Wounded Warriors Will Have
VA Transition Patient Advocates

August 2007 -- The VA and DoD are working together to improve the quality of patient care for our severely wounded returning warriors from OIF and OEF. One of the Commission’s recommendations is to develop a personal recovery plan for each seriously injured service member and to assign recovery coordinators or case managers to severely wounded service members and veterans to help them access benefits and manage ongoing care.

This person would complement the many current care providers and be "a consistent resource that is with the individual service member and the family across the full continuum of their care, from the point of acute care in a hospital in the DoD, to the recuperation phase in the VA hospital, to the time when they’ll live most of their life back in their community," according to Lynda C. Davis, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for military personnel policy.

Officials now are examining what type of standardized training recovery coordinators would require, as well as closely examining requirements to determine an efficient, integrated recovery-care plan for injured military veterans.

Officials envision that VA recovery coordinators, known as transition patient advocates, would begin to interface with their service member clients while they’re still being treated in military hospitals.

The VA has hired more than 80 of 100 patient transition advocates over the past few months.

"If the patient’s home is in Kansas City, for example, the transition patient advocate [in Kansas City] will be notified by the VA liaison at the DoD facility and will travel to the patient, introduce themselves, and start a relationship," explained Kristin Day, VA Acting Director of Social Work. "It’s very important to have somebody understand your whole story, to have been there with you (through) everything you’ve been through."

VA patient advocates "will literally be at the kitchen table each step of the way" as veterans begin rebuilding their lives in their home towns, Day said. These advocates will assist patients and their families in navigating the often-confusing world of VA Claims and Health Care benefits to which they are entitled, a burden which has previously fallen on the service member or a family member.

For more information about the program, click here.

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