Wednesday, October 17, 2007

When Johnny Comes Marching Home

After the Walter Reed Hospital scandal earlier this year President Bush created a bipartisan commission which determined that the treatment of our wounded veterans needed "fundamental change."

Tuesday President Bush sent legislation to Capitol Hill and began pushing Congress to help update the current system.

Deb Reiechmann reports for the Associated Press:

"Medical advances have enabled battlefield medics and hospitals to provide our wounded warriors with care that would have been unimaginable just a decade ago," Bush said, standing in the Rose Garden with wounded troops, including two that rode in on Segways.

"Yet our system for managing this care has fallen behind. It's an old system. It's an antiquated system. It's an outdated system that needs to be changed."

According to the President his legislation is focused on streamlining both the evaluation and compensation processes. There are many elements to the plan, some of which will be directly implemented by the administration, some of which require congressional approval.

James Gerstenzang, a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times describes some of the fine print in the President's appraoch:

The White House also said that the Veterans Affairs department would establish "recovery coordinator" positions -- patient advocates assigned to oversee the management of individual veterans' care, help them handle paperwork and other requirements of the federal bureaucracy, and ease their transition to civilian life. Creation of such a position was a key recommendation of the commission.

In legislation being sent to Congress, the administration would replace Pentagon disability payments with pensions, beginning with Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. Additional payments would be awarded to cover the losses of potential earnings and quality of life as a result of service-related injuries.

Veterans would be reassessed every three years, and the rating system would be adjusted to reflect "modern concepts of medicine and disability," the White House said, describing the plan.

Bush said the new plan would move away from the current practice of wounded troops often undergoing two examinations -- by the Pentagon and by Veterans Affairs -- and filling out two sets of paperwork.

It will be interesting to see how the U.S. Congress responds.

SOURCE: "Bush Asks Congress to Help Fix VA System" 10/17/07
SOURCE: "Bush Unveils Plan For Wounded Troops" 10/17/07
photo courtesy of The Army's Soldiers Media Center on Flickr under this Creative Commons license

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