Medical Separation: Deciding Between USMA and ROTC Scholarship - One Additional Consideration

Classof83

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Nov 22, 2010
Messages
167
My son is in his second year and will likely be medically separated because of a childhood skin disorder that is no longer even an issue in his life. He had multiple full ride scholarships to other colleges, but he turned them down because he wanted to go to West Point. When applying, my son was up front about this childhood issue and he was still accepted. Only now are they making a big deal of it without any basis. I know that West Point does not hold his future in their hands - ultimately God does. However, my son feels called to military service and as he is a National Merit Scholar, having studied the military and its history since he was a young child, I have difficulty seeing him just joining the regular Army outside of West Point. He's ranked #162 out of 1,180 cadets - top 15%. He's been invited by WP leaders to numerous academic travel activities but he turned them down to pursue a leadership position that would be more helpful for him in a military career. We will know by early March whether they will separate him or not but we are all very frustrated because he does not have any health issues and yet they have made up their mind to end his career with no real basis for doing so. And we have no recourse or say in the matter, despite my son's meeting with numerous people regarding this.
If your cadet is targeted for medical separation, you can expect, based upon the experience of my cadet and others, for things to happen very quickly if his case is referred to the Medical Examination Board/Physcial Examination Board (MEB/PEB) process. He will not be allowed to complete the semester (with no support by the academic authorities in transferring to another university) and the depiction of his condition by the medical authorities will be over the top just to make the case a "slam dunk." They depicted my cadet as someone who couldn't be in a military vehicle never mind drive one. In contrast, for example, just last week my cadet took part in two extremely demanding cross-fit classes.

In addition, medically separated cadets are sent home on a medical administrative leave. The key word is administrative - this is the same category used if someone had been sent home for bad conduct and allows them to be sent home WITHOUT PAY. When I questioned this practice, I was told that it was allowed under new regulations passed in 2019 (AR 40-501). The difference in being sent home on administrative leave given a medical disqualification versus bad conduct, is that under the MEB/PEB process, your cadet must be available for medical exams by civilian medical examiners. The Physical Evaluation Board Liaison Officer (PEBLO) told my cadet that it was their military duty to participate in the process, all without pay. The lowest ranking private in the Army still receives pay during the MEB/PEB process. It is at this point that our legal and political support was valuable - we were able to stop the out-processing (the academic company had attempted to clear out my cadet's locker and send everything home) of my cadet until the conclusion of the MEB/PEB process.

My suspicion, only based in observation, is that to make up for cadets being allowed to remain, even given accusations of cheating (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/west-point-cheating-scandal-cadets-expelled/), sexual assault and failure (in one case, failure of three of the same class and in another case a failure of a combination of eight classes - I know these to be actual cases), to "balance the ledger," medical separations are being used to decrease numbers.

I urge you to contact your U.S. Senators now. Mine have been ardent in their support. If we can get a number of U.S. Senators to fight this policy of unwarranted medical separations and the "No Golden Handshake" policy, we can help end this unfair treatment.
 

Charlene711

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Joined
Feb 23, 2022
Messages
20
The son of a friend of mine injured his hand a few months ago in Officer Candidate School. After the doctor cleared him, the military leaders told him they "don't want to take a chance on him." His dad, like our son, believes the military is simply trying to get rid of officers/candidates bc they have too many. They use any excuse, no matter how vague, arbitrary or irrational it may seem to get rid of potential officers. My son's WP class has about 100 more than is desired, so they may be trying to decrease the number and he's a casualty of their letting on too many to begin with - he thinks.
 

Charlene711

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Joined
Feb 23, 2022
Messages
20
If your cadet is targeted for medical separation, you can expect, based upon the experience of my cadet and others, for things to happen very quickly if his case is referred to the Medical Examination Board/Physcial Examination Board (MEB/PEB) process. He will not be allowed to complete the semester (with no support by the academic authorities in transferring to another university) and the depiction of his condition by the medical authorities will be over the top just to make the case a "slam dunk." They depicted my cadet as someone who couldn't be in a military vehicle never mind drive one. In contrast, for example, just last week my cadet took part in two extremely demanding cross-fit classes.

In addition, medically separated cadets are sent home on a medical administrative leave. The key word is administrative - this is the same category used if someone had been sent home for bad conduct and allows them to be sent home WITHOUT PAY. When I questioned this practice, I was told that it was allowed under new regulations passed in 2019 (AR 40-501). The difference in being sent home on administrative leave given a medical disqualification versus bad conduct, is that under the MEB/PEB process, your cadet must be available for medical exams by civilian medical examiners. The Physical Evaluation Board Liaison Officer (PEBLO) told my cadet that it was their military duty to participate in the process, all without pay. The lowest ranking private in the Army still receives pay during the MEB/PEB process. It is at this point that our legal and political support was valuable - we were able to stop the out-processing (the academic company had attempted to clear out my cadet's locker and send everything home) of my cadet until the conclusion of the MEB/PEB process.

My suspicion, only based in observation, is that to make up for cadets being allowed to remain, even given accusations of cheating (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/west-point-cheating-scandal-cadets-expelled/), sexual assault and failure (in one case, failure of three of the same class and in another case a failure of a combination of eight classes - I know these to be actual cases), to "balance the ledger," medical separations are being used to decrease numbers.

I urge you to contact your U.S. Senators now. Mine have been ardent in their support. If we can get a number of U.S. Senators to fight this policy of unwarranted medical separations and the "No Golden Handshake" policy, we can help end this unfair treatment.
My son was given his separation memo in March saying he was being medically separated because of the skin disorder he had as a child. My son went to a Harvard doctor who specializes in the skin condition he had. This doctor cleared him of any health issues and said he is fully healthy and able to deploy. My son's tactical officer took the letter from this doctor to the West Point superintendent who said there was nothing that could be done. They will not overturn their decision which is based on a wrong assumption by West Point medical staff about my son's condition. Their decision to wrongfully separate my son will prevent him from ever serving in the army because of a medical discharge. We are currently working on this from many angles but the hope for reinstatement is dimming. I cannot believe that leaders can get away with wrongfully discharging a cadet and changing the entire course of his life.
 

Charlene711

Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2022
Messages
20
If your cadet is targeted for medical separation, you can expect, based upon the experience of my cadet and others, for things to happen very quickly if his case is referred to the Medical Examination Board/Physcial Examination Board (MEB/PEB) process. He will not be allowed to complete the semester (with no support by the academic authorities in transferring to another university) and the depiction of his condition by the medical authorities will be over the top just to make the case a "slam dunk." They depicted my cadet as someone who couldn't be in a military vehicle never mind drive one. In contrast, for example, just last week my cadet took part in two extremely demanding cross-fit classes.

In addition, medically separated cadets are sent home on a medical administrative leave. The key word is administrative - this is the same category used if someone had been sent home for bad conduct and allows them to be sent home WITHOUT PAY. When I questioned this practice, I was told that it was allowed under new regulations passed in 2019 (AR 40-501). The difference in being sent home on administrative leave given a medical disqualification versus bad conduct, is that under the MEB/PEB process, your cadet must be available for medical exams by civilian medical examiners. The Physical Evaluation Board Liaison Officer (PEBLO) told my cadet that it was their military duty to participate in the process, all without pay. The lowest ranking private in the Army still receives pay during the MEB/PEB process. It is at this point that our legal and political support was valuable - we were able to stop the out-processing (the academic company had attempted to clear out my cadet's locker and send everything home) of my cadet until the conclusion of the MEB/PEB process.

My suspicion, only based in observation, is that to make up for cadets being allowed to remain, even given accusations of cheating (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/west-point-cheating-scandal-cadets-expelled/), sexual assault and failure (in one case, failure of three of the same class and in another case a failure of a combination of eight classes - I know these to be actual cases), to "balance the ledger," medical separations are being used to decrease numbers.

I urge you to contact your U.S. Senators now. Mine have been ardent in their support. If we can get a number of U.S. Senators to fight this policy of unwarranted medical separations and the "No Golden Handshake" policy, we can help end this unfair treatment.
Click to expand...
My son was given his separation memo in March saying he was being medically separated because of the skin disorder he had as a child. My son went to a Harvard doctor who specializes in the skin condition he had. This doctor cleared him of any health issues and said he is fully healthy and able to deploy. My son's tactical officer took the letter from this doctor to the West Point superintendent who said there was nothing that could be done. They will not overturn their decision which is based on a wrong assumption by West Point medical staff about my son's condition. Their decision to wrongfully separate my son will prevent him from ever serving in the army because of a medical discharge. We are currently working on this from many angles but the hope for reinstatement is dimming. I cannot believe that leaders can get away with wrongfully discharging a cadet and changing the entire course of his life.
 

Classof83

10-Year Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2010
Messages
167
Again, very sorry to hear that. This Superintendent is very adamant on separating medically disqualified cadets. He uses the WP medical authorities to paint a very bleak picture of a cadet's condition and no amount of testimonials from civilian medical experts will be accepted. I've described this to many "old grads" and they describe it as pathetic and embarrassing.

I'm aware of one case where WP was processing a senior cadet for medical disqualification. The cadet sought medical acceptance in the Space Force and was accepted under the condition WP allowed for graduation. The Superintendent denied the request.

I've made the Secretary of the Army and the WP Board of Visitors aware of these issues. The WP Board of Visitors meets in July. I suggest you bring your concerns on this to the WPBOV as well. You can contact their Designated Federal Officer by emailing bov@westpoint.edu
 

Charlene711

Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2022
Messages
20
Again, very sorry to hear that. This Superintendent is very adamant on separating medically disqualified cadets. He uses the WP medical authorities to paint a very bleak picture of a cadet's condition and no amount of testimonials from civilian medical experts will be accepted. I've described this to many "old grads" and they describe it as pathetic and embarrassing.

I'm aware of one case where WP was processing a senior cadet for medical disqualification. The cadet sought medical acceptance in the Space Force and was accepted under the condition WP allowed for graduation. The Superintendent denied the request.

I've made the Secretary of the Army and the WP Board of Visitors aware of these issues. The WP Board of Visitors meets in July. I suggest you bring your concerns on this to the WPBOV as well. You can contact their Designated Federal Officer by emailing bov@westpoint.edu
Thank you for that info. I'm also thankful that, because my son's tactical officer threw a fit about his being discharged, my son was given permission to finish the semester. He is currently working with a JAG officer, and Congressional and Senate offices. Why the WP Board Of Visitors? What do they do and/or what power/influence do they hold in these separation situations?
 

Classof83

10-Year Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2010
Messages
167
BOV makes recommendations to the President.

I've made two main recommendations to the BOV:

1. Medical separation process be made more transparent, and
2. Medically separated cadets who would have had a service obligation receive an opportunity to serve outside the military.

That the TAC fought for your cadet is laudable. In most cases I've followed, the TAC had no idea how the process works. My cadet's TAC kept asking us what was going on.
 

Charlene711

Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2022
Messages
20
BOV makes recommendations to the President.

I've made two main recommendations to the BOV:

1. Medical separation process be made more transparent, and
2. Medically separated cadets who would have had a service obligation receive an opportunity to serve outside the military.

That the TAC fought for your cadet is laudable. In most cases I've followed, the TAC had no idea how the process works. My cadet's TAC kept asking us what was going on.
Do you know for sure whether a cadet who gets medically separated from WP can serve in the army elsewhere, or is he forever barred from Army service? For example, could my son enlist in the 'real' army (as he calls it), or would they not accept him bc he was medically separated from WP?
 

Charlene711

Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2022
Messages
20
BOV makes recommendations to the President.

I've made two main recommendations to the BOV:

1. Medical separation process be made more transparent, and
2. Medically separated cadets who would have had a service obligation receive an opportunity to serve outside the military.

That the TAC fought for your cadet is laudable. In most cases I've followed, the TAC had no idea how the process works. My cadet's TAC kept asking us what was going on.
It seems to me that WP should have a process for cadets being separated. There should be someone at WP who can work with cadets to get established at other colleges - military focused or not. Perhaps there can be a working relationship between WP and particular universities who are willing to take medically separated cadets so they can have a more seamless college experience. I certainly think cadets should be able to finish whatever semester they are in. Often, cadets have given up other opportunities to go to WP - in the case of my son, full-ride scholarships elsewhere. They are kicked out with nothing. No assistance in getting reestablished elsewhere, no scholarships, no opportunities. WP could offer assistance in getting medically separated cadets reestablished in life outside the Academy.
 

Walman888

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Feb 1, 2018
Messages
781
It seems to me that WP should have a process for cadets being separated. There should be someone at WP who can work with cadets to get established at other colleges - military focused or not. Perhaps there can be a working relationship between WP and particular universities who are willing to take medically separated cadets so they can have a more seamless college experience. I certainly think cadets should be able to finish whatever semester they are in. Often, cadets have given up other opportunities to go to WP - in the case of my son, full-ride scholarships elsewhere. They are kicked out with nothing. No assistance in getting reestablished elsewhere, no scholarships, no opportunities. WP could offer assistance in getting medically separated cadets reestablished in life outside the Academy.
Respectfully, a safety net as described would make voluntary separation just that much easier for a Cadet on the fringe at any given tough time in the 47 month cycle. One of the key development lessons at USMA is perseverance.

To hang tough no matter what.
 

justdoit19

Proud parent of an ANG, USNA X2, and a MidSib
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Is there an alumni support group for situations like this? My (limited, but also confirmed from my Ensign) experience at USNA, is that the alumni association/network takes care of these separated Mids very well. So, in essence, there is a mechanism for them…not officially through the SA, but according to my Mid ‘they do very well’.

Not to negate the experiences that are happening. I hope it all works out and in 5 or 10 years, they are living their best life.
 

Charlene711

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Feb 23, 2022
Messages
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Respectfully, a safety net as described would make voluntary separation just that much easier for a Cadet on the fringe at any given tough time in the 47 month cycle. One of the key development lessons at USMA is perseverance.

To hang tough no matter what.
I'm talking about support for INVOLUNTARY separation, when WP medically separates, especially when it's very questionable or against the desire of a cadet. This isn't about hanging tough with the rigors of WP. My son is being wrongfully separated based on a condition he doesn't have. He has been examined by a Harvard specialist, had numerous tests done, and been cleared of any health problems that WP put on his record. And no, he's never been in trouble or missed a day of school. He is not leaving voluntarily and he would gladly hang tough, and he is in the top 15% of his class. To be sure, he already has Plan B, C, D, E. . . guidance from WP profs, other military leaders, and his own goals that guide him. He will still excel in whatever he does. But HIS medical separation is wrong. Please read all my posts about this to be better informed.
 
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Capt MJ

Formerly Known As Attila The Hunnette
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Speaking very generally, service academy programs are funded by appropriated federal funds. More programming requires more funding, and I think it would be a steep uphill climb in the annual budget battles to fund a new support program focused on transition assistance for former cadets and midshipmen. Shore/non-operational unit resources will always take second place behind operational unit budget requirements. All recurring and new programmatic budget line items are evaluated through the lens of prioritized contribution to the mission.

It is indeed one of the risks of entering military service, that in the accession schoolhouse programs, both officer and enlisted, there will be military members processed out for medical reasons, despite their desire to serve.

I know anecdotally the respective SA alumni groups - which are all independent non-profit associations with their own endowments - informally support and look after midshipmen/cadets who graduate but do not commission for medical reasons by networking on their behalf with the vast network of graduates throughout the business world. I am less sure about midshipmen and cadets who medically separate before graduation.

While the thought of placement in federal service has great potential, DoD does not control federal hiring practices, policies and law. That is the Office of Personnel Management, which oversees federal personnel practices. Govt service does have the Pathways program for new/recent college graduates, throughout most agencies and departments. Many of the “ABC” agencies and major departments have college programs and employment launching pads. The years at an SA do count for federal retirement, so that is a nice boost. A service academy former midshipman or cadet should have no problem qualifying for those programs. If they are barred from military service, that also means a likely bar from “door-kicker” roles at certain agencies, but there are management and analyst career tracks in intel, cyber, operations planning, logistics, analysis, forensics, communications, languages, etc. Federal service has to abide by ADA law, offer accommodations, etc., and it offers excellent benefits, tuition assistance, the Federal Academic Alliance https://www.opm.gov/wiki/training/Federal-Governmentwide-Academic-Alliances/Print.aspx and unlike the private sector, is not an “at will” employer.

Pathways:
 

Walman888

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Messages
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I'm talking about support for INVOLUNTARY separation, when WP medically separates, especially when it's very questionable or against the desire of a cadet. This isn't about hanging tough with the rigors of WP. My son is being wrongfully separated based on a condition he doesn't have. He has been examined by a Harvard specialist, had numerous tests done, and been cleared of any health problems that WP put on his record. And no, he's never been in trouble or missed a day of school. He is not leaving voluntarily and he would gladly hang tough, and he is in the top 15% of his class. To be sure, he already has Plan B, C, D, E. . . guidance from WP profs, other military leaders, and his own goals that guide him. He will still excel in whatever he does. But HIS medical separation is wrong. Please read all my posts about this to be better informed.
Yes Ma'am.
 

Classof83

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Capt MJ, nice and reasoned post.

But as we know, what is prioritized is funded. As the top WP lawyer told my former JAG lawyer, "WP is just being a good steward of taxpayer money" when it expeditiously and without "due process (not my wording but the words used, off the record, of a currently serving classmate who is a JAG general officer)" separated a cadet who could not be commissioned. My lawyer's retort was to say (and it was at this time that the US had just withdrawn) that he understood being a good steward of taxpayer money "just as we did with the $50 billion of equipment abandoned in Afghanistan!" Given my cadet was carried on the West Point roles until ten weeks before graduation, the extra cost of allowing a senior to graduate would be the extra meals at the mess hall. Given the cuts in that mess hall budget (ask any cadet) over the last three years, that wouldn't have amounted to much extra cost.

I can tell you from personal experience that it would not take extra federal funds to have the USMA Dean and his staff work out articulation agreements with a few top universities that would be willing to accept separated senior (and perhaps other classes) of cadets who have had military and physical education classes frontloaded (in lieu of classes in their respective majors) and have an expeditious route established for these cadets to finish their degrees in a reasonable time period without the delay of having their transcripts evaluated on a case by case basis. I can cite one example where there was a two-month delay just because we couldn't get an answer to a question posed from a perspective university. The West Point registrar's office never responded to the question concerning the actual grade associated with a plus/minus grade that West Point used. An articulation agreement would iron out these difficulties in advance.

Finally, having an extra liaison at West Point to facilitate the interest of "ABC" agencies who might want to employ senior cadets who already have a secret clearance and are soon (with an articulation agreement in place) to be graduated, as my cadet was in a stem field with applications to national security, wouldn't entail major expenditures and would allow a recoupment of said taxpayer dollars. My cadet was willing to obligate to serve the commitment made. Now, as it stands, my medically retired cadet has all of the benefits of a twenty-year veteran and is starting a position with a major firm in cyber operations which does not work directly with the federal government. This is potential and expertise now lost to the federal government. The old story of "penny wise and pound foolish."
 
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So a federal govt entity like a SA could just pick and choose a few top universities to work with, ignoring the 1000s of other US universities ?. No public advertising of opportunities for other universities who might want to be in on this?

And none of this is going to cost extra federal funds in terms of budget?

This is not the same as a local cc making such an agreement with an in state 4 year university.

This would be a major undertaking and this picking and choosing a few top universities to work with , however you define top. would be totally unworkable IMO.
 

Classof83

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So you ask "What is an Articulation Agreement" and then state this would be a "major undertaking" and "totally unworkable IMO." Brilliant!

Articulation agreements are an everyday tool in higher education and voluntary entered into by institutions. No one would "pick and choose." It's all voluntary. The more the merrier!
 

Classof83

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Nov 22, 2010
Messages
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Yes, this a thread that began and continues to be about "INVOLUNTARY separation." These cadets want to continue to serve despite a potential medical disqualification. When my cadet used to report being told in formations that there were no longer going to be "golden handshakes" for medically disqualified cadets, I thought it was a threat. Now I think that it was meant to be a warning of an overzealous administration that was looking for medical disqualifications to even out the numbers for protected cadets who were being brought back such as the football players in the recent cheating scandal. What I'm learning in and outside of this forum is not convincing me otherwise.
 

DDmom

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Yes, this a thread that began and continues to be about "INVOLUNTARY separation." These cadets want to continue to serve despite a potential medical disqualification. When my cadet used to report being told in formations that there were no longer going to be "golden handshakes" for medically disqualified cadets, I thought it was a threat. Now I think that it was meant to be a warning of an overzealous administration that was looking for medical disqualifications to even out the numbers for protected cadets who were being brought back such as the football players in the recent cheating scandal. What I'm learning in and outside of this forum is not convincing me otherwise.
Hopefully the new Supe will be more accommodating to medical separations, and less accommodating for cheaters. Is there a chance once installed you could appeal to him directly?
 
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