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Physical Disability Evaluation System (PDES)

What is it?
The PDES is the process the Army uses to determine the medical separation status—retain, retire, or separate—of Soldiers with medical conditions that may interfere with their ability to perform their duties. The PDES consists of a Medical Evaluation Board and a Physical Evaluation Board ensuring Soldiers receive due process and then, if appropriate, determines their disability benefits.

The objective is to make the PDES more transparent in order to quickly return our wounded, injured, and ill Soldiers to duty or effectively transition them to care and support provided through the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA).

What has the Army done?
The Army has updated the system over the years; however, the system and the laws that govern it have become so complex and adversarial that they require revision. The Chief of Staff of the Army created a task force headed by General (ret.) Frederick Franks to review the system. This review will provide both short term (executable by FY09) and long range (beyond FY09) recommendations for specific actions and resource allocations; and, if appropriate, will transform the PDES so it better serves our Soldiers.

The task force will also review findings and recommendations from recent studies and evaluate current Army practices and standards. It will present recommendations for legal, regulatory, policy, procedural, and cultural changes required in the Department of the Army, and determine where we need help from external agencies including the Department of Defense (DoD) and the DVA.

What continued efforts does Army have planned for the future?

Of all the services, the Army has the greatest number of medical separations and retirements. As a result, the Army has the most experience with MEB processes, disability adjudication, and cooperation with the DVA. The Army has put enormous effort into improving the current PDES, and has an aggressive plan to implement the appropriate recommended revisions.

While the Army has taken a lead role in the DoD's efforts to develop legislative options to reduce the dissatisfaction with, and complexity of, the current PDES, the transformation of the PDES requires a broader national and inter-agency review. The focus should be on the Nation's responsibility to care for those who make up America's All-Volunteer Force.

Why is this important to the Army?
The Army has the obligation to offer our wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers a comprehensive program of treatment and rehabilitation, so they can either continue to serve or successfully transition back to their civilian lives.

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