Caring for Our Wounded/Disabled Heroes! Two New VA & DoD Efforts to Help!

Military Appreciation Month was extremely busy with activities for military community members. The month included recognition programs and much to be thankful for; such as a successful mission to find and eliminate Al Qaeda’s leader.

But life continues and now some military members are preparing for a PCS or deployment (again), some are in basic training (best wishes to a cousin’s friend at Ft Jackson) and many are helping out those affected by natural disasters such as flooding, fires and tornadoes (and we just started hurricane season).

For some military members life changing events have had a significant impact on their lifestyle. Severe injury, retirement, separation, etc are at the forefront. I have written a couple of articles about volunteers helping homeless veterans and Foundations kicking in as well. Today, I thought I would share about two programs from Veteran Affairs that are going to help our community!

Wounded Heroes – See Below for DetailOff to a bumpy start due to wrangling in DC over what was intended, the New Family Caregiver Benefits kicked off its first week in May while processing 625 applicants! With its own phone lines at (855) 260-3274 and web address the system has been implemented to help those most in need – our severely disabled veterans who require round the clock care from a loved one who frequently must give up a job to become the primary caregiver. The program provides a stipend, insurance, mental health support, live chats and much more! I have been a caregiver for my bride who was a cancer patient and the recipient of care following extensive surgery for cancer as well. I know that these men and women need the full time attention of their caregivers and this program helps.

The second program from the Veteran Affairs and Department of Defense (for all disabled veterans) is making an effort to reduce transition times and quicker payments for their disabilities. The process is being smoothed between the military medical community and the VA with out processing/ in processing physicals. The two were completely separate in the past and frequently caused delays in payment due to discrepancies and long wait times for the physicals and decisions on disability ratings. Still a long process but the delays are being shortened by the efforts of DoD and VA to combine efforts.

The Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) on December 31st was in place at 27 military installations – one physical, one disability determination and quicker payment! I remember doing both VA and DoD physicals, filling out all the paperwork and finding copies of military medical records to apply to the VA. It was months for me to receive benefits and years for many! Ridiculous and costly! VA Secretary Eric Shinseki  (retired Army General) recently testified before Congress that,

“IDES simplifies the process for disabled servicemembers transitioning to Veteran status, improves the consistency of disability ratings, and improves customer satisfaction. An IDES claim is completed in an average of 309 days; 43 percent faster than in the legacy system. VA and DoD worked together to increase the number of sites for the IDES program from 21 to 27 in 2010. The six new sites are Fort Riley, Fort Benning, Fort Lewis, Fort Hood, Fort Bragg and Portsmouth Naval Hospital, and VA and DoD will continue to expand the IDES program.”

The goal is reduce the disability compensation process from the current 540 day average to 295 with it in place at all 141 major military medical facilities. A worthy goal for improvement but why should it take 10 months? Let’s keep the ball rolling and see what we can do with this critical issue! After separation, these funds are important to our service members! Waiting 10 months as a “target” is way too long. We didn’t ask them to be ready to deploy in 10 months! If I remember correctly, it was a 24/7 job they performed!

Photo Credit: 05/21/2011 – Jason Wyze helps his friend, Jack Williams, both U.S. Soldiers injured in Operation Enduring Freedom, off a bus during Warriors Weekend 2011 in Port O’Connor, Texas, May 21, 2011. More than 250 wounded service members participated in the weekend of fishing, poker and other activities. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Rufus Hucks/Released)byColonel KonFriday, June 03, 2011Military Life:,,

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