AME Deferral for Combat Deployment and TBI w/ LOC
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I got my PPL in 1985 and flew as often as I could. However, due solely to my military career, I have had a 15-year break from flying. Between 2003-2010 I had five combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. I separated from the Army following my last deployment in 2014 after 18 years of service. Notwithstanding the numerous close proximity explosions I experienced, on my last deployment, I sustained a TBI with a positive LOC and fractured right hip from a VBIED. The VA rated me 25% for the TBI and 55% for my hip. The VA prescribed me Doxazocin in 2014 for the TBI/PTSD diagnosis. This medication is usually prescribed for high blood pressure and prostate issues, however, I have neither of those. The VA found that this medication is very beneficial for reducing or eliminating nightmares and allowing the service member to process information more appropriately and normally when in high-stress environments. Whether the data for this medication suggests this, I have no idea. What I can tell you is that ALL my post-deployment nightmares have completely disappeared and I'm sleeping very well.

I have, since my service separation, waited for nearly 10 years before trying to fly again as I wanted to determine whether I would have any recurrences or any other problems. I'm happy to say that I have had ZERO since 2014. I am, at this point comfortable with my ability to process information. So much so that I am currently in grad school completing my Master's degree in which I'm very nearly getting a 4.0 GPA. I don't offer that to gloat or call attention to myself. It is just one piece of evidence that my brain has healed up.

This year, with absolutely no further issues developing since the injuries, I decided to try and reinstate my PPL currency. On August 3, 2022, I went to my AME for an exam for the Class III medical. For the reasons stated above, he said he needed to defer it to the FAA. As the exam concluded he said to me,

“I don't see any reason that they will deny this. And, I personally think you're a perfect candidate to be flying again. I just have to refer this to the FAA for review.”

I realize it doesn't matter what I think about my condition and that the FAA's decision will be based on their empirical data as it relates to my condition. What I can say, in my humble opinion, is that I am doing very well.

For those who have similar issues and any medical experts reading this thread. Is my desire to fly again a matter of wishful thinking? Should I forget about getting back in the air and focus my attention elsewhere? I have MOUNTAINS of medical records. Am I going to need to send all of it to them? How specific will they be with regard to medical records? On this, I have reached out to http://www.airdocs.net/aviation-medical-exams.html to see if they have any guidance for me. But, anything this group has to offer would be appreciated.

14 Replies
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1453 Posts

@James Lewis
Try talking to Dr. Bruce Chien, one of the nation's top experts on difficult FAA medical certifications.  See www.aeromedicaldoc.com.

 

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@Ronald Levy Thank you. I will do just that. I appreciate the input.

UPDATE: I reached out to Dr. Chien. For those that might need his services. He's out of the office until 8/25/22.
 

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@James Lewis
Check out AMAS.

They helped me with a CAD issue for my employment required First Class Med, and can represent you with the FAA if desired. A staff of aeromedical physician's. Super easy to work with. 

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@Scott Harrison Mr. Harrson, thank you for that information. I'll reach out to them to see what they can do. I realize this is only for a Third Class medical, and they are necessarily at the bottom of the priority list. But, any help I can get is very much appreciated.

Question though, did you engage them at the time of your application to the FAA for a First Class med? Or, did you wait until you had received a response from the FAA after your AME exam?
 

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1453 Posts

@James Lewis
 

@Scott Harrison 

Question though, did you engage them at the time of your application to the FAA for a First Class med? Or, did you wait until you had received a response from the FAA after your AME exam?
 

You do not repeat NOT ever want to sign an application for a medical when you know there is a potential major problem without first consulting an aeromedical expert.  Someone like that can advise you on the likelihood of issuance and the steps necessary to achieve it (along with the uninsured costs of the process).  There are a lot of conditions which could make issuance difficult and expensive (or even impossible) but will still allow flying as a Sport Pilot or under Basic Med AS LONG AS YOU HAVEN'T BEEN DENIED.  So you need to know before you go.

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@Ronald Levy That's very helpful Ron and thank you for your candor. As I indicated, it's been many years since I flew and I was frankly not completely up on the nuances of this process. Had I known what you said, I would have gone about it differently. At this point, I'm hanging on to the doctor's closing comments after my physical that he didn't think it was going to be a problem and he personally felt I was the “perfect candidate to be in the air again". I also realize he's not the final decision maker and so his comments may have been to just give me a sliver of hope to hang on to.

I haven't received anything from the FAA yet. I expect it will be a bit before that happens. While I wait, I'm going up with a CFI and dusting off my old skill sets as well as polishing them. It sounds like there is a slim chance, that the FAA will grant my Class III.🤞 If so, I'll be ready to get back in the air.