FORT BRAGG, N.C. - As we continue to get deeper into the Army's Ready, Resilient and Army Strong campaign, I am reminded how this campaign extends beyond a Soldier's active-duty service. This campaign also supports our Soldiers and their Families as they transition from Army life to life as productive and trusted veteran members of our society.

This week, as we continue to explore the pillars of the Army's Ready, Resilient and Army Strong campaign, I want to share with you a few of my thoughts on the Integrated Disability Evaluation System.

The Integrated Disability Evaluation System is a seamless, transparent system administered jointly by the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs -- it is an invaluable process that supports a critical period in a wounded, injured or ill Soldier's life. By design, IDES makes the transition process straight forward and fair, and ensures we are delivering the care Soldiers deserve with the benefits they've earned, not simply divorcing them from the Army; rather we are helping with their effective transition from the Army to civilian life.

Both the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs are applying a substantial amount of resources to IDES to improve the process and as a result, it is getting better, smoother and faster all the time. IDES is part of a larger effort to improve care and services to our wounded, injured and ill Soldiers and improves the delivery of disability services and benefits for them all.

One of the resulting improvements is the singular, streamlined IDES system, from what was once two separate evaluation and disability systems at both the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs levels. Another important improvement is that VA counselors are now placed at Army medical treatment facilities to help ensure a smooth transition for Soldiers to veteran status.

Finally, under IDES, Soldiers will now receive one, single disability medical examination conducted by a VA-certified physician, and one, single-source disability rating to determine their fitness for duty and eligibility for DoD and VA disability compensation and benefits. All of these improvements point toward a more transparent process that is in most cases faster, more efficient and more comprehensive for our Soldiers.

For those of you who will go through the IDES process, or may have Soldiers going through the process, I ask that you understand and get engaged in the process. There is a certain amount of expectation management and responsibility needed as you navigate the system. Continue to push hard and stay focused on the end result. And ensure you are preparing for the inevitable transition at the end of the IDES process. A large part of realizing success at the end of IDES, begins with realistic goal setting, future job skill set analysis, and financial planning that are too often overlooked until the final months or days in this process.

Obtaining the best results at the end of the IDES process are achieved through well-informed Soldiers and spouses who ask thoughtful questions and take ownership of their care and transition management. Getting the IDES transition right should help set the conditions for a smooth takeoff to new opportunities -- through your selfless and honorable service. You've earned it!.

Page last updated Fri February 15th, 2013 at 11:19