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Air Force CRSC gouge

Wally3430

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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.

Scout--good advice. I believe you are right on mostly. Watching videos is nothing; being involved in the decision making process/kill chain/guidance makes it....different. However, my attorney said that the AF is simply not awarding state-side RPA operators combat related PTSD...right or wrong. Now, I was stateside AND deployed (with a couple near miss rocket attacks), so my situation is different than probably 90% of the other RPA operators with PTSD. I think I have combat connection pretty strong in the 3 page personal letter that I had planned to read before the board this morning....which never took place. I think the strongest option for me now is to do whatever I can to ensure the IPEB at the TDRL eval sees all my supporting information and changes to a combat related finding. If not, I'll have to appeal it all over again, and go back to the FPEB again where everything is on the table. Does that check or am I missing something? From what I know, applying for CRSC without a combat related finding is at best a waste of time and at worst, ineligible altogether.
 

scoutCC

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From what I know, applying for CRSC without a combat related finding is at best a waste of time and at worst, ineligible altogether.
I got CRSC for conditions that were fitting. Obviously, since they were fit conditions, the PEB did not pass judgement about them being combat related or not. It is perfectly valid to view CRSC application as completely separate from the PEB, and not provide them with the PEB findings. They do not have access to your records apparently, nor should they really care what the PEB thinks. They could say it's not CRSC even if the PEB says it is combat related, and do, if you don't send in the stuff they need to decide themselves.

CRSC even did me one better, and approved me for two conditions I didn't even ask them to approve, as they fall under the presumptive. Tinnitus and IBS. I know the AF does that too, as the same thing happened to chaplaincharlie for IBS. Overall I'd say CRSC folks have a better understanding of the rules than the PEB people do.
 

Wally3430

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I got CRSC for conditions that were fitting. Obviously, since they were fit conditions, the PEB did not pass judgement about them being combat related or not. It is perfectly valid to view CRSC application as completely separate from the PEB, and not provide them with the PEB findings. They do not have access to your records apparently, nor should they really care what the PEB thinks. They could say it's not CRSC even if the PEB says it is combat related, and do, if you don't send in the stuff they need to decide themselves.

CRSC even did me one better, and approved me for two conditions I didn't even ask them to approve, as they fall under the presumptive. Tinnitus and IBS. I know the AF does that too, as the same thing happened to chaplaincharlie for IBS. Overall I'd say CRSC folks have a better understanding of the rules than the PEB people do.

Then there is hope. Good information Scout--much appreciated.
 

Jason Perry

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There is a lot that has gone on in this thread. Many issues raised, many points (and counterpoints) made. I will offer some thoughts, but, understand this caveat- if you don't fight for a benefit or compensation that has not been awarded (or has been denied) you will always lose (absent rare circumstances- @scoutCC , I believe, mentioned getting awarded something he did not ask for....but, then again, they awarded it in the first place, so maybe my caveat does not apply).

((Some "extra-sauce" to consider; in the law, it is almost always the case that if you don't fight for something you won't get it. And expansions to the "law" are almost always made by people fighting for something. Once upon a time, Agent Orange did not matter. Then folks fought for it (and, also, changes to law were made). Perhaps a better example is PTSD. The law stated, for decades, that the VASRD applied to cases- and under the VASRD, PTSD, sufficient to warrant separation from the service, required a minimum rating of 50%. I raised this issue in 2006/2007 before PEBs, BCMRs, etc. Eventually, the Services acknowledged this, and the Sabo case forced more widespread application of the rule. The point is that absent challenging something, the "law" or the government's application of the law, may not change. It may be that RPA PTSD is one of these issues for combat-related consideration that will take folks fighting it and/or statutory/regulatory changes resulting from folks challenging it. A hypothetical question I have had in the past is "if" a sniper who is distant from his target and incurs PTSD from killing someone 1000 or more meters away, is in no immediate personal danger, and his "stressor" is seeing the results of his kill, how is this different from a RPA pilot or personnel sitting in Arizona and piloting an aircraft halfway around the globe. There are legal concepts that can be "borrowed" from negligence law, i.e., "zone of danger" that may explain some of the disparate treatment for remote operators, those in the "kill chain," etc.)).


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.
Not enough facts to weigh in on this. But, you made your decision based on what you knew at the time and the situation. By not appealing, you gave up that opportunity. Not sure, though, based on your years of service and the issues whether the rating issue mattered much. You still have later appeals options, in any event.

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)."
I think you are suggesting that your decision to withdraw your demand for the formal board was "coerced" or made under duress. I understand the point and your concern. But, at the end of the day, most likely, your decision will stand on its own (that is, the issue you raise would seem to be whether your election was valid and whether you should have a formal board granted; based on what you have written, I don't see this being a productive or likely avenue of appeal). Essentially, I think the outcome of this bad situation is that you made your decision and there is unlikely much to be gained by trying to go back- especially given that the "best" remedy you could get is a "new" opportunity for a formal board- which would be an uphill battle to secure- and you would be in the exact same position when you made the decision to forego the formal. That is, you would face some "risks."

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.
Not sure I understand this or agree with any of it. But, again, I may not be understanding the point or the argument here.

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.
This makes more sense. There are factual differences, I think. And, I think that there are likely legal differences. (Plus, in the later posts by Wally3430, there is a point of factual difference with perhaps "direct"/traditional PTSD stressors, and later events as a RPA personnel that may have exacerbated the PTSD. Note, though, that there is an entirely different thread to be looked at and addressed- "meeting PTSD diagnostic requirements" based on exposure to stressors and "combat related findings." Unfortunately, the "plot thickens."

Watching videos is nothing; being involved in the decision making process/kill chain/guidance makes it....different.
See my above comments, especially the point about distant snipers.

However, my attorney said that the AF is simply not awarding state-side RPA operators combat related PTSD...right or wrong.
This may be accurate and fine advice....but, what the AF does is not the definitive answer. It may take challenging things to effect either your own entitlement and award of a combat related finding and/or CRSC.

Now, I was stateside AND deployed (with a couple near miss rocket attacks), so my situation is different than probably 90% of the other RPA operators with PTSD.
I think this is a VERY IMPORTANT distinction.

I think I have combat connection pretty strong in the 3 page personal letter that I had planned to read before the board this morning....which never took place.
Not undercutting this (and, I have recently gotten a Federal Court decision regarding military disability matters on appeal that supported the value of lay statements). But, not sure a personal statement is the "best" evidence available.

I think the strongest option for me now is to do whatever I can to ensure the IPEB at the TDRL eval sees all my supporting information and changes to a combat related finding.
Not sure that the "strongest" option is to address your issues at the IPEB/TDRL re-eval level.

From what I know, applying for CRSC without a combat related finding is at best a waste of time and at worst, ineligible altogether.
Disagree in the strongest terms. But, even if I am wrong, appplying for CRSC is a necessary step. Don't apply for something, you can't get it. And, the passage of time does not help things (unless, of course, there is an intervening change in law and/or regulations....but the change may or may not be retroactive).

I got CRSC for conditions that were fitting. Obviously, since they were fit conditions, the PEB did not pass judgement about them being combat related or not. It is perfectly valid to view CRSC application as completely separate from the PEB, and not provide them with the PEB findings. They do not have access to your records apparently, nor should they really care what the PEB thinks. They could say it's not CRSC even if the PEB says it is combat related, and do, if you don't send in the stuff they need to decide themselves.
There is a lot here that I disagree with as to approach and view of the process and impact of intermediate decisions. I think you may not mean to say what I disagree with....but, I can't be sure. But, the most important part, probably, is the bolded piece. PEB findings in favor of the member are really important findings and evidence. A sub-point, though, that is valuable about what you raise, is that the CRSC board is a different entity and process than the PEB's findings. The two are not entirely unrelated. But, it is easier to get a CRSC finding with a PEB finding that the condition(s) are combat related.

Not meaning to sharpshoot you, @scoutCC , and I don't think you specifically raised the issues that I am thinking about on reading the posts. You have provided some good input. I don't agree 100%, but, I am not sure, without writing a few dozen pages more, that I would cover the points that concern me about your post (again, not saying you are wrong....more that the issues are nuanced and potentially more complicated than suggested by a first read of what you posted).

That's what I got. Hope it helps.
 

Wally3430

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Good read Jason--thanks for your detailed analysis. I pulled my FPEB appeal at the last second based on the information I had at the time, lack of time to analyze the situation in detail, and the knowledge that I'll have at least one more opportunity to challenge the non-combat related finding. What, in your opinion, is the "strongest" option in this case for pursuing CRSC? At this point, I'm waiting on TDRL orders. I still plan on putting in my CRSC paperwork at the first opportunity. If awarded (or not), I'm still going to pursue the combat-related finding. First opportunity is at the 6 month re-eval. Is there another option?
 

Jason Perry

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@Wally3430 ,

One issue/problem with your posts and in responding to your questions is that you have several threads addressing your case spread across various places. Understand, posting more will not necessarily help getting the best input here. I read one thread, see an issue or two, respond, then see another one later and don't necessarily "connect the dots." This is not to chide you personally (the point is made to you and to others who might do the same). You spread your questions and issues across posts and people will likely miss the entirety of what you write. That said, here are my comments.

My question to the attorney was does document ensure that asthma will not be re-evaluated at the TDRL evaluation in 6 months? I ask because I need if I need to appeal a "non combat related" finding for PTSD again, I need to know if I need to be FULLY ready for any curve balls relating to asthma on the FPEB. Any experts want to share their thoughts on this? Advice needed.
Yes, be ready.

Now, I was stateside AND deployed (with a couple near miss rocket attacks), so my situation is different than probably 90% of the other RPA operators with PTSD.
I think you may be focusing on the RPA as a basis for a combat-related finding and or CRSC determination. While I feel strongly that there may be a legal argument that may eventually prevail on finding RPA operators/involved personnel having a "valid" case for combat related findings and/or CRSC, in your case, you probably have an "easier and/or better" path in arguing your rocket attacks experiences as the main issue (perhaps with RPA experiences as exacerbating stressors).

I think I have combat connection pretty strong in the 3 page personal letter that I had planned to read before the board this morning....which never took place.
I don't want to completely discount the value of a "personal letter." I have actually, in the past few weeks, gotten a favorable Court of Federal Claims opinion that touches on and supports this kind of evidence as being "valid" and required to be considered. But, that is a legal argument and the better course, always, is to submit your best evidence. I would think that medical evidence, treatment notes, statements from physicians, etc., would carry more weight.

What, in your opinion, is the "strongest" option in this case for pursuing CRSC? At this point, I'm waiting on TDRL orders. I still plan on putting in my CRSC paperwork at the first opportunity.

Yes, to actually apply for CRSC once you are retired. That is the best next step, in my opinion.

First opportunity is at the 6 month re-eval. Is there another option?
See above. CRSC application, appeal (if needed) and then, if needed AFBCMR application (though, this latter step is dependent on the facts and the response to your CRSC application and any other evidence you may have).

Hope this helped and hope all goes well for you!
 

Wally3430

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Update: Just received approval from the CRSC office. Awarded 50% for PTSD and 10% Tinnitus. So yes, drone operators CAN get CRSC. Wouldn't have happened without the generous help from members on this forum. Thank you.
 

dotlak

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Update: Just received approval from the CRSC office. Awarded 50% for PTSD and 10% Tinnitus. So yes, drone operators CAN get CRSC. Wouldn't have happened without the generous help from members on this forum. Thank you.
Congratulations
 

eps17

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I have no idea how he won based off of drone operations when I submitted medical records being treated in theater, EPRs, and other verified documents attributing my 70% PDRL PTSD rating to rockets, mortars, VBIEDs, suicide bombers, gunfire, etc. actually boots on the ground outside of any base, FOB, etc. Congrats, but my mind is truly blown.
 

Jason Perry

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I have no idea how he won based off of drone operations when I submitted medical records being treated in theater, EPRs, and other verified documents attributing my 70% PDRL PTSD rating to rockets, mortars, VBIEDs, suicide bombers, gunfire, etc. actually boots on the ground outside of any base, FOB, etc. Congrats, but my mind is truly blown.

Two quick comments come to mind:

First, the whole system is and remains very arbitrary (which is a legal term of art, but, simplified, just means that decisions are often not rationally related to the facts. This is why it takes a fight to get to the right outcome and sometimes folks flat out do not get a good outcome when they should).

Second, it is, unfortunately, a system that weighs heavily on process. Accept something (or sometimes don't refute something) and you face a high probability of a poor outcome. Should not be this way, but, it is this way- often you have to fight for what should be granted.
 

eps17

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This is true. Also to note, I find a great disparity in being level handed with the criteria among different branches. The Air Force is the hardest, by far, to win a CRSC award outside of presumptive conditions. The Army seems quite more liberal.
 

Beergod0352

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I'm TDRL and my AFW2 rep said the same. The process is pretty easy.

When applying for this benefit, you will need to include... ALL!

-DD214s
- retirement order
-AF356
-completed Dept of VA ratings
-copy of Purple Heart medal,
-medical records
-award certificates
-military orders (TDY or PCS that show you in combat zones),
-any profiles
-medical evaluation board proceedings,
- and any performance reports that indicate combat zone.
- I also submitted letters my comrades wrote in testimony of our actions over there.

Most of this can be obtained on Vmpf and at base medical. If you're TDRL like myself. Just call the VmPF number and tell them your info and they will grand you a temp password to access your documents on PRADA. "Or however you spell it"

Then send it in. Took only about 4 months for approval. Just make sure your ducks are in order and it goes smooth. The less you include will create more room for denial.

Without the Purple Heart in your case, I don't know if you have one. But PTSD is kind of hard without one. I've had friends that were "over there" with me and get denied because there wasn't enough relative proof that it came from there. Or were assigned to a different section and I wasn't with them when they were out of the wire.
Get people you served with, their statements on a official Air Force letterhead. It's not that hard. Email them and wait. If their out, find them on Facebook. Tell them you need it emailed to you by a certain date or your package will get denied. If you don't give them a date they will sit on it. For he ones that are messed up, I'd walk on shells and be polite when asking them. Some are still bitter.
I'm sure you know people you served with over there, you weren't fighting alone. It's a lot more CREDIBILITY... that's what their looking for. The more letters the merrier. Good luck.

The motor attack might be a little iffy. Just my opinion. Shiiiiiit. The whole base would have CRSC approval of what was the case if they all applied. I was in Afghanistan as part of the first unit after 9-11. There was no base and we seized Kandahar. Be glad you HAD a compound. Lol. I dug a hole to sleep in every night. Good luck with your application . Tried to help out as much as possible.

Matt
 
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Beergod0352

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I may have just wasted my fingers typing but someone else might find my post helpful. Noticed it's been 9 months since the original guy last responded. I wonder if he got it. Lol
 

eps17

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I was Air Force, boots on the ground, not a base and assigned to the Army. I have several letters from coworkers and even a letter from my commander who is now a retired Lt Col. in addition to performance reports, orders, etc.

I don't have the Army CAB because while I was over there the Air force invented the Air Force Combat Action Medal and there was this big confusion about which one we should get, and if one was more appropriate, and la de da de da, that by the time we left and returned stateside neither of them were awarded because it was all so new. Nobody wanted to step on anybody's toes. I had injuries on a dismounted patrol but not from direct action or worthy of a purple heart. I had everything, orders, pictures, my trailer shredded from a rocket, all kinds of stuff and all I got was a very confusing letter from the CRSC folks mentioning PTSD and how there was no direct causal link. Despite all that and extensive treatment records. If I could rewire my brain and my body's responses to things I would rather have the clarity and focus. But that hasn't happened yet and dealing with this process and the arbitrary decisions which are rendered is both challenging, exhausting, and frustrating all on its own merit.
 

BrokeTACP

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I was just approved for award of the Air Force Combat Action Medal today. Ten years later if you can believ
I was just approved for award of the Air Force Combat Action Medal today. Ten years later if you can believe that.
im guessing you are a tacp as well. Not many other people are assigned to army units and see direct combat in the Air Force. It sounds like you didn't get crsc pay even though it seems like you had sufficient evidence. I'm waiting on my ratings right now and have started looking into the crsc pay but it seems impossible to get unless you got a Purple Heart
 

BrokeTACP

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Update: Just received approval from the CRSC office. Awarded 50% for PTSD and 10% Tinnitus. So yes, drone operators CAN get CRSC. Wouldn't have happened without the generous help from members on this forum. Thank you.
I am fixing to go through this process and was curious how you had your package setup. I have an afcam and commendation medals along with loes from deployments. I was gonna get a letter from one of my buddies with me on one deployment where we took mortars in close proximity to our housing and a few ieds that were close because our chus were directly next to an msr along with a statement from my ncoic from Afghanistan about the incidents there. My meb has been hell so I'm hoping for one thing to go smoothly and you seem to have gotten the process right the first time. Thank you
 
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