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Recovery care coordinators provide ‘boots on the ground’ support

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) -- During his 30-year Air Force career, Keith Mondloch spent much of his time on the flightline as an aircraft maintainer, but he also devoted many hours as a senior NCO helping young Airmen with personnel, financial and legal issues.

“If I couldn’t help them myself, I made sure I found the right person or office for them to contact,” Mondloch said.

Although he hung up his blues in 2011, the retired chief master sergeant continues to be an advocate for Airmen by serving as a recovery care coordinator for the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho.

Mondloch is one of 42 RCCs who are strategically placed at bases throughout the Air Force to help wounded, ill, and injured service members, their caregivers and their families navigate the recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration process.

Assisting wounded warriors in recovery requires a team effort involving the commander, medical and non-medical community – all operating together to provide the best possible support to wounded warriors and their families.

RCCs provide face-to-face care and assistance for wounded warriors by serving as the focal point for coordinating medical and non-medical care and services. They develop comprehensive recovery plans and have an extensive knowledge of support programs and processes.

“Being an RCC is really an extension of what I did on active duty,” Mondloch said. “I am here to help people. As RCCs, we’re basically considered ‘boots on the ground’ and meet regularly with recovering service members to discuss their concerns.”

While not in all cases, most RCCs work in military treatment facilities so they can work closely and collaborate with the medical team. RCCs brief members on eligibility benefits and compensation, cultivate contacts in the local community with a number of helping agencies, assist with various applications (Traumatic Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance, Social Security Disability Insurance, etc.), research answers on members’ medical evaluation board status, help guide members through the Air Force’s Integrated Disability Evaluation System, along with a variety of other tasks.

Once service members are enrolled in the program, they are each assigned an RCC and one of the 27 non-medical recovery care managers at the Air Force Personnel Center’s Warrior Care Division here.

One of those managers, Cynthia Iniguez, said the main part of her job is to make sure the RCCs have the resources and tools they need to help members at the base level.

“We assist with a variety of personnel and career issues, whether it is help in updating and correcting military records or help with promotion or pay issues,” Iniguez said. “We’re here to help in any way we can.”

Clinical case managers, physical evaluation board liaison officers, commanders, first sergeants and caregivers are also key components of the care management team and all play an integral part in the recovery process.

“Although each of us bring our own expertise, we all work together as a team for the benefit of the service member,” Mondloch said.

Recently, Mondloch helped a service member complete, submit and staff an application for Special Compensation for Assistance with Activities of Daily Living. This allowed the family to receive financial compensation for the wife’s work with her husband after he had been seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. After the accident, she had to take a leave of absence without pay from her job to assist her husband.

The AFW2’s care management team helps families receive compensation they are entitled to, but may not be aware they are eligible for. In fiscal year 2016, the program’s staff helped wounded, ill, and injured Airmen and their families receive about $13.5 million in needed benefits.

“I am an advocate for the member and their interests,” Mondloch said. “It can be extremely chaotic and stressful for service members after an illness or injury. Many times, returning to active duty is not an option for the recovering service member, so I am there to assist with their next life transition and to make it as smooth as possible.”

For more information about AFW2 and how to enroll, visit their website. For more information about Air Force personnel programs, go to myPers. Individuals who do not have a myPers account can request one by following these instructions.

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