DOD and VA Announce Disability Evaluation System Pilot Expansion

Thenewlocationswillinclude:FortBenning,Ga.;FortBragg,N.C.;FortHood,Texas;FortLewis,Wash.;FortRiley,Kan.;andPortsmouthNavalMedicalCenter,Va.Thisexpansionbringsthetotalnumberofmilitaryfacilitiesusingthepilotto27.
“Thedecisiontoexpandthepilotwasbaseduponfavorablereviewsfocusingontheprogram’sabilitytomeettimeliness,effectiveness,transparency,andcustomerandstakeholdersatisfaction,”saidNoelKoch,deputyundersecretaryofdefense,OfficeofWoundedWarriorCareandTransitionPolicy.InNovember2007,theDoDandVAimplementedthepilottestfordisabilitycasesoriginatingatthethreemajormilitarytreatmentfacilitiesinthenationalcapitalregion.Thepilotisatestofanewprocessdesigneliminatingtheduplicative,time-consuming,andoftenconfusingelementsofthetwocurrentdisabilityprocessesofthedepartments.KeyfeaturesoftheDESpilotincludeonemedicalexaminationandasingle-sourceddisabilityrating.Todate,morethan5,431servicemembershaveparticipatedinthepilotsinceNovember2007.“StreamliningourdisabilityclaimssystemandworkingcloselywithDoDtocarefortoday’sgenerationofheroesareamongVA’stoppriorities,”saidSecretaryofVeteransAffairsEricK.Shinseki.“WewillneverlosesightofthefactthatveteransandmilitarypersonnelhaveearnedtheirbenefitsfromVAandDoDbyvirtueoftheirservicetothenation.”
InOctober2008,DoDandVAapprovedexpansionoftheDESpilotto18sitesbeyondthethreeinitialnationalcapitalregionsites.ThisprocesswassuccessfullycompletedonMay31,2009.TheestimatedcompletiondateforthenewsixsiteexpansionisscheduledforMarch31,2010.“Thisexpansionencompassesanadditional20percentoftotalservicememberpopulationenrolledintheprogramtoachieve47percentoverallenrollments,whichwillallowustogatherandevaluatedatafromadiversegeographicarea,priortodeterminingworldwideimplementation,”saidKoch.
ThepilotwasauthorizedbytheDefenseAuthorizationActof2008andstemsfromtherecommendationsfromthereportsoftheTaskForceonReturningGlobalWaronTerrorismHeroes,theIndependentReviewGroup,thePresident’sCommissiononCareforAmerica’sReturningWoundedWarriors(theDole/ShalalaCommission),andtheCommissiononVeterans’DisabilityBenefits.


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