Apr 16, 2007

Can you say confusing?

Today was my first day back at work and boy… was it a doozie! First of all, I’ve been having a hard time getting to sleep here in my new digs. The first night, Saturday, it rained all night. There is some kind of metal skirt that sticks out from the building on my floor, so guess what? I got to hear the pitter patter of drops falling off the building onto the metal skirt. I didn’t get to sleep until nearly 2am and then was woken up by jets making their approach to Reagan National Airport at 6:30am. Yes, I am a light sleeper. Last night, Sunday, the wind was howling like crazy. The northeast has been getting pummeled by this storm and it just won’t die. It sounded like things that were loose on the building were being tossed around outside.

I got to sleep around 2am again and managed to get up around 8am. I grabbed a quick bite in the store downstairs and headed off to work. I got there around 10am and was warmly greeted by everyone. My boss was happy to see me too, but apparently there were some issues with my evaluation not being turned in yet. In the Army, Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) and Officers are required to be evaluated annually. They are supposed to be done by a certain time of the year, and when things fall behind, the people up the chain get hounded for not having the evals of their people done on time. I knew this before I went on leave and completed my part of my NCO Evaluation Report (NCOER.) Well, I guess we are cutting it too close for comfort since everyone from my unit in Fort Worth to the people at work want to know where it is.

The first thing I did was track down the guy that I knew could tell me where it was. I found him and was told to talk to another person higher up. That person knew that it was missing but didn’t know where it was either. Basically, all the people that needed to sign it had already signed it and they were just waiting for my signature. But now the eval was no where to be found. This person said they would talk to another person and see if they can track it down and that I should check back later. I checked back later and the person was gone. There was some kind of sewer leakage that blocked one of the entrances on and off base today, so they let people that lived far away go home early. I guess that person left? I stayed to get my work done… I won’t be at the office tomorrow, so I hope they find it so that I can sign it on Wednesday. My boss wondered why they just could not print out a new one and have everyone sign it again… I have no idea.

Speaking of work, I made quite a few phone calls regarding the Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) process that I am about to begin. The issue is… I have no idea how I’m supposed to initiate it! I think I know the problem though… normally a soldier doesn’t have to initiate it – it begins when they get hurt and then they get worked through the system. My issue is that because I have been having all my treatments done at the Navy hospital, the Army hospital has no idea what’s up with me. They don’t know I need an MEB! At first I thought I was supposed to begin out-processing from my office, and also take the paperwork that I do have to Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) and that would start the process. But when I ran this by my Reserve Management Office (RMO), they said that I should probably not do that quite yet. Instead, I should call WRAMC and the office that does the out-processing and see what they say.

I followed their instructions and called WRAMC. I explained my dilemma to someone there and they told me that they would have to speak to someone above them to see what needed to be done. To my surprise, a few minutes later they paged me and I called back. They had a list of things that needed to be done and paperwork that I needed to gather in order for everything to go smoothly. A plan! It sounded good to me, so I took notes and hung up. One of the items on the list required that I ask the out-processing office a few questions too. I called them up and they had a similar, but slightly different plan. They urged me to call a different person at WRAMC, but to come to them to begin out-processing immediately! I called the person they suggested I call and they were very helpful. They told me basically the same things the first person at WRAMC told me with a few slight changes. I called the first person back and left a message with them explaining that I had spoken to the out-processing people and this other person at WRAMC and that the plans were slightly different – I expect a call back from them tomorrow.

Okay, so all these details, right? Here’s what it comes down to:

  1. When you can’t physically perform your duties in the military because of an injury or disability, they put you on what is called a profile. They have temporary and permanent profiles. I have been on a temporary profile since the surgery, but my main doctor recently put me on a permanent profile because you have to have one to start the MEB process. First thing tomorrow, I have to make the trek to my medical clinic in the Pentagon to get a copy of that P3 profile. Simple enough, right? We’ll see.
  2. I need to begin the out-processing process which has to be done at Fort Belvoir, which is about 30 miles south of DC. I can’t drive, so our good friend Tamra, who is also in the Army and happens to work at WRAMC, is going to give me a ride. There, I’ll begin the process, but when I get to medical, they’ll see my past history and things will screech to a halt. They will immediately refer me to WRAMC for an MEB. Then we’ll drive to WRAMC and I’ll meet with some of the people that I spoke with on the phone today. And it all works out perfectly because Tamra needs to take care of some business there tomorrow too! I’m not sure of what all will happen when I get there – I’m kinda flying by the seat of my pants on this one.
  3. I need a Narrative Summary (NARSUM) from my doctors explaining what happened to me and what conditions I have now. I have appointments with my Neurologist and Oncologist on Friday to knock this one out of the way. BTW, I also have a follow-up MRI Friday afternoon to see how things look up there. Pray that everything is still getting better for me, okay?
  4. Since this happened to me while I was on Active Duty, it is considered a Line of Duty injury (LOD). Apparently there was supposed to be a form filled out quite some time ago (a DA2173 to be exact,) it was never done, so the folks at WRAMC will take care of that for me.

Wow! So those are the major things at this time that I know of. In addition, I was told that once I go to WRAMC and they begin the process, they will put in a request to the Army to cut a new set of orders assigning me to the Medical Holdover Company at WRAMC. The Army will then have 72 hours to cut the orders. Whatever date the orders say I am assigned to WRAMC is the date that I have to move out of this temporary apartment and into the housing at WRAMC. My current orders expire on April 27 – I’m sure they will be done by then. In fact, if I go there tomorrow, they might be cut by this Friday. I was kind of hoping to spend one more weekend in this apartment close to everyone I know, but I might have to move before then. Or, they might cut the orders by Friday, but the effective date won’t be until sometime next week. That would be preferable since I have medical appointments pretty much all day Friday and it would suck to move over the weekend. So, let’s pray that I am told to move next week too.

Confusing? We’re just getting started. Tomorrow should be a fun filled day of running around and being told different information. I pray that it goes well. I know I’ve probably given you way too much information, but I wanted to tell you everything and it also gives me a way to put it on “paper” to make sure that even I have it right. I’ll update you tomorrow evening. And if you have questions for me, please leave a comment and I’ll answer them. Now it’s close to midnight again and I’m still up. So, I’m posting this and going to bed.

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