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Guardsix  
#1 Posted : Monday, February 27, 2012 5:16:11 AM(UTC)
Guardsix

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It's probably kind of late to write about this but I retired from the Army National Guard in 2000.  I started receiving my Army Retired pay in 2010 at age 60.  I have a regular retirement with no disabilities. 

When I "retired" in 2000, I was transferred to the Retired Reserve until 2010, I believe.  I never received any kind of "retirement" physical or final physical other than the normal 5-year physical I got while I was serving in the Army National Guard.  I also never had any kind of VA physical.

I had previously filed for VA disability for my hearing.  I had my hearing damaged while on active duty with the Navy in 1969-1973.  The VA game me a "Zero" disability rating although they did say I have a "combat related disability".  I can and did apply for hearing aids and received them through the VA.

Getting to my questions...should I have had a final physical or a VA physical to determine any other military related disabilities?

Thanks to anyone who takes the time to read this.


martyb  
#2 Posted : Monday, February 27, 2012 6:07:54 AM(UTC)
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If the Guard works anythign like the AF Reserves, the only things that are going to be counted are those things that happened while you were on active duty, not drill time.  Also, not Annual Tours.  I am interested in knowing more about your situation with the hearing issue, since I am about to turn in my paperwork to the VA for a bad tinnitus problem.  I was on active duty between 1977 & 1981.  After separating, I spent the next 28 years in the reserves, many of which I spent on the flightline in very close proximity to running jet engines, as in underneath and physically touching the aircraft, for practially every working day over around 20 year period.  My understanding is the only time period that the VA will apply is the 4 1/2 yrs I was on active duty.  In addition to the Reserve time, I performed exactly the same duties as an Air Reserve Technician.  However, it doesn't look like any of the time besides the 4 1/2 years will count for anything.  In the meantime, I constantly have the sensation similar to an F-16 hi-pitched whine in my ears.  There is no fix for severe tinnitus, as far as I can tell, and it's likely to get worse.
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chrisocasio  
#3 Posted : Monday, February 27, 2012 10:21:00 AM(UTC)
chrisocasio

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Gentlemen,
I'm very new to the VA, having worked there for only 5 months. However, I can provide some basic information that may be helpful. There's another poster, whose username starts with usmc, who has longer experience in the VA and the Veteran Benefits Adminstration than I do.
 
Martyb - I'm an Army National Guardsman, so forgive my ignorance of the ART program. Is it the same thing as Active Guard Reserve? Did you get a DD214 for your time as an ART? If you did not, then the service you did in your function as an ART is not creditable for VA purposes.
 
HOWEVER, your Air Force Reserve time is allowed to be counted for cases of hearing loss and tinnitus. You will need to go to a VA examination where the examiner will try to separate out how much of your hearing loss/tinnitus can be related to active duty/reserve time VS. your civilian occupations. If the examiner is convinced that it's at least as likely as not (50% or more chance) that your hearing loss and tinnitus is due to service, then the VA will be able to service connect you. The caveat is you may not have hearing loss that is bad enough to be connectable for VA purposes.
 
 
GUARDSIX - The VA will examine your service treatment records from both your active duty and national guard periods, so long as they are available. However, we can only grant service connection for things that occured during active duty or that were made worse by active duty.
 
In the case of your guard time, service connection may be warranted for injuries you suffered during a MUTA or AT, provided the injury is well documented (usually through a line of duty determination). However, whereas active duty servicemembers diagnosed with chronic diseases (cancer, hypertension, diabetes, etc) can be granted service connection, you as a guardsman cannot be. The only exception to that is, once again, if your first incidence of the chronic illness is from an active duty period -OR- if the disease was made worse than its normal, natural progression by your service.
 
Guardsix  
#4 Posted : Monday, February 27, 2012 11:38:50 AM(UTC)
Guardsix

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Martyb...  My hearing loss was documented on my separation DD214 from the US Navy in 1973.  I was aboard the USS Midway for about 3 of the 4 years I was in the Navy.  My ears went due to standing on the 07 level and watching/listening to F4s afterburner off the flight deck!  The Navy wasn't particularly "people friendly" in those days.  Hearing protection was NOT provided no matter how much we complained.

So, in 2002, I asked for a VA hearing exam to determine the extent of my hearing loss based on my 1973 separation physical.  After the exam, I received a "combat-related disability" but with 0 compensation. At that time, the VA didn't provide hearing aids any way, just batteries.  In 2010, i found out from a private audiologist that the VA now covered hearing aids and batteries!  She told me to contact them again which I did.  They did another hearing test and said that I should, indeed, have hearing aids.  I went back to the same VA Hearing Clinic that gave me the test and they ordered the hearing aids.  It took about 3 weeks but I received the same hearing aids that I would have gotten from my private audiologist.  Saved me about $3,600!  I can ask and receive batteries every six months!  Amazing!

Good luck to you.  If you can prove you had an Active Duty hearing loss...go through the VA claim process.  You'll need to prove that it was a combat/active duty hearing loss.  It might take some time but if you need hearing aids, they owe them to you! 
Guardsix  
#5 Posted : Monday, February 27, 2012 11:49:20 AM(UTC)
Guardsix

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chrisocasio...Your VA information sounds pretty logical even though I don't really agree with it.  Considering the time I put in, 24 years, in the Army National Guard, including the extensive pre-deployment training for Bosnia i did in 1999, I wasn't doing a "part-time service".  As a drilling Reservist, I had to drive over 350 miles to Command an Artillery Battalion in East Texas and I did this more than just one weekend a month!  I spent many, many days at Ft. Hood intensively training my Artillery Battalion.  My body was punished just as much as an Active Duty member when out in the Field.  Active Duty members are not any more physically stressed when in garrison than I was at my "full-time" job! 

Off the soap box.  I'm enjoying my retirement and not looking for more.  Just wanted to know about the final physical and how VA might be involved.

Thanks for your response.  I really appreciate your words.
chrisocasio  
#6 Posted : Monday, February 27, 2012 12:12:17 PM(UTC)
chrisocasio

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Guardsix,
 
I hear you on your grievances. I'm also an FA guy, MA ARNG here. Just returned from a year in Afghanistan. More and more today the differences, at least in terms of operational usage, between reserve/guard and active duty are blurring. The differences that remain are those of the benefits package. It's a lot cheaper to use a bunch of citizen soldiers than it is to maintain a larger standing force. We only just got Tricare Reserve Select through Congress in the last dozen years, our retirement if we do 20 is a lot cheaper, and the government can still activate us whenever it wants to do its bidding.
 
In the words of so many in the military, it is what it is. I'm looking at the VA from the inside now, and even though I understand the laws and regulations that guide its decisions, I still wish Congress would take another look at how reservists benefits are handled.
 
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