Statement from Senator Bob Dole and Secretary Donna E. Shalala Commission Co-Chairs

Jun 29, 2007, 01:00 ET from President's Commission On Wounded Warriors

    WASHINGTON, June 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following statement
 is being issued by the President's Commission On Care for America's
 Returning Wounded Warriors:
     Next month, this Commission will convene to publicly discuss our
 recommendations. In doing so, we must fulfill the following objectives of
 our charter:
     "*Evaluate and recommend improvements, where needed, to the transition
       from wounded warrior status back to military service or civilian life
      *Evaluate and recommend ways to ensure access to the highest quality
       service for returning wounded warriors
      *Analyze the effectiveness of the process through which health care
       services and benefits are delivered."
     As we have said from the beginning, we are solution driven. We will not
 be issuing a report that points fingers. Our charge has and will be to
 focus on solutions that can be activated in a reasonable time. We will also
 not be issuing a report with a laundry list of recommendations. Our report
 will be action oriented and patient centered with our primary goal being to
 improve and simplify, where needed, the system of care for our service men
 and women so they can transition, as soon and as best as possible, to
 civilian life or active duty.
     Our report is rooted in the work done by the Commission over the past
 three months plus the work of other Task Forces and Commissions that have
 been examining similar issues. This Commission has heard testimony at seven
 public meetings and has conducted 23 site visits to military bases, VA
 hospitals and treatment centers across the country. We have heard from
 experts on providing physical and mental health care, navigating health
 care and disability evaluation and compensation systems, members of
 Congress and their staff, and most importantly, service men and women,
 their families and the health care professionals charged with their care.
 The Commission is also conducting its own nationwide survey of service men
 and women and is currently analyzing the data.
     As a Commission, we believe that honoring our injured service men and
 women means:
     -- Our nation must acknowledge the significant sacrifices of our wounded
        and injured service members
     -- While in most cases service members receive excellent care, the care
        provided should meet the highest standards of quality.
     -- Improving the system of care where needed will benefit all veterans for
        generations to come.
     -- Our goal is that the care provided heal, to the greatest possible
        extent, the physical and mental wounds of our service members to enable
        them to achieve their maximum potential.
     -- It is imperative that we continue to value the significant
        contributions of family members in supporting the health and well-
        being of their loved ones.
     These are the points that ground and guide our work.
     We will receive today from our dedicated Commission members and staff
 an overview of the work and observations from each of our Subcommittees.
 Before they begin, we wanted to take a moment to share our general
 observations on what the Commission has heard and learned thus far:
     -- Creating a seamless system of care that meets the needs of those
        wounded and injured should be a national priority.
     -- The face of our military has changed -- as have their needs.
     -- Some returning service members injured in the line of duty have complex
        and often multiple injuries, placing greater challenges on the DoD and
        VA as well as family members.  These more complex injuries have also
        revealed, in some cases, shortcomings with the existing system in
        providing continuity of care.
     -- Well meaning attempts over the years to reform health care in the
        military and VA have produced many positive results that have also made
        the system more complex and confusing in some areas.  In these cases,
        it is difficult for service members, their families, and caregivers to
        understand how to navigate the system.
     Our challenge is to redesign and simplify a health care system so it is
 evidence based and meets the needs of patients and their families. With
 these thoughts in mind, we look forward to hearing from the Subcommittees
 today and discussing our recommendations in July.
     For more information, please contact:
     Nicholas J. Graham, 703-588-0407 or 571-451-6165 (cell)
     Joann Donnellan, 703-588-0430 or 571-438-3939 (cell)

SOURCE President's Commission On Wounded Warriors