From: "B. R. Ray Chambers" <commosgm@earthlink.net>

Combat-Related Special Compensation

 All the Services have incresased the daily output of approvals to as high as 50
each day, but there are about 900 applications approved but held back for the
policy issues. These policy issues are being discussed as possible 2004 legislation
changes and will not be resolved soon.

This week Army has abour 500 applications ready to approve but being held back
for SMV/IU policy resolution. The Army staff is in conference today and we expect
a weekly update tomorrow. The Army team leader has asked for feedback, once a
retiree actually gets paid. Send me a note and I will pass tis to the Army CRSC
team!

The Army last week had 12,373 applications, and they have approved 203 and
denied 128. Their contractor team is composed of retired officers with a combat
arms background and a very experienced medical officer, and they appear to be
progressing efficiently.

Naval CRSC Branch Update as of 4 Aug 03: Cases on hand 4700, Case Builders
have built 1300, Case Officers have started 980, Approvals 97, Denials 103,
Number pending SMC/IU 160. OSD estimates are that the Navy/USMC should
expect 22,000 applications during the first two years of this program. The Navy
CRSC branch is designed to process that amount.  This translates to just under 50 in
and 50 out each working day. The Case Builders can now in-process 50 per day
and our Case Officers will achieve 50 decisions per day within the coming weeks.
These estimates and capabilities are not valid if CR determinations for SMC/IU
becomes required.

For the week of 28 Jul - 1 Aug the Air Force
received 601 applications. They approved 27 applications and disapproved 82 and
have received a total of 5,130 applications and approved 254 cases and disapproved 290 cases.

The Air Force approved/disapproved ratios are a little skewed as they wait for
guidance from OSD on Unemployability (UE) and Special Monthly Compensation
(SMC). These are not VA rated items, but additional $$ a member receives from
the VA for meeting certain conditions. OSD is considering adding these as CRSC
payable conditions. The Air Force has over 200 cases that have been approved for
CRSC, but have a UE or SMC condition but can't complete those cases until an
OSD policy decision on with the UE/SMC issue. With UU/SMC in the mix it would
be closer to 500 approved and 300 not approved.

The Air Force is able to finally link into the VA data base, but not smoothly and they
expect full function next week.

                              ****

All the Services are beginning to paint a picture of DOD making CRSC a difficult
administrative task.

There are real differences in the methodology used by each service, but the rates of
approval, or time spent on each application does not indicate differences in
efficiency. The Army experienced a delay coming up to speed because they have
almost three times the applications to process.

The Service criticism is that to too many required details make 1,000 approvals per
month impossible, but the DOD legal staff says the law requires a detailed
justification that requires research, and time.  Each services has hundreds of
unemployability (IU) related applications awaiting approval, but the DOD lawyers
maintain each case must be carefully justified, and now the issue is being considered
for legislation.

The VA data sharing is a problem, but the main complaint is with the OSD policy
guidance, and there are real legal problems with both unemployability and SMC that
will take more time to resolve and cause backups in the approval process.

The Services and about 20,000 CRSC applicants are beginning to do the math on
100 approvals per week. At the present rate of approval DOD may take years to
spend the $400M the Congress and the Armed Services Committees authorized for
CRSC in FY 2003-04.

The Coast Guard is screening all CRSC applications in Arlington, VA and if they
meet the CRSC criteria the PEB forwards them on to Topeka, KS. It's a smaller
operation, and the Physical Evaluation Board Director/OIC has an efficient system
in place to process applications. As with all Service applicants, the Coast Guard
requires a clear cut link to "combat related" for actions such as boarding parties.

If members will include the VA letters showing why they make the rating they did, it
will help the Services. Also, for some conditions it would help if the member could
provide pages from their medical records to verify the time and cause of the injury.
Without that info the case is put aside and a request is sent for medical records. The
Air Force requested many medical records so far, but has not received one back
yet. Medical records requests add at least a month's delay.

The first time the VA rates a condition they provide the member with a very detailed
letter explaining why the condition was/was not service connected. Every time after
that the member will just get a letter saying the condition was rated at XX% and is
now rated at XY%. The key is getting the original rating letter for the condition in
question. VA will show herbicide, radiation-exposure and PTSD combat service
connection, etc.

If members can send the latest VA rating decision and the original VA rating letter
for any condition they think is a CRSC condition it will help streamline processing
their case.

Expect delays in CRSC application processing in the months ahead. Only a small
percentage of` the applications received are complete enough for the Services to
process. It is in the retiree’s best interest to delay the submission of the application
until he/she is absolutely certain that all documentation required is included with the
submission.

Incomplete applications, or those with insufficient documentation, will further bog
down the system and delay the overall process, which is already fraught with delays.

If you are one of the fortunate many that has not submitted your application, contact
one of the large veterans organizations who will always review your application and
give you advice without charge. We briefed the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the
American Legion this week, and their representatives throughout the country will do
all they can to assist you.

TexasJim