A commission tapped by President Bush to forge better relations with returning servicemen and women wounded in action reported to the White House some 25 recommended fixes that would be adopted by the HHS, Veterans Affairs and several other federal departments.
The interagency panel, which also included top officials from the departments of Defense, Labor, Housing and Urban Development and Education, focused primarily on the timely receipt of healthcare benefits, the delivery of better information and a streamlining of processes.
Among the recommendations is one that would develop a system of better case management for the wounded soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Another would require that all veterans receive screening for traumatic brain injury.
While many of the 25 recommendations focus on benefits, employment, housing and outreach for veterans, the healthcare provisions likely will get the greatest attention after quality-of-care questions were raised at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Other recommendations would enhance the electronic patient-record system now used by the VA and create a workable VA-DOD interface so that healthcare providers would have access to data on combat injured soldiers. Also, the task force recommended expanding health IT interoperability to providers in the Indian Health Service.
The federal government must be responsive and efficient in delivering our benefits and services to these heroes, VA Secretary Jim Nicholson. -- by Matthew DoBias