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Jamie Findlater, American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 26, 2008 –
A Web-based network of support for wounded warriors, veterans and their families, as well as the families of the fallen, has sprung from a collaborative effort by the departments of Defense, Labor and Veterans Affairs.
The National Resource Directory will include information on care coordinators, health care providers and support partners, Dr. Linda Davis, deputy undersecretary of defense for military community and family policy, said during an “ASY Live” interview today on BlogTalkRadio.com.
“Working with wounded ill and injured servicemembers and their families, there [are] many resources and individuals available to help them,” Davis said. “We needed one source that can tell us where everyone in the country is who wants to help our wounded warriors and their families.”
The directory is part of a larger effort by the departments to improve wounded warrior care. Davis said research showed that in the military hospital alone, servicemembers received offers from 35 people for 38 types of support.
“While the families did appreciate that, they also found it confusing,” she said. “They didn’t know who to call at the right time in the right place for the right service. The family oftentimes becomes the primary caregiver 24/7/365, and that is extremely stressful, both physically and emotionally.”
To help them navigate the system, servicemembers and their families are assigned a care coordinator who ensures the recovery team works together jointly and collaboratively. Each recovering servicemember has an individualized recovery plan with personal and professional goals.
Previously, Davis said, emphasis had been placed on recovery in the hospital. These plans focus more on what happens after they leave, she explained.
“Our challenge was to get people to not only survive, but to thrive in their new conditions that will be facing them for the rest of their lives,” she said. “We wanted to focus more on community reintegration, and to do that, we needed even more partners to be engaged.”
To facilitate the coordination of these plans and ensure a smooth community reintegration, the directory is inter-linked to these personalized online plans to facilitate accessibility to available resources.
“Say you are populating the plan and the servicemember is talking about returning to Aurora, Kan., and needs housing adaptation and special tutoring for their autistic special needs child,” Davis said. “You can go into the directory and contact both the governmental and nongovernmental organizations in and around Aurora and line up appointments and personnel to be of support way before the servicemember goes back to Aurora.”
Davis noted that while the federal government has a lot of benefits and services available to servicemembers, it also is important to take state, county and locality benefits into consideration.
“If you are choosing where to relocate your family, you may be interested to know that a certain township has a benefit for veterans,” she said.
The relevance of information in the National Resource Directory goes far beyond solely wounded illness, injury, and recovery services, Davis said. Many of the sections are very useful to any servicemember and their family, she noted.
“We have already had several other programs wanting to connect and use the directory, especially in the area of benefits and compensation,” Davis said. “Here, you will find not only what’s available through the DoD Disability Evaluation System and the VA disability compensation programs, but things like Social Security benefits, life insurance and video libraries. … We have sections on how to file claims, on unemployment benefits, and benefits for retirees.”
In addition to the directory’s Web site --www.nationalresourcedirectory.org -- a toll-free phone number, 800-342-9647, is available.
The Web site is expanding, Davis said, and visitors can suggest additional programs by clicking on “Suggest a Resource.”
Launched Nov. 17, the site already has received a lot of positive feedback, she said.
“We had a very enthusiastic response in San Diego when we started the site,” Davis said. “We found that a lot of organizations feel the need for this, and they have been trying to develop one on their own. In fact, we were excited today to find that there was a story of the directory being covered in the Netherlands.
“We have servicemembers throughout the nation and around the world and we hope that this directory can serve as a global tool for anyone supporting wounded servicemembers and their families.”
(Jamie Findlater works in the New Media directorate of the Defense Media Activity.)