Wounded vets get e-mail aid

DALLAS -- The Defense Department's Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP), developed to help federal employees with disabilities use computers, has added wounded troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to its portfolio so that they can use e-mail.

CAP Director Dinah Cohen, speaking here at the annual Healthcare and Management Information Systems Society (HIMSS) conference, said the fit between CAP and the mostly young, wounded troops is a natural fit "because these are kids who have grown up in a computer environment."

When the troops are evacuated to a stateside hospital, Cohen said, they often want to communicate with family, friends and military colleagues via e-mail.

About 15,000 military personnel have been wounded in Iraq, Cohen said, and CAP can now offer services at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., thanks to a grass-roots effort by the program to extend its service. She said that CAP plans to also extend its services to the Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

Claudette Tan, a vision analyst at the CAP booth at the conference, showed a variety of assistive technologies used to help injured troops use computers. The program can provide magnification devices for those with eye injuries, which are common because of the improvised explosive devices bombs and mines used in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If needed, CAP can also supply voice-recognition input systems to troops who cannot see a computer screen even with a magnifying device. Tom D'errico, federal sales manager at ScanSoft, said he wants to work with CAP and the Pentagon to provide free copies of the company's Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition system to those who need it.

The program can also provide veterans who have lost a hand or the use of a hand with specially configured keyboards, Tan said.

Younger servicemen and -women would also like to find assistive technologies to help them play computer games, she said. But CAP has yet to find, for example, a voice-recognition technology that will work with such games, Tan said.

In other DOD health-related news from the conference, the Military Health System (MHS) and the services' medical departments held an awards ceremony to recognize top information technology professionals and installations for 2004.

Army Medical Information Systems presented the following awards:

Officer of the Year: Maj. David Broyhill, MHS.

Civilian of the Year: Sergio McKenzie, MHS.

Information Management Team of the Year: Fort Knox, Ky., Information Management/IT Team, MHS.

The Navy's awards went to:

Informational Professional Operational Team of the Year: S6 Communications Department, Navy Expeditionary Medical Facility Portsmouth, Va.

Informational Professional Team of the Year: Knowledge Management Initiative, Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Informational Professional Multifacility Team of the Year: Naval Medical Information Management Center; U.S. Naval Hospital Rota, Spain; U.S. Naval Hospital Naples, Italy; U.S. Naval Hospital Sigonella, Italy.

Air Force Medical Systems gave awards to:

Information Management and Technology Officer of the Year: Capt. Brian Jones, 88th Medical Support Squadron, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, MHS Air Force Medical Systems.

Information Management and Technology Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year: Senior Master Sgt. Steven Alexander, 88th Medical Support Squadron.

Information Management and Technology Noncommissioned Officer of the Year: Technical Sgt. Grace Devora-Montano, 15th Medical Support Squadron, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, MHS Air Force Medical Systems.

Information Management and Technology Airman of the Year: Senior Airman Robert Zupko, Air Force Institute for Operation Health Brooks City-Base, Texas.

Information Management and Technology Civilian of the Year: Tanya Fink, 99th Medical Support Squadron, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

Information Management and Technology Team of the Year: Medical Information Systems Program Office, Gunter Annex, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.

Joint Medical Information Systems awarded:

Enlisted IT Professional of the Year: Senior Master Sgt. Keith Steele, Defense Medical Logistics Standard Support Program Office.

Officer IT Professional of the Year: Maj. Rick Moore, Theater Medical Information Program Office.

Civilian IT Professional of the Year: Wayne Speaks, Tri-Service Infrastructure Management Program Office.

IT Project Team Award: Joint Information Assurance Team, Tri-Service Infrastructure Management Program Office.

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