Program easing medical separation implemented at Moody

  • Published
  • By Karen Parrish
  • American Forces Press Service
Editor's note: This article originally appeared at and local information was added by Capt. Cynthia McGee, 23rd Medical Support Squadron Tricare operations and patient administration flight commander.

A pilot program that eases medical separation and speeds benefit payments for service members too wounded, sick or injured to stay in the military was rolled out at Moody in January. The first service members to participate were identified April 12.

This new program is the Integrated Disability Evaluation System which provides a faster, smoother transition experience for wounded, ill and injured service members by involving the Department of Veterans Affairs as soon as service members are referred to a medical evaluation board.

John R. Campbell, the defense deputy undersecretary for wounded warrior care and transition policy, said the IDES is a joint effort between the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments.

"The events in February 2007 around Walter Reed triggered the DoD and the VA to really take a look at what they had been doing," Mr. Campbell said. "That process then continued ... to where we are today."

In the past, separating service members got end-of-service physicals and final military treatment from local military medical clinics while still on active duty. After separation, troops seeking disability compensation would have to repeat the same examinations at VA facilities, and then wait weeks or months for a disability determination before they could request disability benefits.

"The legacy system had both DOD and VA as components, and the VA started only after the DOD (evaluation) was complete. So it took up to 540 days for the whole disability evaluation system to work," Mr. Campbell said.

The new program brings together VA and military medical separation processes while service members are still on active duty.

Under the new system, wounded, ill or injured service members receive medical evaluations by VA-certified doctors using VA guidelines, while DoD officials use these exams to determine if a service member is able to continue in uniform.

Moody Airmen requiring exams will have them completed at the Compensation and Pension Clinic in Gainesville, Fla.

For service members, the process is faster with an average 295 days versus the previous timeframe of 540 days. There is only one set of examinations to complete and all evaluations are now done through one set of protocols.

Mr. Campbell said the net result for medically separated service members is they can receive a disability rating while still on active duty, and receive disability compensation after their first full month in veteran status, the soonest allowable by law. Results from the test sites have been great, he said.

"We're getting much higher satisfaction ratings from discharged service members and their families," Mr. Campbell said. "This system is just far superior to the legacy system."
If Moody Airmen have questions, they can contact Captain McGee at 229-257-3247.