Veterans Data Management Team - They Care What You Say

WASHINGTON, DC, March 19, 1997 (GulfLINK) - "We are at the core of the Gulf War Illnesses investigation effort. Our mission is to call back every veteran…to get back to every concerned person who has called the Incident Reporting Line," says Ms. Marie Danco, Veterans Data Manager and leader of 17 Contact Managers who make up the Veterans’ Data Management Team.

But what do these individuals and the team as a whole do? Who are they? What are their backgrounds? What are they all about?

The Contact Managers are a group of caring people, all veterans, who work for Dr. Bernard Rostker, Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses, to call back every Gulf War veteran, their family members or any interested person who has called the DoD Gulf War Illnesses Incident Reporting Line (1-800-472-6719). The Contact Managers ask callers questions to obtain details on incidents or to clarify and understand callers’ reports of events, unit locations, operational procedures, doctrine, and other aspects of their experiences during the Gulf War. This information is then entered into a database and analyzed by investigative teams for possible correlations with reports of veterans who are ill. Discovering patterns and relationships among reported incidents and reports by veterans who are ill may lead to identifying the causes of Gulf War illnesses.

The team was formed on December 10, 1996, when they were brought together to begin training and preparing for all the important calls that were ahead of them. Three days later, on December 13, 1996, the first call backs began to people who had called the Incident Reporting Line between December 3 and December 12, 1996. Since then, 420 contacts have been made with 500 callers. In addition to contacting recent callers, the team has now succeeded in contacting about 600 of the 1235 people who had called the Incident Reporting Line before December 1996.

The 17 Contact Managers work five days a week in two shifts – 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM for the first shift and 2:00 PM to 11:00 PM for the second. The two-hour overlap between shifts is used for turnover, sharing ideas and experiences, training and education, and generally "comparing notes" on what can be done to improve the process.

The team is made up of people with a variety of backgrounds, but a common thread among them is that they all possess extensive military experience. Included are Vietnam veterans, Army National Guardsmen, Air Force Reservists and Army, Navy and Air Force retirees.

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