Final Symposium Issues, Part 2

23 July 2008, 09:14

– By MAJ Deb Cisney, AW2 Operations –

During the 2008 AW2 Symposium the delegates discussed more than 80 issues that were previously submitted by AW2 Soldiers, Family members, prospective employers and others involved in wounded warrior care and transition. During four days of focus group sessions, the delegates worked with facilitators and subject matter experts to combine similar issues and determine which were the most important. At the conclusion of the Symposium, each focus group briefed their top prioritized issues to LTG Rochelle and other Army leadership. The delegates than voted on the top five overall issues of the 2008 AW2 Symposium, which were relayed to you in Part 1 of this blog series.

Now, to quote Paul Harvey, “the rest of the story.” In order of presentation, the rest of the focus group prioritized issues briefed to LTG Rochelle were:

-Career Counseling For Wounded Warriors: Assign each wounded warrior an individual Career Counselor to identify their skills and experiences and assist them with developing and posting their resumes and require Career Counselors to follow-up with wounded warriors 90 days after separation.

-Over Medication of Service Members and Veterans: Provide continuing education to service members and veterans about high risk medications and alternatives to prevent overdose and addiction and require the development and implementation of a lifespan injury pain management plan for service members and veterans.

-Non-Dependent Caregivers Eligibility for Support Services: Authorize Soldier-elected, non-dependent caregivers to receive established support services as deemed necessary by case manager.

-Mental Health Treatment and Confidentiality: Combine mental health and primary care services in the same facility.

-Continuity of Care and Services during Transitions: Develop a new standardized policy for the seamless transition of a wounded warrior and Family and assign a representative to seriously wounded warriors at the time of injury and throughout the life time of the wounded warrior continuum of care.

-Local Community Support of Wounded Warriors: Ensure AW2 Strategic

Communication programs reach all local communities with wounded warriors and hometown news releases are distributed for returning wounded warriors.

-Consistent Medical Care from Active Duty to the Veterans Affairs System: Require the transitional case manager to contact the Military Treatment Facility (MTF) to ensure continuous medical treatment and ensure the service member is concurrently registered in the Patient Administration Division (PAD) and reenrolled in TRICARE at the nearest MTF upon return to their place of residence.

-Timely Medical Appointments for All Veterans: Schedule appointments within 30 days of the original request and provide local treatment at the government’s expense if VHA personnel are unavailable.

The delegates’ work is done (whew!) and now it is up to AW2 to ensure that the issues are addressed. Rest assured that all 13 issues (the 8 listed above plus the top 5 prioritized issues) have been incorporated into the AW2 Symposium Active Issues. You can check the AW2 website and this blog for updates on all of your issues.

Final Symposium Issues: Part 1

16 July 2008, 09:14

– By MAJ Deb Cisney, AW2 Operations –

They did it! The 2008 AW2 Symposium delegates used their personal experiences to tell the Army how to improve care for Soldiers and Families. Two and a half weeks ago, 74 AW2 Soldiers and Family members rolled up their sleeves and put their hearts, minds and souls together. This dedicated group spent a week in six different focus group rooms, working through the issues that were submitted to this year’s AW2 Symposium. After much gnashing of teeth and shedding of blood (figuratively), sweat and tears (literally)… the final issues were presented to LTG Rochelle, and other senior Army leaders. It was a job well done!

I am MAJ Deb Cisney and as a member of the AW2 Operations Staff my primary focus is to ensure that the final Symposium issues are addressed by senior leaders throughout our Army, the Department of Defense, and Congress. I am truly honored to serve all of you in this manner.

The top five prioritized 2008 AW2 Symposium Issues are (drum roll, please!):

1.) Alternative Treatment Options for Wounded Warriors–Authorize and fund alternative treatment options for Wounded Warriors.

2.) Support Groups and Counseling for Wounded Warrior Families–Establish an inspectable Wounded Warrior Family Counseling Program including support groups facilitated by clinically trained behavioral health professionals.

3.) Continuation on Active Duty (COAD) and Continuation of Active Reserve (COAR) Process–Authorize Soldiers 90 days instead of 10 days to finalize their COAD/COAR decision and provide mandatory COAD/COAR counseling during the PEB process by someone other than the PEB Liaison Officer.

4.) Treatment of Continuation on Active Duty (COAD)/Continuation on Active Reserve (COAR) Soldiers by the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB)–Exclude all communication of COAD/COAR preference from the PEB Liaison Officer until completion of PEB process and remove block 16 on DA Form 3947.

5.) Eligibility Criteria for Warrior Transition Units (WTU)–Implement stringent eligibility criteria for entrance into and retention within the Warrior Transition Units that are standard across the Army and establish a dedicated independent admissions board comprised of health care professionals to monitor eligibility and retention of Warriors in Transition in order to provide checks and balances.

While these issues were prioritized by the Delegate body as a whole, LTG Rochelle was also briefed on an additional 8 issues to which he paid close attention. Watch for Part 2 of the 2008 AW2 Symposium Issues blog to see where else you told him to go!

Local Outreach at the Ballpark

– By Jeanne Keffer, Outgoing Inventory Director, Sew Much Comfort –

Our non-profit organization, Sew Much Comfort, was thrilled when COL Rice invited us to attend the AW2 Symposium this year, which was the first AW2 Symposium to include an exhibit hall. We were proud to be there and in the company of other non-profits, veteran service organizations, and Army programs, all sharing a mission of helping the most severely wounded Soldiers and their Families. The event was a wonderful opportunity for us to personally connect with the Soldiers, their Family members, AW2 staff and Army leadership.

Our goal was to get the word out about the adaptive clothes our dedicated seamstresses make for the wounded to use during their recuperation. Currently, our organization has an ambassador that visits Walter Reed to meet with soldiers and replenish their lockers with clothing. At Brook Army Medical Center (BAMC), hospital staff and AW2 advocates make sure Sew Much Comfort clothes are available, as well. However, we wanted all Army locations, VA hospitals, and individual service members to know about us and feel comfortable contacting us about requests to provide them with our shorts, shirts, pants, boxers, and accessories.

From the first evening of the symposium when the delegates came through the exhibit area, we knew our decision to come was a good one. The week was full of memorable experiences for us. We met a soldier and his wife who shared their story with us about using our clothing while at BAMC, and how much it helped them. We received orders for clothes from other delegates who are in need. An Army General came to our booth and got our information to give to his wife, who is interested in volunteering as a seamstress. We also had the pleasure of presenting one of our quilts to a special delegate who will be working with us on perfecting some of our patterns.

The opportunity to be a part of this very important process has given us new insight into the Army Wounded Warrior Program. We were able to witness the interactions of delegates and staff, to share meals and breaks with the attendees, to watch Operation Purple do its magic with the children, and to learn about and from the other exhibitors. We feel honored to have spent the week with this incredible group of people and returned with a feeling of gratitude for being a small part in their transition. The theme of the Symposium that we heard over and over again throughout the week is “I am AW2” and we felt that this also applied to us. Thanks for welcoming Sew Much Comfort as a part of the Symposium and a part of AW2- we will continue to make you proud.

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