This morning I spoke with one of the attorneys at the Army Review Boards Agency (ARBA). He provided me with some interesting information about some of the other boards available to Soldiers after the APDA has acted on a case. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2006, the Army Physical Disability Appeal Board (APDAB) only reviewed one case. For FY 2003-2005 the APDAB and the Army Disability Rating Review Board combined only reviewed 10 cases total. ARBA's unofficial position is that the Army could technically require Soldiers to appeal to these Boards before going to the ABCMR, however, they do not enforce that requirement. I suspect that this may be in part because it is easier and costs less (in administrative costs and manpower) for the Army to process cases at the ABCMR than by requiring another Board to go through another layer of review before ending up at the ABCMR anyways. In any event, this low number of cases before these boards make it impossible to draw meaning from the outcomes. In my opinion, it is probably a waste to appear before these two boards because if you lose it will then take a later ABCMR appeal before you can file suit in Federal Court. About the ABCMR statistics. In FY 2006, the ABCMR processed 14,583 cases. In 46% of these cases, ARBA reports that there was an upgrade or correction to the Soldiers record (remember, though, that physical disability cases are a small minority of the ABCMR 's case load- there are wrongful discharge cases, promotion cases, military award cases, and characterization of discharge cases among others). The majority of petitions were filed without the assistance of an attorney. I think this is great because it shows that Soldiers can get relief without the assistance of an attorney. I also wonder if the other cases would have been successful if there was an attorney involved. An attorney may be much more important if the case is going to ultimately end up in a Federal Court because before you can sue on an issue, you generally need to raise it first with ABCMR. As far as processing times, the ABCMR was able to process 96% of their cases in FY 2006 within 10 months. Though the Army Discharge Review Board (ADRB) is not directly concerned with disability cases, the statistics from that board can provide some insight. In FY 2006, the ADRB processed 1359 cases with a success rate (defined as some correction or upgrade) for Soldiers of roughly 50%. Again, the majority of these cases were without attorney representation. So, what conclusions to draw from all of this? Since the ABCMR is the gateway to the Federal Courts (except for wrongful discharge cases), I think it makes sense to appeal there directly. Since the object there is to win and barring that to set the stage for an appeal in Federal Court it is important that you identify the correct issues at the ABCMR that you can later raise in court. An attorney or VSO may be helpful to doing this but you may be successful on your own.