Firstie Medically Separated & Class Ring Inquiry

medsepfirstie

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Joined
Jan 24, 2020
Messages
25
Hey all,

I just found out I will be undergoing a MEB (medical evaluation board) due to a non-waiverable neurological condition (Meniere's Disease) and have been placed on an ALOA (Administrative Leave of Absence). My Company Command Team and I already know the outcome due to USMA being "accession based medical standards" thus my separation has been highly expedited despite no official ruling from the MEB yet. My experience with the medical personnel at Keller (BDE Surgeon, ENT Doctor, etc) was not a great experience, but I recognize I am in a great spot nonetheless for continuing my education elsewhere and staying connected with my 2020 classmates.

Having discussed the following question with my peers, I wanted another opinion from y'all - being primarily parents, ex-military, or graduates from USMA. Making it from R-Day 2016 to my final semester in JAN 2020, myself and my classmates believe I am entitled to keep my class ring. Now, I will be explicitly clear - I will never be able to say I am a USMA graduate, nor is that my intention with keeping my class ring, but I was still a member of the Class of 2020. Being a cadet who earned his class ring from 3.5 years at USMA, fulfilling all military graduation requirements, and separation being from medical and no dishonorable behavior, I believe I should be allowed to keep my ring. The class ring reminds me of my hard work and dedication to service, and as a reflection of the good (and bad) memories from my time at USMA.

My Company Command Team has told me I need to ship it back, which I was expecting, but I have yet to respond (contacted earlier today). I do not want it to come to what I say next, nor do I mean to sound as a "snotty, entitled prick," but I have spoken with my uncle who is a lawyer. Having funded the ring via my own finances (USMA's $1000 contribution comes from Cadet Account, which is money I earned & would have received regardless if class ring was under $1000) and buying it from a 3rd party seller (Balfour), USMA has no legal claim of my class ring.

Please let me know your thoughts. I do not mind any adverse opinions to my current thoughts, in fact I expect them, but please maintain dignity (as I will). Thank you for providing me with another perspective, as I know "class ring retention" after separation in "old corps" was much harsher.
 

DrMom

5-Year Member
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Aug 25, 2011
Messages
1,348
So sorry about this. I would be fighting harder to delay that med board so you can graduate. Other people who have not be able to commission for medical reasons have been able to graduate. Do enough posts so you can send messages to people (It might be 5 or 10.)
I do not know that anyone will answer you with anything more than "you should follow the rules" because you are certainly NOT anonymous on this forum if you are the one firstie getting MEB'd for your condition.
 

medsepfirstie

Member
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Jan 24, 2020
Messages
25
So sorry about this. I would be fighting harder to delay that med board so you can graduate. Other people who have not be able to commission for medical reasons have been able to graduate. Do enough posts so you can send messages to people (It might be 5 or 10.)
I do not know that anyone will answer you with anything more than "you should follow the rules" because you are certainly NOT anonymous on this forum if you are the one firstie getting MEB'd for your condition.
Ma'am,

Thank you for your condolences and your advice. Unfortunately, the new BTO and Commandant have a relatively "blanket policy" now where golden handshakes (graduate don't commission) are no longer permissible. With the attitude of "can't commission, won't graduate," I was made to enter an administrative leave from the Comm/Supe/BTO's decision on my file.
 

medsepfirstie

Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2020
Messages
25
Ma'am,

Thank you for your condolences and your advice. Unfortunately, the new BTO and Commandant have a relatively "blanket policy" now where golden handshakes (graduate don't commission) are no longer permissible. With the attitude of "can't commission, won't graduate," I was made to enter an administrative leave from the Comm/Supe/BTO's decision on my file.
I forgot to explicitly state that this is a new policy, as cadets in my situation were allowed to graduate during the Fall 2018 - Spring 2019 semesters last year. The incoming leadership change is rough, especially as I would have been permitted to graduate under last year's staff, but this is a reality I must face and accept.
 

DrMom

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Aug 25, 2011
Messages
1,348
Kid, you need to post 5 messages--so that people can send you messages using the forum. I know your mom from the WP Moms page. Just post a few more messages.
 

Capt MJ

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Sep 27, 2008
Messages
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So sorry to hear about the policy change that doesn’t allow graduation but no commission anymore, and the body blow of the medical diagnosis.

I will be interested to see how the discussion goes here.

On the face of it, it’s a piece of personal property you bought with your own funds. It’s a thing. There is no policy, presumably, requiring you to buy one, much less wear one.

The problem comes with the value placed on it, the symbolism, the tradition, the message to the world, the emotional connection to the place where you have, with a good heart, invested 3.5 years of blood, sweat and tears. You want to keep it for the same reasons “they” want it back.

You are still in the middle of this with no perspective from time and distance. You are grieving the loss of a dream and dealing with a new medical reality. Do some thinking about the five stages of grief.

Presumably, there is a USMA written policy on this, which I saw referenced at the AOG site below. It looks like you will get reimbursed. As a squid, I am not an ace researcher of Army sites, so I didn’t find the actual USMA policy.

You are still bound by Army regs until you have DD-214 and separation papers in hand. You took an oath to uphold those. Think about who you are and how you want to be remembered. I realize it’s not “just a ring.” It’s the embodiment of you and USMA all tangled together, and very hard to let go.

Think of this as a commanding officer would, as you were training to be, when presented with a special request for an exception to policy. You would think about what the regs say, what’s right for the Army, what’s right for the command, what’s right for the requestor, what precedent does it set, are the circumstances extraordinary enough to merit an exception.

You know what the answer is. You can still be a West Pointer in your heart, cherish and tend lifetime relationships with classmates, support the Army in every way you can without being in uniform.
 

medsepfirstie

Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2020
Messages
25
Kid, you need to post 5 messages--so that people can send you messages using the forum. I know your mom from the WP Moms page. Just post a few more messages.
I will have the required 5 momentarily - I appreciate the reminder. My mother isn't on the WP Mom's Page, but if you would like to reach out to that individual, I would be happy to share my contact information if her son/daughter needs someone to talk to.
 

medsepfirstie

Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2020
Messages
25
So sorry to hear about the policy change that doesn’t allow graduation but no commission anymore, and the body blow of the medical diagnosis.

I will be interested to see how the discussion goes here.

On the face of it, it’s a piece of personal property you bought with your own funds. It’s a thing. There is no policy, presumably, requiring you to buy one, much less wear one.

The problem comes with the value placed on it, the symbolism, the tradition, the message to the world, the emotional connection to the place where you have, with a good heart, invested 3.5 years of blood, sweat and tears. You want to keep it for the same reasons “they” want it back.

You are still in the middle of this with no perspective from time and distance. You are grieving the loss of a dream and dealing with a new medical reality. Do some thinking about the five stages of grief.

Presumably, there is a USMA written policy on this, which I saw referenced at the AOG site below. It looks like you will get reimbursed. As a squid, I am not an ace researcher of Army sites, so I didn’t find the actual USMA policy.

You are still bound by Army regs until you have DD-214 and separation papers in hand. You took an oath to uphold those. Think about who you are and how you want to be remembered. I realize it’s not “just a ring.” It’s the embodiment of you and USMA all tangled together, and very hard to let go.

Think of this as a commanding officer would, as you were training to be, when presented with a special request for an exception to policy. You would think about what the regs say, what’s right for the Army, what’s right for the command, what’s right for the requestor, what precedent does it set, are the circumstances extraordinary enough to merit an exception.

You know what the answer is. You can still be a West Pointer in your heart, cherish and tend lifetime relationships with classmates, support the Army in every way you can without being in uniform.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and really putting it into perspective. You are correct in that this is still very fresh and I do not have the "wise wisdom" of more experienced folk yet - reading this was very thought provoking and I will continue to reflect on it.
 

medsepfirstie

Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2020
Messages
25
I know you talked to your uncle, but have you consulted with a JAG to find out exactly what your rights are, not only for your ring, but the completion of your education, even at your own cost for a semester?
I did seek assistance with a roommate whose father is a JAG, as well as consult the USMA Legal Office - but unfortunately not much can reverse the command decision from the Holy Trinity of Supe + Comm + BTO
 

Capt MJ

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Sep 27, 2008
Messages
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I also had the renegade thought of taking it to a gold dealer for melt down, and donating proceeds to Army Emergency Relief, in a dog-in-the-manger, if I can’t have it, no one can, moment, but thought that might turn out to be a Pyhrric victory.
 

medsepfirstie

Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2020
Messages
25
I also had the renegade thought of taking it to a gold dealer for melt down, and donating proceeds to Army Emergency Relief, in a dog-in-the-manger, if I can’t have it, no one can, moment, but thought that might turn out to be a Pyhrric victory.
While I love this idea, I hope I could potentially have the ring melted for future classes.
 

A6E Dad

BGO
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Jun 30, 2016
Messages
340
I feel for you, that really sucks. I've always understood that those with medical issues that arise late, especially spring semester of first class year were allowed to graduate but not commission. If the new policy specifically disallows that, then I think that the new policy is terrible - not a good use of a 3.5 year investment of our tax dollars, not a good reflection on the Army who is supposed to "take care of our own", and certainly not a fair outcome for you, who through no fault of your own can't commission. there are plenty of places that you could put that degree to good use in service of your country, maybe directly for the Army, but the current policy, short sighted as it is, won't allow that.

all that and a dollar might get you a cup of coffee.

my humble opinion, and this is coming from a Navy guy who doesn't know the Army culture, is that you've been a member of 2020 for 7+ semesters and have earned the right to be considered part of that class - i'm sure you're classmates would agree. you paid for that ring with your sweat and blood (AND your own money) and nobody should be able to take it away. I don't know the legal argument, but I would definitely talk to a JAG and see what the real deal is under the UCMJ.

if there really is some sort of legal risk, and your Honorable Discharge is at stake, then it's not worth it. but if the only risk is that the institution that is kicking you to the curb might have a lesser opinion of you, then I know what i'd do...

i think keeping it as a treasured reminder of your time there and your buddies is totally justified , wearing it as a statement to the world (as Cap MJ says) is probably a different story.

this isn't the first time and won't be the last that someone gets screwed by the military. there is a reason that the saying is "they only deserve as much loyalty from you as they are willing to show to you" = "they" meaning the brass who make these decisions, or as you say "the holy trinity"

best of luck and god bless
 
Last edited:

cptenca

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Feb 19, 2016
Messages
234
I also had the renegade thought of taking it to a gold dealer for melt down, and donating proceeds to Army Emergency Relief, in a dog-in-the-manger, if I can’t have it, no one can, moment, but thought that might turn out to be a Pyhrric victory.
His ring has gold melted down from Old Grads whose rings were donated to the Class of 2020’s ring melt.
You may not like my advice but for that fact Alone, if you do not graduate and once your appeals are exhausted, you should return the ring for a future remelt so those Old Grads’ rings continue.
 

cb7893

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Joined
Dec 6, 2011
Messages
1,851
So sorry about this. I would be fighting harder to delay that med board so you can graduate.
Looks like they already thought of that.

My Company Command Team and I already know the outcome due to USMA being "accession based medical standards" thus my separation has been highly expedited despite no official ruling from the MEB yet.
there is a reason that the saying is "they only deserve as much loyalty from you as they are willing to show to you" = "they" meaning the brass who make these decisions, or as you say "the holy trinity"
@medsepfirstie , you are not being a "snotty, entitled prick." You have done nothing other than display some frustration. Your forbearance is what one would expect of a mature military officer. I think @DrMom 's advice to concentrate on graduating is the best advice. To which I would add by all means possible, short of a literal or effective honor code violation. Don't go Eddie Gallagher on us, but you can solicit support from folks other than sympathetic posters on the internet.

What do I know, but would there be a place for your US Representative or Senator to at least know what is going on? They can jump on a high horse faster than you can say Jack Robinson.
 

USMCGrunt

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Dec 13, 2010
Messages
2,591
What do I know, but would there be a place for your US Representative or Senator to at least know what is going on?
I was thinking the same thing. I drafted this response but you beat me to it:

I am not academy and don't know the first thing about it but... Assuming everything you reported was accurate I would ask: Which hill do you want to fight on? The ring or graduation?

To me, the ring - while symbolic - isn't worth going nuclear over. Get some other symbol of your time there or buy a ring on E-Bay. Perhaps a Flag, Pennant, coffee cup, etc. Watches make nice keepsakes. I know the ring is important, just wonder if it will be down the road as the years go by.

Graduation from the academy is a whole lot more important. I would fight tooth and nail on this. When you exhaust all other means, call your elected representatives. NOTHING moves faster in the military than a Congressional Inquiry. In my day, a command had 24 hours to report back. It was all hands on deck and often moved mountains when nothing else would. It could be career ending but in your case, why not?
 
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