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YOUR WELL-BEING: Celebrating Veteran Amputees

By Zachary Hearn

young amputee in wheelchair with american flagThe Amputee Coalition extends our heartfelt appreciation to veterans and their families for their service to our country. We continue to support programs that benefit the veteran amputee community.

Joint Efforts with the Department of Veterans Affairs
In collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Amputee Coalition trains veterans living with limb loss to become certified peer visitors (CPVs). The Amputee Coalition staff provided two “train the trainer” courses to VA this past year; through these efforts, these trainers can train aspiring CPVs and increase our reach within the veteran community. We also provide a wide network of registered support groups. With over 400 registered support groups, those living with limb loss can receive the necessary support to live well with limb loss.
Amputee Coalition currently partners with the VA to publish a new guide about sex and intimacy within the limb loss community. Working with Dr. Kathryn Ellis, CEO of The Institute for Sex, Intimacy and Occupational, Denise Hoffman, R.N., an Amputee Coalition Scientific & Medical Advisory Committee member, and Avalere Health, the Amputee Coalition looks forward to publishing the guide in 2023 to help improve the relationships of our nation’s veterans living with limb loss.

VA Amputation System of Care
The Amputation System of Care (ASoC) incorporates the latest practices in medical rehabilitation management, rehabilitation therapies, and advances in prosthetic technology. Veterans receiving treatment within ASoC are assigned an Amputation Specialty Clinic Team. This interdisciplinary team assesses the clinical needs of the veteran, creates a treatment plan for amputation-related care, and conducts evaluations of devices and an annual follow-up appointment to assess and manage care needs. A veteran amputee’s team usually includes a prescribing clinician, therapist, and prosthetist.

Recognizing that some veterans living with limb loss may experience mobility challenges, a virtual amputation clinic exists to access care from a VA Medical Center. This opportunity provides veteran amputees the ability to connect with a provider from various locations, including at home, a VA clinic, or a community prosthetic partner. The benefits of virtual clinics also include access to veterans with mobility challenges, elimination of transportation challenges, and reduction of work loss and the cost of travel.

VA Disability Benefits
Beyond combat-related injury from serving in the armed forces, limb loss could also be the result of the insidious effects of diabetes mellitus (DM). VA reports that most patients living with limb loss treated by ASoC suffer from DM or peripheral vascular disease. Veteran amputees with DM may experience further complications if they were exposed to Agent Orange and other related herbicides. VA disability compensation are available for these conditions. We recommend that you obtain representation if you would like to receive VA disability compensation to ensure you maximize the benefits earned. This service is provided by veterans’ service organizations (VSOs), attorneys, and claims agents. Each state also has an agency dedicated to advocating for veterans seeking disability benefits.