Soldiers undergoing a medical evaluation board sometimes feel lost and confused with the significant decisions they have to make that will affect their military careers and the rest of their lives.
The Office of Soldiers’ Counsel is the Army’s team of qualified and trained attorneys and paralegals, who assist Soldiers in the Integrated Disability Evaluation System. They are advocates who provide in-depth information, expert legal advice and effective representation throughout the IDES process for Soldiers and their family members. The Army currently has 26,800 wounded, ill or injured Soldiers enrolled in IDES; each case can take up to a year to complete. The Office of Soldiers’ Counsel provides legal support and services to help Soldiers and their family members navigate IDES and fully understand their legal rights and options.
The Office of Soldiers’ Counsel includes two types of legal counsel: Soldiers’ Medical Evaluation Board Counsel and Soldiers’ Physical Evaluation Board Counsel. The SMEBC offices are located at installations that process medical evaluation boards and provide local in-person assistance to Soldiers. The SPEBC offices are co-located with the three Army Physical Evaluation Boards located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, and in Crystal City, Va.
At Fort Irwin, there is a licensed attorney and a certified paralegal specially trained in medical evaluation boards and in the IDES process. The Office of Soldiers’ Counsel will ensure that the Soldier receives a fair assessment of his medical condition and that the condition is accurately documented during the IDES process at no cost to the Soldier.
The Office of Soldiers’ Counsel will review the case files to evaluate potential outcomes of boards. They will also review medical tests and medical records in order to advise the Soldier what to discuss with his medical team. This ensures records are complete and that necessary documentation is present for the case.
The Fort Irwin Office of Soldiers’ Counsel has the experience and knowledge to work with the different organizations to resolve Soldier issues that often arise while the Soldier is undergoing the IDES process.
Ensuring that Soldiers and Families receive expert advice and representation during the IDES process is part of the Army’s commitment to take care of Soldiers. Whether that involves transition to Veteran status or a return to duty, these advocates protect the Soldiers’ rights and ensure the disability process remains seamless, transparent and fair.
The Fort Irwin Office of Soldiers’ Counsel is located in building 288 on Barstow Road. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday. The office phone number is 380-2183.