The Department of Veterans Affairs has awarded a contract to the Amputee Coalition of America, Knoxville, Tenn, to establish amputee peer-visitation programs at all 21 VA Veterans Integrated Service Networks.

The organization will conduct train-the-trainer seminars and integrate its peer-visitation model at VA hospitals nationwide.

The Coalition’s military peer-visitor program, initially established at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington and Brooke Army Hospital, San Antonio, was introduced last year at the US Naval Medical Center, San Diego.

The peer-visitor program helps individuals and their families who are coping with a injuries and disease in addition to limb loss, such as spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, burns, and sensory impairments.

A survey of civilians following a peer visit yielded the following information:
•    100% reported that peer visitation was helpful with their adjustment to limb loss
•    88% rated the overall quality of peer visits as excellent
•    85% learned where to find additional information about limb loss
•    73% felt better informed about limb loss as a result of the peer visit

The VA medical system consists of 21 Veterans Integrated Service Networks of hospitals and health care centers that pool and align resources to better meet local health care needs and boost access to care.

In another program funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Coalition is developing materials specifically for veterans of both Iraq wars with polytrauma/blast-related injuries and their caregivers.