USA — Summit Seeks to Improve Nonmedical Care

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2011 — A sum­mit to improve the coor­di­na­tion of non­med­ical care for wound­ed war­riors and their fam­i­lies will draw lead­ers and experts from sev­er­al fed­er­al agen­cies, the ser­vices and the pri­vate sec­tor to Lees­burg, Va., tomor­row through 31.
The Wound­ed War­rior Care Coor­di­na­tion Sum­mit is host­ed by the Defense Department’s wound­ed war­rior care and tran­si­tion pol­i­cy office, and will fea­ture as a keynote speak­er Hol­ly Petraeus, who heads the Office of Ser­vice Mem­ber Affairs at the Con­sumer Finan­cial Pro­tec­tion Bureau.

“This sum­mit builds on sig­nif­i­cant improve­ments in non­med­ical care coor­di­na­tion over the past few years,” said Robert Car­ring­ton, direc­tor for the Recov­ery Coor­di­na­tion Pro­gram in the wound­ed war­rior care and tran­si­tion pol­i­cy office. “There is plen­ty of room to grow.”

While med­ical case man­age­ment is a well-estab­lished field, Car­ring­ton explained, coor­di­nat­ing all of the non­med­ical aspects of recov­ery, reha­bil­i­ta­tion and rein­te­gra­tion on behalf of wound­ed, injured or ill ser­vice mem­bers and their fam­i­lies is an emerg­ing field.

“We have learned a sig­nif­i­cant amount over these last few years,” he said.

Work­ing groups at the sum­mit will devel­op rec­om­men­da­tions to improve care coor­di­na­tion in four key areas: col­lab­o­ra­tion between Defense Depart­ment and Vet­er­ans Affairs Depart­ment recov­ery care coor­di­na­tion pro­grams, wound­ed war­rior and fam­i­ly edu­ca­tion and employ­ment, wound­ed war­rior fam­i­ly resilience, and stan­dard­iz­ing best prac­tices in recov­ery care coor­di­na­tion.

“Work­ing group lead­ers and facil­i­ta­tors have been col­lab­o­rat­ing with key mem­bers of their groups for sev­er­al weeks in advance of the sum­mit to iden­ti­fy key chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties so they can max­i­mize pro­duc­tiv­i­ty dur­ing the sum­mit,” said John R. Camp­bell, deputy assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for wound­ed war­rior care and tran­si­tion pol­i­cy.

Each work­ing group will report out to the larg­er group with action­able rec­om­men­da­tions at the end of the sum­mit. We’ll incor­po­rate these into a final report, work­ing with the direc­tors of the mil­i­tary ser­vice wound­ed war­rior pro­grams, the Defense Depart­ment Recov­ery Coor­di­na­tion Pro­gram, and Vet­er­ans Affairs Fed­er­al Recov­ery Coor­di­na­tion Pro­gram.” Camp­bell will present the report to the Wound­ed, Ill and Injured Senior Over­sight Com­mit­tee, co-chaired by the deputy sec­re­taries of defense and vet­er­ans affairs.

The Defense Depart­ment Recov­ery Coor­di­na­tion Pro­gram helps seri­ous­ly wound­ed, ill or injured ser­vice mem­bers and their fam­i­lies under­stand and make use of the large num­ber of unfa­mil­iar pro­grams and ben­e­fits that become avail­able to assist them. It assigns recov­ery care coor­di­na­tors to act on behalf of the ser­vice mem­ber and fam­i­ly to coor­di­nate the efforts of the many non­med­ical spe­cial­ists sup­port­ing them, ensur­ing they are not over­whelmed, and max­i­miz­ing their ben­e­fit.

The recov­ery care coor­di­na­tor works with ser­vice mem­bers and their fam­i­lies to devel­op a com­pre­hen­sive recov­ery plan that empow­ers and guides them to suc­ceed in their rein­te­gra­tion to mil­i­tary duty or civil­ian life. It iden­ti­fies their needs, out­lines spe­cif­ic actions, con­nects them with the resources they require based on their unique cir­cum­stances, and aligns the efforts of the recov­ery team, which includes the pri­ma­ry physi­cian and med­ical case man­ag­er.

Devel­oped joint­ly by the depart­ments of Defense and Vet­er­ans Affairs, the Fed­er­al Recov­ery Coor­di­na­tion Pro­gram, admin­is­tered by the Vet­er­ans Affairs Depart­ment, pro­vides clin­i­cal and non­clin­i­cal care coor­di­na­tion ser­vices for the most severe­ly wound­ed, ill, and injured ser­vice mem­bers, vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies.

A joint Defense Depart­ment and Vet­er­ans Affairs com­mit­tee will use the sum­mit as one of sev­er­al planned events to gath­er input and ideas from experts and those who coor­di­nate non­med­ical care for wound­ed war­riors on a dai­ly basis. More imme­di­ate rec­om­men­da­tions by this work­ing group will be incor­po­rat­ed in the sum­mit final report, offi­cials said.

“For our nation’s wound­ed war­riors and their loved ones, nav­i­gat­ing the com­plex care and ben­e­fits sys­tems of the depart­ments of Defense and Vet­er­ans Affairs, while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly work­ing to recov­er from seri­ous injury or ill­ness can some­times be unnec­es­sar­i­ly chal­leng­ing,” said Dr. Karen S. Guice, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Fed­er­al Recov­ery Coor­di­na­tion Pro­gram in the Vet­er­ans Affairs Depart­ment, who leads the work­ing group. “It is our col­lec­tive respon­si­bil­i­ty to con­tin­ue to improve our sys­tems of care to pro­vide the very best sup­port pos­si­ble for these brave men and women.”

The edu­ca­tion and employ­ment work­ing group will devel­op plans for ser­vice mem­bers to proac­tive­ly pre­pare for their post-injury or post-ill­ness career while in recov­ery and reha­bil­i­ta­tion, and while await­ing a deter­mi­na­tions of fit­ness for con­tin­ued mil­i­tary ser­vice or a dis­abil­i­ty rat­ing. The work­ing group also will also exam­ine ways to expand the use of the GI Bill, mil­i­tary tuition assis­tance pro­grams, and voca­tion­al reha­bil­i­ta­tion coun­sel­ing by wound­ed war­riors to bet­ter pre­pare for the next stage of their lives.

“In Jan­u­ary, the unem­ploy­ment rate for vet­er­ans of our cur­rent wars reached 15.2 per­cent, while the nation­al unem­ploy­ment rate fell to 9 per­cent,” said Koby J. Lan­g­ley, spe­cial advi­sor to Camp­bell for strate­gic plan­ning and leader of the edu­ca­tion and employ­ment work­ing group. “For dis­abled vet­er­ans, the unem­ploy­ment rate is even high­er. These men and women left civil­ian life and vol­un­teered to go into harm’s way on our behalf. We have to give them all pos­si­ble assis­tance to re-enter civil­ian life and thrive at least as suc­cess­ful­ly as their coun­ter­parts who did­n’t step for­ward to serve their nation.”

Because the spous­es of ser­vice mem­bers often sac­ri­fice career oppor­tu­ni­ties through fre­quent moves, and spous­es of wound­ed war­riors some­times very sud­den­ly become the pri­ma­ry bread-win­ner, the sum­mit also will explore ways to ensure these fam­i­ly mem­bers have the edu­ca­tion and employ­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties they require to be suc­cess­ful.

This dove­tails with fam­i­ly resilience, the focus of a third work­ing group, led by Mary Camp­ise of the Fam­i­ly Advo­ca­cy Pro­gram in the office of the assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for mil­i­tary com­mu­ni­ty and fam­i­ly pol­i­cy.

“Fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties pro­vide the con­text with­in which wound­ed war­riors ulti­mate­ly heal,” Camp­ise said. “By bring­ing togeth­er a tal­ent­ed and com­mit­ted group of diverse, fam­i­ly-focused indi­vid­u­als who have years of expe­ri­ence work­ing with mil­i­tary fam­i­lies, we hope to iden­ti­fy and seize oppor­tu­ni­ties to inte­grate and embed effec­tive and mean­ing­ful fam­i­ly sup­port across the con­tin­u­um of care.”

Camp­ise said many inno­v­a­tive best prac­tices already exist, and her group plans to iden­ti­fy them and give them vis­i­bil­i­ty so oth­ers can build on what already is work­ing well.

“We’ve also learned that fam­i­lies of the wound­ed, ill, and injured can be immense­ly cre­ative in build­ing their own net­works of mutu­al sup­port,” she added. “We want to fig­ure out how to facil­i­tate, and elim­i­nate road­blocks to, what fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties do nat­u­ral­ly.”

A fourth work­ing group will look for ways to stan­dard­ize recov­ery care coor­di­na­tion best prac­tices among all mil­i­tary and Vet­er­ans Affairs prac­ti­tion­ers. The team will iden­ti­fy ways to bet­ter assess com­pli­ance with leg­isla­tive and pol­i­cy require­ments and review entrance, exit and hand­off cri­te­ria between the ser­vices and Vet­er­ans Affairs.

“A lack of com­mon def­i­n­i­tions and prac­tices has pre­vent­ed some of our efforts from reach­ing their full poten­tial,” said Car­ring­ton, who leads the best prac­tices work­ing group. “We don’t indi­vid­u­al­ly have to come up with all the best answers but as a group and look­ing at what oth­er smart, inno­v­a­tive peo­ple are doing we can ensure our pro­grams reflect the excel­lence that our wound­ed war­riors deserve.

“We just need to ask the right ques­tions and look for best prac­tices across the var­i­ous pro­grams with input from our wound­ed war­riors and their fam­i­lies,” he added.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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