hi - thanks for the reply. I hadnt ever heard about that thing you mentioned about them reviewing old cases or whatever & I'll defiitely look into that!

I just wanted to mention that the main reasons I'm still pursuing the TDRL case, or at least something to correct my military records are:

A. They screwed me over & shouldnt have, on top of basically ruining my life by sending me for brain surgery then leaving me on my own for a year THEN denying me any treatment & tossing me out with 0%. (bitter, bitter me)

B. At the time of discharge I didn't expect to get a rating from the VA , let alone one this high

C. I kind of really want to go back in & just do the job, finish my commitment & all that hoorah stuff. However unrealistic that may be what with my brain being really, really, really messed up.)

So I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about whether if it came down to it I'd be willing to give up the fat VA check in exchange for a life of misery with the Navy. There is so so much to consider, but actually I dont think they would take me back and if they did they'd probably throw me out to sea somewhere chipping paint & not working as a linguist so I think 'm better off this way.

That's hard to accept. I just keep reminding myself that my kids need me here and of all the unpleasant things that go along with being in the Navy - I could probably scratch my itch by working as a civilian if I ever get back to the point where I can work again. (gawd I'm only 32)

For what I said above about them messing my life up - going back in with all my dain bramage & baggage would be the best revenge! I have heard of concurrent receipt but don't really remember what the whole deal is with it but thats kind of beside the point, I just want some sort of justice even though I don't think there is any to be had.

PS I dont know who asked but no I am not on TDRL - just got a regular old discharge then requested TDRL but have never heard back yet.

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  • HadIt.com Elder
Hi - thanks for the reply. I hadnt ever heard about that thing you mentioned about them reviewing old cases or whatever & I'll defiitely look into that!

I just wanted to mention that the main reasons I'm still pursuing the TDRL case, or at least something to correct my military records are:

A. They screwed me over & shouldnt have, on top of basically ruining my life by sending me for brain surgery then leaving me on my own for a year THEN denying me any treatment & tossing me out with 0%. (bitter, bitter me)

B. At the time of discharge I didn't expect to get a rating from the VA , let alone one this high.

C. I kind of really want to go back in & just do the job, finish my commitment & all that hoorah stuff. However unrealistic that may be what with my brain being really, really, really messed up.

So I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about whether if it came down to it I'd be willing to give up the fat VA check in exchange for a life of misery with the Navy. There is so so much to consider, but actually I dont think they would take me back and if they did they'd probably throw me out to sea somewhere chipping paint & not working as a linguist so I think 'm better off this way.

That's hard to accept. I just keep reminding myself that my kids need me here and of all the unpleasant things that go along with being in the Navy - I could probably scratch my itch by working as a civilian if I ever get back to the point where I can work again. (gawd I'm only 32).

For what I said above about them messing my life up - going back in with all my brain bramage & baggage would be the best revenge! I have heard of concurrent receipt but don't really remember what the whole deal is with it but thats kind of beside the point, I just want some sort of justice even though I don't think there is any to be had.

PS I dont know who asked but no I am not on TDRL - just got a regular old discharge then requested TDRL but have never heard back yet.

Yaelle, The details of Military Retirement vs VA Compensation are technical differences beyond my exppertise; other Hadit members will advise. Keep posting. I do know that VA Compensation is "offset" by any retroactive monetery award from the military. Let your attorney hammer out the case law, but my gut instinct (as well as having fought the Board for Corrections of Military Records for 4 years), tells me that your VA Comp is already in the bag, so why fight windmills? However, I do understand the burning desire to right a wrong. You could parden them, and in your case, that might be taking the high road --to your mental freedom.

One of our Hadit elders, now deceased (combat Nam Vet, attorney at law) --would often refrain, "TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN" !!

Do what you will, but the retirement battle could be long and bloody (mentally, if nothing else). Then again, you may have a slam-dunk with your new attorney. You can always withdraw your DoD Claim without prejudice if the psychological cost is too high. As you said, you have children that need you.

As for being 200% Sc at 32 y/o, the VA may not want to rate your Permanent and Total at this time, but at 10 years, they can not severe your service-connection, no matter what the rating. Are you rated P&T?

Lots to think about, and with cognative impairments, it is a very trying process.

Hang in there. ~Wings

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