Late Breaking News
Marine Recovery Needs Better Medical, Non-Medical Integration
WASHINGTON, DC—The military has to improve integrating medical and non-medical support for injured servicemembers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, said Col John Mayer, commander of the USMC Wounded Warrior Regiment. Mayer and his team provide non-medical support to wounded, ill, and injured (WII) Marines, going with them through the recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration processes.
That support comes in many forms, from chaplain services to family readiness officers to athlete reconditioning programs. “We have mandatory programs that cover mind, body, spirit, and family, so that my Marines recover as a whole person and a family,” Mayer explained at the recent Military Health System conference. “That’s very important for the medical community to understand.”
While the medical support to a servicemember takes precedence during the initial return to the US, a full recovery is dependent on more than medicine. “We need to save his life and return him to a point where he can continue to function,” Mayer said. “But at some point in that recovery process, non-med programs are going to weigh equally as big on the Marine’s total recovery.”
This not only needs to be conveyed to the patient, but to medical providers as well. Mayer advocates for a shared environment between medical and non-medical staff throughout a patient’s recovery process. “We do that through scheduling, regulating decisions, and getting care providers together in weekly team meetings to go over what’s best for the patient.”
Better integration is still necessary, and might depend on a culture shift in the medical community, where physicians realize that a return to physical and psychological functioning may not equal a full recovery. “When a Marine comes to me, the last thing I want to do is look at him or his spouse or mother and say, ‘the best thing I can do for you is help you recover medically,’” Mayer said.