A wounded veteran attempting to obtain their disability rating is going to be put through the ringer. The process takes an unusually long time, is filled with redundancy, and can be very confusing. However, recent news shows steps are being taken to try and streamline the disability rating process.
Starting January 2010, the existing Disability Evaluation System program will expand to thirty-three installations. (Currently, there are twenty-seven military facilities that take part in the program.) The six new installations will include: Fort Benning, Ga.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Lewis, Wash.; Fort Riley, Kan.; and Portsmouth Naval Medical Center, Va.
An official spokesperson for wounded warrior care was quoted as saying, "The decision to expand the pilot was based upon favorable reviews focusing on the program's ability to meet timeliness, effectiveness, transparency and customer and stakeholder satisfaction." What does this mean?
It would seem that the Disability Evaluation System program is working.
Started in November 2007, the program was designed for soldiers and veterans who left the military under honorable conditions for service-related injuries. The main purpose of the program was to address the inconsistent rulings in medical evaluations in separate disability processes utilized by the Defense Department and Veterans Affairs (VA).
If a wounded veteran does not use the pilot program at one of the above-designated medical facilities, their evaluation will be reviewed by the Defense Department physicians, then by the VA. This means that the wounded veteran will undergo a time-consuming, confusing, duplicative process, first with the Defense Department physicians and then with the VA. This is simply unacceptable treatment for our country's heroes.
The advantage of the Disability Evaluation Systems program is that it allows physicians in both departments to collaborate on medical findings. Wounded veterans will undergo one medical exam and obtain a single-sourced disability rating. The result is a much faster process that helps validate the claims and benefit payments for disabled veterans.
To date, more than 5,400 soldiers and veterans have participated in the pilot program.