Compensation, Benefits Handbook Consolidates Warrior Care Information

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3, 2008 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates calls a new handbook that compiles the myriad information seriously wounded, ill or injured servicemembers and their families need in one succinct, easy-to-read publication another step in improving the care and support they deserve.

In his foreword to the Compensation and Benefits Handbook, Gates said its biggest benefit is that it "compiles into one source the relevant information that you and your family previously had to search through numerous sources to find."

The handbook was created to help servicemembers and the family members helping to care for them navigate through the military and veteran disability, evaluation, compensation and benefits programs designed to help them, explained Sharon Gunselman, a department policy and resource analyst.

It walks readers through the processes of recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration back to the military or into civilian life. Each section describes the compensation and benefits available at each stage.

The Dole-Shalala Commission, led by former Sen. Bob Dole and Donna Shalala, health and human services secretary during the Clinton administration, identified the need for a comprehensive information source last year during its investigation of problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Gunselman said.

The departments of Veterans Affairs, Labor, Health and Human Services and Education and the Social Security Administration, as well as other governmental and non-governmental agencies and organizations, contributed to the handbook.

The handbook, mandated by the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, is now available online and is being distributed by the services in hard-copy format. It provides Web sites and toll-free phone numbers, and the electronic version includes hyperlinks. Gunseleman said the book will be updated annually to include new information.

Gates emphasized that the handbook is not intended to be a replacement for what he called "the best source of information" -- the servicemember's chain of command or medical and nonmedical care providers.

He noted that because all affected servicemembers will have different requirements, their support staffs will help design individual plans that ensure they and their families receive the support and benefits they need.

"You and your fellow patriots who volunteered to serve in our armed forces have no equal in the world," Gates concluded. "Our responsibility is to provide you care that is unequalled in the world. We owe this to you. We will deliver this to you."

*Related Sites:*
Defense Department News Release [ ]
Transition Assistance Program  [ ]
Navy Personnel Command  [ ]
Navy Knowledge Online  [ ]
Army Wounded Warrior Program  [ ]
Air Force Portal  [ ]
Compensation, Benefits Handbook Consolidates Warrior Care Information [ ]