Even in the face of a hurricane and a subsequently compressed schedule, 51 Recovery Care Coordinators (RCCs), AW2 Advocates and other non-medical case managers completed a weeklong DoD-sponsored training program last week in Alexandria, Va. The training was designed to prepare them to assist wounded, ill and injured Service members and their families through the phases of recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration.
Despite losing a day due to Hurricane Sandy, participants attended classes on the full range of programs and resources available to them as they help recovering Service members and families identify and address their needs, including: TRICARE, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Military OneSource, and the Social Security Administration. Programs from the Office of Warrior Care Policy including Operation Warfighter (OWF), the Education and Employment Initiative (E2I) and military adaptive sports were also covered.
In addition, students also took part in lessons on recognizing and dealing with the symptoms of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), recognizing the signs of and preventing suicide, and how to contribute to the prevention and reporting of sexual harassment and assault.
Speaking to the class on Wednesday, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Warrior Care Policy, Mr. John Campbell emphasized that while it was a week for learning, the training was also an opportunity for networking. He encouraged RCCs to get to know each other, and to turn to each other once they are out in the field and in need of support or advice.
Michael Fischer, an Air Force RCC, said he will be relying heavily on the network of his fellow classmates as he starts his position as the first and only RCC in England, assigned to Royal Air Force base Lakenheath.
“It’s a big benefit just knowing that if we’re ever in a bind we have each other,” Michael said. “We’re all in the same boat and we want each other to succeed.”
As an Air Force veteran, as well as the husband of an active duty member of the Air Force, Michael immediately understood the value of RCCs and the assistance they provide.
“I thought this was a great opportunity to give back,” he said. “As a veteran, I know how important it is to relate to these Airmen.”
Though the prospect of starting the program in England from the ground up is a little overwhelming, Michael said he is also excited to get back to RAF Lakenheath and start educating people about the assistance and support he can provide.
“It’s not taking over someone’s job, but it is taking on some of the burden. I think it’s really important to have that single point of contact,” Michael said.
Though she has been on the job as a non-medical case manager with the Navy Safe Harbor program for six months already, Lt. Sandra Lockett also found last week’s training very useful.
“I see now how all these things come together and how other people are involved in the process,” she said.
Six months ago, Lt. Lockett had no idea what Navy Safe Harbor was, or what RCCs and non-medical case managers did. But it wasn’t a hard sell. In fact, Lt. Lockett volunteered for the job. She is currently assigned to the VA Polytrauma Center in Tampa, Fla.
“Once I started learning about it I thought, as a health administrator, this is the most rewarding job I could have,” she said. “It’s one of my only chances to interact with the end-user. So I thought I should take my moment while I had it. After this it will be back to a desk and paperwork.”
These days, however, Lt. Lockett spends her time visiting Service members receiving in-patient care and following up with those who have left the hospital and are adjusting to life back at home. The majority of Service members she works with have spinal cord injuries, so a large part of Lt. Lockett’s focus is on their long-term care and success once they reach outpatient status.
“It’s the best job you could have in the military,” she said.