Defense

May 24, 2012

Improvements continue in joint DOD, VA program

by Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

Progress continues on a streamlined system to improve care for ill and injured service members and veterans, senior Defense Department and Veterans Affairs officials told Capitol Hill legislators May 23.

Jo Ann Rooney, acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and John R. Gingrich, chief of staff for the Department of Veterans Affairs, made the comments in testimony before the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs.

Expectations for what happens after a service member becomes ill or is injured have shifted fundamentally over the past 20 years, Rooney said.

In 2007, this shift, combined with public and congressional concern following accounts of inadequate conditions, resulted in the development of the Integrated Disability Evaluation System, or IDES, intended to be “a more service member-centric, seamless and transparent disability program,” she added.

The system was designed to streamline the transition of care of wounded, ill and injured service members from the DOD to the VA, or, if they are found fit, to quickly return them to their units, Gingrich said.

“Service members receive a single set of physical disability examinations conducted according to VA examination protocols and disability ratings prepared by VA,” Rooney said. The DOD and the VA share the results and ratings, eliminating redundant requirements and divergent ratings for the same disability.

The singular focus on transition of care has shifted, however, and now includes improving and defining the abilities of service members as part of a commitment to making them whole and providing opportunities to remain in military service, Rooney said.

“More so than at any time in our nation’s history, those who separate from military service are greeted by more comprehensive mental and physical care, by greater opportunity for education and jobs and by a deeper societal commitment to ensuring their welfare,” she added.

Gingrich said two main problems have been found – access to information and reducing the movement of paper files. To that end, a series of enhancements to the VA’s electronic document handling systems will reduce overall processing time by improving work flow and performance management, he said.

The system has reduced the wait time for initial disability payments from an average of 240 days in 2007 to 50 days in March 2012, Rooney said.

In addition, the services are in the midst of ongoing hiring efforts to better manage the current caseload and in anticipation of future spikes in IDES participation, she said.

Gingrich said the existing caseload exceeds what was expected.

“As demand has increased we have adjusted to meet the service member’s needs,” he said. “In January 2012, VA completed 1,254 proposed disability ratings and in April 2012 VA completed 2,363 proposed disability ratings.”

“That is an 88 percent increase in monthly performance, which allowed for a reduction of more than 5,500 of the backlogged claims,” Gingrich added.

Rooney and Gingrich stressed their departments’ continuing commitment to the partnership and to supporting ill, injured and wounded service members.

“The [DOD] has positioned itself to implement improvements and continue progress in providing support to our service members, veterans, and their families while supporting recovery, rehabilitation and re-integration,” Rooney said.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines August 28, 2015

Business: Rafale, Mistral on agenda for Le Drian in Malaysia, India – French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is due to visit Malaysia Aug. 30, with talks expected to cover the Rafale fighter jet and Mistral helicopter carrier, website La Tribune reported. U.S. Army to choose new landing craft next year – In line with the Pentagon’s...
 
 

News Briefs August 28, 2015

Boeing plans to lay off some Southern California workers Boeing has announced that it plans to lay off employees at its Southern California-based satellite division. The Los Angeles Times reports that the aerospace giant said Aug. 25 that it will lay off as many as several hundred employees at the El Segundo factory. Boeing says...
 
 

Special tactics Airmen killed in hostile incident

Two special tactics airmen, who were deployed in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, were killed near Camp Antonik, Afghanistan, Aug. 26. Capt. Matthew D. Roland, 27, and SSgt. Forrest B. Sibley, 31, were at a vehicle checkpoint when two individuals wearing Afghan National Defense and Security Forces uniforms opened fire on them. NATO service members...
 

 

Hurricane Hunters to fly Tropical Storm Erika

The Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters are operating out of Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., flying their state-of-the-art WC-130J Super Hercules into Tropical Storm Erika in support of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron flew four missions into the tropical storm from their deployed location at St. Croix in the...
 
 
LM-MUOS

U.S. Navy, Lockheed Martin ready to launch MUOS-4 Aug. 31

The U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin are ready to launch the fourth Mobile User Objective System secure communications satellite, MUOS-4, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Aug. 31 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V...
 
 

Pentagon probing alleged distorting of war intelligence

The Pentagon’s inspector general is investigating an allegation that the military command overseeing the anti-Islamic State campaign distorted or altered intelligence assessments to exaggerate progress against the militant group, a defense official said Aug. 26. The official was not authorized to discuss the probe publicly and so spoke on condition of anonymity. The investigation was...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>