OPM to Agencies: Create Personal Advocates for Civilians Returning from Combat Zones

Smoke billows from Kabul traffic police headquarters in January. Smoke billows from Kabul traffic police headquarters in January. Ahmad Jamshid/AP

All federal agencies should create a single point of contact to assist civilian employees returning home from war zones, according to guidance from the Office of Personnel Management.

The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act called for the establishment of a Post-Combat Case Coordinator at each agency. The coordinator should help civilians who “incur injury, disability or illness while in a war-risk hazard assignment,” according to OPM’s memo.  

The individual should serve as a liaison for returning employees to answer questions on administrative procedures and what benefits are available for them. The official should also assist the employee in retrieving records to prove the injuries and illnesses.

Whenever possible, OPM said, the liaison should be the agency’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs coordinator. Once established, this advocate should assist a qualified employee immediately upon his return with a proper screening and, if necessary, treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and similar psychological ailments.

OPM called for the coordinator to continue to assist employees returning from combat zones until they receive a reasonable job offer from the same agency or inform the liaison that they no longer need assistance.

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