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I’m currently on drill status (MDAY). The VA psychologist I have been seeing has written several letters to my command requesting I be excused from drilling due to worsening PTSD symptoms. The command in my unit has been less than supportive and is going against the advice of this professional. Is there anything I can do? I feel like being in the drill environment puts me in a much worse state leading up to, during and after drill weekends.

Thank you for reaching out to us.

PTSD and the Guard

First, we would like to commend you for seeking treatment to cope with your posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Seeking care and support demonstrates inner strength.

Because PTSD is considered treatable, most Soldiers experiencing PTSD are eligible to stay in the military. The Army Task Force on Behavioral Health has made it a priority to ensure Soldiers get the help they need and make it easier to continue serving. You can learn more about PTSD treatment options and recovery by visiting the Real Warriors Campaign.

That said, we do want to mention that according to Army Regulation 635-200 [PDF 8KB], if a person develops mental health concerns requiring treatment while serving in the military, he or she may be separated for concerns “that potentially interfere with an assignment to or performance of duty.”

Taking the Next Step

Army Regulation 40-501 states “Commanders will honor the private physician’s recommendations until the Soldier is evaluated by a military provider, and a recommended course of action is determined by a profiling officer.” This means your commander must honor the recommendations of your VA psychologist until your commander can have a military provider evaluate your condition and have it properly profiled. To get this process started, your commander needs to contact your state’s Office of the State Surgeon (OTSS) or MEDCOM/MED DET.

For awareness, “no drill” profiles are rare. There are many ways that Soldiers can continue to drill if they are undergoing separation, such as drilling during the week. This will also be determined by the profiling military provider once he or she evaluates your medical information.

Your PTSD may be service-connected, which is another reason you will want to contact your OTSS so that a line of duty determination can be made regarding your condition. If it is determined that you developed PTSD while in the line of duty, you may be entitled to certain benefits.

Lastly, if you are having difficulty making contact with your OTSS, please consider calling the National Guard Bureau Clinical Branch Chief at (703) 607-7143. They will be happy to help get you connected with your state’s system.

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