Overhaul Urged in Care for Soldiers… Kerry Says Dole –Shalala Commission Report Requires Immediate Actionby Pamela Leavey
A new report by a presidential commission that examined the care given to wounded U.S. service members was released on Wednesday. The report “recommended “fundamental changes” aimed at simplifying the military’s convoluted health-care bureaucracy and overhauling the veterans disability system for the first time in more than half a century.”
The panel issued six broad recommendations intended to transform a troubled system for military health care and veterans’ assistance that has left some injured soldiers languishing for years and resulted in inequitable and inconsistent disability benefits.
In the wake of the report, Senator John Kerry announced that he will work tirelessly to immediately bring the recommendations of the President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors to the Senate floor for a vote.
Kerry also strongly criticized Bush, who upon receiving the report this morning said only that findings were “very interesting” while his spokesman said there were no plans to take immediate action on the report.
“Congress needs to act on these recommendations immediately and we cannot tolerate White House foot dragging on yet another bipartisan commission’s findings,” Kerry said. “The White House stonewalled the advice of the 9/11 Commission and the Iraq Study Group, and we’re less safe because of their inaction. That pattern must not be repeated when it comes to helping America’s veterans. The crisis at Walter Reed was a tragic reminder that the government failed to plan for a new generation of veterans, and there is no excuse for waiting to get them the help they need. The important recommendations in this report must be turned into an improved reality for our hard-working military and I intend to work tirelessly with my colleagues to make sure that happens.”
The nine-member Commission, headed by Fmr. Sen. Bob Dole and Fmr. Sec. of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala, was established by Executive Order to “conduct a comprehensive review of the care America is providing our wounded servicemen and women returning from the battlefield.” Members of the commission met with Bush at the White House “to brief him on their findings and to press him for quick action. “We left there feeling the ball’s in their court now,” Dole said.”
The Commission Recommendations Include:
- Implement comprehensive Recovery Plans
- Restructure disability and compensations systems
- Improve care for people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Strengthen support for families
- Transfer patient information across systems
- Support Walter Reed until closure
Other reactions to the report are available here.