August 18, 2010

Failure to Launch: VA and Tricare




I don't know whether it's just because I am emotionally and physically tired, but it seems like everything here lately is just so damn overwhelming. Between my little one being so sick, my other two in school, and then my husband....anything else is just like a big whopping smack in the face!

Recently, we found out that my husband must go before the Medical Review Board. Now, for those of you who know what I am talking about.....you will probably say "well you knew this was coming!". Ok, yes I did....My issue here is the confusion, the lack of no information or a straight answer and of course, trying to figure it out all again, on my own. We recently sent in for an increase of my husband's disability which was currently at 40%. He was 30% for PTSD and 10% for Tinnitus (ringing of the ears). After reading so many other horror stories of fellow PTSD Veterans, we should be thankful for what my husband was originally awarded. However, two statements later from his psychiatrists, they deemed him unemployable...and pretty much in both letters, stated he really didn't need to be out in the world on his own and as his wife....I know this statement is most definitely true!

His increase came back and of course, everything else was turned down. They considered that TBI was factored in, but he hadn't been to the doctor yet so they could not determine anything as of yet. Understandable. The thing that pissed me off, was yes he did get an increase of his PTSD to 50% but took away his original award of Tinnitus! 10% is a good chunk of change and we didn't realize they would take it away. Now he has hearing loss so severe that the VA placed hearing aids in both ears, and the ringing can last for hours in his head. Everywhere we looked on this paperwork stated DEFERRED DEFERRED DEFERRED! What does that even mean? Deferred for what? The VA originally gave it to him, and now they are asking for his paperwork from when he first signed up for Basic Training!The rest which was all documented and the VA is treating him for, of course, was turned down because they don't feel it's war related. We have documentation showing this! I figured I am going to have to put two large flags on each underlined word and then maybe they will read it!
So back to Medical Review. My husband was informed from his Battalion that they are now sending him before the board. My husband says he is ok with getting out although he hates to lose his almost 13 years in of service. The thing is, I have heard many many stories coming down from medical review boards such as getting booted with an honorable discharge, no medical retirement and that's that. Now I have been talking to a Veteran's Benefit Support group on Facebook (totally been waaay more help than anyone I have found) and he says that if they give my husband the boot, demand they medically retire him. Well A.....this is great help man, but if they tell us that "out you must go", what else could we do? Now VBS explained all about the GAF scores and the lower the better, and how that most soldiers just accept the boot without fighting it. My husband is having his first appointment for his TBI care soon and the VA just set his evaluation for disability appt in regards to the TBI. I am hoping this will help his review before the medical board.

So am I worried about him getting booted with the foot still up the ass from the Army? No. I look at it as simply another page in life and he seems to be ok with it.....What concerns me the most is that if they broke him, they need to fix him. If he gets the boot, then no more health insurance. I understand the Veteran has to have a certain score to be deemed enough for benefits such as medical retirement/temporary or permanent disability and at this rate deemed by the military, can we keep some type of insurance. We have had Tricare for a very long time, and then once he was home....we switched to Tricare Reserve Select in which our family gets coverage for 198.00 a month. It has been a God send for all of us, especially my little one who has had several hospitalizations due to severe Asthma and allergies. Between his monthly medications, breathing apparatus and so much more...I couldn't be more thankful for that wonderful insurance. For myself, I am on several medications such as Humira for Rheumatoid Arthritis that is really expensive. If we lose our insurance because he gets booted out and they don't offer it once you are out, and we can't get insurance for the family through the Army because of Medical retirement....I really don't know what we will do.

I looked up private insurance thinking, Ok....we will simply re-budget, tighten up in a few places, and then we will be fine. However, after 22 quotes, checking every ins and outs......there is no way we can afford to do anything! Many would not accept either myself or my son due to "pre-existing" conditions....the others, well let's just say the cheapest I could find was around 900.00 to 2196.00 a month, 10,000 deductible which is every year and must be met before the insurance even kicks in!! I tell you dear readers, I have been through ups and downs.....weathered many many storms and pulled through with strength and confidence. This time.....I felt like the wind was literally knocked out of me!

If my little one wasn't so ill, then I could find a daycare and head back to work. No one will touch him with a ten foot pole. My second son who is in public school Pre-K, gets out at 1:45 in the afternoon. A severe asthma attack can occur at anytime with my little one so that means hospitalization for at least 3 days....there isn't an employer who wouldn't fire me right off the gate. I always have a backup plan.....once plan A is into motion, there is always a plan B in place. Just my nature. This time, I don't know what to do. My husband is expecting me to deal with all this paperwork for the VA, then find out information on medical review board, and I just feel like all the stress is bogging me down to the point I am slowly sinking. My worrying and stress is simply feeding the bonfire of a meltdown. I know that he struggles with reading comprehension.....his attention and patience is like that of a three year old and once he gets frustrated, it makes it even worse.So I can't say "Honey, you are going to have to help with this".

It makes me feel better with the help of the Veterans Benefit Support, but on the other hand....I feel like some of it sounds so simple, that it just can't be that easy and we are going to run into problems. I have worried so much about our health insurance, I think I have a permanent headache from the stress. I often wonder what the Active Duty personnel do when they make the military a career and then they get booted by the medical board.....what happens to their family?

I don't mean to seem like I am whining....because I am really not. I am just so frustrated and wondering what we did to deserve all this? If it was as simple as me going back to work, leaving my kids with my husband, it would be a no brainer.....however, he can barely remember to take his medicine and the first toy that makes too much noise, all hell breaks loose! There is no way he could be home and deal with the kids.....what do other families do?

So far, I have been strong, trying to stand up straight for all of us....but damn, I get so weary of being strong all the time! I want to crumble and fall apart, even if just for a little while. I feel like I am failing my family who so depends on me because I can't launch that Plan B! I wish just once, my husband could stop and realize what all I am going through....maybe let me break down and shoulder some of the burden. I think out of all the issues with PTSD and TBI, this lack of shouldering the burden and providing support, is the worst one to deal with. I want to scream "you know what! I DON'T KNOW!". I wish there was one site you could navigate and give a break down of this is going to happen at Med Board, this is what to do, and then......this is what you need to deal with after all is said and done. Not too much to ask for right? Hahah!

Sigh.....I keep hoping the Big man upstairs will just cut me a break. Throw me a job from home, throw me a better set of lungs for my little one, give my husband the courage to come of out PTSD and never go back. I know it seems like a lot, but all I do is give give give even when it takes away so much for myself. Couldn't the military and God give back to me just a little bit?
I need a good cry, but honestly don't think I have the strength for that even. Any ideas, suggestions or experience....I will take it all! Surely, there is someone reading this who understands what I am going through, and has already gone through the steps of all this and can share something positive.

Still clinging to the life raft,


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