Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), my husband and I became more familiar with this than we ever planned to. Keep in mind that this is our experience and as with everything in the Army, the experience can vary greatly from one soldier to the next.
During my husband’s first deployment (of four that he completed), he began to have some respiratory issues. When he came back to the states, he noted his difficulties on his post deployment evaluation. His respiratory condition only continued to get worse and to make a long story short, he was moved out of his MOS of 11Bravo to a less physically intensive position.
At this point, the BN surgeon recommended that he begin a medical board. My husband did not want to do this and fought to avoid it. With the support of his 1st SGT as well as several other higher ups, he was allowed to avoid the med board and serve in his unit in a different capacity.
After his fourth deployment, his condition had still not improved and his ETS date was now less than a year away. He was on a variety of medications (and still is) so the BN surgeon recommended a med board again so in his words ‘we could at least try to get his medications paid for’ as the running total for them was more than $300/month.
He reluctantly agreed to start the process. He went through a variety of testing, physical evaluations, etc. There was a great deal of paperwork that had to be processed. The process started at the end of October and his packet was not ready to go to the board until March. After all of his paperwork was complete, his packet had to be reviewed by three physicians before going to the board. They met with him as well and he had the opportunity to either agree with their findings or disagree and state why. He agreed and his packet was sent to Texas to be examined by the informal board.
From the time they received the packet in Texas until we received a decision was about 48 hours. It was remarkably fast and much quicker than either of us anticipated. He was called in again to discuss the findings and the next steps.
Up until this point, we had no idea that the option of retirement even existed. But we quickly found out that it did. He was given a rating of 30% which qualified him for retirement. Because his condition was not yet rated as stable, he was placed on the TDRL (Temporary Disability Retirement List). From the time he accepted the decision, he had to be outprocessed from the Army within 90 days. We pushed it until the latest possible time and he was officially placed on TDRL and removed from active duty in June. So the entire process for us (from beginning the med board until discharge) was about 9 months.
The process and length of time can vary greatly. While the main steps are the same, the amount of time it takes to get from one step to the next can be drastically different for each soldier. We were told that orthopedic cases take the longest to process. I have known some who have been outprocessed in as little as three months and some who are still in the process after 18 months.
I am by no means an expert on the process. In my quest to learn as much as I could and through others reading my blog and emailing me, I was able to find a message board that is dedicated to the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) process. It can be found at www.pebforum.com. It has a wealth of information and is run by a former military service member who represented MEB cases while he worked with JAG. He is also on the board quite a bit and has been very helpful in answering questions. Check it out.
If your soldier is going through the MEB process, please email me your story so it can be posted. You can leave out any identifying information if you wish. It is always helpful to be able to read a variety of experiences rather than just having to depend on the experience of one person.