AMVETS in Action

AMVETS Attends Joint Armed Services and VA Committee Hearing

History was made on Capitol Hill yesterday when both Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki testified together at a joint Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Committee hearing.   The hearing, which had very good congressional attendance, was entitled, ‘Back from the Battlefield: DoD and VA Collaboration to Assist Service Members Returning to Civilian Life’ and was standing room only, in fact, yours truly was one of only seven members of the public who managed to get a seat in the actual hearing room.

Overall, the message put out by both secretaries was positive and there was a definite emphasis on their new working relationship, which they hope will lead to an integrated military and veteran support system.

“This hearing comes at a very important time for our nation and for collaboration between our two departments,” Panetta told legislators.  In speaking about our newest veterans he said,  “They have fought and died to protect this country, and we need to fight to protect them.”

While Secretary Panetta acknowledged the new and improved working relationship between the two largest bureaucracies within the federal government, he also admitted that much more needs to be done.

Secretary Panetta closed his testimony by acknowledging that what our veterans need is a seamless support system, “so they can put their lives back together, pursue their goals, give back to their communities, and strengthen our nation in new ways.”

Secretary Shinseki opened his remarks by listing VA’s five priority areas:

1.  The new and improved version of the T.A.P. Program, the Transition GPS Program, which was announced the President on July 23, 2012;

2.  The development of a single, integrated disability evaluation system to help speed up the disability claims processing system;

3.  The development of electronic health records  to assist in a seamless transition between DoD and VA health care systems.  The Secretary’s target date for completion is currently 2017;

4.  Mental and behavioral health issues continue to be high priority concerns for both the DoD and VA.  Secretary Shinseki indicated that their departments are planning an across-the-services review of PTS and TBI injury identification and treatment.  The review is expected to be completed in 18 months.

5.  The departments are working jointly on the issue of military suicide prevention, including promoting a culture which is not prejudicial against anyone seeking any form of mental health assistance, improving access to both mental and behavioral health care, emphasizing mental fitness, as well as working with internal and external partners to better understand the issue of suicide.

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One thought on “AMVETS Attends Joint Armed Services and VA Committee Hearing

  1.   The devel­op­ment of a sin­gle, inte­grated dis­abil­ity eval­u­a­tion
    sys­tem to help speed up the dis­abil­ity claims pro­cess­ing system;

    Answer: Viet Nam Vet, Johnny Holmes.  I am hopeful this program will speed up the claims process,  but it sound like all talk, & talk. I will give you an example, the VA Department in Washington DC, sent me a letter to followup on a exam I had taken, but there was a con flick with their time, I had a appointment with my Doctor, so I called the VA and had their appointment  moved to a later date,  I confirmed the appointment with someone who answer the phone, got a name also. I went to the VA for that appointment with my wife for backup, we asked the person at the desk to confirmed my appointment, and she said I didn’t have one on the schedule, they looked & looked, didn’t see my appointment there, by that time the supervisor walked in they conferred with her she said if you don’t see the appointment we don’t have one.
     We where pissed, I drove 20 miles for this appointment and they could’nt find the thing, that’s what we Vet’s face 60 % when we come to the VA.

    I want say what I wanted to say, it took sometime for me to chill.
    Johnny Holmes

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