Assistive technology will be more widely available to wounded service members
December 2, 2008
FALLS CHURCH, Va. - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has designated November as Warrior Care Month to communicate the Department of Defense's (DoD) commitment to quality care for the nation's service members and their families.
The Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP), Military Treatment Facilities (MTFs) and other DoD agencies have pledged to provide the highest quality of care to all wounded, ill and injured service members and their families through a program called the CAP Wounded Service Member Initiative.
Dr. David Chu, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness signed the Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI), Assistive Technology (AT) for Wounded Service Members in August. The DoDI outlines procedures and responsibilities in the development of a successful, interdependent AT system between the MTFs and CAP. This allows CAP to work closely with MTF medical providers, therapists, case managers and military liaisons to increase awareness and availability of AT to wounded service members at no charge to them.
"The ability to initiate AT in the early stages of wounded service members' recoveries will promote a positive outlook and show them that their future endeavors are not limited," said Michael Young, team leader of CAP's wounded service member initiative.
AT is incorporated into the recovering service member's rehabilitation process, allowing them to learn to use the accommodations for their next assignment or job. CAP has helped 8,500 wounded service members already and many of those are service men and women who were injured in Afghanistan or Iraq. Now with the new DoDI, CAP technology is expected to help many more service members.
CAP is committed to ensuring wounded service members have the tools early in their recovery and rehabilitation to ensure success for service members who continue on active duty, explore different employment options, or continue their education.
CAP has an established partnership with several MTFs, including Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas, Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Madigan Army Medical Center in the state of Washington, and Naval Medical Center San Diego in California.
Beginning early next year, CAP will work closely with other MTFs to provide training to staff to implement AT programs. "The training will offer specific procedures and best practices to set up effective AT programs for wounded service members at all MTFs" Young said.
As part of the process, CAP conducts a needs assessment to ensure the proper assistive devices and training is provided. The assessments are done on a case-by-case basis since disabilities and conditions are unique to each wounded service member. The staff looks at the individual, their job and possible solutions when conducting the assessment.
CAP supports people with cognitive or communication disabilities, people who are blind or have low vision, people who are deaf or hard of hearing or who have dexterity disabilities.
CAP is part of TRICARE and was initially launched in 1990 as a centrally funded, reasonable accommodations program for DoD employees with disabilities. Many of the technologies cost less than $500 - but their value is immeasurable.
For more information about the CAP Wounded Service Member Initiative or to request a presentation, e-mail WSM@tma.osd.mil. For additional information on CAP, visit <a href="http://www.tricare.mil/cap/" target="_blank">TRICARE CAP</a>