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Information overload, online chaos hurt wounded warrior care

WASHINGTON – Internet information chaos is hampering America's wounded and sick servicemembers in their attempts to get proper care, members of a task force set up in the wake of Walter Reed scandal said Wednesday.

Visits to Warrior Transition Units nationwide revealed that troops stationed in the units frequently didn't understand their transition plans – designed to either return them to the fighting force or move them to veteran status – or know where to look for information.

Plenty of information exists on government websites, agreed members of the Recovering Warrior Task Force. But on the whole, it’s fractured, disorganized and daunting to use – particularly for someone who may be suffering from cognitive issues related to brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder.

"You can't just put it out there and say, 'There, I've done my job,' " said Air Force Master Sgt. Christian Mackenzie, a task force member wounded in Iraq.

One task force member suggested the chaotic nature of the Web itself may be a fundamental problem.

"Websites in my experience are becoming less useful, because there are so many of them out there," said David Rehbein, an Iowa veteran who has volunteered for decades with the American Legion.

One member suggested using internet services like Twitter to cut through the chaos and send focused information to people who need it.

If a beer vendor at a ballpark can communicate with customers via Twitter, the Defense Department and Veterans Administration should tailor their communications to wounded warriors similarly, said Dr. Steven Phillips, a retired Army Reserve medical officer.

 

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