By Wesley ElliottNovember 5, 2019
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Army is restructuring the Warrior Care and Transition Program (WCTP) to focus on its central mission of complex case management for wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers. The new program and Warrior Transition Units (WTUs) will be renamed the Army Recovery Care Program (ARCP) and Soldier Recovery Units (SRU).
One of the key parts of the restructure is the implementation of a single entry criteria.
"Since the WCT's inception in 2007, the program has updated the eligibility criteria to enter a Warrior Transition Unit several times," said Col. Curtis Douglass, Deputy Chief of Staff for Warrior Care and Transition.
Currently, there are two distinct eligibility criteria to enter a WTU. One is specific to the active component and based on a complex care requirement and a six-month treatment timeline. The other is specific to the reserve components and based on a definitive care requirement and 30-day treatment timeline.
According to Douglass, the purpose of the single entry criteria is to concentrate medical and administrative resources on soldiers with complex case management requirements prior to reaching their Medical Retention Determination Point (MRDP).
MRDP is the point in time when a Soldier's progress appears to have medically stabilized, the course recovery is relatively predictable, and where it can be reasonably determined whether that the Soldier will be capable of performing the duties required by their MOS, grade, or rank. MRDP is reached within one year of medical diagnosis but can be reached at any point within that 365 days.
As of August 12, 2019, there were almost 2,500 Soldiers assigned to the WCT. The population was 55% Active Duty, 27% National Guard, and 18% Reserve.
"We project that 60% of Reserve Component Soldiers who currently meet WTU entry criteria would not meet the revised SRU single entry criteria but these medically non-complex Soldiers are eligible for one of two remote management options depending on component," said Douglass.
Non-complex USAR Soldiers will be eligible for Remote Medical Management (RM2) and non-complex ARNG Soldiers will be eligible for the Reserve Component Managed Care (RCMC) Program.
RM2 and RCMC are remote management programs for USAR and National Guard Soldiers that provide accountability, ongoing risk management, and reevaluation of medical case complexity. The programs allow Soldiers to return home on active duty orders to receive non-complex care.
"High risk Soldiers do not qualify for remote management programs and will be placed in an SRU. If a remote management program Soldier shows an increase in complexity level they may warrant a return to a SRU," said Douglass.
SRUs will provide remote case management for Army Reserve Soldiers and the Army National Guard will remotely manage National Guard Soldiers. The remote management option is specifically designed to provide medical and administrative management to Soldiers that do not meet single entry criteria but are entitled to evaluation and treatment while remaining on active duty orders.
Remote management program Soldiers are assigned to a duty site such as a Reserve Center or National Guard Armory which is their place of duty when not attending medical appointments. The duty site will usually be the assigned Reserve unit whenever practical, if that unit is within reasonable commuting distance given the Soldier's circumstances.
The SRU remote management staff ensures accountability by interacting daily with the Soldier and the duty site supervisor, as well as periodic interactions with the local network medical providers to ensure the Soldier attends medical appointments and progresses through the treatment plan.
Non-complex USAR and ARNG Soldiers who entered a WTU prior to the new single entry criteria will remain in the program and follow their existing Comprehensive Transition Plan. Incoming non-complex Reserve and National Guard Soldiers will be assessed into the component appropriate program after January 1, 2020.
SRU-ineligible Reserve Soldiers will remain on, or return to, active duty to complete the medical evaluation and treatment. They will be placed on active duty evaluation orders and will temporarily enter the SRU to conduct a medical evaluation and diagnosis.
"The SRU is open to all Soldiers, regardless of how they are injured or become ill in the line of duty, who meet the entry criteria," said Douglass. "The Army's greatest asset is our people and we are committed to taking care of our Soldiers."
The SRU entry criteria states that a Soldier has, or is anticipated to receive, a profile of more than six months, with duty limitations that prevent the Soldier from training or contributing to unit mission accomplishment. The complexity of the Soldier's condition requires either clinical case management or the Soldier's psychological condition is evaluated by a qualified licensed medical or behavioral health (BH) provider as posing a substantial danger to self or others if the Soldier remains in the original unit.
Determining what constitutes complex care is primarily a clinical responsibility with medical leadership oversight and the Army defines it as, "A medical professional's aggregate assessment based upon the severity of illness, degree of impairment, required level of comprehensive care management, and commitments of time and resources."
For each Soldier, ARCP leadership will review their application for entry into the SRU with the ARNG and USAR providing recommendations for COMPO 2 and 3 Soldiers. The Army senior commander or a delegate will approve or deny all SRU entry decisions after reviewing the packet.
The new entry criteria is effective in January 2020. WTUs will begin the transition to SRUs in March 2020 and are estimated to be fully operational under the new structure, policy and processes by August 2020.