On April 1, 2006, the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission’s (MRC) Statewide Head Injury Program (SHIP) was awarded a three-year federal system change grant from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau. The grant focuses on improving access to community services and support for veterans who have sustained a traumatic brain injury and their families as the veterans return home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) has been named the “signature wound” of the War on Terror because of the large number of veterans sustaining TBIs, primarily due to the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
A 30-member consortium has been established under the grant, representing the state and community brain injury systems and veterans’ healthcare and service systems. The consortium includes several veterans’ organizations, an independent
living center, a provider for homeless veterans, and advocacy organizations for veterans as well as family members.
A resource mapping process has been undertaken to document existing resources available to veterans with TBI and their families. Results of this process will be used to evaluate and revise existing service delivery systems (e.g. eliminate duplication, identify gaps, and maximize resources to provide meaningful and appropriate services). Based on results of the systems review an action plan will address enhancements needed to improve systems of care.
Other objectives to be completed by March 31, 2009 are (1) the creation of a Replication Guide that can be used by other regions of the state to organize a regional Veterans with TBI Consortium, (2) a New England-wide symposium to share outcomes of the grant, and (3) a final report with recommendations to the Massachusetts Brain Injury Advisory Board (MBIAB), for amending the State Action Plan.
“This initiative will be documented and serve as a model for the rest of the state and the nation,” said Debra Kamen, director of SHIP. Massachusetts is the only state awarded a federal grant that focuses only on systems of care, including community-based supports for veterans returning from the Iraq, Afghanistan, and other staging areas.”