Veterans' Health Care Improvements Should Focus On New Generation Of Service Members

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Veterans' Health Care

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"It is time to decide -- do we reform the current military andveterans' disability evaluation and compensation systems or limp along,placing Band-Aids over existing flaws?" former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.)and University of Miami President and former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala write in a Washington Postopinion piece. Dole and Shalala serve as co-chairs of a presidentialcommission charged with identifying ways to improve care and servicesfor veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Theynote that it has been "more than 2 1/2 months since our commissionpresented its six pragmatic recommendations to improve the system ofcare for our injured service members and their families," and while"progress has been made, more work remains. And the clock is ticking."Dole and Shalala say that despite the "strong bipartisan support beinggiven to the proposals," it is "clear that our recommendations arebeing swept up in a decades-long battle to reform the entire disabilitysystem for all service members." They continue, "While we hope that ourrecommendations will help many others, our mission was to make thesystem work better for this new generation of veterans."

Doleand Shalala write, "Yes, our elected officials should continuouslyexamine how to enhance care for all those who have been put in harm'sway," adding, "But right now, they have actionable recommendations thatcan make a real difference for those who have served our country inIraq and Afghanistan." They conclude, "With Veterans Day only a fewweeks away, we can think of no better tribute than to give our newveterans a system that truly meets their needs" (Dole/Shalala, Washington Post, 10/16).
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Reprinted with permission fromkaisernetwork.org.You can view the entire KaiserDaily Health Policy Report, search the archives, andsign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published forkaisernetwork.org,a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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