VA Secretary Praises Dole-Shalala Panel

Jul 25, 2007, 01:00 ET from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

    WASHINGTON, July 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Secretary of Veterans
 Affairs Jim Nicholson today thanked the members of a special presidential
 commission for their work examining the federal government's response to
 the health care needs of returning combat veterans.
     "We at VA are caring for the whole veteran," Nicholson said. "I look
 forward to reviewing the commission's final report as we work to improve
 our efforts to return our wounded warriors to full function, while helping
 all veterans receive the jobs and educational benefits they deserve."
     Nicholson's remarks came after he attended a special briefing today in
 the Oval Office by the President's Commission on Care for America's
 Returning Wounded Warriors, co-chaired by former Sen. Bob Dole and Donna
 Shalala, former secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
     The panel briefed the President, Nicholson and Defense Secretary Robert
 M. Gates on their preliminary findings and recommendations. Their final
 report is due by July 31. President Bush created the special Presidential
 Commission in March to look at ways the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
 and the Department of Defense can improve care for returning wounded
 service members.
     "The men and women who have served this nation in uniform, especially
 our wounded combat veterans, deserve the best care our country can
 provide," Nicholson said. "I am grateful for the contributions of these
 dedicated Americans intent on helping make our veterans' programs better
 and easier to access."
     Nicholson said the commission's recommendations to the President, upon
 his order, will be addressed immediately by the Senior Oversight Committee,
 co- chaired by VA Deputy Secretary Gordon H. Mansfield and Defense Deputy
 Secretary Gordon England, which meets regularly.
     Nicholson pointed out that VA and the military have been strengthening
 their cooperation since the start of the Global War on Terror. VA treats
 increasing numbers of people still on active duty, shares electronic
 patient records with military doctors on the most severely injured
 patients, and stations VA personnel at the major military medical centers
 to ensure a smooth transfer of patients to the VA health care system.
     Earlier in the year, President Bush asked Nicholson to lead the
 Interagency Task Force on Returning Global War on Terror Heroes, which
 reviewed federal benefits and processes for changes that could quickly
 improve veterans' access to services and programs.
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SOURCE U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs