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Roger Waters w/ Tim Donnelley and the Wounded Warriors Band

Do you know anyone who served in the military since Sept. 11, 2001? Do you know anyone who does? You don't even have to read this diary. Just direct your Veteran to this link, and tell them while it might not apply to them, it will to any combat Veteran with a GENERAL (vs. Honorable) discharge, or to any combat Veteran with a disability rating of 20% or less. It's a big deal.

On combat patrol several years ago, a U.S. soldier suffered two attacks from improvised explosive devices in a 24-hour-period.  The first one rattled him and killed his buddy.  The second one blew him out of his vehicle and knocked him unconscious. The Army would medically separate this soldier with a 10-percent disability rating, even though his medical records showed symptoms of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

This case, and many like it, occurred before Congress in 2008 ordered military branches to clean up their disability evaluation systems and end practices that had underrated medical conditions of ill and injured members.

Congress did something else too, to correct past wrongs.  It directed the Department of Defense to establish the Physical Disability Review Board (PDRB) with authority to reexamine the files and, if appropriate, raise disability ratings of up to 77,000 veterans -- those medically separated with ratings less than 30 percent between Sept. 11, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2009.

written for the Stars & Stripes, Published: January 19, 2012
by Tom Philpott

WHY THIS IS A BIG DEAL

For years now I have encountered Veteran after Veteran who was given what I call the "go away and don't bother us" discharge. At the time the Department of Defense wouldn't pay any attention to the men and women who experienced Posttraumatic Stress. Because these "slacker soldiers who weren't much good for combat", the DoD [Department of Defense] authorized and the various services offered General Discharges.

With an Honorable Discharge and 30% Disability rating, Veterans had access to VA healthcare and Tricare Insurance plus a monthly disability check. These days, 30% will get you $395 a month. However, if you got an General Discharge, not only did the government deny you access to affordable insurance, you couldn't get routine healthcare at a VA hospital, either.

(more from Philpott's Stars & Stripes article)

A few weeks ago the soldier struck by those two IEDs year ago learned that the PDRB had recommended his disability rating be raised to 70 percent, well above the 30-percent threshold needed to qualify for disability retirement, and applied back to the date of the Army’s first rating decision.

“We looked at the same exams,” explained PDBR President Michael F. LoGrande in an interview Friday. “He had post-traumatic stress legitimately. All the documentation was there.  He had traumatic brain injury. All the documentation was there.”

For all the good it can do, a big problem for the PDBR is this:  It has been operating since June of 2009, and raising disability ratings on 45 percent of cases reviewed, but only 2700 veterans from an eligibility pool of 77,000 have applied to have their ratings reviewed.  LoGrande called the 3.5 percent response rate “shockingly small.”

In short, it's worth it for every veteran who took a General Discharge between 9/11/2001 and 12/31/2009 to fill out a fairly short DD-294. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
.


THIS IS HOW A DISABILITY REVIEW IS PROCESSED

START: Veteran separated between 9/11/01 and 12/31/09
with 0, 10, or 20% combined disability

STEP 2.  Veteran submits signed DD-294 - it's a fill-in-the-blank pdf so, to begin application process fill it out and mail it to:

          PDBR Central Intake Unit
          SAF/MRBR
          550 C Street West
          Suite 41
          Randolph AFB, Texas 78150-4743

STEP 3.  CITU requests medical and disability evaluation
documentation from the VA and the Veteran’s Military Department

STEP 4.  CITU receives requested documentation (paper copy);
digitizes documents; uploads into PDBR central database

STEP 5.  PDBR downloads case documentation at
Joint Central Adjudication Unit (JCAU);
reviews case, adjudicates case & recommends action
to Designated Decision Authority (DDA)

STEP 6.  DDA of Veteran’s Military Department makes final decision
on case and informs Veteran. If Veteran’s prior disability
separation is re characterized as a disability retirement, DDA
coordinates correction of Veteran’s military record as well as
pay with DFAS and VA. If Veteran’s disability is not re
characterized, no change in status (with VA or Military
Department).

Originally posted to llbear on Mon Nov 11, 2013 at 02:13 PM PST.

Also republished by Military Community Members of Daily Kos, DKos Military Veterans, Kitchen Table Kibitzing, and KosAbility.

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