More than 28,000 Service members, with support from families and caregivers, are currently going through the joint Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Veterans Affairs program called the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) process. The process determines fitness for continued military service and appropriate benefits for those who are separated or retired for a service-connected disability.
Since the IDES process is comprehensive, there are many items to keep track of, including physician appointments, medical and service records, medications, medical and physical evaluation boards and benefits. To reduce stress, health experts recommend staying organized throughout the process. Here are some tips for wounded warriors and their families and caregivers to take control of their health during the IDES process:
- Make sure you have the contact information for your DoD Physical Evaluation Board Liaison Officer (PEBLO) and Veterans Affairs (VA) Military Service Coordinator (MSC). You should reach out to them whenever you have questions about any part of the IDES process.
- Try using a journal, planner, notebook, personal digital assistant, smart phone, laptop or whatever method works best for you to keep all the information you need together in one place and to give you reminders.
- Remember to record your upcoming medical appointments and set up reminders so you don’t miss any. Reschedule only if absolutely necessary since that may add days or weeks to the process.
- Keep copies of all your treatment records and keep a record of all claimed disabling conditions, especially during your initial interview with the VA MSC.
- Maintain a list of all your medications, consider adding the usage schedule to your calendar and note how you felt when you took them so you can tell your doctor.
- When you have questions for your doctor make sure to record those and bring them with you to your next appointment.
- Access the DoD Compensation and Benefits Handbook for Wounded, Ill and Injured when you need a quick reference guide and instructions on how to find more information.
Keeping up with all this information may take some extra effort, but in the long run it will assist you, and your family, as you progress through the IDES process.
As part of Total Force Fitness month, the DoD and the Military Health System (MHS) encourages Service members and families to take charge of their health and well-being. The MHS knows that health is what happens between doctor’s visits and is committed to providing service members and their families the tools to manage their own health.