How Does Military Medical Discharge Work?

by Paul Bright

Starting the Medical Discharge

Among the many sacrifices our military members make, sometimes the career is one of them. There are a number of veterans who suffer injuries during peacetime as well as wartime that make it possibly unable for them to continue working. This article explains the process of a medical discharge and what the member is entitled to.

The medical discharge paper trail almost starts at the point of injury or complaint. There are some injuries or conditions that will constitute a near-automatic discharge, such as an entire missing limb if you are a vehicle maintenance mechanic. But other injuries and conditions that may seem bad at first but are treatable. Torn ligaments in the knee, for example, is an injury that can be treated and heal over time in some cases.

Medical Examination Board and Physical Examination Boards

But if the injury that you’ve sustained looks like it can keep you from performing your assigned duties or make you non-worldwide deployable for at least 12 months, your case can be put forth to a physical or medical examination board. This doesn’t even have to start with you. If your commander feels that you cannot perform your duties due to injury or condition (like mental illness) he can order you to get an examination. It is up to your local medical clinic to recommend whether you should go before the medical examination board. They use a guideline that has a range of acceptable conditions for all of your body’s major systems and functions.

If the med board decides that you are no longer fit for duty, they would then refer you to the physical examination board (PEB). That board will examine your case even further to see if you are still reasonably able to perform your job in all circumstances to include deployment. In the case of the torn ligaments, a PEB would probably consider what type of job that person has. From there, the PEB decides on what the member’s future status is. They may return the member to duty, separate him, medically retire him, separate without benefits (in the case of preexisting conditions), give permanent disability pay, and so on. If the military member primarily works in an office setting and would need an extra month or two to heal up, the board may consider a Return to Duty status or Temporarily Disabled status. However, if the member’s primary job is to push cargo onto aircraft, the board could decide a separation. It is largely up to them.

What You Should Know

It is strongly recommended to consider these facts and the process before going to a physician. All injuries or illnesses should be examined because the main concern is the military member’s health and continued treatment. However, by considering the facts and understanding the military medical discharge process you can eliminate any administrative surprises.

About the Author

Paul Bright has been writing online since 2006, specializing in topics related to military employment and mental health. He works for a mental health non-profit in Northern California. Bright holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of North Carolina-Pembroke and a Master of Arts in psychology-marriage and family therapy from Brandman University.