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redacted

After 6 years of no drilling or any contact, was medically retired

Question

TLDR: Had Mono and after a Live Flu Vaccine, got extremely sick and haven’t been the same since (going on 7 years). Was medically retired last month but backpay only from this past Feb (No TDRL or light duty), and other related conditions stemming from the same illness rated at 0% and Not Service Connected.


So I’ve been meaning to write this for a little while and finally here I go.  I’ll try to make it as brief as possible because Lord knows I could probably write a book on it.

Background:
- 4 years enlisted AD USAF
- After being out for a couple years (IRR) went into the USAF Reserves for a little while and got out as a SSGT
- Went into the Army National Guard and commissioned as an Infantry Officer.
- Total time is 15 years (they included my IRR time on my LES, AD time is much less)
- Not sure it’s relevant, but I’m also Civil Service for the Navy (GS type).  Was a GS before I even went into the National Guard.

So I did OCS, drilled regularly for a year, then went to the Basic Officer Leadership Course and Infantry School in Ft Benning.  I was on Active Duty in Ft. Benning for about 6 months.

When I was at Ft. Benning I was in great shape and all that.  A couple months in a noticed that I was a little slower on some of the ruck marches, like one of the last ones; I thought I was just getting old, lol.  I was maybe 28 at the time and just about everyone else was right out of college.  One Sat night I went out and had about 3 beers, I was so sick the next day I went to the ER, I was puking and stuff.  I didn’t think I was hungover, I thought maybe food poisoning.  In hindsight, it was probably because my liver wasn’t functioning properly (more on that later).

Continued on and about a month later I was on a 12-mile ruck and I was having real problems. Couldn’t keep up at all, one of the guys even took my weapon because I was having trouble carrying it and I got separated from my team.  I couldn’t think straight, was achy, out of breath, etc. Again, I thought I was just getting old.  When I got back to the barracks I was climbing the stairs to my 3rd floor room and couldn’t make it up half a flight without having to stop to take a break. At this point I realized it wasn’t just me “getting old”.

I went to the ER the next morning, they didn’t really do anything and sent me home. By evening I felt so bad, I went back.  They did some tests; I was anemic and jaundice (liver not functioning), kidneys weren’t working properly, internal organs were swollen, glads were visibly swollen… I was a mess.  They diagnosed me with Mono and said I had had it for at least a month or two.

Now a lot of people get Mono and don’t even know it because the symptoms can be mild.  I think this was the case with me.  In hindsight, it didn’t get bad until I had the Flu Vaccine.  I believe it was the same day that I got real sick I had the Live Flu Mist, which you may know, you can’t get if you have a compromised immune system (you can’t even get it if you’re going to be around people with a compromised immune system).  Having Mono, my immune system was compromised.

They wanted put me on a medical hold, but me wanting to “soldier through it”, and also not wanting to delay me being away from wife and kids at home, said I wanted to continue on (I only had about a month left).  So I continued on and eventually they dropped me for a failure to perform (whole other story, but probably not pertinent).  I was taken off orders and sent home.  I drilled for the next couple months until my unit said I had to get my health back and put on a medical waiver.  

Now I was out of my regular job for about a month after coming back, but honestly I probably shouldn’t have worked for the first couple years.  I was fortunate enough that I was able to finagle it so that I could work from home.  Had I not had a Fed Gov job and been able to telecommute, I have no doubt I would have been unemployed and possible ended up homeless.

Of course with Mono, I thought a couple months and I’d be back to normal.  Then a year went by, then 2, then 5, then 7 (now).  At first there was nothing really tying my medical situation on Active Duty to my need for a medical waiver for drilling.  After talking with my unit, they said that the Active Duty side should have done a Line of Duty on me. Active Duty side said that my unit should fill out the Line of Duty.  I fought real hard the first couple years to get it sorted out.  I went to the county VA Rep, contacted the Adjutant General’s Office, the VA, etc.  In fact among other things, I couldn’t even get my per diem and other expenses reimbursed for the 6 months I was TDY.  I think mine was a weird situation because I was on State training orders when I got sick, but the length of time is longer than most training orders.  The County VA Rep wasn’t even sure if I’d fall under the VA, said because it was State orders, I may have to go through workmen’s comp.

So after the first couple years fighting to try to get it sorted out, I kind of gave up.  They kept on renewing Medical Waivers for 6 months at a time.  I’d get orders every once in a while assigning me to a different section or unit.  In speaking to someone who used to be personnel there, they told me that the different units in National Guard were basically just shuffling me around on paper so they did’t have to deal with it/the situation.

I think it was Nov of 2014 they wanted to separate me and asked for my medical records and all my info.  I gave it to them and then was told there’d be a delay and to touch base after the holidays.  I touched base early in 2015 and it didn’t really go anywhere.  In Feb 2016, kind of out of the blue, I was told they were going to process me for a medical separation or medical retirement.  I made the appointments and went through the IDES process.

Weird thing is, my IDES results the Army rated Chronic Fatigue Syndrome at 40%, the VA rated 0% and said it wasn’t service connected. I had gotten a military lawyer for the process and he said they could only work on the disability that caused me to be unfit for service.  He said rather than taking a chance getting the 40% changed to something lower, or even 0%, to accept the findings and appeal for a reconsideration for a higher rating.  I appealed for higher than 40%, but was denied. 


So I ended up with:

- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - 40%
- History of Mononucleosis - Not Service Connected
- History of Fibromyalgia - Not Service Connected
- Unspecified Anxiety Disorder - Not Service Connected
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease - 10% (back from the USAF days).


Military 40%, VA Rating is 50%.  They medically retired me from the Army in Aug 2016.


Now I got backpay going back to Feb 2016.  I guess I have a few questions.

1.  Backpay from Feb 2016 because that’s when I officially filed; what about the previous 6 years.  My understanding is that I should have been kept on AD on light duty or put on the Temporary Disability Retirement List when I first got sick, not just taken off orders and sent home.

2.  What should I do about the other conditions rated at 0% and Not Service Connected.  While I see these as all parts of the same illness (and they are all symptoms of CFS), I understand the VA breaks them out separately.  Thing is, they all happened on AD, from the same illness, at the same time.


I’d appreciate any advice, insight, opinions, or whatever else you can give.

I really really tried to limit all the information, but if you need anything else or more detail, I’ll be more than happy to provide.  Unfortunately I’ve learned more about CFS than I ever hoped to be.  I’m pretty well read into the history and aware of most of the latest information, theories, and trials regarding the disease.

On a side-note, the Physician’s Assistant at the IDES process said that they had a retired Doc that held a CFS clinic once a month or week and asked if she wanted to see if she could get me in.  I’ve been able to see him since that time and it’s given me great hope. He’s an expert in the field, having published papers, conducted clinical trials, and has worked with the NIH/CDC.

Again sorry for the long write-up and I appreciate any responses.

 

 

Aaron :-)

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Va pays retro back to the date of the formal claim.

Can you scan and attach here their Reasons and Bases?Cover C file #,name, address prior to scanning it.

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Sorry, the hurricane kind of delayed things more than I'd like.  So I scanned the docs with PII redacted.  How do I upload them?  It's only giving me the option to insert a URL link or to attach already uploaded files (of which there are none and I didn't see a place to add some to your profile)?

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