The STAR program—unique to the Central Virginia VA Health Care System (CVHCS), in Richmond, Virginia—is a comprehensive rehabilitation program designed specifically for Special Operations Forces service members to facilitate recovery, maximize function, promote successful community reintegration, return to duty, or transition to civilian employment.

The program places a unique emphasis on transition from military to civilian life, including individualized employment and educational exploration and planning, development of job search documentation, and learning about available community resources. Opportunities exist for patients to complete educational or professional certification courses while participating in the program.

Most service members have been so busy deploying, training and focusing on their military duties that they have not made time to consider what happens after leaving the military. Through our program, they have the time to focus and really think about what their next steps could look like. We help them to connect with individuals in the community who are doing the work they are interested in doing, and this helps them to make informed decisions about their future.

A therapeutic setting

Additionally, STAR patients participate in therapeutic outings that are incorporated into their treatment plan. Patients are also free to pursue leisure interests on evenings and weekends (as COVID protocols allow).

The STAR Program is housed in the Polytrauma Transitional Center on campus and allows patients the opportunity for rehabilitation and recovery away from their op-tempo environments.

Program participants are provided a therapeutic setting with structured daily schedules and flexible priorities according to their individual goals. All patients receive an initial two-week evaluation after which we determine their length of stay and treatment. Most patients complete the program within 60 days. Each patient is involved in treatment planning, which may involve family member participation at the service member’s request. Both individual and group treatment sessions are offered. A full spectrum of rehabilitation services is available, following an interdisciplinary team model, which enhances the efficiency and standardization of treatments. Medical staff are accessible and located within the building.

The core STAR team and services include

  • Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
  • Nurse Case Management, Nursing Care, and Social Work Services
  • Neuropsychology & Mental Health Services
  • Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Recreational Therapy, and Speech-Language Pathology
  • Vocational Rehabilitation, Kinesiotherapy, and Vision/TBI Optometry Services

A list of additional consultative services can be found on the STAR Program’s website: https://www.va.gov/richmond-health-care/programs/servicemember-transitional-advanced-rehabilitation-star-program/.

STAR Program feedback

When patients were asked what they would share with other Special Operators and Veterans who may be considering participation in the STAR program, their responses were overwhelmingly supportive.

“A lot was fit into a short amount of time, and it was all helpful.”

“I am leaps and bounds ahead of where I used to be and am more prepared than most average job seekers and employees.”

“I would have missed out had I not come here.”

“All the therapists are top-notch in their respective disciplines.”

“The staff were always available and put forth maximum effort to help me.”

“You give lives back.”

“This program is impactful in the ways that matter, it is impossible for me not to share this feedback with others about the work being done through the Servicemember Transitional Advanced Rehabilitation (STAR) program.”

More information

For more information or to make a referral to the program, please contact:

Eleanor Woodson, BSN, RN

STAR Admissions Case Manager

Central Virginia VA Health Care System

1201 Broad Rock Blvd, Building 514

Richmond, VA 23249

Eleanor.woodson@va.gov

By Sharon M. Barton

Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor

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Published on Oct. 10, 2022

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3 Comments

  1. Jamie November 2, 2022 at 6:38 pm

    Why isn’t kiniseotherapy listed on the same line as the other therapies ? It is just as important!

  2. Deb October 13, 2022 at 1:30 pm

    I’m glad this available to some but when including items like this in a newsletter, please indicate in title that it’s only for a select population. It’s always a disappointment to click on the link and find out you can’t utilize the opportunity.

  3. Derek Frazier October 12, 2022 at 11:01 pm

    Please just tell Congress to fund the program so we can hire our own trainers and group programs locally. Weve been asking in DC, for 15 years. Pilot programs are good , but we need a wellness package to our benefits.

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