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From the Desk of DASD James Rodriguez: A Year-in-Review

July 7, 2015 | By timpearce
VIRIN: 150707-N-ZZ098-6011
  After twenty-one years in military service with the United States Marine Corps and subsequent private sector roles, I joined the Office of Warrior Care Policy (WCP) as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) in June 2014. During the past year, it has been an honor to address the requirements and needs of our wounded, ill and injured Service members, their military caregivers and their families. At WCP our mission is to proactively support wounded, ill and injured Service members in their recovery and reintegration or transition to civilian life. For me, that means being ever vigilant and continuously striving to better understand how we can best ensure exceptional care is provided on a daily basis. As a result, we have recently developed a WCP Strategic Roadmap, a planning framework for adaptable and flexible warrior care that will carry us through 2018. I am consistently impressed and inspired by the determination and resilience that is often on display when I meet with wounded, ill and injured Service members, their caregivers and their families. The positive thinking and belief in recovery that we see nearly every day as members of the WCP staff serves to reinforce our commitment to support—so that we may continue to meet the resolve of those we serve. Even as we face an ever shifting environment, WCP and its staff have achieved many successes over the past 12 months. Looking back on the last year, here are just a few accomplishments that we believe have made a significant positive impact.  
  • Disability Evaluation System Quality Assurance Program: Implemented across the Military Departments, the program is designed to ensure long-term improvements to the accuracy and consistency of the process used to compare and report the accuracy and consistency of Military Departments’ Medical and Physical Evaluation Boards (MEBs/PEBs), and the performance of MEB, PEB, and Physical Evaluation Board Liaison Officers (PEBLOs).
  • Site Assistance Visits: WCP completed 27 site assistance visits to military installations across the United States to assess and ensure the uniformity and effectiveness of care coordination as supported by more than 380 Recovery Care Coordinators, coordinators who specialize in developing and supporting recovery care plans.
  • Education & Employment: Supported by 20 regional coordinators, more than 600 wounded, ill and injured Service members each month are participating in our Operation Warfighter Federal Internship Program, and all wounded, ill and injured Service members can receive civilian employment and education preparation assistance through WCP’s Education and Employment Initiative.
  • Military Adaptive Sports Program: Currently, there are more than 129,000 instances each year of Service members participating in over 3,600 daily reconditioning activities—enhancing the recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration process through a holistic approach to healing.
  • Military Caregiver Support: WCP launched the Military Caregiver PEER Forum Initiative, establishing monthly caregiver forums at more than 70 military installations to provide caregivers a safe environment to convene and share practical and accurate information based on their personal experiences.
  • Invictus Recovery Mini Summit, London, UK: In addition to planning and executing the inaugural Invictus Games in conjunction with international partners, WCP brought together senior leaders from 13 nations to share experiences and explore best practices related to the use of sports to enhance recovery, healing and transition.
While we’ve achieved much in the last year, care for our wounded, ill, and injured Service members is ever-evolving. Providing consistent, quality support to these Service members, their caregivers and their families requires adaptable and flexible approaches that address current and future needs to maintain a fit and ready military force. As DASD, WCP, I look forward to another year serving and we will continue to provide information and updates on WCP’s support for our wounded, ill and injured Service members.