A presidential commission on Wednesday urged broad changes to veterans care that would boost benefits for family members helping the wounded, establish an easy-to-use Web site for medical records and overhaul the way disability pay is awarded.
The nine-member panel, led by former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and Donna Shalala, HHS secretary during the Clinton administration, also recommended stronger partnerships between the Pentagon and the private sector to boost treatment for traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.
A 29-page draft report was presented to President Bush in the Oval Office, just after the Senate addressed some of the issues Wednesday morning by passing sweeping legislation to expand brain screenings, reduce red tape and boost military pay.
The commission formally approved the recommendations later in the day.
Gone will be the days of injured soldiers telling the same information to doctors over and over again, said Shalala, who said the proposals seek to provide more-customized and -personalized care to injured Iraq war veterans.
She called the report a set of recommendations that could be implemented right away. About six of the 35 proposals require legislation, while the rest call for action primarily by the Pentagon and Veterans Affairs Department.
Among the recommendations was an indirect rebuke of the VAa call for Congress to enable all veterans who have been deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq who need post-traumatic stress disorder care to receive it from the VA. -- by the Associated Press