You'll see in my previous post that the medical records process is to start about ten-months out from your actual retirement date. So, where do we begin?
We’re first going to get in touch with our nearest military facility (or your local equivalent) and begin the process of obtaining your official separation physical. Just note that this is only the beginning, you’ll be getting checked out all over again by a VA assigned physician too. This internal process can take anywhere from a week to a month and a half to get done, depending on how busy your clinic is. I tell you this so you can plan accordingly. The ball is now rolling.
The next thing we need to do is collect our records, all of our records. Unlucky for those of us in the Coast Guard (medical record wise) we’re still using paper records [yes, this is 2019, and yes, paper records]. All the same, so long as the system hasn’t failed you, you should have a very full medical record at your local CG Clinic or aboard your Cutter. If you’re aboard a DoD unit, you can just ask to get yours printed out or emailed to you.
Here’s an idea of where you may need to look for your records:
- Coast Guard Medical
- DoD Medical (Navy, Army, etc.)
- Prior Service Records (I had to get my Army & National Guard ones)
- Civilian Providers (Shoulder surgery (this guy), one-off hospital visits, etc.)
- MRIs, CTs, X-Rays
Once you’ve gathered all of this, make a copy or two. I found it easier to scan my CG records to paper first, then scan the fresh paper copy to make a digital copy. I highly recommend making a digital copy that you can store with someone away from your house. Think of these records as being just as important as that pepper-spray letter you may have gotten oh-so-many-years-ago.
Yes, your records are that important. Especially as you make your initial exit from the service, you’ll need these for additional claims and for your new doctor(s).
Furthermore, you’ll want to make sure you have a copy ready for the next part of this how-to retire thing. We’re going to need a compete (or as complete as possible) record for your Veterans Service Organizations representative. I’ll cover this in my next post on getting your VA claim ready.
Now, get your papers ready, it’s time for you to make a compensation claim, which is actually part of your separation package and has already been appropriated by Congress. You lucky dog you.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask! If I don't know the answer, I know people who do.