Ombudsman helps military community with medical issues
May 16, 2013
VILSECK, Germany -- Beneficiaries looking for assistance with medical-related troubles should look no further than their local ombudsman.
An Ombudsman for Army Medicine handles patient complaints and grievances.
"We verify, clarify and resolve events that are a source of patient dissatisfaction." said Edwin Carter, the Army Medicine ombudsman for Garmisch, Grafenwoehr, Hohenfels, Vilseck and Vicenza communities.
Although the Army Medicine ombudsmen works primarily with Wounded Warriors and their families, they are able to assist all beneficiaries. Services range from medical issues to military issues such as difficulty with appointments, pay problems, housing issues and orders.
For other beneficiaries, the ombudsman only handles medical-related problems that haven't been resolved through normal command channels. Often these are complex or overwhelming issues such as physical disability processing or transitioning to the Veterans Administration.
"The ombudsman functions as an independent, neutral and impartial mediator for Soldiers and their families and not as a means to circumvent the Soldier's chain of command," he said.
The ombudsman in the program are all well-versed on Army Medicine with most of them being retired senior non-commissioned officers, officers and civilian personnel who worked in the medical field during their Army career.
Carter fits that description.
He was in the Army from 1975 until 2002 and was a member of the Army Medical Department during this period of service, he said.
There are several ways to reach an ombudsman. Beneficiaries can contact their local ombudsman at their office or they can call the Wounded Soldier and Family Hotline toll-free at DSN 312-328-0002. The commercial number is 001-800-984-8523.
Individuals who request assistance through the hotline are contacted within 24 hours and if the individual lives in Germany, an interview will be set up to understand the nature of the complaint.
Overall, Carter wants people to know that the ombudsmen work to resolve issues for them.
"We are here to engage problem-solving solutions and to assure Soldiers and their family members that they could and should expect the very best health care," he said.
For more information, call your local ombudsman office.
Ombudsmen in Europe
Ansbach, Bamberg and Schweinfurt: DSN 354-6221, CIV 0162 253 1314
Garmisch, Grafenwoehr, Hohenfels, Vilseck and Vicenza: DSN 476-3150, CIV 0151 0717 4244
Landstuhl and SHAPE: DSN 590-4041, CIV 06371-9464-4041