It is with thankfulness that I announce the release to the public of the GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR TASK FORCE
In the wake of the sensationalized stories of Walter Reed Medical Center President Bush signed an
Executive Order setting up a Presidential Commission, the Dole Commission. It is still in session. KWVA
Director Jeff Brodeur has attended some of their hearings.
In the same Executive Order the President established a Task Force to examine what was being done and
could be done for returning veterans of the Global War on Terror, under existing law and existing resources.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Nicholson was named to chair the TF, and it had a 45 day deadline.
On April 13 Secretary Nicholson hosted an all day briefing for veterans’ service organizations leaders. I
was privileged to attend. In those briefings many were able to comment on various VA programs: Medical Care
and all of its aspects (DoD, VA—the world’s largest medical organization—, and civilian), real estate and
housing (the VA is one of the nations largest mortgage companies), education (the VA –GI Bill—is a major
force in public college education), benefits (the VA is one of the largest benefits administration
activities in the nation), burials (the VA administers the world’s largest cemetery system), and
On Monday, April 23, Secretary Nicholson in a telephone conference spoke with many of us about the TF
Report. He briefed the President within two hours after briefing us. I deem it significant that Secretary
Nicholson was quick to give us the word before he gave it to his boss!
Secretary Nicholson noted that there were 25 recommendations of which he considered the following five to
be the most significant in helping wounded warriors:
- VA and Department of Defense will develop a system of co-management and case management for returning
service members to facilitate ease of transfer from DoD care to VA care.
- [I believe this will result in
better care, fewer falling through the cracks in care, and ultimately better hand-off from DoD to VA, and
better healing and rehab. ltd].
- VA will screen all GWOT veterans seen in VA health care facilities for mild to moderate Traumatic Brain
Injury. The enrollment process for VA health care will be improved by modifications made to completing the
VA 1010EZ form.
- Expanding VA access to DoD records to will help coordinate improved transfer of a service member’s
medical care through patient “hand-off.”
- [The VA is world leader. ltd].
- VA and DoD will develop a joint DoD/VA process for disability benefit determinations by establishing a
cooperative Medical and Physical Evaluation Board process within the military service branches and VA. DoD
will now have one responsibility: fit or unfit. If the determination is fit for retention the DoD inserts
back into military service. If the determination is unfit the VA will assume control and make disability
determinations. There will no longer be multiple and duplicative disability rating processes.
- [Note that the
electronic medical records will relieve the veterans burden of trying to find 20 to 40 years of records,
years after events, from all over the word in order to initiate/support a claim. ltd]
Over time these and other modernization measures will assure younger veterans that they will not have to
attempt to hurdle the same walls of barriers that many of us have encountered. At this phase we are glad to
extend a well-done to Secretary Nicholson and the Veterans Administration. We promise to continue working
with the VA to make it better and better.
You may view the Executive Summary of the report at:
The whole report, or individual sections, are available here:
Louis T Dechert
National President, KWVA/US
Chairman of the Board