Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune --
Being injured is often a service member’s worst nightmare. He can feel alone and more vulnerable than ever. Worst of all he may be entitled to services that he may never receive because no one in his command knew they were available.
Fortunately, there is an organization that has helped to end this nightmare for seriously wounded sailors, Coast Guardsmen and their families. Navy Safe Harbor works to assist the service member and their families solve the problems they face stemming from their injuries.
“Navy Safe Harbor is the Navy's lead organization for coordinating the non-medical care of wounded, ill, and injured sailors, Coast Guardsmen, and their families,” according to the program’s mission statement on the Navy Personnel Command’s Web site. “Through pro-active leadership, we provide a lifetime of individually tailored assistance designed to optimize the success of our shipmates' recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration activities.”
This is a statement Jeanette Bradway, recovery care coordinator at the Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, takes to heart. She is one of 18 coordinators located at naval facilities and U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs rehabilitation facilities across the United States.
“The program began back in 2005 with a staff of three,” said Bradway. “Back then there were about 20 (Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom) seriously wounded corpsmen and Seabees in the program.”
Today the program has evolved from merely three staffers to 40 people, but that is only part of the change, she said. The program now also encompasses the Coast Guard and currently assists approximately 555 wounded service members.
Enrollment is open to sailors and guardsmen involved in OIF and OEF shipboard accidents, liberty accidents and severe medical and psychological conditions, such as cancer and post traumatic stress disorder.
For Bradway this is simply not just another job, she feels as a retired Chief Petty Officer with a strong drive to help people the job was tailored for her.
She strives to help people through the program every day, but one case sticks out in particular.
“I came across a sailor who was attached to the hospital, his reimbursement for a plane ticket back in August 2009 had not been followed up on,” she said almost beaming. “He had been trying to receive reimbursement for the ticket for months. After it was brought to my attention I made some calls, and was able to get him his reimbursement in December 2009.”
Fixing administrative errors and getting reimbursements is only part of what the program does. It also includes making sure sailors, guardsmen and their families receive all of their benefits and entitlements from the VA and other transition benefit programs.
However, the program can do no good if people are unaware of it. So, Bradway is looking to expand knowledge of the program through unit briefs. That way she can let the commands know exactly what the Navy Safe Harbor Program has to offer.
With knowledge of the program and increased usage, Bradway believes the program will only continue to expand and hopes the program will include a broader range of services as it continues to grow.
“It’s an awesome program that keeps getting bigger and better,” she said. “If we can make anything easier or cut some red tape for even just one sailor, it is a wonderful and rewarding day.”
For more information about the program, visit the Web site npc.navy.mil and search Navy Safe Harbor, or to contact Bradway call 450-3028.