Feb 13, 2008

No Hearing, Great Results, Excellent Birthday!

I know that many of you know that I had a hearing scheduled for this morning to appeal my initial disability rating from the Army Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) of 30%. Up to this point I didn't want to reveal too much information because my attorney had a strategy and the last thing I wanted to do was to undermine it. I know that sounds kinda' lame, but I don't know who's reading this blog. I can't remember how much detail I went into after I got my initial rating so I recap just a bit.

After I got that rating, it seemed low to me so I went to talk to a rep from the Disabled American Veterans (DAV). They have someone on-site at Walter Reed (WRAMC) to help us out with these things. When he looked at it and then looked at the regulation, he said it looked like I was supposed to get 100% disability. The DAV has a program where law firms in the DC area will represent soldiers that want to appeal their ratings. I was assigned an awesome lawyer from the firm Jones Day. This guy was awesome. He looked up tons of information regarding my situation, gathered documents and records and spoke to me several times to discuss my case. We finally met face to face last week at their office in DC and we went over all the information they gathered for my case. Then late last week I had to do some running around to gather a few more documents right up to Friday night. I took the weekend off and stayed with my good friends Amanda and Buddy (check out their blog!).

Monday morning I was getting ready to do some more info gathering when I saw that I missed a call on my phone. It was my PEBLO Counselor and he said that he had a new DA199 for me. The DA199 is the form that has a disability rating on it. I was a bit confused and when I called him back, I had to leave him a message. I then called my attorney and he said he wouldn't be surprised because they came to WRAMC last week and observed a hearing and then had a chance to speak to the board. Then as I was about to run out the door, my Case Manager called me saying that I needed to speak to my PEBLO ASAP! I headed right over there and as I was walking down the hall, he came out of his office and he called me back immediately. He showed me the new paperwork and apparently, after my attorney met with them, they convened another informal board and changed my rating from 30% to 100% through Aug 2009 on the Temporary Disability Retirement List (TDRL). So, I did not have to go to my hearing after all! I shared this new information with my attorney and he told me it looked like this was the best I was going to get, so I signed it.

Now the paperwork has to go to the Army Physical Disability Agency (PDA) for approval. If they agree, then they will cut order for we to leave WRAMC and I couold be home by the end of March. I know it's all confusing, but there is a very good short summary of the whole process, including what TDRL and other things mean, here: Military Disability (Medical) Separations and Retirements. This has been such a relief for me and my entire family. This entire four year saga of being away from home might soon be over... but lets just keep on praying for now. Thanks for praying for me and sticking in there. We only have a little bit more to go!

So today is my birthday... I'm 33. The staff at the Stripe newspaper office had cake for me - that was nice of them. And this evening I went back over to Amanda & Buddy's for dinner, games and cake. I'm so glad they invited me. It was nice to have a somewhat regular birthday. I wish Holly was here with me, but I'll see her soon enough. BTW - I think Amanda is going to be giving birth either Thu or Fri, the contractions are kicking in, so please pray for a safe delivery!
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