IDES Cheerleaders are Driving You to Your Wits’ End. Shut them Down Now!

Disability Lawyer
By: Joel Pettit • May 12, 2023

Who doesn’t like positive people? Who doesn’t like feeling confident? Who doesn’t like feeling like a winner? Okay, okay; I’ll stop asking easy questions with obvious answers. The dangerous thing about these questions is that they really aren’t so easy. Broadly speaking, yes, the answer to all these questions is clear: everyone. In the context of the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES), however, the answers become deceptively simple. All of us have had people root for us during stressful times, when our character and resolve are tested, maybe even broken. Some of these people will push others to exceed their limits, achieving new performance horizons; there’s a term for these people – cheerleaders. That’s great, so long as they’re cheering you on to surpass your individual limitations. But what happens when these people encounter a Service member in the IDES? Welcome to the abyss of the IDES Cheerleaders!

Unfortunately, IDES Cheerleaders don’t fully appreciate the process in which Service members are involved. Having represented hundreds of Service members in every phase of the IDES, I can attest to the obtuse, generally ill-informed mindset of the typical IDES Cheerleader. The most common mistake Service members make is trusting the accuracy of information from someone simply because they work somewhere in the IDES. For example: Physical Evaluation Board Liasson Officers (PEBLO) and Informal Physical Evaluation Board (IPEB) attorneys have little to no idea what goes on at the Formal PEB (FPEB), how hearings are conducted, how or why cases are delayed, or what is possible under the regulations governing anything outside their small part of the IDES. Why? Because they don’t have experience with those processes or subjects or the people making decisions. It’s the same reason the CEO of Microsoft can’t answer questions about how to fix your Outlook email login issues.

Although IDES Cheerleaders can take the form of anyone in a Service member’s life (an overzealous friend, an ill-informed spouse, etc.), by far the most dangerous are those individuals who either work in the IDES or other Service members who have gone through the IDES. This is not to say that only FPEB attorneys understand the IDES process. In fact, most FPEB attorneys don’t have hands-on experience at the IPEB or Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) level. What I am saying is that anyone can be an IDES Cheerleader. Moreover, IDES Cheerleaders don’t usually have bad intent; in fact, their intent is usually to help Service members. Sadly, as we all know, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Hence, Service members must diligently guard against being sucked in by the IDES Cheerleader’s deceptively pleasant advice.

I know what you’re thinking: what does “pleasantly deceptive advice” mean? To be direct, it’s a nice way of saying ‘bullshit.’ Bullshit is an idiomatic term that’s almost impossible to define precisely. Merriam-Webster defines bullshit as talking foolishly, boastfully, or idly. Bullshit is neither lies nor truth. Bullshit is the grey, entertaining filler between the mind-numbing, mundane conversations people have in their day-to-day lives; and that’s exactly my point! Bullshit, as playful and lighthearted as it is, is the club with which IDES Cheerleaders emotionally bludgeon Service members. So how can Service member steer clear of these unintended monsters?

The answer is simple: ask the question. What is “the question?” The question is this: where did you read that? The question is not: where did you hear that? Nor is it: who told you that? There are several regulations and laws governing the IDES, all of which are public documents; hence, all derivatives of the core question should revolve around reading. Although it takes insight and experience to understand how each rule, regulation, and law interact to form the IDES, this method, at the very least, ensures that Service members can verify whether the advice they’re receiving has legal or regulatory foundation. There is no reason anyone doling out advice should decline showing a Service member the rule, regulation, or law upon which that advice is based. If a Service member is dealing with someone who cannot or will not point to the rules governing their advice, I have one piece of unequivocal advice: run!

At Joel Pettit Law, we don’t play the “I Have a Secret” game. The cornerstone of our practice is to educate clients, delivering the peace of mind they expect from a seasoned IPEB and FPEB attorney. We believe all clients deserve to know the lay of the legal landscape; how else are they to understand and participate in their case? Keeping clients in the dark serves only one purpose: charging them for services they don’t receive. Joel Pettit Law was founded because we believe clients should get what they pay for: amazing legal representation. If you want to get down to the brass tacks of your case, please contact Joel Pettit Law. We don’t beat around the bush.

Contact Us Today

Don’t Struggle! Get Help From a Military Disability Lawyer
Let's Discuss Your Case