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PoF Blog Post – Financial Implications of Leaving a Military Medicine Position

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One of my readers pointed me to this blog post on Physician on Fire, which many of you will find interesting:

Financial Implications of Leaving a Military Medicine Position

If you’d like my own thoughts on the value of a military pension, you can read them here:

How Valuable is a Military Pension?

Consolidated Special Pay Profile – Residents

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The new consolidated special pay plan is confusing. To try and alleviate that confusion, I’m going to publish what I’ll call special pay profiles. Next up…residents.

Monthly Pay of a Resident

Let’s assume this is a resident at NMC Portsmouth who had no prior service, did internship, a 2 year GMO tour, and  now is a PGY-2 with dependents. This is what that resident should see on their LES:

BASE PAY ­- $4,950.90 (O3 over 3 pay grade from the 2017 Basic Pay Table)

BAS -­ $253.63 (all officers get the same rate)

BAH -­ $1872.00 (O3 with dependents rate in zip code 23708 based on this calculator)

SAVE PAY ­- $666.66 ($8K paid monthly, which is from Table 2 of the Final Navy FY17 Pay Plan)

TOTAL – $7743.19/month

ANNUAL TOTAL – $92,918.28

Two Senior Global Health Engagement (GHE) Positions – Senior O5/O6

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There are two positions available:

  1. Health Affairs Attache ­New Zealand – Please see the position description with the expected qualifications. It is open to senior O5/O6 officers. Training for the position will ideally commence early in 2018 with the individual in country by March 2018. This is a 3 year assignment.
  2. Director, Training and Professional Development, Center for Global Health Engagement, USUHS – This position is open to senior O5/O6 officers. The report date is targeted for Jan 2018, and more information on the position is found in the position description. It is also a 3 year assignment.

If you need info on the Global Health Engagement community, check here. The POC for questions regarding these positions is CDR Arcelia Wicker, Deputy Director for GHE at BUMED (e-mail address is in the global address book). All interested parties need Detailer/Specialty Leader concurrence and should forward a CV/BIO and letter of intent (LOI) to their Specialty Leader by 15 November. The goal is to have the individuals identified by December.

Don’t Worry – I Can’t Update My Record Either

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I’m in zone for O6 next year, so I’ve been trying to update my record. On the whole, my record is up-to-date on a near continuous basis. As the guy who wrote the book…I mean wrote the PDF…on updating your record, updating my record is one way to make sure that the Promo Prep document is accurate. For this post, I thought it might be interesting to tell you that even I can’t update my record easily.

My Extra Navy Comm

Before I became the Detailer, I had three Navy Commendation Medals. My record said that I only had two. I followed all of the procedures detailed on the Navy Awards Page. Suddenly I not two…not three…but FOUR Navy Comms!

I did everything I could to remove this extra Comm from my record, but I wasn’t actually able to make it happen until I became the Detailer, found the huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan who controls awards, and had him fix it.

The Elusive JPME I AQD

Earlier this year I finished Joint Professional Military Education I, which gets you Additional Qualification Designator (AQD) JS7. Normally Detailers add AQDs, but they can’t add JPME AQDs. For that you have to follow the procedures on this page. As you can read, it says that as long as you e-mail them your JPME letter/diploma, the AQD will be added within 30 days.

I followed the instructions, and it wasn’t added. Only by having the Detailer submit the documents, did the AQD get added. (Thanks, Rich.)

The Missing Service School

Finally, I also completed another service school this year, the MHS Capstone. I submitted my completion certificate to NSIPS, but the school is still not reflected on my Officer Service Record or Officer Data Card.

If I Can’t Update My Record, What Should You Do?

Read the Promo Prep, and do what it says. If it doesn’t work, try one more time.

If after the second time you are still unsuccessful, give up. Yes, give up.

Just send a letter to the promotion board explaining that you’ve tried unsuccessfully to update your record, and include any supporting documents as enclosures with the letter.

No, sending a letter to the board will not update your record permanently. After the board they shred/destroy everything that was sent to them. You’ll continue to have these omissions on your record for every promotion board until it is fixed.

Can’t Fix Your Record?

Try once. Try a second time. Eventually you have to say, “Enough is enough.”

When you get to this point, just send the letter.

Navy Implements Changes to Devices on Awards

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From Office of Information
WASHINGTON (NNS) — The Navy announced Aug. 21 in ALNAV 055/17 that it is implementing changes to the letter-type devices worn on certain medals and ribbons.

The ALNAV provides Sailors and Marines guidance on the proper authorization and wear of the more restrictive bronze letter V (Valor) as well as the newly created bronze letters C (Combat Conditions) and R (Remote Impact).

The devices are intended to provide more distinctive recognition of acts of valor (V device), meritorious achievement or service under combat conditions (C device), and meritorious achievement that had direct impact on combat operations, albeit from a location where the awardee was not at significant risk of exposure to hostile action (R device).

“All previous decorations that had a V device remain valid and are in no way diminished or called into question by the new policy,” said Jim Nierle, president, Navy Department Board of Decorations and Medals. “Additionally, none of these awards will be rescinded, altered, or otherwise reconsidered as a result of this ALNAV.”

The devices only apply to personal decorations. They are not authorized on any unit awards or any campaign, expeditionary, or service medals and ribbons.

The new policy for the C and R devices is retroactive only to Jan. 7, 2016, which is when then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter approved the recommended changes following a 2016 Department of Defense review of the military awards program.

Any Sailor or Marine who received a personal decoration for meritorious achievement or service after Jan. 7, 2016, and who believes the circumstances met the criteria for the C device or R device, may directly contact the command that issued the award and request reconsideration. However, because the new policy for the V device is more restrictive than the previous policy, no consideration will be given to adding a V device to any previously approved award.

For specific details about which awards are authorized with the three devices, read ALNAV 055/17 at www.npc.navy.mil.

Navy Announces Two-Week BOL System Outage for Updates and Tech Refresh

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From Naval Personnel Command Public Affairs

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) — Navy Personnel Command (NPC) announced Aug. 7, that BUPERS Online (BOL) will be offline for two weeks, starting Aug. 25, to receive a number of important upgrades.

Sailors may also experience intermittent BOL system outages from Sept. 9 – Oct. 2, in addition to the two-week shutdown. The Navy anticipates BOL will be fully operational Oct. 3.

Among the applications regularly used by Sailors that will be affected include: Physical Readiness Information Management System (PRIMS), access to Officer Data Card, Officer Service Record, Performance Summary Record, Electronic Service Record (ODC, OSR, PSR, ESR) and the ability to request a CD of a Sailor’s Official Military Personnel File (OMPF).

While this maintenance period was carefully selected because there are no promotion selection boards during this timeframe, Sailors are encouraged to review their records now prior to the start of the fiscal year (FY) 19 board schedule. A full list of upcoming boards during FY-19, which begin Oct. 1, can be viewed at www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/boards/selectionboardsupport/Pages/FY19-Board-Schedule.aspx.

Several workarounds have been established for personnel records updates during the outage. To find out how to conduct personnel actions during this short outage, refer to the FAQs at www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/Documents/2017%20Tech%20Refresh%20FAQs%20Final.docx.

The Navy’s 2017 Physical Fitness Assessment cycle II began July 1 and runs until Dec. 31. Commands have the freedom to select any time to conduct testing during this period. If the Physical Activity Risk Factor Questionnaire is not available through BOL, a hard copy can be downloaded at www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/support/21st_Century_Sailor/physical/Pages/default2.aspx. If the hard copy is used, command fitness leaders must manually enter the data once BOL access is restored.

Navy Standard Integrated Personnel System (NSIPS) Self Service capability will be available during the outage, but updates to the Official Military Personnel File will not be complete until connectivity is re-established.

For those Sailors on orders to or returning from overseas, remote or expeditionary assignments, there are several additional workarounds. Visit www.public.navy.mil/BUPERS-NPC/SUPPORT/DISTRIBUTION/Pages/OverseasScreening.aspx for more information.

Contact the NPC Customer Service Center at 1-866-U-ASK-NPC (1-866-827-5672) for more information concerning specific application impact.

For more news from Navy Personnel Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/npc/.

What Should You Do If You Didn’t Promote?

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If you are particularly interested in this post, I’m sorry. You or someone you care about probably failed to promote. In reality, nowadays it is normal and expected to fail to promote to O5 and O6, so you have company. Here are my suggestions for those that fail to promote.

First, try to figure out why you didn’t promote. Because the promotion board members are not allowed to speak about your board, you’ll never actually find out why you failed to promote, but you can usually take a pretty educated guess if you talk to the right people (like me).

If any of these things happened to you, they are likely a main reason you didn’t promote:

  • Any PFA/BCA failures.
  • Legal issues, such as a DUI or any other legal trouble.
  • Failure to become board certified.

There are other things that could happen to you that make it difficult but not impossible to promote. They include:

  • Coming into zone while in you were in GME.
  • Having non-observed (NOB) fitreps before the board, such as those in full-time outservice training.
  • Spending too much time in the fleet as a GMO, Flight Surgeon, or UMO. This is mostly because it causes you to come into zone for O5 while you are still in GME, and is more of a problem if your residency is long.
  • Never getting a competitive early promote (EP) fitrep. Many officers who fail to select have never had a competitive EP fitrep in their current rank. This can be because they were stationed places without competitive groups and they get 1/1 fitreps, or it can be because they were in a competitive group and did not break out and get an EP. To me this is the #1 ingredient to promote…competitive EP fitreps. If you don’t have them, you are really up against it.
  • Receiving potentially adverse fitreps. This most commonly happens when you are at an operational command and your reporting senior is not someone who is used to ranking Medical Corps officers, although it could happen for other reasons (like your reporting senior felt you deserved this type of fitrep). The most common situation would be if there is a competitive group of 2 officers but both are given must promote (MP) fitreps instead of 1 getting an EP and the other the MP. When both get an MP, it reflects poorly on both officers unless the reason for this is CLEARLY explained in the fitrep narrative, which it often is not. The other thing that happens is that a reporting senior gives you a 1/1 MP instead of a 1/1 EP. If you are ever getting a 1/1 fitrep, make sure you get an EP. You should consider getting a 1/1 MP an adverse fitrep. If there is no way around this, often because the reporting senior has a policy that they don’t give newly promoted officers an EP, make sure that this policy is clear in the fitrep narrative.
  • Having a declining fitrep. Mostly this happens when you go from getting an EP to an MP on your fitrep under the same reporting senior. If it is because you changed competitive groups, like you went from being a resident to a staff physician, that is understandable and not a negative. If you didn’t change competitive groups, though, make sure the reason you declined is explained.
  • Making it obvious to the promotion board that you didn’t update your record. The most obvious ways a promotion board will know you didn’t update your record is if your Officer Summary Record (OSR) is missing degrees that you obviously have (like your MD or DO) or if many of the sections of your OSR are either completely blank or required updating by the board recorders. Remember that although promotion board recorders will correct your record for you, anything they do and any corrections they make are annotated to the board. While a few corrections are OK, you don’t want a blank record that the recorders had to fill in. It demonstrates that you didn’t update your record.

So who actually promotes to O5 and O6? In general, the officer who promotes is:

  • Board certified.
  • Has a demonstrated history of excellence as an officer. In other words, whenever they are in a competitive group, they successfully break out and get an EP fitrep. Being average is just not good enough anymore.
  • They have no PFA failures, legal problems, declining fitreps, or potentially adverse fitreps.
  • They have updated their record, and if they previously failed to select they reviewed their record with their Detailer and actively worked to improve it.

So what do you do if you were passed over and failed to promote?

Realize that it is not the end of the world. Based on the recent promotion board statistics, most officers were passed over for O5 or O6, but a large number of the officers selected were from the above zone group.

If you do nothing, you will continue to get looked at by promotion boards until you retire, resign, or are forced out of the Navy. There is no limit to the number of chances you get to promote and your record will be evaluated for promotion every year. That said…

You need to try to promote. Consider sending a letter to the promotion board. What do you say in this letter? First, briefly state that you want to be promoted and to continue your career in the Navy. Second, explain what a promotion would allow you to do that you can’t do at your current rank. Answer the question, “Why should they promote you?”

For example, if you want to be a Department Head at a large military treatment facility (MTF) or a Residency Director (or whatever you want to do), tell them that you need to be promoted to be competitive for these jobs. The Navy wants to promote leaders. Make it clear to them that you are a motivated future leader.

Try and get letters of support to attach to your letter. These letters should be from the most senior officers who can personally attest to your value to the Navy. In other words, it is probably better to get a letter from an O6 who knows you well than a 3 star who doesn’t. If you are not sure who to ask for letters, ask those more senior to you or your Detailer for advice. Your Specialty Leader is always someone to consider if he/she knows you well and can speak to your contributions to the specialty and Navy.

Have your record reviewed by your Detailer, Specialty Leader, other trusted senior advisor, or by me. Because of promotion board confidentiality, you will never know the reason(s) you did not promote, but most of the time experienced reviewers can come up with an educated guess. They’ll often find things that you were not even aware of, like potentially adverse fitreps, or information missing from your record. My promo prep document will help you as well.

Do everything you can to get “early promote” or “EP” fitreps. This is largely accomplished by continually striving for positions of increased leadership. You need to get a job that has historically led to a promotion.

As a LCDR who got passed over for CDR, try to get one of these jobs and excel at it (this list is not exhaustive and these positions are not the only path to CDR, but they are a good start):

  • Assistant/Associate Residency Director
  • Department Head at a small/medium sized MTF
  • Senior Medical Officer or Medical Director
  • Chair of a hospital committee
  • MEC member

If you are a CDR who got passed over for CAPT, try to get one of these jobs and excel at it:

  • Residency Director
  • Department Head in a large MTF
  • Associate Director or Director
  • Officer-in-Charge (OIC)
  • MEC President
  • Division, Group, or Wing Surgeon
  • CATF Surgeon
  • Specialty Leader

Meet with your chain-of-command. After you’ve been passed over is not the time to be passive. You need to sit down with your leadership and get an honest assessment from them of how you’re doing and what they would recommend continuing to advance your career. You may not like what you hear, but it is better to find out early if they don’t think you’re doing a good job or that you are unlikely to break out on your fitreps. That way you can try and put yourself in a better situation by changing commands.

In addition to the above list of things you should do, there are a few things you should not do:

  • Do not lie in your letter to the board. In other words, don’t tell them you want to do Executive Medicine if you don’t really want to. Your record reads like a book, and if it tells a story that is contrary to what your letter says, this is unlikely to help you and may hurt you.
  • Do not send long correspondence. Promotion boards have to read everything sent to them, and a long letter may not be appreciated. Keep it brief and to the point.
  • Do not ask your current CO to write you a letter to the board if they’ve done an observed fitrep on you. His or her opinion about you should be reflected on that fitrep, so they don’t need to write you a letter. If they’ve never given you an observed fitrep or there is some new information not reflected on prior fitreps, they could either write you a letter or give you a special fitrep. Ultimately it is up to them whether they do either of these or none.
  • Do not discuss anything adverse unless you want the board to notice and discuss it. This issue comes up frequently and people will ask me for advice, but ultimately it is up to the individual officer. The one thing I can guarantee is that if you send a letter to the board and discuss something adverse, they will notice it because they will read your letter! If you think there is a chance the adverse matter will get overlooked, it is probably better not to mention it and keep your fingers crossed.

Those are my tips for those who find themselves above zone. Most importantly, if you want to promote, NEVER STOP TRYING. You can stay in as a LCDR for 20 years, and I personally know of people who got promoted their 9th look!