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Highlights

This testimony discusses the challenges facing the Federal Recovery Coordination Program (FRCP)--a program that was jointly developed by the Departments of Defense (DOD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) following critical media reports of deficiencies in the provision of outpatient services at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. This program was established to assist "severely wounded, ill, and injured" Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) servicemembers, veterans, and their families with access to care, services, and benefits. Specifically, the program's population was to include individuals who had suffered traumatic brain injuries, amputations, burns, spinal cord injuries, visual impairment, and post-traumatic stress disorder. From January 2008--when FRCP enrollment began--to May 2011, the FRCP has provided services to a total of 1,665 servicemembers and veterans; of these, 734 are currently active enrollees. As the first care coordination program developed collaboratively by DOD and VA, the FRCP is more comprehensive in scope than clinical or nonclinical case management programs. It uses Federal Recovery Coordinators (FRC) who are either senior-level registered nurses or licensed social workers to monitor and coordinate both the clinical and nonclinical services needed by program enrollees by serving as a link between case managers of multiple programs. Unlike case managers, FRCs have planning, coordination, monitoring, and problem-resolution responsibilities that encompass both health services and benefits provided through DOD, VA, other federal agencies, states, and the private sector. The FRCs' primary responsibility is to work with each enrollee along with his or her family and clinical team to develop a Federal Individual Recovery Plan, which sets individualized goals for recovery and is intended to guide the enrollee through the continuum of care. As care coordinators, FRCs are generally not expected to directly provide the services needed by enrollees. However, FRCs may provide services directly to enrollees in certain situations, such as when they cannot determine whether a case manager has taken care of an issue for an FRCP enrollee, when asked to resolve complex problems, or when making complicated arrangements. The FRCP is administered by VA, and FRCs are VA employees. Since beginning operation in January 2008, the FRCP has grown considerably but experienced turmoil in its early stages, including turnover of staff and management. At present, there are 22 FRCs who have been located at various military treatment facilities, VA medical centers, and the headquarters of two military wounded warrior programs. While the FRCs are physically located at certain facilities, their enrollees are scattered throughout the country and may not be receiving care at the facility where their assigned FRC is located. This testimony is based on our March 2011 report, which examined several FRCP implementation issues: (1) whether servicemembers and veterans who need FRCP services are being identified and enrolled in the program, (2) staffing challenges confronting the FRCP, and (3) challenges facing the FRCP in its efforts to coordinate care for enrollees.

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