(Washington, D.C.) – Thousands of returning service members will have access to a streamlined disability claims system at Fort Lewis Army Medical Center because of a pilot program that U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) helped pass into law. Beginning in January, service members will be able to utilize the Disability Evaluation System (DES) pilot program which improves transparency and timeliness and allows wounded service members to receive their disability ratings using a single medical examination. The pilot program was included in the Wounded Warrior legislation Murray helped to author and which was passed into law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008.
“This is an important step toward bringing our disability rating system into the 21st century for wounded service members returning to Fort Lewis,” said Senator Murray. “Our service members not only deserve the benefits they’ve earned, they are also owed clarity and efficiency in delivering those benefits. This pilot program moves us toward ending the repeated exams, confusing requirements, and red tape that have caused our service members and their families so much grief. We should never put our heroes in the position of having to fight another battle for the benefits they’ve earned when they return home.”
The Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that Fort Lewis would be among six military installations that the DES pilot program would be expanded to across the country. Over 5,000 service members have participated in the pilot program since it was first implemented in 2007. The program has received positive results in meeting timeline goals, reducing duplicative tests and requirements, and increasing transparency.
For more detailed information on the DES pilot program visit and how it changes current procedures visit: http://www.army.mil/-news/2009/01/14/15771-pilot-program-helps-streamline-disability-evaluation-process/