Report | May 31, 2013

Assessment of DoD Wounded Warrior Matters – Joint Base Lewis-McChord

DODIG-2013-087

What We Did

We assessed whether the programs for the care, management, and transition of Soldiers in the Warrior Transition Battalion, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington (hereafter the Warrior Transition Battalion [WTB]) were managed effectively and efficiently.  Specifically, we evaluated the missions, policies, and processes in place to assist Warriors in Transition with their return to duty status or transition to civilian life, and the DoD programs for Service members affected with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

What We Found

We identified several initiatives implemented at both the WTB and Madigan Army Medical Center (MAMC) that we believed to be noteworthy practices for supporting the comprehensive care, healing, and transition of Soldiers.

We also identified a number of significant challenges that we recommend the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Assistant Secretary of the Army, Manpower and Reserve Affairs; Commander, Human Resources Command (HRC); Western Regional Medical Command (WRMC); Commander, United States Army Medical Department Center and School; Warrior Transition Command (WTC); MAMC and WTB leadership address, and which if resolved, should increase program effectiveness.

What We Recommend

We recommend that the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness; Assistant Secretary of the Army, Manpower and Reserve Affairs; HRC; WRMC; United States Army Medical Department Center and School; WTC; MAMC and WTB leadership:

  • Develop policy guidance for Reserve Component (RC) Soldiers who volunteer for WTB positions to attend training prior to, or in route to their assignment at the WTB
  • Periodically evaluate the effectiveness of the WTB leadership and cadre training curricula to ensure it is relevant and meets the needs of WTB staff
  • Evaluate current and future manning requirements of WTBs to ensure they are appropriately staffed to meet the mission and have experienced cadre in place to effectively manage and support Soldiers during their healing and transition
  • Conduct an analysis to determine if WTBs have adequate resources and funding to support appropriate manpower levels, ongoing staff training requirements, and support services in order to maintain staffing levels/ ratios to meet the mission
  • Review the Comprehensive Transition Plan policy and guidance for relevant and effective content in supporting Soldier transition needs
  • Complete the migration of the Comprehensive Transition Plan from the Army Knowledge Online to the Army Warrior Care and Transition System
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the WTB leadership and cadre in actively engaging the Soldiers’ CTP and encourage Soldiers’ involvement and adherence to the plan for a successful transition
  • Publish and implement DoD guidance for expanding Soldier internships to include Non-Federal opportunities
  • Update command policies and provide interim measures to allow Soldiers assigned or attached to the WTB to participate in Non-Federal internship opportunities
  • Track each phase of the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) process over time to identify and act upon barriers to timely IDES completion for Soldiers assigned or attached to WTBs
  • Identify obstacles that inhibit prompt Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) completion, and request personnel resources that will eliminate the MEB backlog; acquire sufficient space to support staff requirements for effective MEB processing
  • Educate Soldiers and families on the IDES process; establish a means for Soldiers’ to track or be informed of his or her status in the IDES process
  • Conduct an analysis to determine obstacles to specialty care access and delays encountered and then take appropriate steps to ensure WTB Soldiers’ access to all specialty care meets or exceeds the Army Enhanced Access to Care standards

Management Comments and Our Response

Those offices listed on the recommendations table concurred with comments to our recommendations.  Responses to seven recommendations were responsive and require no further action.  Responses to eight recommendations were responsive, however, requiring additional comments.