Being a soldier in the Army National Guard is an intense career that entails a large amount of physical exertion. Over time, many soldiers find that "mind over matter" is a mantra that can only be followed for so long before the body gives up. Long-term and even permanent injuries are common in the military, and the process for receiving a National Guard medical discharge can be tedious. However, when a service member can no longer perform his or her job in the National Guard because they are in too much pain, there is a process set up to help the soldier leave his military obligation.
Realize that in order to get a medical discharge in the National Guard, you must have been on active duty when your injury or illness occurred. Deployments, field exercises, and active duty enlistments all count for this requirement. Regular weekend drills do not.
Establish a medical treatment history. Get copies of all appointments and exams you have had related to the injury or illness you are experiencing. Let your doctor know that you need documentation for a military service-related injury.
Read through Army Regulation 40-501 (Standards of Medical Fitness). This regulation contains all the information you will need to know on which illnesses and injuries qualify for a medical discharge. National Guard, Reserve and active duty soldiers are all subject to the same Army regulations.
Talk to your first line supervisor and explain how this injury is connected to your National Guard service. You also need to let your first sergeant and commander know that you intend to apply for a medical discharge.
Consult a military doctor for a full medical evaluation. Only a military doctor can initiate the medical discharge process. In the National Guard, it will be necessary to travel to a military base in order to undergo a complete medical evaluation. Your first line supervisor and your first sergeant will be able to help secure you an appointment.
Attend your Medical Board, where the decision will be made about whether you will receive a discharge. A Medical Board will be automatically scheduled as long as your military doctor has assessed you as eligible for a National Guard medical discharge.
Do not attempt to start a military discharge process without proof of treatment history. If you cannot prove your illness or injury happened due to military service, then you will not be eligible for a military discharge.
- Plaster image by Star from Fotolia.com