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#174319 - 05/11/10 11:27 PM Looking for advice for Active Duty Army
60Driver Offline
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Registered: 05/11/10
Posts: 25
I have been dealing with flare ups of hip/joint pain 4 out of 5 years of being in the military. My dad is diagnosed with AS; and I am exhibiting the exact symptoms he had when he was my age.

I just got back from an appointment with a rheumatologist; and the x-ray of my hips indicates that I may have AS. All of my symptoms and the tests that I have undergone point toward an AS diagnosis. The doctor asked me if I wanted to pursue a diagnosis. I am not sure I want the Army to know I have it, as I really don't know what this will do to my career if I am diagnosed.

I am an Army Captain and helicopter Pilot. I have already been told that there is a waiver process to continue flying with the condition. However, I see on this board that people receive medical discharges for having AS.

A big concern about a discharge is that I am recently married and have a child on the way. Sudden unemployment, particularly in this economy, would be very difficult.

I would appreciate input from anyone who has been diagnosed with AS while on active duty. I have seen in reading this forum that some have even made it to 20+ years and retired (which is my goal). I would really appreciate any advice from anyone who has done that.

The bottom line is that I'm trying to do a cost-benefit analysis of getting diagnosed, or living with AS and mitigating its effects by staying active.

#179323 - 07/10/10 11:19 PM Re: Looking for advice for Active Duty Army [Re: 60Driver]
Tekaman2x Offline
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Registered: 07/14/09
Posts: 7
I am serving in the Air Force and was diagnosed with AS a year ago. I know that there is a slight differences between the branchs. I can give you a brief idea of what to keep in mind and how they may look at your file.

Time in service and Rank, Medications that may keep you from deploying (immune inhibitors) and range of motion (duty restrictions from the AS)

Medications will be the biggest thing, I got lucky being diagnosed with AS in my hip joints, now with medication I will not have many problems until my old age.

The bad thing is that I have to take Humeria the rest of my life which is an Immune Inhibitor and has to be kept cold.

That pretty much keeps me from deploying to locations that don't have the facilites to give me the medicaitons. That also means that I would not be able to go to areas with sickness.

I would recomend that you keep that fact that your father has been diagnosed with it so they will not be able to rule your AS as being prior to military. There has been no indication that my AS was prior to elisting into the Air Force so I will get somme VA benifits from it.

I can tell you that Aleave works well with the condition along with possible medications they give you. Also excerise is a good thing to, light running on a tred mill and keeping your hip joints moving.

There is more info that I could give you but can remember everyting, so just ask and I will help best I can. AS is not the end of the world though, its easly treatable if caught early. I was a Crew Chief and with the wear and tear that I have already experienced I was surprised on my recovery.

#180276 - 07/21/10 09:21 PM Re: Looking for advice for Active Duty Army [Re: 60Driver]
EricaK Offline
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Registered: 06/24/10
Posts: 75
Loc: Washington, USA
Not saying that being discharged is going to happen, but is it possible for you to re-train to a different job? Even if you end up discharged, you'll be able to count on considerable use out of your GI-Bill, and since you're a Captain that means you've already finished your undergrad work, right? The jobs that are recommended for us are jobs in which we alternate standing and sitting, change positions often, and do no heavy lifting or joint stressing activities. If you could re-train within the military, maybe you could work in supply or logistics? Those are both jobs with a lot of moving around. I would talk to the military chaplain about this. They hear all sorts of things and often have the best big picture view of anyone. Plus which they're pretty closed mouthed. Good luck!
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#180337 - 07/22/10 11:19 AM Re: Looking for advice for Active Duty Army [Re: EricaK]
WhiteCell Offline
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Registered: 05/31/10
Posts: 1319
Loc: Whidbey Island WA
I am not military but work with soldiers as an R.N. for myself with AS I place my faith in my abilities. If I cant do the job then I dont do it. When you have people in your hands you have to be honest with yourself. IF I cant do the job, then it is an issue, but like the military I have had to be tight lipped at times when my physical symptoms could have shut my career down. Be smart.
Since 18 years old - began as Reiter's Syndrome. Diagnosed with Ank Spon 2001. Remicade since 2002 - 5mg/kg every 7 weeks. 8 hour Tylenol and hot tubs for pain.

Severe Right Eye Glaucoma-
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Cured by RF ablation 2006.
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ICU RN Seattle, WA

~Grasp The Challenge and Succeed~

#181784 - 08/10/10 02:03 PM Re: Looking for advice for Active Duty Army [Re: WhiteCell]
mapmaker Offline
Registered Visitor

Registered: 10/25/05
Posts: 35
Loc: Virginia

I was diagnosed while in my first contact. I was in the artillery as a SPC and had started teh paperwork for the heli warrant program needless to say prior to physical I was on a detail and got hurt. Next thing i know I'm going all over the hospital dept to dept cause they couldn't figure out why the pain wouldn't go away (in the course of a year). i wasn't until a chiropractor figured it out that I finally started receiving proper treatment.

Obviously i could stay Artillery so i reclassed to Topographical MOS (aka Maps). I got a great rheumy, he asked me if i wanted to med board i stated no, i wanted to do 20.....he stated he'd work with me so i could. He placed me on P3 and heli's were out (i've never even got 2 be a passenger...lol ;o(

around my 6th year in it got so bad i couldn't do the soldiering part of the job...so was med boarded.

So tell your doc you want to stay in see what you can do (probably P2..not sure about flight status) but worse case senario there are alot of jobs out there.

#183139 - 08/27/10 11:06 AM Re: Looking for advice for Active Duty Army [Re: mapmaker]
60Driver Offline
Registered Visitor

Registered: 05/11/10
Posts: 25
Thank you all for the insights. I have been managing well lately. I find that spending about 30-60 minutes on either a bike or stair stepper daily with a run about once a week, working in some moderate weights and doing a weekly kettlebell routine keeps the pain down and the flexibility up.

I have a deployment coming up; I'll just be doing staff work so even if I do have some pain it won't be detrimental to other people's lives. My rheumatologist prescribed a different NSAID which has really been more effective than the over-the-counter Motrin that I had been using.

So, I'll just keep managing it, keep moving and play it safe for now.

Again, thanks for the insights.

#183612 - 09/01/10 04:25 PM Re: Looking for advice for Active Duty Army [Re: 60Driver]
Gonzo_ Offline
Registered Visitor

Registered: 11/29/05
Posts: 104
Loc: Clayton, NC
It's been a while since I have been on this site.. Thought I would see how things are.. I see you are in almost the same boat I was in. I was diagnosed with AS on active duty.. I highlt recomend you get a second opinion.. I was treated for AS for 2 years after being med boarded for it.. Now, they say I don't have AS just the normal "wear and tear" arthritis we all get...
(I have degenerative joint disease)

I too tried to dodge the bullet and stay in by volunteering for recruiting school. I wasn't able to pass the course. (Boy, they throw a lot of stuff at you and expect you to memorize all of it in a couple days)..
Anyhow, I recomend that you try everything to get diagnosed properly, and document everything. I was granted service connected disability and now collect a check from the VA every month. If I had dodged that and just kept going I might have shot myself in the foot and not have been awarded that service connected disability.

How many years do you have now? Any chance you can be medicaly retired? I had 13 yrs. if I had made 15 I could have medicaly retired.. Not the best but next best thing.. Insted I got a severance package.. My base pay x2 multiplied by years of service. (Paid LUMP SUM a couple days after discharge)
I would have loved to have stayed in.. bu, you have to look after yourself and your long term health, as well as health care. The drugs like Embrel are $$$! ($1200-$1500 mo. I hear)If you get out and get denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition the VA benifits would be real nice.

Everyones condition is different and only they can decide for themselves what is right for them. I just threw out a couple things you may want to consider before dismissing anything.. I(f you have any specific questions for me fire away.. I'll try and answer asap. I am away a lot and don't get to play on my computer all the time.

#187985 - 10/24/10 03:37 AM Re: Looking for advice for Active Duty Army [Re: Gonzo_]
sjelliott40 Offline
Registered Visitor

Registered: 10/24/10
Posts: 3
New to this board and have a questions. I was recently found to have AS with sclerosis. I told the Dr. that I had back pain prior to joining the Army but was never treated. Can the Army say this was a pre-exsisting condition? I also just found out from my mother that my father had AS. He died when I was young and she never told me until I said I have it as well. I have 10 yo service. Will this effect any benefits such as severence pay or med retirement? Any help would be appreciated.


#188157 - 10/26/10 05:44 PM Re: Looking for advice for Active Duty Army [Re: sjelliott40]
mmparker Offline
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Registered: 06/10/04
Posts: 573
Loc: Virginia

If you are on activie duty, and have at least 8 years of activie duty, even if the conditon was EPTS it is still compensable. See 10 USC 1207a below.

1207a. Members with over eight years of active service: eligibility for disability retirement for pre-existing conditions
a) In the case of a member described in subsection (b) who would be covered by section 1201, 1202, or 1203 of this title but for the fact that the memberís disability is determined to have been incurred before the member became entitled to basic pay in the memberís current period of active duty, the disability shall be deemed to have been incurred while the member was entitled to basic pay and shall be so considered for purposes of determining whether the disability was incurred in the line of duty.

(b) A member described in subsection (a) is a member with at least eight years of active service.

See this link for information ont he Army DES process


Note the link for rating Ankylosing Spondylitis.

Ankylosing Spondylitis


#201211 - 03/13/11 05:25 PM Re: Looking for advice for Active Duty Army [Re: 60Driver]
jgm Offline
Registered Visitor

Registered: 03/13/11
Posts: 2
I hope things are going well for you. I am in a similar situation - humira and regular exercise keep me able to function pretty normal. Luckily I have 17 years in now, but I will deploying in the near future for the first time since diagnosed with AS about 3 years ago. I have pretty much a staff job mostly in the rear so I can live with some pain win I go off Humira for deployment. Have you had any experience with Humira and the anthrax vaccine? I am trying to find out if I can be on Humira will taking the anthrax vaccine - obviously I would like to be on Humira as long as possible before deploying.

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