Pilot Disability Evaluation System To Launch
November 30, 2007
When the President’s Commission to evaluate the Military and VA healthcare systems made their recommendations, one thing that they recommended was to have just one disability evaluation system to cut down on time as well as eliminate the redundancy of having two separate evaluation systems. I’m pleased to see that these changes are beginning to be implemented, in a way which will hopefull make the process smoother for our Wounded Warriors, as they transition from the military medical system of care to the VA system of care.
The DoD and VA systems have announced that they have recently implemented a pilot test for disability cases, that originate at the three major military medical treatment facilities and the VA hospital in the Washington DC region. The pilot test program will run for one year, at which time the leaders of the DoD and VA will review the progress made during the previous year. This will assist in determining when the program will be expanded to other locations across the country.
The pilot program is designed to be a servicemember centric program that is designed to eliminate duplication of services and the confusion between the VA and Dod disability systems. One of the key features will the one medical examination, as opposed to two (one by each department) that is currently in place, as well as a single-sourced disability rating. Currently, a servicemember would receive a disability rating by their branch of the military and one by the VA. The goal is to help the wounded servicemember transition more easily to veteran status and provide them their VA benefits and compensation in a more timely fashion.
Continuum of care from the point of injury, through rehabilitation and back into the community are being examined. The objectives are to improve the timeliness, effectiveness and transparancy of the process and improve case management, flow of information between the two agencies and improve the information that is provided to servicemembers and their family members.
The hope is to ensure a seamless transtion for our wounded warriors, from the care, benefits and services of the military medical system to the VA system. By conducting the pilot program, areas for improvement can be identified, as well as the identification of additional resources for the service member and their fmaily.
The scope of the pilot program will include all non-clinical areas and activities, such as case management, and counseling requirements that can be associated with a disability case processing from the point of the injury, through the military medical evaluation review board, to the point of compensation and benefits to the veterans by the VA.
The pilot program has been developed over the past several months and focuses on the recommendations that can be made without legislative changes. These are based on the reports from several sources, including the Task Force on Returning Global War on Terrorism Heroes, the Independant Review Group, the President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors (headed by Bob Dole and Donna Shalala) and the Commission on Veteran’s Disability Benefits.
I’m hopeful that this pilot program will prove successful and will be expanded to cover the entire military medical system as well as the VA, across the country. Our Wounded Warriors deserve the very best medical care and treatment that is available, in a fair and timely manner. Our Warriors have given a lot to our country and thus should be given the respect, the very best in healthcare and treatment that is currently available.