Witness Testimony of Honorable John Barrow, Member, Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives, 12th District, Georgia
Chairman Buerkle, Ranking Member Michaud, and members of the Sub-Committee:
Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you about H.R. 3016, my bill to improve the Federal Recovery Coordination Program.
Today’s returning Armed Service Members face a unique combination of challenges as they reintegrate into the community. One important means for helping these folks is the Federal Recovery Coordination Program, which was originally envisioned by the Dole/Shalala Commission to help wounded warriors navigate the bureaucracy of the VA and DOD health systems. A Federal Recovery Coordinator is a nurse or a social worker with graduate level training, who helps guide wounded warriors to the proper treatment and benefits options.
Unfortunately, administrative roadblocks have prevented the Program from achieving its full potential. That’s why I introduced H.R. 3016, which would correct the administrative problems that prevent the Federal Recovery Coordination Program from succeeding.
H.R. 3016 establishes joint administration of this program by placing it under the supervision of both the Secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs. It ensures that severely injured Armed Service members and veterans receive a Federal Recovery Coordinator. It gives Coordinators the authority to act earlier in the recovery process, and it makes certain that each branch of DoD will refer wounded warriors to the Program.
Jim Lorraine, the Executive Director of the Augusta Warrior Project – a fantastic organization that builds collaborative relationships with local, state, and national organizations to support wounded warriors and their families in the Augusta area – explains how this legislation will benefit veterans:
The Federal Recovery Coordinator Program is essential to helping our most severely wounded, ill, and injured, who have given so much for our nation figure out how to navigate these complex bureaucracies and improve their access to existing services. This legislation not only formally establishes the program, but directs its management from the highest levels of the departments of defense and veterans affairs to ensure unimpeded access to care.
I hope this committee will join me in strengthening the Federal Recovery Coordination Program through this legislation. It’s time we fulfill the promises we’ve made to our service members by improving their care throughout the recovery process.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak before this subcommittee, and I yield the balance of my time.