Combat Related Hearing Loss - waiver information

Discussion in 'DoDMERB' started by DSJRecon15, Mar 21, 2011.

  1. DSJRecon15

    DSJRecon15 New Member

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    Good afternoon everyone...here is a quick rundown of my situation.

    Military History:

    I joined the USMC in 2002 and served 4 years as an infantry machinegunner (0331 for those of you who speak military) and then joined the US Army Reserve in 2006 - present where I serve as a Drill Sergeant. I have done my activations to Fort Benning and all my reserve time.

    During this timeframe I have been granted a permanent H3 waiver by the DoD and have had no problems continuing to serve my country.

    Currently I am enrolled at Auburn University pursuing ROTC in order to retire as an officer on Active Duty.

    Situation:
    My situation is that I have combat service connected hearing loss. I put in the normal medical packet that all college students use and of course I came back failing my hearing test... BIG SURPRISE lol...
    As a result I had to go to the local VA Hopsital and get a Comprehensive Audiology Exam and do the SPEECH Recognition test.
    The CAE of course came back with the same hearing loss and minor tinitus that we (me and the government) have known about for years now... but forturnately I passed the SPEECH Recognition at 100%.

    3 weeks ago I submitted my appeal for reconsideration with my SPEECH test
    scores attached.

    Question:
    What is the time frame for the return on this and what are the chances of me getting my MUST-NEEDED waiver?!?!

    Thank you very much for any information,
    Drill Sergeant James Reed
    SSG / US Army Reserves
    "Semper-Fi"
     
  2. MullenLE

    MullenLE Member

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    Your question was addressed via email:thumb:
     
  3. Jazz00

    Jazz00 Tiger Blood

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    We're in the same boat. I also combat hearing loss and tinnitus. My waiver was submitted back in November and I still haven't heard a thing. Let me know how you make out.
     
  4. MullenLE

    MullenLE Member

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    Pls understand that a combat acquired hearing loss is still a hearing loss. I hope you're able to get your waivers, but if not, understand the waiver authorities don't want to put your life or those you're charged with leading in danger. A 2LT or ensign, needs to be able to hear out of both ears within the published standards. Failure to do so, does not allow a person to triangualte and subsequently "may" not be able to discern where the fire is coming from...especially when you mix in the loud noise, the radio traffic, verbal discussions/shouting ongoing, etc.:thumb:
     
  5. Jazz00

    Jazz00 Tiger Blood

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    Mr. Mullen,

    I missed meeting the standard by a very small amount. Should I go back and take another hearing test and do well enough to meet the standard, would DODMERB accept that? Or is that just wishful thinking?
     
  6. MullenLE

    MullenLE Member

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    Cut and paste both posting; provide complete name and last 4 SSN; send to me in an email at Larry.Mullen@dodmerb.tma.osd.mil. I can assist better from there:thumb:
     
  7. jjbs362

    jjbs362 New Member

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    Mr Mullen,

    Are astigmatism medical waivers usually granted ?
     
  8. MullenLE

    MullenLE Member

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    Each case is independently reviewed by each waiver authority and applied per that Service, program, and waiver authority. "Usually," does NOT apply to waivers. "Astigmatism" is a large continuum...:thumb:
     
  9. DSJRecon15

    DSJRecon15 New Member

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    Update on this situation

    I was able to get my SPRINT tests done and Comprehensive Audiology Exam (CAE) done at the local VA Hospital and they were submitted about 3 weeks ago for an appeal.
    My SPRINT test came back at 100% and my CAE was in my BTN Commander's words "better than his hearing tests"...
    So I guess that is a good sign.

    As of right now I am just waiting...

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Now a short rant of the situation at hand
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I understand that that 2LT and Ensigns have to be able to hear in at a certain level, but I am going to stick this statement...

    I volunteered to fight for my country.
    On September 11, 2001, I was sitting in my math class at Central Michigan University. I immediately went and saw a recruiter the next day. I finished my semester, started getting myself physically in shape and shipped out to USMC boot camp on June 2, 2002. I was in Kuwait by that November, awaiting the invasion of Iraq. I completed that deployment and went on another in May of 2004.
    With that said, I also want to point out that when I was over there, I wasn't in an office. I didn't have a "safe" job. I was an 0331, machine gunner, for the marines. So, there is no question where my hearing loss came from.
    I was around friendly .50 cals, grenades, M249s, M240s and my own M-16 A2. I also was lucky enough to encounter true enemy combat. I was shot at, mortared at, and of course had a few encounters with an RPG. All in the line of duty right?
    If I had chosen another job, I probably wouldn't be in this situation right now. Wondering and waiting if I will be able to serve my country as an officer.

    I feel that if I am denied the ability to continue my ROTC commissioning path, it would be completely unjust. To tell someone they cannot become an officer and fulfill their dream of retiring from the armed forces because they were injured, or in my case, my hearing was "disabled", is an absolute outrage.
    There are people out there who are actively serving with prosthetic legs and arms... if they are allowed to continue, so should those of us with less problems.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Hopefully the powers that be will see fit to grant me my dream. If not, at least I'll know.
     
  10. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Did you wear your issued ear protection? DoD is not big on work-related hearing loss now since so much has been done to protect the hearing of servicemembers.
     
  11. DSJRecon15

    DSJRecon15 New Member

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    That has been asked by the VA a few times lol.

    In 2003-2005 there were no "combat-hearing" protection that was issued like they have now; and if there was, my USMC chain of command never said anything to us.

    I wish they would have, probably wouldn't have to be dealing with all of this if they would have had the little black and yellow hearing-pro back then.
     
  12. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    I don't know the particulars of the USMC, but the US Army issued me triple-flange ear protection in 2000. Earplugs aren't a new addition to the arsenal.
     
  13. DSJRecon15

    DSJRecon15 New Member

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    I totally get that they aren't new. I definitely wore them on ranges and training exercises.
    It was just one of those things that we didn't use when we were over there. I honestly don't remember seeing 1 person in Iraq with a set of earplugs in ever.
     
  14. MullenLE

    MullenLE Member

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    It certainly isn't the "desired" operating method nor the desired outcome:thumb:
     
  15. DSJRecon15

    DSJRecon15 New Member

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    Scores Update

    To anyone who can help:
    So far, I am being told by my ROTC Battalion Commander that my packet is sitting on a Colonel's desk somewhere and until he gives his stamp of approval I am just going to have to be patient.
    With that said, I am caught in a tough situation.
    In order for me to graduate on schedule, I need to take 4 courses this summer. The problem is that my reserve unit has me scheduled to grade LDAC this summer at Fort Lewis from July 5 - July 26 and then turn around and go to ALC at Camp Shelby from July 29(rough date) until mid August. This only gives me time to take 2 courses this summer and will indefinitely push me back if my waiver does come through.
    I have tried to request that my unit not send me on these training missions in hopes that my waiver comes through and I can get contracted this summer prior to my MS III year starting. Unfortunately, my unit has informed that until I am contracted to the ROTC program, I am under their command and it is my turn in the rotation, and for good measure, in case the ROTC trail goes dead, I need to be thinking about my advancement as an enlisted soldier. I completely understand their outlook, I just know that my goal isn't to be a reserve Drill Sergeant. It is to be an active duty officer, leading soldiers.
    I am told by my Sgt Major back home that if I can get my waiver approved by May 25th (the day I would have to drop the classes I will not be able to attend), I can get contracted this summer and will not have to attend these training dates.
    I am going to post my hearing results from my CAE from the Tuskeegee, AL VA hospital in hopes that someone will be able to look at them and tell me if I have any hopes in getting the waiver anyway.
    (Disclaimer: I know that someone is going to suggest that I email my information directly to Larry Mullen, and trust me that is what I want to do. BUT - I have found out exactly who Mr. Mullen is (he's the civilian equivalent of a 4 star) and needless to say, when my ROTC CoC found out that a prior service Drill Sergeant had messaged him directly, they weren't as thrilled as I was with finally having someone trying to help me out.
    In order to avoid any other conflicts with my CoC I am refraining from contacting Mr. Mullen directly for the time being.)
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    HEARING RESULTS:

    250 500 1000 2000 3000 4000 6000 8000

    R 15 10 10 20 55 45 50 45

    L 25 20 20 15 45 50 40 45

    Speech Reception Threshold:
    R: 15dBHL
    L: 15dBHL

    Speech Discrimination:
    R: 100% at 55dBHL
    L: 100% at 55dBHL


    Diagnosis:

    389.18 Sensorineural hearing loss of combined types: 388.30 Tinnitus.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    Thank you for any information or input that anyone will be able to give me.
    It is getting close to crunch time for me and I am at my wits end trying to sort this situation out.
    :confused::confused::confused::confused::confused::confused::confused:
     
  16. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Maybe wrong, but the last statement of the Drill creating issues because of contacting Mullen could actually be an IG complaint against the CoC.

    You may have not realized, but Mullen also can step in regarding this situation when a CoC is impacting the medical aspect of a cadet's life. That is a DodMERB issue not a COC to decide.

    I know you didn't mean to stir up a hornet's nest, and I will not dare to speak for Mullen, but that one statement:
    You literally just said to Mullen you are in fear of the CoC's repercussions if a cadet contacts DodMERB and the hierarchy(aka Mullen) gets involved.

    To me that levels out to an IG complaint.

    More than anything my heart goes out to your cadre. If a CoC takes their anger/resentment out on their staff or cadre for using every tool to get results than that is a negative reflection of the leadership. Great CoC's would have welcomed Mullen as an asset. They would have used his knowledge and expertise to fight for the cadet.

    I understand your story. Believe it or not Mullen contacted DS's det. back in 09. I didn't expect it from him, totally off guarded, but DS's CoC had the opposite reaction. Hos CoC respected Mullen, contacted DS, contacted DodMERB and every thing was cleared within days. (it was a paperwork issue, not waiver). CoC never held it against DS, he has won for the past 2 yrs ROTC awards(10 and 11)...just last weekend won it for the entire Atlantic region AFROTC.

    Before getting wrapped up, be honest with yourself, is your CoC being kind? In other words what is your gpa, what is your standing in the BN? Maybe he is using this issue because he just doesn't want to hurt your feelings and say: Your rack and stack is at the bottom. Maybe he has 1 spot and 5 cadets for that spot, all 5 of you have the exact same gpa, but you are the only one to have a medical issue. Should he give it to you, knowing that a waiver will be there for your entire career especially when DOD is looking at a 1 TRILLION budget cut?

    Could his anger be that he was mad at the Drill not understanding the bigger picture? An internal issue that the sergeant made external.

    I just showed you how both sides of the fence work. You need to decide for yourself where you fall.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2011
  17. DSJRecon15

    DSJRecon15 New Member

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    I am not trying to insinuate that I received any negative actions against me because of contacting Mr. Mullen, I just received a very stern talking to about who he was and how no cadet should directly contact him.
    I understand that there is a competitive nature about ROTC. I have only been here for one semester, but in that semester I have gotten at least 3 As and 2 Bs (right before finals of course). I know that there are limited slots available to contracting cadets, but unfortunately for the other cadets that I am competing against, I am the only one with experience.
    I have been an outstanding Marine and now a great soldier. I have never had a single negative counseling in my folder in my entire 9 year career.
    My CoC seems to have been unprepared on how to deal with my situation from the start. They were ready to have to go through all the steps to get me contracted in my opinion. To top it off, every cadre, other than 2, is leaving in August for new duty stations. As a result of that, I have decided that I don't really care who I offend now, because if I do get my waiver, I won't be seeing them again after this summer.
    I have a deadline now. That is the only reason that I am now pushing harder than ever before.
    I am going to email my senator and see if he can figure out what the hold up is with my Colonel.

    Any other advice or input would be greatly appreciated.
     
  18. Jazz00

    Jazz00 Tiger Blood

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    PM inbound
     
  19. MullenLE

    MullenLE Member

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    Let me explain something. There is NO ONE on these Forums, with the exception of KP 2001 @ times, that are qualified to respond to your query. The REASON there is a CoC, is becasue, they ARE in command. The "stern talk" you got was because your issues should be borught TO the CoC, so they could use their COMMAND position and work directly with the Command Surgeon. THAT is the only REAL answer that matters. You were just being guided in the 100% correct direction and in your particular case, you have a SUPERIOR Commander:thumb:
     

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