Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wounded Warrior Transition: Tips for Before, During, and After Separation

In today's wars, thanks to the protective equipment issued to the Troops we have a higher rate of battlefield survivability.  As we have seen, in many instances our Warriors survive with permanent and significant disabilities.  These can be physical, cognitive, and/or mental/emotional.  Typically, Warriors that have permanent disabilities are separated from the Military Service after the Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) finds them "not fit for duty".  This process is a process of mixed emotions.  I remember, going through the MEB was very stressful and I wanted it to hurry and be over.  I was looking forward to the last day, but when the day came I was extremely sad at the thought of that being the last day I was going to wear my uniform.  That was the last and the first day.

Sometimes, Troops being separated from the Service rush through MEB process and remain unaware of certain things they should get done to ensure a less hectic transition.  Here I will share some of the important things that Soldiers need to pay attention before, during and after transitioning.

  • Consult with a legal advisor before signing the MEB's Narrative Summary (NARSUM).
  • Once the MEB has reached a decision, consult with a legal advisor before signing the DA Form 199 [Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) Proceedings].
NOTE:  Most installations have an attorney dedicated for reviewing MEB documents with the Troops.  DO NOT RUSH TO SIGN. CONSULT THE ATTORNEY FIRST!
  • If the disabilities resulted from a traumatic event.  The Service Member may be entitled to submit a Traumatic Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (TSGLI) claim.
  • Wounded Warriors may be entitle to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) concurrent with military pay.
  • If the separation is a retirement, Service Member are given the option to enroll in the Survivors Benefit Plan (SBP).  
    • This will guarantees that part of the retirement pay will be given to beneficiaries (e.g. spouse) after the death of the retiree.
    • It can be perceived as being expensive, but the rate does not increase.  Most life insurance tend to increase with age while the SBP remains the same.
    • SBP information here.
  • If disabilities resulted from combat and the Service Member is entitled to retirement pay, he/she may be entitled for the Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC).  
    • According to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), the purpose of these entitlements is to recover some or all of the retired pay that military retirees waive for VA disability compensation.
    • CRSC information here.
  • Once on Veteran status, the individual can elect to convert the Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI) to the Veterans Group Life Insurance.  
    • Unlike the SGLI, the VGLI premium increases with the age of the Veteran.  I chose to convert mine, but in the meantime I am looking for an alternative insurance that is not as costly.
    • RECOMMENDATION: DO NOT DROP YOUR INSURANCE COMPLETELY. THE UNEXPECTED CAN HAPPEN!
    • VGLI information here.
  • If retired, the Veteran may enroll in Tricare Retiree Dental Program.  At the moment, dental insurance may be obtained through two insurance companies: Delta Dental and Metlife.  Some Veterans are entitled to dental through the VA.  Any of this two insurances are a good way to beat the VA wait times.
  • If retired, Veterans have the election to continue with Tricare Health Insurance.  The Veteran can choose to enroll in different options.  There may be a cost.
I hope this information is useful to you.  I was thorough in researching and verifying the links provided here.  Any mistake is unintentional.  If corrections need to be made, please leave a comment or send an email.  If there is any benefit or entitlement that should be included here, please feel free to send it.

Have a great day!
Remember: DO NOT RUSH THE PROCESS OF SEPARATION AND TAKE YOUR TIME!