The Department of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) today signed an agreement to provide “federal recovery coordinators” who will ensure life-long medical and rehabilitative care services and other federal benefits are provided to seriously wounded, injured and ill active duty service members, veterans and their families.
The agreement puts into place one of the top recommendations of the President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors, co-chaired by former Sen. Robert Dole and former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala.
“This agreement will help ensure our nation’s wounded warriors and their families receive the care they need and deserve at the right time, right place, and by the right person across the continuum from recovery through to their reintegration into their communities,” said Michael L. Dominguez, principal deputy under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness.
Under this agreement the first group of federal recovery coordinators will be provided by VA in coordination with DoD and will be assigned to select military treatment facilities throughout the nation. They will support existing military service and veteran programs and care providers by coordinating needed services between DoD and VA and state and private and voluntary organizations, while serving as the ultimate life-long resource for wounded, ill and injured and their families who may have concerns about federal services or benefits.
Job announcements for the new positions have been posted, with the first 10 federal recovery coordinators scheduled to be hired by Dec. 1. Plans call for the new employees to be trained and in place at the military’s major health care facilities during January 2008.
The first 10 coordinators will work at military health care facilities and at any other locations where patients are later assigned. They will be located at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.; the Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.; the Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas; and the Naval Medical Center Balboa in San Diego. Additional recovery coordinators will be added in the future as needs are determined.
The coordinators will have a background in social services or nursing and will work closely with the clinical and non-clinical case management teams to develop and execute federal individual recovery plans. Those plans, developed for the severely wounded, injured or ill, specify what services are needed across the continuum of care, from recovery through rehabilitation to reintegration to civilian life. The coordinators also will work closely with family members to take care of their services and needs.
The coordinators will have access to and support from the DoD’s under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness and VA’s under secretary for health, as well as the commanders of facilities where service members and veterans receive treatment.
These federal recovery coordinators are in addition to other programs that have been established by the military services.