Last week, 26 new Recovery Care Coordinators from the Army, Army Reserves, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Special Operations Command attended WWCTP's week-long training program, where they learned how to help wounded, ill and injured Service members and their families get the best possible integration of the broad range of support services and benefits offered by federal agencies. This week, they are learning to coordinate that range of care within their own organization's wounded warrior programs - the Army's Warrior Transition Command, the Navy's Safe Harbor Program, the Marine Corps' Wounded Warrior Regiment, the Air Force's Wounded Warrior Program, and Special Operation Command's Care Coalition. However, Recovery Care Coordinators bring more than training to the mission. It is not just the types of care they coordinate that makes the program such an unprecedented success, but the amount they care.
[caption id="attachment_1287" align="alignright" width="252" caption="Recovery Care Coordinator Liz Melahn (center) with Laura Schmidt, her son Landon, and her husband's parents Bill and Rita Schmidt. Ms. Melahn worked as a Recovery Care Coordinator for Laura’s husband, Air Force CAPT Eric Schmidt, a B-52 pilot who recently fell to a long illness."]
When Captain Eric Schmidt, a B-52 pilot with the Air Force, lost his battle with a long illness earlier this year, he had his family by his side. And his Recovery Care Coordinator, Liz Melahn, was there, too.
Liz had been with Capt. Schmidt, his wife Laura and his small son, Landon, from the beginning of Capt. Schmidt's illness. She ensured every need was met, even needs the family didn’t yet know they had. In the last days of Capt. Schmidt’s illness, Liz even took baby Landon, soothed him and changed his diaper so Laura could spend her last precious moments with her dying husband.
And, though Landon will grow up without his father by his side, he won’t grow up without a memory of him, also thanks to Liz. She had a chest made for Landon, and filled it with Capt. Schmidt’s flag and other memorabilia for his son to remember him by.
A few days after Capt. Schmidt’s passing, Liz received a letter signed by Rita and Bill Schmidt, Capt. Schmidt’s parents, as well as Laura Schmidt’s parents Cathy and Roger Ediger.
Bill Schmidt wrote, “I don’t know how we would have made it through those days without your help! Your passionate and persistent care for all of us, directly involved with Eric’s illness, filled in the blind spots that we couldn’t have thought of or accomplished. We have not been through anything like this before and, frankly, pray that it will not happen again among us.”
Bill Schmidt concluded, “We may never realize every task you performed during these days and nights, but overall I can only say in all sincerity that you were angels among us! Your presence and expertise were gifts we never expected, but were blessings of an extraordinary nature.”
With the arrival of the most recent trainees at their duty stations, there will be 162 Recovery Care Coordinators serving wounded warriors and their families at 80 locations. In addition to the 26 Recovery Care Coordinators, 9 non-medical case managers from the Army Wounded Warrior Program, Navy Safe Harbor and Special Operations Command Care Coalition completed last week's training.