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. For the latest news releases and other information, visit VA on the Internet at: http://www.va.gov/opa. To receive e-mail copies of news releases, subscribe to VA's list server at: http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/opalist_listserv.cfm.
SOURCE U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs