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Air Force CRSC gouge

Wally3430

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Hey all, wonder if any AF folks had some advice for submitting a CRSC package? I'm awaiting VA ratings right now and have been found unfit (unofficially, thru the PEBLO looking it up). I'm trying to get my ducks in a row prior to likely retirement. How anal is the AF CRSC program folks compared to other services? For the items I'm claiming that are clearly directly combat related, I'm having a hard time finding doctor notes that directly link the diagnosis with the event. All the AF docs and VA docs start a diagnosis description of "The servicemember states that....." or "The patient has said.....". Those types of statement are all subjective. I even called my PCM and asked her about those statements. She said, "We tend to be vague on purpose"; I'm guessing as a CYA method. So at this point, I'm going to try to go in and inform the doctors that CRSC isn't going to like those terms and see if they'll reword them to establish a direct link with an event or use the words "it's more likely than not the service members injury occurred because of xxxxxx". I have LOEs, performance reports, orders and awards that place me in a combat zone at a CRSC claim supporting time, but no other proof that what happened to me was a result of combat action. For anyone with more than a 10 second attention span, it should be obvious to directly link my diagnosis with a combat event but.....I've read some horror stories wrt CRSC award. Any experts out there that want to chime in?
 

Ed Mercanti

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CRSC was originally for only those who were actually wounded in combat. They expanded it to include instrumentality of war (something unique to the military), exceptionally hazardous duty (parachuting or scuba diving), and simulation of war (a tank ran over your foot when you were in the process of attacking a simulated enemy position). Simply being in a combat zone does not establish eligibility for CRSC.
 

Wally3430

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Got it. Like I said, it should be pretty obvious my injuries were the direct result of combat. Looking for some CRSC experts to chime in here regarding what the AF CRSC program people need to see (beyond what the CRSC program website calls for i.e. specific gouge).
 

Ed Mercanti

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When I was writing CRSC appeals, I would get people who would claim CRSC because they injured their back fixing an air conditioning unit on some vehicle during a maneuver. Denied. While simulating war, the simulation of war did not cause the injury. I had a number of people request CRSC for bad backs as a result of repeated parachute jumps (cumulative affect). Denied. They never reported a back injury while on active duty. The closest call was one where a veteran was claiming CRSC for his leg. He had broken his leg while retreating from overwhelming forces during the battle of Chosen Reservoir. The rationale was enemy action did not cause him to fall down the hill, which caused his broken leg. He fell down the hill because he was walking backwards returning fire again North Korean soldiers. My primary focus on the case was the fact that he wouldn't have been walking backwards if it hadn't been for enemy action. I was overruled. The board wanted a cause and effect for the CRSC injury.
 

Wally3430

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When I was writing CRSC appeals, I would get people who would claim CRSC because they injured their back fixing an air conditioning unit on some vehicle during a maneuver. Denied. While simulating war, the simulation of war did not cause the injury. I had a number of people request CRSC for bad backs as a result of repeated parachute jumps (cumulative affect). Denied. They never reported a back injury while on active duty. The closest call was one where a veteran was claiming CRSC for his leg. He had broken his leg while retreating from overwhelming forces during the battle of Chosen Reservoir. The rationale was enemy action did not cause him to fall down the hill, which caused his broken leg. He fell down the hill because he was walking backwards returning fire again North Korean soldiers. My primary focus on the case was the fact that he wouldn't have been walking backwards if it hadn't been for enemy action. I was overruled. The board wanted a cause and effect for the CRSC injury.
Wow. That's some BS right there about the guy with the broken leg. As for my case, I'll be claiming chronic PTSD and tinnitus. PTSD from many many weapons employment directly onto enemy force. Tinnitus from taking cover during a rocket attack...right under a very low base speaker tower (which caused the ringing in ears). Had constant ringing afterwards. So, I don't think those two are too far-fetched. It's the documentation I currently have that's the problem. I have plenty of doctors notes, tests, therapy while in service (and I've been found unfit for PTSD)...but no where does it say the diagnosis is directly related to a specific event or multiple events. One can easily deduce the "how" very clearly from my records, but I'm afraid CRSC will want ridiculous amounts of evidence that no one would have. I also have a letter from director of operations that details the events leading to tinnitus (an after action report if you will) and details the mission we did/symptoms of PTSD he's personnally witnessed during my deployment. But it sounds like I'll need more proof; not sure what other proof I can provide.
 
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islandboy25

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Not sure if you are aware of the AW2 program, but they're also able to file CRSC for you. My AW2 rep told me I am qualified (PTSD). I will be going to her office this week to get it done, tomorrow is my first day on TDRL.
 

Ed Mercanti

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PTSD for a car accident in Ohio doesn't qualify for CRSC. PTSD for combat does.
 

Wally3430

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Update: Notified 14APR16 findings of TDRL "PTSD-Combat zone, Not Combat Related" 50% and "Reactive Airway Disease/Asthma; DVA Rated as Asthma" 30%. Combined Compensable percent of 70%. VA ratings came back at combined 90%. Pebforum and vets yuku have been awesome in getting me ready for this; the percentages were spot on to what I predicted.

However, I will be appealing. #1-They found my PTSD to be "combat zone, NOT combat related". I believe I have a very strong case to make it combat related; either direct result of armed conflict or, more likely, for direct result of instrumentality of war (I'm actually very confused how they determined NOT combat related. Probably because my MH doctor failed to say what my PTSD stemmed from--he said it wasn't "medically relevant to therapy" to document the HOW I got it). #2-Should I actually be placed on PDRL instead of TDRL? On the form 356, they state "TDRL status is provided not due to instability or of expectation of return to duty but rather IAW paragraph 4.129 of the VASRD which is required following an unfitting determination with diagnosis of PTSD". But......regardless of my PTSD, I also was found unfit for stable Reactive Airway Disease.....which if it was my only unfitting condition, I'd venture that I'd be placed on PDRL.

So I'll be appealing, primarily for the "not combat related" statement. I've accumulated (after the PEB started..was unable to get them before) 3 MFRs from commanders downrange that describe what we did and PTSD symptoms starting immediately after weapons employment on bad guys. I also went to my MH doctor and had him do up an MFR that explains the "how I got PTSD"...which he related to combat actions. I understand being in a combat zone doesn't qualify you for a "combat related" statement, but I believe I can make my case clear. So, looks like I'll be speaking with OAC tomorrow. Smh....I knew this "combat related" sh*t would be an issue.
 

gsfowler

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In my opinion, the best way to get PTSC CRSC approved is to try to pinpoint one or two specific events that exposed you to an extraordinary life-threatening situation which is perceived with intense fear, horror and helplessness.

I think that if you claim the combination of a multitude of events, then it will be considered "occurred in a combat zone" rather than "combat related".

If intend to claim a multitude of events, I think it is important to make sure that each one you claim, has a direct causation from either armed conflict, hazardous duty, an instrumentality of war, or simulated war. You could easily rule out simulated war or hazardous duty. This would leave armed conflict, or instrumentality of war.

An instrumentality of war is a vehicle, vessel, or device designated primarily for Military Service and intended for use in such Service at the time of the occurrence or injury (could be a specific weapon such as a mortar that exploded within a proximity to create an injury). A determination that a disability is the result of an instrumentality of war may be made if the disability was incurred in any period of service as a result of such diverse causes as wounds caused by a military weapon, accidents involving military combat vehicle, injury or sickness caused by fumes, gases, or explosion or military ordinance, vehicles, or material.

Armed Conflict includes war, expedition, occupation of an area or territory, battle, skirmish, raid, invasion, rebellion, insurrection, guerrilla action, riot or any other action in which service members are engaged with a hostile or belligerent nation, faction, force, or terrorists. The fact that a member incurred the disability during a period of war or an area of armed conflict or while participating in combat operations is not sufficient to support a combat-related determination. There must be a definite causal relationship between the armed conflict and the resulting disability.

Every single medical note is going to be subjective, the provider was not there with you, therefore they can only report what you tell them.

The CRSC determinants know this, DD Form 2680 provides you with the opportunity to briefly describe the injury and how the disability was caused by combat related circumstances.
 

Wally3430

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Copy all. This is a sensitive subject because it revolves around RPA (drones) operations and the associated stigma the subject brings while relating to PTSD. Multiple mulitiple multiple combat actions which combined have led to my PTSD. Off the top of my head, I can remember at least a dozen events that stand out. All except one were while I was sitting at the controls watching a screen (while downrange). Firing weapons and killing the enemy, witnessing their lives before and after, witnessing them attacking friendlies, seeing friendlies killed, seeing civilians killed, seeing friendlies hit IEDs....multitude of events. The one event where I was not at the controls was while I was walking in the open while a rocket attack took place; took cover under nearest structure---a giant voice tower (resulting with diagnosed and rated Tinnitus)(event is documented by my commander at the time). Rocket hit within a few hundred yards--not a big deal. Another event while deployed; operating the aircraft from a our control station while landing aircraft. Alarm when off, rocket hit about 50 yards from us. Nothing we could do; had to stay at the controls to land the aircraft...even when we knew there would be a second or third rocket on it's way. So there was some messing with your head there. If I were to pick one event, I do not know which it would be; there were literally dozens...perhaps over 100. Onesie, twosie...no big deal; you can fortify your mind for that. But after years of doing it, thousands of hours, witnessing so many events...it wears on your mind..it changes you. This is a problem effecting the entire RPA force and has been highlighted at a national level. So, I resolved myself to appeal this "non combat related" recommendation not only for myself, but to set precedent for those RPA operators that will surely follow with the same issue. The million dollar question is how the PEB/CRSC defines "definite causal relationship between the armed conflict and the resulting disability" or "instrumentality of war" for my situation. Could the camera on the RPA and screen in the control station be considered an "instrumentality of war"? I don't know; this is new territory. Would it be armed conflict since we are regularly shooting the enemy? Not sure--since it isn't face to face. I've documented everything to the best of my ability, accumulated 3 officer MFRs (they participated right alongside me in many of these events), and MFR from flight medicine and mental health doing their best to make it obvious it is combat related. So I don't know what the outcome will be. OAC was confused that I wanted to appeal solely to change "NOT combat related" to "combat related"; sounds almost like this is the first time they've handled a request like that. Hopefully my attorney is invested in the quest. I have no issues with the PEB ratings or VA ratings; they were spot on what I thought they would be. All said, even with the diagnosis, I'd get on a plane and get back into the fight tomorrow if asked.
 

gsfowler

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I would be leary of the OAC stating that he was confused. He knows exactly what you are requesting, a combat related finding to assist you in a CRSC application.

In my opinion, the iPEB is denying the combat relation on purpose, this way there is less of a future precedent set. You will need to go the the FPEB and have them make a decision.

I think that the combination of the multiple combat operations in which you used an instrument of war (missile, which is unique to the military) and the emotional trauma that is tied to that, as well as the mortar rocket event (direct fire).

To improve your chances of getting approved, I would try to document several of the missions that you were involved it (if you are emotionally able to). This is one of the ways in which you can create a causal relationship between the event, and the injury that you sustained.

Two of the areas that you could focus one would be the witness of the missile strikes in themselves (with the associated trauma) and providing the coordinates of the enemy to the ground troops, who may have been subsequently killed by the enemy.

Your behavioral health notes are not likely to contain this information, they are typically kept very brief (in the interest of the patient).

Be careful when you are describing the situation, since there may be classified information involved.
 

Wally3430

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Just realized I missed something. One of my unfitting conditions, Reactive Airway Disease rated at 30%, didn't have "combat zone" or "combat related" next to it on the PEB findings. Breathing issues started after my first deployment downrange and are well documented to include supporting post-deployment questionnares, a burn pit exposure letter from my downrange CC, and the C&P exam speaks of the deployment exposures. So, I emailed my OAC rep to try to have "combat zone" added (it is not combat related).

Question: I've read that some unfitting conditions will not be taxed from mil retirement (I understand that all VA conditions are tax free). Is that for conditions with "combat zone" attached to them or just from those conditions which are "combat related"? (understanding that combat related finding from PEB also helps with CRSC approval).
 

Wally3430

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Attorney sent in summary prior to the FPEB---the board denied it. Off to the FPEB to plead my case. I don't expect a different outcome in person, so I'm already looking to the SECAF appeal. Shoot, by the time a SECAF decision comes down, I may have a line number for E-9 and have 1 year and change until 20.
 

Wally3430

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Not sure if you are aware of the AW2 program, but they're also able to file CRSC for you. My AW2 rep told me I am qualified (PTSD). I will be going to her office this week to get it done, tomorrow is my first day on TDRL.
Islandboy---any update on your CRSC claim?
 

Wally3430

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Attorney sent in summary prior to the FPEB---the board denied it. Off to the FPEB to plead my case. I don't expect a different outcome in person, so I'm already looking to the SECAF appeal. Shoot, by the time a SECAF decision comes down, I may have a line number for E-9 and have 1 year and change until 20.

Showed for the formal. Withdrew my appeal as recommended by my attorney as the board was supposed to convene. Shenanigans. Never even saw the board, never got a chance to appeal the combat related finding due to last minute information that my asthma (which I believe was unfitting, but my records are spotty) rating may be at serious risk. Based on that info, I couldn't risk it...and withdrew the appeal. See my lengthy post in the Formal PEB forum about it http://www.pebforum.com/site/threads/advice-on-fpeb.34379/ Now I'll be applying for CRSC with no combat related finding from the PEB. That will go over like a fart in church. Any expert advice appreciated. In MY mind, it looked very much like a threat to me....."withdraw your valid argument for a combat related finding, or we will find your asthma fitting (and have my total rating lowered from 70% to 50% TDRL)."
 

islandboy25

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Islandboy---any update on your CRSC claim?

My packet was received by the CRSC branch on 13th-May, I spoke to a rep a little over a week ago and was informed the processing time is about 7 months. She told me I can call weekly to check on the status, I have been keeping my eyes on the HRC Portal as they normally uploads the result on there before letting you know via mail. BTW I did not use my AW2 rep, since she wanted me to be off TDRL before filing.
 

Wally3430

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My packet was received by the CRSC branch on 13th-May, I spoke to a rep a little over a week ago and was informed the processing time is about 7 months. She told me I can call weekly to check on the status, I have been keeping my eyes on the HRC Portal as they normally uploads the result on there before letting you know via mail. BTW I did not use my AW2 rep, since she wanted me to be off TDRL before filing.

SEVEN months?! That's insane. Did she say why she wanted you off TDRL first?
 

scoutCC

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If a person watches drone footage on YouTube, Live Leak etc. Are they entitled and eligible to receive compensation for PTSD?
This reads as a flippant stab at a drone pilot's experience being less worthy because they don't put their lives on the line the same as other military occupations. That's straight up bullshit. So let's assume it's meant a different way, and actually take it as a valid question.

Let's face it. PTSD is bullshit. If you can get PTSD from seeing people killed, maimed, bloodied, etc., then everyone that's seen any war movie or horror flick should have PTSD.

Or maybe there is something different about your life being centered around those events that a story just can't reproduce. Maybe seeing a video of something isn't the same thing as being responsible for decisions around those events.

That's reallly what you need to get to. While I dealt with Army for CRSC, not the AF, to me is appears to be less about proving the PTSD events occurred. As long as the story makes sense, they seem to take it at face value for PTSD. The point you want to make sure you push forward is that without the combat mission, you would not have had an experience that led to PTSD. You would have seen videos of people being killed without being there, just saying you saw dead bodies isn't gonna be enough for CRSC, IMO. Something about the stress of decisions I imagine is what is the sticking point.
 

gsfowler

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I have already edited this thread based upon some earlier posts that I have removed. Jason has edited this thread in the past too.

As a moderator and one who answers many questions for the members here, I will not allow anyone to cast a negative opinion about the characterization of any service.

Jason has touched on this recently. I will not remove this post (which quoted a post I removed), however I will not allow the topic to continue if we are passing judgement.
 
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