The conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, also known as Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn, have created unique challenges for rehabilitation teams, including nurse and social work case managers. Active duty service members, National Guard and Reservists have deployed in large numbers and as many as 20% have been exposed to blast injury, which can result in polytrauma and traumatic brain injury, the “signature injury” of the war, as well as psychological trauma, and painful musculoskeletal injuries. In addition, there are also documented emotional injuries associated with the constant stress of war and the frequency of exposure to the graphic scenes of war.
The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs work closely to provide comprehensive care coordination and case management for service members and veterans who have honorably served our country. This article describes the case management collaborative between Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense that ensures service members and veterans receive their entitled healthcare services.
The complex care needs of these returning service members require astute case management in addition to clinical care. This collaboration ensures the best life-long outcomes and will be discussed in detail in this article.