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Voices of Caregivers of Service Members and Veterans, Part 4
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Module 4: Navigating Services and Benefits
The quotations below are from caregivers of service members and veterans like you. They were collected from Traumatic Brain Injury: A Guide for Caregivers of Service Members and Veterans, Module 4: Navigating Services and Benefits. The guide was developed to help you, the caregiver, cope with your new role as a caregiver — to provide the information you need to care and advocate for your injured loved one and to care for yourself in the process.
The guide was developed by experts, survivors, and experienced caregivers along with representatives from the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
To see the whole guide, click here.
“I would say be very close with your case worker going through this. I thought the case workers were invaluable in making sure that you have everything you should have and that you’re aware of everything you should be aware of as a caregiver…. From a medical standpoint, the doctors are going to keep you informed. But the case worker goes outside the whole medical thing. You know, ‘Let me make sure you have a place to stay. Let me make sure you have food, that you’re getting the per diem that you’re supposed to be getting, or that the paperwork for Jason is where it’s supposed to be at.’”
- Pam E.
“The nurse case manager’s job is to take care of the nursing aspect of care. The TBI case manager takes care of the TBI and all those appointments. My husband has a sergeant that he reports to. So, he’s got a couple of different people he sees that make his appointments for him regarding different aspects of the Army and the hospital. And there’s Linda with the Family Readiness Group. She just kind of knows everything. She can help with anything.”
- Emily S.
“The most important thing I think, in the beginning, is having a case manager that you’re definitely seeing eye-to-eye with, because if you and your case manager aren’t on the same page and aren’t working together and there’s conflict, it’s just going to get worse. So you definitely need to make sure that the team that you have is the team that’s going to work for you. We’ve learned that the hard way.”
- Sandy M.
“When my husband was injured, I was notified by the battalion commander and a chaplain. Then a Marine was assigned the job of totally assisting us. He handled everything from terminating our lease on the house in Okinawa, to selling our vehicles, returning our library books, and making arrangements to meet my husband in the hospital. Once I was in Bethesda, he handled everything. The four VA hospitals with polytrauma units have Marine liaisons. They are there to provide information and support and assistance and handle all the pay issues and benefits, all those things.
We also have a VA and Department of Defense polytrauma rehab nurse liaison. It is her function to help us transition into the VA system, but she was far more than that and helpful before we were at that point.”
- Anna E.
“If I had to name the one person that I would pick up the phone and call about any question — it was our care coordinator in Buford. She works out of the Naval Hospital. She’s the one I called about everything,--when they were sending me bills and they shouldn’t have been sending me bills, when Mike needed equipment — I called her. When I was given the run around, I called her, and I was like, ‘Am I nuts? Am I going nuts? Is this how things ought to be?’ And she would say, ‘No, you’re not going nuts.’ She would intercede for me, and I felt really confident that she would take care of the stuff with TRICARE and that she would find a way to make things happen. She was the person I called to say, ‘I need help, and I’m lost.’”
- Meredith H.
“I finally got a Recovery Coordinator. She is an angel. That lady got all the different case managers and put them all together. That works. That works.”
- Nellie B.
“The Wounded Warrior regiment has certainly been great. I’ve been able to go to the Wounded Warrior regiment office and ask them questions and take my MEB/PEB checklist and my applications and make sure that I have everything that I need and I’m not missing anything. They’ve been a great sounding board for me, walking me through that process, because I did a lot of the retirement stuff. I attended the D-TAP classes for Tim. We did the TAP class on DVD, and they helped me get those tapes. That was good.”
- Shannon M.
“I think one thing that I have learned is that you definitely have to speak up. If your needs aren’t being met, if your spouse’s needs aren’t being met, or your children’s needs aren’t being met, you ask somebody. If they don’t have an answer, more than likely they’ll find the answer for you. They’ll direct you in the right direction. And I’ve been pretty successful in that department. But you definitely have to speak up. You can’t sit back and let things happen to you.”
- Sandy M.
“At his team meeting between the VA and the therapy agency — there were about 20 people there. He has a case worker with the VA, from the VHA side, the hospital administration. He has a case worker with the Benefits Administration. He’s got a nurse case worker. Again, that’s with the VA. He’s got a case worker with the therapy agency, and he has the AW-2 person, and then the Wounded Warriors are assigning somebody to him too. Then he’s got an advocate; the VA has assigned an advocate to him as well, and he comes to the meetings.
These are people we can go to. We ran out of medication and I was trying to get a hold of somebody and I couldn’t. I can call any one of these people and they’ll track down whoever needs to be involved.”
- Pam E.
This is an excerpt from Traumatic Brain Injury: A Guide for Caregivers of Service Members and Veterans, Module 4: Navigating Services and Benefits. The guide provides comprehensive information and resources caregivers need to care and advocate for their injured loved one and to care for themselves in the process. The guide was produced in collaboration with The Defense Health Board, The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, and The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine. www.traumaticbrain injuryatoz.org.