By Bob Moore, WTC PAO
Army and Veterans Affairs officials will discuss a number of programs in which the two departments collaborate to help wounded, ill and injured Soldiers on a Pentagon Channel interview Friday.
VA Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs L. Tammy Duckworth, who also serves as a major in the Illinois National Guard, and Brig. Gen. Gary Cheek, commander of the U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command, will appear on “This Week at the Pentagon” Dec. 4. The program will air at 4 p.m. EST.
The two officials will discuss goals of the Physical Disability Evaluation System Pilot program, the presence of VA advisors at military treatment facilities and Warrior Transition Units, and the virtual lifetime electronic records system.
Duckworth is a double amputee who lost both of her legs and partial use of one arm after the aircraft she was piloting was ambushed north of Baghdad in 2004.
“We invest so much in our Soldiers when we are training them when they’re serving on active duty,” Duckworth said. “We need to invest just as much into their futures after they take off the uniform. They are just as valuable.”
Duckworth explained what the PDES pilot program will achieve:
- A single disability exam conducted to VA standards to be used by both VA and DoD
- A single disability rating by VA that is binding upon both departments
- Expeditious payment of VA benefits within 30 days of a separation from service
Cheek says he relies on the VA liaison officer within his own command to assist with his mission of transitioning seriously wounded, ill and injured soldiers back to the force or to productive civilian life.
“If we are to have Soldiers be able to step with confidence from the Army to civilian life, then we have got to set the stage through our own relationships with the VA,” Cheek said.
Other areas of Army and VA collaboration include the virtual lifetime electronic records system, VA collaboration with Transition Assistance Programs and VA liaisons and counselors located at military treatment facilities and Warrior Transition Units. Cheek said his mission for wounded, ill and injured Soldiers is not only to heal, but to transition them to a life they want to lead.
“We have a comprehensive transition plan, which focuses the Soldier’s future through a series of goal-setting. We look to inspire warriors toward their future because if they’re excited about their future they are going to heal faster,” Cheek said.