View Full Version : Limited Duty?

01-12-11, 03:48 PM
The title of this post may make you believe otherwise, but I am not a dirtbag. I am currently a Sgt on active duty and have served 6+ years. My MOS is 0311. I served my first four years with 3/7 where I did two tours to Iraq and am currently an instructor at Quantico. I have had back pain for about the past 4 years.

I did physical therapy for a year and then PCSed. I checked in and continued physical therapy as well as seeing a chiro. I was sent for an MRI and found to have degeneration in my lower back in several areas. I was given drugs and told to be on limited duty. The MO at the time, was very understanding. I told him that I would like to continue to receive any help available, but that limited duty is not for me. Not once in my career have I taken a light/limited duty status. He allowed me to stay full duty.

Now, I know that any grunt is going to have back pain, knee pain, etc. I accept that. I love my job and sitting on my rearend is not for me, so I continue to work and wear my gear on a daily basis.

I have been sent to an orthopedic surgeon, pain management clinics, chiropractors, physical therapists, you name it. They have all recommended that I be "boarded". The surgeon reccommended fusing some of my vertabrae together but I would lose a lot of movement and would not be able to do my job ever again. She said that if I didn't want to do it now, I will need to do it sometime in the next couple of years.

After getting a follow up MRI last month, my MO is strongly suggesting that I be put on limited duty, but is still leaving it up to me. I have once again declined. I have been told that in order to get taken care of when I get out, that I need to be "boarded". I want to continue doing my job until my contract expires, but would also like to be taken care of medically.

I am making an appt to go see the VA rep as well as Tricare to see what information that have available, as my BAS knows nothing about care once you are out.

Do I accept the limited duty and hate life just to be taken care of in the long run?

Or is the documentation of my condition good enough to receive the care needed once I am out?

I just want to make sure that I don't screw myself out of anything, but would like to not sit at a desk and be a window licker either. I saw a Navy LCDR, but was told to come back and see the Captain. I want to make sure that when I see him, I do not put myself in a bind.

Any advice would be appreciated.

01-12-11, 05:05 PM
You can act like a big bad Marine and ignore what the doctor's are recommending.Or you can try to tough it out and maybe end up in a wheel chair with severe never ending pain for the rest of your life like many others in your type of situation.

01-12-11, 05:54 PM
I appreciate your response but I'm not trying to act like a "big bad Marine". I just don't like to be labeled a turd or think of myself as one. I'm not in a victor unit currently which is bad enough, but sitting around on limited duty is not something I can see myself doing. I feel that limited duty is for those who have injuries and need time to heal, or those that want to skate. I find myself in neither category. If I broke a bone and needed rehabilitation and recovery time, then that would be a different story.

Will continuing to do my job for the next year and a half make it worse? Probably so, but it's been years already. I have already come to the reality that I will be in pain my entire life. I just want to know if I need to accept this duty status in order to be taken care of in the future. If I can complete my contract on full duty and then receive medical care for my back solely based on my 4 years of documented back problems then that works for me.

I do not mean to come off abrasive. I have heard too many horror stories of guys getting out and the VA or Tricare not helping them with service related problems. The validity of the stories is unknown.

01-12-11, 06:19 PM
I read that you have been to a chiropractor, and you also mentioned spinal fusion surgery. Try this therapy before you do anything else, and it just might be the answer to permanent pain relief and correction of what is causing your problem = Nonsurgical decompression therapy. I am sure there is a doctor near you - just Gooogle this. There are thousands of doctors using these therapy machines in the U.S.

I have treated about 1,000 people successfully with these devices - it works and for the most part it is a permanent solution to degenerative discs in the spine.

PM me and I will give you my cell number if you need questions asked, etc. I am in my last year of chiropractic college.

Best thoughts to you, and Semper Fi, Tom

doc h fmf
01-12-11, 06:59 PM
SGT I WOULD GET THE HELP WHILE YOUR IN OTHERWISE YOU COULD WIND UP WITH PERMANENT DAMAGE. the va may also ask why you did not take the treatment while you were in, your appt at the va sometimes take month before you get it, so you better take everything that is offered to you now,


01-12-11, 07:44 PM
TMM54, thank you for the response. I actually had that treatment in 29 Palms. Not sure if they did it incorrectly or what, but it was excrutiating and I was unable to walk afterwards for a period of about 30 mins to an hour. I considered it some sort of medivial torture.

Doc, I know. It's not that I'm turning down help though. Just the duty status. Like I said, I plan to talk to the VA rep on base as well as Tricare, but I was hoping to find an ol' salt dog on here that may have some experience with lim duty, med boards, VA, etc.

I just want to do my job and get some help. Hopefully, I can do both. I may have mistyped above. The SURGEON is the one that suggested I do NOT get the surgery now as I would be "done" afterwards. I have teetered on that decision.

I am not trying to get out early, skate, or get the "system" for money. I simply want to know that I will be helped when I need it. If accepting lim duty now is the only way, then I will have to go that route for my own well being. One good thing is that Marines have a lot of pride, but we also know how to suck it up and accept what needs to happen.

01-12-11, 08:40 PM
I have plenty of experience with limited duty: If i don't work i don't get paid. When i get thumped and can only work a limited amount, i only make limited money, and the way i see it; on limited duty in the military you are getting paid the same as "full duty" and given a chance to concentrate on healing and or pursue treatment. Pretty good deal.

There are plenty of more dismal opportunity's in civilian life for proud people who need to make wages with a bad back; like missing too much work, leading to homelessness... And for those who have never suffered and worked through acute back pain and think it's skate?! Nothing to do about that, you can't coach it. I would take that "limited" duty while your healthy enough to rate it. Good Luck and respect that back! It's the only one you've got

01-13-11, 03:55 PM
As said before,Take the med board....In 4 years when your in a Lark scooter zooming the aisles at Walmart nobody is going to care that you were not a "light duty dirtbag".Med board just before your EAS to complete your contract if you want to stay as long as possible..But by all means start everything in motion befor you get out as the VA can take years to get everything under control.

01-13-11, 09:42 PM
PM sent

01-14-11, 07:10 AM
I must tell you that I gutted it out as well. Not humping packs but 100 lb radios and other electronic equipment from the various birds that I repaired. After I went EAS, I noticed the pain not only continued but got worse and worse. I have been through 2 surgeries (under my dollar) now and there is still some amount of pain.

Gutting things out is something you can do as a young person but I can promise you it will catch up with you as you age.

Follow the Docs advice. Start whatever documentation now and get your back to be the best it can be. Being on light duty does not make you a dirt bag but rather someone who is planning on walking properly in 25 to 30 years.