No matter how much people need help, if they don’t know where to go to get that help, then the help might as well not even exist. According to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) study, this is the problem existing between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Pentagon. Although a program exists focused solely on coordinating long-term care for veterans severely wounded while deployed to Iraq and/or Afghanistan, very few people are aware of its existence because of a failing of communication between the two agencies.
The problems with the coordination program start at the bottom. Neither agency uses one particular classification for those soldiers who are ‘severely wounded, ill or injured.” Because of this, deciding which veterans qualify for the program’s coordination services becomes almost impossible. The program matches veterans with either a nurse or a social worker who then guides the veteran through the VA’s labyrinth disability claims process and locates the best possibilities for their proper care.
The coordinator program was created in 2008, but the VA has not taken any positive steps toward being able to identify severely wounded soldiers, which means they cannot grab qualifying veterans from military hospitals. The GAO criticized both the VA and the Pentagon for these shortcomings in its report.
Because there are no set criteria, veterans are introduced to the coordinator program almost exclusively through military hospital referrals and case coordinators seeking out potentially eligible veterans. In 2008, the coordinator program received 25 referrals per month. In 2010, that number doubled to 50 per month. Still, there is more room to help additional veterans.
Once a base-line criteria of eligibility for the coordinator program is established, they can start putting the word out about the program’s availability. This will take the burden off the injured veterans to seek out the help they need when they should be focusing on recovering.
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact LaVan & Neidenberg. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.