FALLS CHURCH, Va - Retired Army Master Sgt. James Malone knew he would continue helping Soldiers even as a civilian. After 21 years of service, he worked as a medical liaison officer. He started his civilian career in 2010 at Fort Gordon, Georgia, and eventually worked with the Army Recovery Care Program. As a Lead Recovery Care Coordinator, Malone is now at Fort Cavazos, Texas.
“I was always concerned about what happened to the Soldiers when they came through the SRU (Soldier Recovery Unit) and who took care of them after they got out of the military. I was so grateful to be in this position because now I am the one who gets to help with that gap and help with those resources.”
When faced with retirement, especially a medical board, Malone says Soldiers can get lost where those resources are concerned, but he says he is glad to help! “We’re like the OnStar button for Soldiers or Veterans,” said the former Munitions Specialist.
“I think a person’s lack of understanding about the MEB (Medical Evaluation Board), or disability process is challenging. It can be very troubling and scary for people to transition through it.”
Malone says it is vital that the Veteran, potential Veteran, or Soldier going back to duty understand their benefits and get them if possible.
“It’s my job to make sure we are totally engaged with the PEBLO (Physical Evaluation Board Liaison Officer) and the different laws and regulations coming out.”
Being up on the latest and greatest benefits makes recovery care coordinators the rock stars of the Soldier retirement world. Case in point - a Soldier who had no clue about his disability rating almost did not reach out for help, but Malone convinced him otherwise.
Malone has helped hundreds of Soldiers over the years and wants any Soldier reading this to know that Recovery Care Coordinators are all over the country to help. “I’m able to make sure our Soldiers have life changes after they leave the Army or if they are returning to duty.”
RCCs connect potential resources to Veterans, service members, and their caregivers. Contacting one as soon as possible is paramount. “Some benefits can pass a Soldier by, and they never could get them back. We can help take some of the weight off their shoulders and guide them, letting them know the most important thing to do at a particular time. We will tell them about decisions that can be made tomorrow or, no kidding, things that need to be done today.”
If you or someone you know is having issues or has questions about any benefit to including their disability rating, they need to find out who their nearest Recovery Care Coordinator is. Call the Army Recovery Care Coordination Directorate at 800-984-8523.