By Dr. Ward CasscellsNovember 12, 2008
The Social Security Administration's (SSA) team award was presented to a DoD Health Affairs team on Sept. 18, 2008. This award, one of the highest the SSA bestows, was presented by Michael Astrue, Social Security Administration commissioner, for outstanding performance, dedication and perseverance in developing policies, procedures, and training to expedite the processing of military casualty claims for wounded warriors.
This interagency initiative, championed by Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs S. Ward Casscells, M.D., and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Health Protection and Readiness Ellen P. Embrey, substantially advances DoD objectives to cooperation and achieve seamless interoperability between government agencies. The collaboration between the SSA, the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) and the Force Health Protection and Readiness Program (FHP&RP) developed a solution to expedite claims for disabled veterans.
Tommy Morris, director of Force Health Protection and ReadinessAfAcAc'A!™ Deployment Technologies and Support Services group and Scott Henderson, manager of Web technology, led the interagency effort on behalf of DoD Health Affairs and, in a matter of months, developed the Military Casualty Alert.
The Military Casualty Alert project created a program to link the service-related disabilities of veterans to their Social Security numbers providing immediate identification information on them as wounded warriors. Having this link allows the SSA to expedite the claims of disabled veterans to quickly provide much deserved benefits. In letters to the award recipients, Glenn Sklar, associate commissioner for Disability Programs said, "The Military Casualty Alert now ensures that claims filed by individuals injured on active duty are moved to the head of the line."