Under Title 10 of the United States Code, chapter 61, the Secretaries of the Military Departments may retire or discharge a service member who is found to be unfit for duty based on a disabling physical or mental condition. Medical discharge is given to military service members who acquire a medical condition that deems them no longer fit for duty. To qualify as Unfit for Duty, the injured or ill service member in question must go through a multi-step process called the Integrated Disability Evaluation System, also known as IDES. This often lengthy process requires multiple different sources to consider a variety of factors relating to the service member’s medical condition and how it affects their duties. In the end, the decision that is reached determines whether or not a service member may be medically discharged from the military.
How Does Medical Discharge Work?
In the case that a military member becomes sick or injured, the obvious priority is to ensure that they receive the proper medical attention. However, what also must be considered is whether or not they can return to service in that state of being. Thus, physical or mental problems that are incompatible with military standards and interfere with duty for more than a year warrant the Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) to step in. The MEB, composed of a team of active duty physicians, will review the clinical case file of the injured or ill service member. Using the formal medical standards that have been established for continued military service, the board will determine whether the service member should return to duty or be separated from the military. If the MEB decides that the medical condition does, in fact, make the service member unfit for duty, this initial decision will need to pass through a number of hands before reaching a final conclusion, including the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB). After reviewing the case, the PEB may recommend that the service member either returns to duty, separates (discharges) from the military, or gets placed on the Temporary Disabled Retired List (TDRL).
When is a Service Member Unfit to Continue Military Service?
According to the Department of Defense, any medical condition that significantly interferes with the performance of duties for a service member of any rank may be considered by the Medical Evaluation Board. This may be either a physical or mental condition, or both. However, most conditions generally don’t automatically qualify for discharge. Instead, factors such as the conditions’ severity, how much it affects the performance of duties, and how manageable it is to treat will be thoroughly evaluated.
Will I Still Receive Benefits If I Am Medically Discharged?
A common concern for those who are facing medical discharge is if they will still receive military and VA benefits. Fortunately, the answer to this is yes. If you receive either an Honorable Discharge, a General Discharge Under Honorable Conditions, or a Medical Discharge, you are still eligible for both VA health care benefits and disability compensation. Only those separated with Dishonorable Discharge or Bad Conduct issued by a General Court Martial are not eligible for compensation or other military benefits. Those who receive an Other Than Honorable Discharge or a Bad Conduct Discharge issued by Special Court-Martial will need their individual case evaluated by the VA before it is determined whether they receive military benefits like compensation or health care.
How Can an Attorney Help With Medical Discharge?
An experienced attorney can play an essential role in the medical discharge process by ensuring that you receive proper medical treatment and benefits, among other things. An attorney may be especially crucial in the case that you’ve been denied these benefits. Overall, it is important to have someone on your side whose main goal is to protect your rights and your future. That person is the Devil Dog Defender, Aden Wilkie.
Whether you need an attorney to help you through the process of medical discharge or administrative discharge, the The Wilkie Law Group can help. Aden Wilkie is located in Jacksonville, NC and services armed forces at Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg as well as other bases, camps, stations, and posts all throughout the United States. Travel fees may apply. Fill out our online intake form or call 910-333-9626 today for a consultation.