Washington, DC—Democratic Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee Carl Levin, Daniel Akaka, and Evan Bayh held a press conference call today to discuss efforts to address shortfalls in the care of injured troops and veterans. Nearly one year ago, the nation learned of the deplorable treatment of injured troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Democrats have consistently sought to create a better quality of life for returning veterans by working to: improve medical facilities, ease the transition from military health care to VA health care, and provide a much needed pay raise to our troops and the largest-ever increase in funding for our veterans.
“The men and women of our armed forces deserve the best care and support America can provide,” Levin said. “The Wounded Warriors bill, which was approved by Congress and has been signed into law, closes the gaps that has existed between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs and makes sure that our veterans do not face unnecessary hurdles in getting the care they so richly deserve.”
“Last year, Senator Levin and I brought our committees together to improve care for our servicemembers returning from war. We held an unprecedented joint hearing of the Veterans Affairs and Armed Services Committees to address the many problems we discovered during our visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The two committees worked closely together and drafted the “Dignified Treatment of Wounded Warrior Act of 2007,” later incorporated into the 2008 Defense Authorization Act,” said Akaka.
Akaka continued, “I am pleased that through the Wounded Warrior provisions we were able to extend VA medical care for newly discharged combat veterans from two to five years, provide VA and DoD with a road map for improving the transition process for returning servicemembers, and address issues with the treatment and care of servicemembers with TBI or PTSD. The priority of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee this year is to focus on ways to improve the disability system for veterans and to create a modern disability system that is fair, equitable, and efficient, and to make the transition from servicemember to veteran as seamless as possible. We will also push to reverse the President’s proposed Fiscal Year 09 cut for VA, to ensure that VA has the resources it needs to provide the men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with the best quality health care.”
“The enormous strains on our military health care system is just the latest chapter in a continuing narrative of poor planning across the board by this administration during time of war: inadequate armored vehicles, inadequate troop strength, inadequate body armor, inadequate planning for the aftermath of combat, and inadequate preparation on how to care for our injured soldiers when they return home,” Bayh said. “We have a moral obligation to do right by those who have been harmed in defense of our country. Too often it is an obligation we have not fulfilled.”