By Fred W. Baker IIINovember 6, 2008
WASHINGTON, (AFPS, Nov. 6, 2008) - The Defense Department is hiring about 30 specialists who will map out a path to recovery for seriously injured servicemembers and their families.
The plan will be consistent across the services, officials said.
In the past, each service put into place its own recovery plan for wounded servicemembers, but the plans varied. This step will deliver servicemembers and families an individualized recovery plan based on uniform standards, Lynda Davis, deputy undersecretary of defense for military community and family policy, said.
The congressionally mandated DoD recovery coordinators will not provide direct care, but rather will oversee the plan as each service delivers individual care in its respective warrior care program.
Recovery coordinators also will give the families a single point of contact for support, Davis said. The services' warrior care programs have many experts, she explained, but they sometimes change as the person moves through the system.
"We'll provide connectivity and those links so that an individual family is not left to try and find it out on their own," Davis said.
"You need somebody that you can trust that has the right information that will be there and support you" so that families can concentrate on taking care of the injured servicemembers, she said.
The recovery coordinators will be trained and in place at major military treatment facilities across the United States next month, Davis said. The recovery plans are based on a 10-step process that guides both the family and servicemember from recovery to rehabilitation and reintegration back to their community or back to the service.
This change is based on feedback from families, such as from those who gathered here recently for the Wounded Warriors Family Summit, Davis said.
"They wanted to make sure they understood what the path ahead was for them," she said. "They wanted to know what came next, what to expect. It reduces their anxiety and helps them to be better engaged as decision-makers."
Servicemembers and families work with their recovery coordinator to develop individual plans that include personal and professional goals as they work through their educational, transportation, housing and financial needs.
Each plan details who will provide which service and when, Davis said.
The recovery coordinators are part of a four-cornerstone approach to warrior care within the Defense Department, Davis said. Each seriously injured servicemember and family will have a recovery coordinator, a recovery plan, a recovery team made up by the services, and a national resource directory available on the Internet that will be launched later this month.
Davis described the site as a "yellow book" directory for information on benefits, health care, education and training, and transportation and housing. The site can be searched by state and type of service and will be accessible from any Internet connection. More than 10,000 federal, state and local government and nonprofit services and resources will be available on the site, she said.
Davis is a former soldier who said she understands that taking care of the families is critical to the retention of quality servicemembers.
"It's absolutely essential. We know that we recruit individual servicemembers, but we retain the families," she said.
When she served in the Army, Davis said, her husband and children helped to determine her future in the service.
"We all had to be part of that commitment to serve our country," Davis said.