Supporting warrior care through interagency, international relationships
Dr. Linda Spoonster Schwartz, assistant secretary for policy and planning for the Department of Veterans Affairs, addressed the audience during a panel discussion on international and interagency relationships at James A. Haley Veteran’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida, Oct. 27, 2016. (MHS photo)
MIlitary Health System providers, U.S. federal agencies and allied international military partners all have a common goal: provide the best care possible for wounded warriors.
“It’s important work that we all have to do in our respective countries,” said James Rodriguez, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for the Office of Warrior Care Policy. “It’s also important for us to do this together as an international coalition.”
Rodriguez was part of the recent Warrior Care in the 21st Century Symposium, a gathering in Tampa, Florida, that brought together attendees from various countries and backgrounds of expertise looking to find ways to support service members and their families through resiliency, recovery and rehabilitation, and reintegration. During the final day of the meeting, the group gathered at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital to discuss cooperation in these efforts among the U.S. military and its allies, as well as the U.S. government. Dr. Linda Spoonster Schwartz, assistant secretary for policy and planning, Department of Veterans Affairs, said interagency care and coordination is something that needs tending in order to assure service members experience the best transition out of active duty.
“When people are leaving the military, it’s kind of a confusing system and that’s why paving the way from the Department of Defense to Veterans Affairs is a real important issue,” said Schwartz, speaking during the symposium. As the needs of those transitioning out change, the responses to their needs should change as well, she said, stressing trust, teamwork, adaptability, accountability and a focus on outcomes.
Panelists representing four countries spoke to attendees about their mission to provide care for service members and veterans and the ways they go about this task. Many of the panelists also spoke of support and collaboration with other organizations and countries, reiterating the importance of interagency and international relationships.
“When you take care of your fellow human being who happens to be a veteran and has protected your way of life, to me, that’s as good as it gets,” said Joe Battle, medical center director of the James A. Haley Veteran’s Hospital and Clinics. “We’re very proud of the fact that we’re able to do that.”
Panelists also answered questions that touched on topics such as employment in the civilian world, the media’s impact on care for and perception of veterans’ needs, and outreach programs for service members as they transition and reintegrate into civilian life.
The third and final day of the symposium featured a tour of the Tampa Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center and a demonstration on telehealth, Next year’s symposium will take place in Canada.
“What we’re looking for is no ‘wrong door,’” said Schwartz. “Our goal is timely, appropriate, effective care and service.”