The DoD and the VA unveiled a plan that synchronizes current processes to ease the transition of health care service members from the DoD to the VA. The new interagency coordination also aims to help afflicted service members and veterans who require multiple care specialties throughout both departments.
This effort comes as a result of the work of the DoD-VA Interagency Care Coordination Committee (IC3), which was established in 2012. The new plan’s goal is to align more than 250 subpolicies to 1 overarching policy that governs the coordination of complex care cases that transition between the departments.
“More than a decade of combat has placed enormous demands on a generation of service members and veterans—particularly those who have suffered wounds, injuries, or illnesses that require a complex plan of care,” said Karen Guice, MD, MPP, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs and Co-chair of IC3. “These individuals require the complex coordination of medical and rehabilitative care, benefits, and other services to successfully transition from active duty to veteran status, and to optimally recover from their illnesses or injuries.”
To help maximize the plan’s chances to succeed, the IC3 developed a new role—Lead Coordinator—that makes current employees the primary coordinator for individual patients. The lead coordinator will offer personal guidance and help service members and their families understand the benefits and services to which they are entitled.
It is expected that a total of 1,500 DoD staff and 1,200 VA staff will serve as lead coordinators.
“Great attention has been made to developing a system that focuses on continuity of care, holistic support services and a ‘warm handoff’ for service members and veterans as they move from and between military, VA and community health care systems," said Linda Spoonster Schwartz, DrPH, assistant secretary for policy and planning for the VA and cochair of IC3. "Our care coordinators now have at their fingertips tools and processes that improve and simplify the lines of communication for our wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans who require complex care coordination, their families, and those who provide their care in both departments."
Schwartz added that the process "will enhance and improve the quality of care and services for these Veterans and their families now and in the future.”