« UPS, Marines begin year-round Toys for Tots Literacy Program | Main | Marine Corps Offers Yoga, Massages to Marriages Strained by War »

Shepherd Center and Humana Military Healthcare Services Launch SHARE Initiative

Shepherd Center and Humana Military Healthcare Services have partnered with Home Depot co-founder and philanthropist Bernie Marcus to help wounded U.S. military service members and their families obtain additional care to promote their recovery from combat-related injuries.

http://www.shepherd.org/news/SHAREInitiative.asp

The program, called the SHARE Initiative, is for military men and women who were wounded during their service in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, as well as their families. The program initially will concentrate on cases in the Southeast, then expand to a larger scope.

“The partnership allows Shepherd Center to complement the care already given through the Military Treatment Facilities system and the Veterans Administration by offering our world-renowned medical and rehabilitation care to U.S. service men and women returning from combat with catastrophic injuries, such as traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury,” said Dr. Donald Peck Leslie, medical director of Shepherd Center.

Marcus will act as a benefactor for wounded service members to help pay for necessary medical rehabilitation, post-acute rehabilitation, and community and family support services administered at Shepherd Center that may fall outside of their coverage under TRICARE, the health benefits plan for military service members and their dependents. The program also targets military service members who live in rural areas and have limited access to the specialized services they may require.

Marcus and his wife, Billi, have been longtime supporters of Shepherd Center programs and said they decided to provide funding for the SHARE Initiative to make a difference in the lives of wounded military service members.

“These people are giving their lives for us, so I contacted Shepherd Center to ask one question: ‘How can I help?’” Marcus said.

Many of the cases presented to Shepherd Center will involve traumatic brain injury (TBI), Dr. Leslie said. Army officials estimate that 10 to 20 percent of troops leaving Iraq and Afghanistan have signs of concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury. Blasts from explosions are the most common cause of TBI, often called the “signature wound” of the war.

Symptoms may include problems with memory, attention, concentration and sleeping, as well as headaches, confusion, dizziness, nausea and irritability. These symptoms are also similar in people suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can make diagnosis and treatment more difficult.

The partnership creates a unique program at Shepherd Center with a mission to complement the care provided to members of the military by offering specialized rehabilitation and community reintegration services that insurance does not require, but that Shepherd Center believes is important for people to reach their fullest recovery following a spinal cord or traumatic brain injury.

The vision of the SHARE Initiative is to create an integrated partnership focused on the enhancement of hope and recovery for the wounded warrior. In addition, Shepherd Center and Humana Military Healthcare Services are working collaboratively to raise awareness of available services, obtain early identification and referral of the wounded warriors, and identify family members who need additional support, education and assistance in navigating their way through the recovery process.

Services offered under the SHARE Initiative include neuropsychological evaluation to assess for TBI and PTSD, cognitive therapy, counseling, activity- and community-based rehabilitation, residential services and respite care for family members, and housing while services are being performed. Additional services include assistive technology devices, cognitive prosthetics and home health care equipment, such as bathroom equipment and canes.

“We are proud to be affiliated with this worthwhile initiative to assist our wounded service members in their recovery process,” said Dave Baker, president and CEO of Humana Military Healthcare Services. “The collaboration efforts between Humana Military and Shepherd Center have created a much-needed program, and I commend Mr. Marcus for his leadership and desire to help this deserving population.”

The initiative will also include entry to Shepherd Center’s Marcus Community Bridge Program, which was launched by Shepherd Center in 1999, and funded by an $18 million grant from Marcus. The program provides Shepherd Center case managers who help individuals or their families by assessing their needs and providing educational information regarding resources available in their community. This intervention allows individuals to address psychosocial, career and medical issues that may arise after their injury or illness. It also provides life-skills training and coaching for patients so they can become as independent as possible in their communities.

Shepherd Center, named one of the nation’s top rehabilitation hospitals by U.S. News & World Report, specializes in medical and rehabilitative care for spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain and other neuromuscular diseases and illnesses.

Shepherd Center provides a full continuum of services to meet the complex needs of people with traumatic and non-traumatic brain injuries, as well as those individuals suffering complications from a stroke or tumor. Brain-injured veterans join an estimated 1.4 million cases of TBI annually among civilians in the United States. The main causes of TBI are falls, road accidents, assaults, or being struck by an object. More than 5.3 million people in the United States become disabled by TBI.

More information

For more information about the SHARE Initiative, call Shepherd Center at 404-603-4950.