So You Want to Get an MEB? The Alphabet Soup Continues (Part 2 of 4)

Nation's oldest medical facility, the Naval Medical Portsmouth, is where naval personnel face MEB/PEB and medical discharges.
The worlds largest and oldest continuously running military medical facility, the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Virginia. Its original building was built in 1827.

A common refrain around Warrior Transition Units, Medical Hold Companies, and among Barracks Lawyers anywhere is “you’ll get an MEB for that,” “I’m getting an MEB,” or even “My doctor says I’m going to get an MEB.” These statements ignore a sometimes-harsh reality:  there is no MEB until the proper paperwork is signed. You could have a dozen different doctors tell you you’re going to get an MEB but until the proper paperwork is signed there is no MEB.

MEB Requires a Medical Condition NOT Symptoms

So, how do you get a MEB? First you must have a medical condition. That medical condition must be an actual diagnosed condition. Frequently doctors practice what is sometimes referred to as “whack-a-mole” medicine:  they treat the symptoms with various treatments and whatever one works determines what the diagnosis was. In your records, they’ll put in a generic diagnosis like “knee pain” or “back pain” and then state somewhere buried in the medical record that it was “likely” the more specific diagnosis because the treatment brought relief. But “pain” is not a medical diagnosis. It’s a symptom. Generally, until the doctors figure out what’s causing the pain, there’s not going to be a MEB. This uncertainty can go on for many years – you hurt, you get a profile, docs try a treatment or two, you don’t get better, and eventually you just give up trying to get the pain taken care of – in many cases you can no longer afford to keep missing work, or professionally survive with a constant profile. Instead of real recovery, you wind up learning to compensate physically.  Most of the time, this physical compensation and adaptation usually leads to more medical problems. If find yourself on this medical carousel — where you are getting this type of diagnosis run-around, it is imperative that you advocate for yourself or you hire an experienced attorney to help.

Top portion of the revised DA Form 3349 which requires a "3" to trigger a Medical Evaluation Board (MEB).
Top portion of the revised DA Form 3349 which requires a “3” to trigger a Medical Evaluation Board (MEB).

Condition MUST Rate Three (3) PULHES

Once you have a diagnosed medical condition, the condition must be severe enough to rate a “3” code in one of your PULHES categories. PULHES stands for Physical Capacity/Stamina, Upper Extremities, Lower Extremities, Hearing/ear, Eyes and Psychiatric. In order for a condition to rate a “3” in one of these categories the symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with the individual’s ability to serve on active duty. Generally, individuals will be assigned a temporary “3,” or “T3 profile” initially upon discovery this type of condition.

The Medical Retention Determination Point (MRDP)

Once you have been diagnosed with a condition and given a T3 profile, the condition must also have reached its Medical Retention Determination Point, or MRDP. Generally, the MRDP is twelve months from diagnosis. However, there are cases when it can be longer or shorter. The standard is that your condition is stable and your course of recovery is relatively predictable. Essentially, the MRDP is the point when the doctors can say with some medical certainty that you will NOT meet the medical retention standards within the next 12 months. One important note is that this 12-month time-frame ONLY matters for conditions that require a “T3” in a PULHES code.  A common misconception is that if the servicemember has either a temporary or permanent “2” profile, they will be referred to an MEB. This is incorrect. A profile with a “2” in a PULHES code is a statement by your doctor that your condition is not severe enough to prevent you from continued service on active duty.  The “2” profile may result in a note in the medical records reflecting that the servicemember may need some accommodation to continue to serve, such as performing an alternate physical fitness test, but it is not trigger for an MEB.

Servicemember being advised that the Medical Retention Determination Point, or MRDP, before the MEB process will be initiated.
Servicemember being advised that the Medical Retention Determination Point, or MRDP, must be reached before the MEB process will be initiated.

Once your doctor has determined that you have met the MRDP for a condition with a “T3” they will create a permanent 3 or “P3” profile.  Congratulations!  This is the point where you finally begin an MEB. Once the first signature is on a “P3” profile you have officially begun the MEB process.

Background of The Law Office of Will M. Helixon

The Law Office of Will M. Helixon was established in 2016, and is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri. It was established to defend members of the military in courts-martial, adverse administrative proceedings and other criminal proceedings. The firm’s members have handled multiple complex and high-profile military cases in their over 108 years of combined military law experience. The firm now handles most military matters, including medical issues involving the MEB/PEB process, business and securities law, trusts and estate planning, and family law including juvenile matters, adoption and guardianship issues.

In addition to being licensed in all military courts, the firm’s members and of counsel are licensed in Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, New York, Florida, California, Massachusetts, Arkansas, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.

This is part 2 of a 4-part series on the IDES/MEB process.  If you have questions or concerns about this process, or have a topic you’d like to see covered in the rest of this series, please contact Jessica Linney at or Will M. Helixon at

Written by Jessica Linney, Esq.

Media Contact: Ms. Melissa McCoy-Titterington, Phone (913) 205-9976.

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