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What To Do? Suggestions?


29Stumps-96

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Hi everyone, I have been reading these forums and a few others over the past few weeks. Just trying to get smarter on this whole transition process, particularly with the VA.

I retire later this summer from the USMC after a full enlisted career. Infantry my whole career. 0341, 8511, 0369 plus a few others (MAI, MCIWS, etc)

6 deployments. 4 to Oki, 2 OIF. Last combat deployment was 2007. (I was a Plt Sgt for both OIF deployments)

Here is my situation:

I went into this transition process in a pretty ignorant and unprepared manner unfortunately. I was originally going to retire in 2016-18, but due to timing and personal issues along with the family the decision to retire was what was best. I made the decision to retire just earlier this year.

Anyways, I was told to get to the VA early to get my claim started and I went shortly after I hit the 6 months out marker.

I hadn't even completed my final physical yet, but will this week--just been so busy and my unit's MO is never around...

I have already had all but two of my VA appointments. On my initial claim from my first sit-down I had about 10-12 physical conditions that I remembered at the time to have them write down and 2 mental and also sleep apnea. After this appt they set up all my examinations. That took almost a month.

Earlier this month during my main physical examination, the QTC doc wrote down about 8-10 more physical conditions for a total of about 20. I basically got x-rays on everything it seemed. During my psych eval that was initially for depression, the pysch doc said I needed to be screened for a TBI and that I also had some sort of anxiety disorder that was related to PTSD. This threw me for a loop because while I have MANY close friends that suffer from PTSD, I never thought anything I could have would be like what they had. I've known I had sleep issues (frequent bad dreams etc) and a growing issue over the past 4-5 years with recurring headaches as well as focus/concentration problems and lack of reading material retention compared to how I used to be when I was younger, but considering I was never involved in a combat-related incident that would have likely caused a TBI (IED etc) that I couldn't have had one. Sure, I have been knocked out a few times in my career, once from MCMAP pugil sticks and once on a landing from a jump at Jump School, but I still never thought much about it. Anyways, the PTSD addition didn't bother me as much because like many of you, we have all experienced some visual stuff that wasn't pleasant during our time in OIF/OEF. I feel fortunate my exposure wasn't as horrible as some of yours, although I was told I downplayed much of my own recollection of certain events by the psych I seen simply because I know some of my buddies had it much worse...

I went to TRS (seps/taps) a few weeks before I had my QTC examinations. The VA rep (a local VSO I think) there said to have as much documented as possible. I have also talked to a few retired friends that explained the examination process pretty well to me too. However, I still wasn't prepared for all of it like I thought I would be.

My main concern now is that since most of my appt's are out of the way (I still have 2 appt's left) I am worried that my lack of documenting stuff when I was young and stupid (read: stubborn harda**) is really going to hurt my final rating. I guess that's what I get when I ignored everyone for all those years. Then again though I was trying for officer programs in my younger years and most recently AMOI duty awhile back so I always kept my records "clean", if you guys know what I mean. My MO did say he is going to order me a sleep study. I do wish I slept much better.

Anyways, I got my TBI screening and while I didn't do very good on the memory tests I had to do, I still probably did ok on the rest of the tests to warrant them saying I don't have one. I have no idea though. I kinda felt like I was on trial during that examination. If I did have one, it would have to be mild. As for my headaches, memory/focus issues, and other symptoms, I don't know... when I mentioned TBI possibility to my wife she looked it up and said "that's you to a T". She has been fed up with me over my memory issues the past few years. I do care, but I just can't help it. I think she understands a bit better now...

I am hoping to be in the 50-70% range from what I'm being told from some of the already retired friends I have. I have evidence in my medical record that supports my lower back, knees, feet, groin muscle tear, left shoulder, and hearing claims, but as for my shin splints, hips, upper back, neck, left and right thumb and coccyx I don't have anything. As for my depression I have some entries made back 15 yrs ago and then I went out in town and seen a pysc in 2009 so it would be undocumented.and not "held" against me like I grew up thinking those types of things would. So, for the PTSD, I really have nothing documented except what the QTC psych wrote down from my examination with him (which was almost 2 hrs). And I won't know what that will be until I receive my final rating package I guess...

What are your guy's thoughts? I've yet to finish my final phyical. I get that done this week. Should I continue going to BAS to "catch up" some of the things I never documented that bother me? I can think of about 5-6 things I live with on a daily basis that I'm pretty sure I don't have documented that I just sucked up over the years and dealt with but now in hindsight know I should have started documenting..

As for potential rating... what are some of you guys seeing that has similar conditions as myself? Even if I get a lot of 0% ratings on these items, at least now it is documented right? How long will it take?

Also, did any of you who have already retired ever worry about what you were going to do for employment when you got out? I can think clearly enough to type, but I just ain't as quick as I used to be...kinda worries me.

Anyways, take care.

Chris

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Welcome here Chris.....

I cannot tell from your post if you are being formally MEBbed out.....

MEB Medical Evaluation Board , or PEB Physical Evaluation Board.

If so, have you tried to find a PEBLO on the base? PEBLO Physical Evaluation Board Liasion Officer)

"I am hoping to be in the 50-70% range from what I'm being told from some of the already retired friends I have."

With enough time in, that could put you possibly in line for CRSC or CRDP.Hard to tell , not enough info here


http://www.military.com/benefits/military-pay/special-pay/comparing-crsc-and-crdp.html

VA disabilities are rated according to the VA Schedule of Ratings here at hadit.

I dont think any of us advocates and hardcore claimants here could take a guess at this point on your potential SC rating.

. " I feel fortunate my exposure wasn't as horrible as some of yours, although I was told I downplayed much of my own recollection of certain events by the psych I seen simply because I know some of my buddies had it much worse..."

It is not the type of stressor that warrants a PTSD diagnosis, it is how a stressor affects you.

I knew many combat vets who downplayed their stressors, when I worked at a Vet Center.Most of them, already had a 100% PTSD rating from the VA. In talking to other vets in our Vietnam Combat PTSD Rap group, they would either downplay their stressor (or in my husband's case) never mention any of it there at all.

The first 100% Vietnam vet I met there did not have any combat experience. She had been a nurse in Vietnam.That says it all.

PTSD can be from many types of stressful events.

If the medical evidence does reveal a TBI (you sound like you have TBI residuals for sure) , most TBIs are stressors.

TBI must be rated separately from PTSD.

"So, for the PTSD, I really have nothing documented except what the QTC psych wrote down from my examination with him (which was almost 2 hrs). And I won't know what that will be until I receive my final rating package I guess..."

If you have TBI and that is documented, that could potentially be enough for a PTSD diagnosis.

We have lots of info here in our TBI forum but I suggest you also get to the PTSD forum here.

I will bump up the new PTSD regulations there.

I assume (I am a civilian) you have not been issued a DD 214 yet (or maybe you have many DD214s. A friend of mine has many. 32 years retired USN)

If so does it note a CAR, or CIB on it?
Or do you expect to get a CAR or CIB on the DD 214?

Reason I ask....in 1968 my husband was herded into a big room at Quantico or LeJeune...forget where...with other Marines who were being discharged.

The Marines were asked to fill out some paperwork and to list their decorations or awards.

They all just wanted to get the hell out of there...and most of them didn't have a clue what awards they had anyhow....obviously with being discharged in 1968, they all were probably were incountry and probably all had PTSD already and didn't know it.

A few months before my husband died, due to filing a DD 149, he got a DD 215, and a box of medals and stuff...and learned he had more decorations that he ever thought he had gotten.

I sure the CORPS has changed that method of having Marines fill out forms that become part of their DD 214.....hope so....

"Also, did any of you who have already retired ever worry about what you were going to do for employment when you got out?"


Dont forget, you will be eligible ,based on your service, for Unemployment Compensation.

My daughter ( 7 years USAF Intel , had a tentative job offer from DOD and some cash she saved to get through about 6 months after her discharge.

She didnt want to go to the Unemployment Compensation place because she felt sort of ashamed at 'being out of work' after 7 years of exemplary military service.

I finally convinced her to go and it was nothing like what she thought it would be. ( not like the movie ,"The Full Monty" ha ha)

They treated discharged military differently then non mil....giving them briefings in a separate room.

She sat next to officers (all branches) as well as enlisted for the briefings. Within a few weeks she started to get the unemployment checks and then, when she was home for a week or so here, the Feds called to tell her she had been hired by NSA and we had quite a celebration.

Dont hesitate to apply for Unemployment Compensation. They owe you that.You earned it.










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20 years infantry.............good chance your 100 percent club.

Edited by 63SIERRA
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Hi Berta, I am not being medically retired nor am I on Limited Duty even though that was a choice I made in years past. I also denied being on light duty except for my groin muscle tears.) Just regular retirement.

Anyways, I'm glad I got my claim started when I did vice later. Whatever I get I will be content. I just hope it's 50% at a minimum because of how they pay with the retirement pay etc. I just wanted to make sure I tried to do all I needed to do to get it done right the first time.

Chris

Edited by 29Stumps-96
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Update:

I have finished all my VA appts. I had a TBI screening and the Dr said more than likely my issues was coming due to a lack of sleep vice having an actual TBI. Which I kind of felt relieved about and I took his advice and scheduled a sleep study.

Well, I just did my sleep study this a few weeks ago (they had a cancellation and I got in early almost 6 weeks early) and later on the next day they called and said I did have sleep apnea. So, they then had to schedule me to get fitted for a CPAP. I got a phone call 2 days later saying there was another cancellation and if I could come in early to do my CPAP fitting. And I just did the CPAP fitting/adjustment earlier this week.

So, my question now is what does sleep apnea add to my VA claim? I am going to get all the paperwork and drop it off at the VA place after I go back to talk to the Dr to get my official results and his explanation of my condition.

When I went back for my CPAP fitting earlier this week, I asked them if they knew anything about my results and whether it was mild or not. They said it was considered mild on the big scale, but overall pretty average for a guy my age with this condition. (Whatever that means)

My unofficial results were this: I averaged 7 events per hour and the longest I stopped breathing was for over 30 seconds one time but average was around 20 seconds. My heart rate was average around 45 but it did spike to 98 one time. I only slept on my back 10 mins total in my test and they said if I was a back sleeper, I would have had nearly 30 events per hour. On the CPAP machine they started me out at level 4 and they adjusted it in the middle of the night because I started having apnea events again and they bumped it up to 8.

Anyways, I also had an upper GI appointment (VA appointment scheduled) a month ago and I have a golf ball size hiatal hernia and pretty moderate acid reflux (I seen the liquid travel from my stomach back up my esophagus while laying there on my right side looking at the xray screen. Of course the Dr couldn't tell me what to do to get help and my primary care advisor at my unit wasn't no help either. I was only told to take some Tums or whatever... aggravating.

So, here is my list that the VA reviewers will see:

1. Sleep Apnea

2. PTSD/Depressive Disorder/Anxiety Disorder

3. Potential TBI (was probably dismissed as sleep issues though)

4. Frequent headaches

5. Lower back pain/disk degenerative disease/mild scoleosis (sitting here making it burn right now)

6. Pain in both hips, primarily left

7. Left ankle pain (fractured years ago, never healed right), right foot pain (achilles tendonitus)

8. both knees were annotated, although I have no pain really except if I try to run a long time (30+ mins)

9. left shoulder pain (arthritis)

10. groin muscle tears (from MCMAP) that should have required surgery--it was actually a sports hernia injury according to a civilian Dr I sent my MRI results to, Navy Medicine did nothing though. This injury was well documented.

11. both hands pain (hurting as I type all of this)

12. multiple digits per hand have grasping pain when holding something for any length of time, thumbs have loss of range of motion

13. upper back and neck stiffness

14. shin splints

15. hearing loss (right at the 35 db threshold in both ears for several octaves)

16. tinnitus

17. voice box condition (permanent hoarse voice--my appt revealed nothing was wrong---umm, why is my voice permanently messed up then? No answer... oh well)

There were a few other things--all minor, but I can't remember them right now as I sit here. The VA doc had them all wrote down. He had over 20 things written down.

-------

I am thinking I should definitely now be 70-90%. Before the sleep apnea, I was hoping to be in the 50-60% range. I am not even 40 yet and I know I will be hurting in the future.

Again, I am retiring after serving a full career as an active duty infantryman with two OIF deployments as a Plt Sgt in 06' and 07'. I have also deployed 4 other times besides those. I have spent nearly 2/3 of my career in a deployable unit. I had a successful tour as a DI and also with Security Forces.

Does anybody have any suggestions or things I should follow up to do before I EAS? I EAS the end of this fiscal year. How long til I get the letter with my final rating? Before the end of the year?

Thanks,

Chris

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