Domino Effect Of “Deploy-Or-Out” Policy


With the Feb. 14 introduction of DoD's instruction that non-deployable servicemembers be removed from service, The domino effect the policy could lead to challenges in other parts of the military and veteran structure. Removing a large number of servicemembers will result in a strain on other offices and agencies.

First, DoD stated there will be no blanket removal of groups of servicemembers. Each individual circumstance will be considered to determine whether a servicemember deemed non-deployable will be allowed to stay in service, be administratively separated, or be processed for a medical separation or retirement. Given that DoD has estimated 286,000 members currently fall into the non-deployable status, it will take a large amount of time and resources to properly consider each individual circumstance. Presumably, commanders will be responsible for this initial determination, which will affect the time they and their staffs have for other responsibilities.

Second, if a commander is unprepared to make the correct decision, the number of servicemembers petitioning the Board for the Correction of Military or Naval Records should be expected to increase dramatically. Servicemembers who believe they should have been medically retired versus administratively separated, as well as members who believe they should have been retained on active duty versus separated, will undoubtedly petition the Board with requests for changes. The current approximate wait time for decisions from these boards is more than one year. Without additional resources, those wait times could increase by months or years.

Third, many of these servicemembers will likely be referred for processing through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System to determine whether they should be medically separated or medically retired as a result of the conditions that make them non-deployable. Following the release of the policy introduced Feb. 14, attorneys practicing in the field of military and veteran disability commented that the services currently do not have enough judge advocates or civilian contracted attorneys to properly handle the current disability evaluation system case load. Increasing the case load will make matters worse for those referred to the disability evaluation system. Attorneys also are concerned they will have to fight even harder for servicemembers to be referred to the disability evaluation system in the first place rather than merely being administratively separated - an additional drain on resources and manpower. It appears from DoD's available data that about 116,000 may qualify for a medical separation or retirement.

Fourth, once the services determine a member should be separated, either medically or administratively, there will be a much higher demand for the military's Transition Assistance Program (TAP), something all separating servicemembers are required to complete before they depart from active duty. Because DoD has not provided an estimate of how many servicemembers it intends to discharge as a result of this policy, citing the need to evaluate each individual circumstance independently, there is no data available to determine whether DoD's TAP program will have the resources it needs to provide all separating servicemembers with the necessary training.

Finally, DoD estimates that approximately 116,000 of the non-deployable members have short- or long-term injuries, meaning that the VA must be prepared for an influx to its system. This includes an increased demand for the health care services provided at VA medical centers as well as new disability claims being filed. The current inventory of disability claims received by the VA sits at 326,172, down from more than 880,000 six years ago. VA got the backlog down by reassigning employees from other duties to work solely on initial claims and mandating overtime. If VA is unprepared for the influx of about 100,000 new claims, the backlog could rise again very quickly.

MOAA will remain engaged in discussions with Congress, DoD, and the VA and keep you informed.



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