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Saturday, March 31, 2007

President Visits Walter Reed, VFA/American Legion Vet Health Roundtable on PBS News Hour

An informative veterans' health roundtable yesterday on Jim Lehrer's PBS News Hour [ RealAudio | MP3 ]. Following President Bush's first visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center since problems were reported widely at the facility, Steve Robinson, Director of Veterans Affairs at Veterans for America and Peter Gaytan, Director of the Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Division of the American Legion, brought us up-to-date on the ever-evolving story. Robinson was on target when he responded to the president's visit:

It's important that he has stepped up and let the soldiers know that he's going to really look at these issues and go after them. There are a lot of things that still haven't been talked about, especially the mental health care needs of our soldiers. For example, at Ward 54 at Walter Reed no one visits those soldiers. No one goes up there and finds out what kind of needs they have.

Click on 'Article Link' below tags for video of the program...

Here's part one:



The second part of the program:



Robinson mentions his work with Mark Benjamin at Salon.com on a story regarding troops who have been given a P-3 profile, or limitating profile, meaning that the soldier can't carry their weapon or their rucksack due to prior injuries, for example. P-3s should not be returned to the combat zone. And yet, troops have been inappropriately deployed -- and now some of them are being sent back, as a recent DoD IG report stated.The Senate and House Armed Services Committees are now looking into the matter.

Steve made one important point after another. This one especially needs to be shouted out from every rooftop across the country, given in reply to Judy Woodruff's question, "So when the president says he acknowledges there are failures, he apologizes -- look at the overall picture -- commissions have been appointed by the president, by the Department of Defense, at the Veterans Affairs. Is this administration responding as it should be to these problems?"

"Well, from this point forward there is a response [via the investigations and congressional committees] and we're looking to see the results of the commissions. But one question I want to raise right now is: What about all of the people that fell through the cracks that have now been kicked out of the military inappropriately, have lost their VA benefits forever because they weren't screened for mental health or they didn't identify their traumatic brain injury?

If we're going to move forward from this point forward, and draw a line in the sand and move foward, that's great. But let's make sure we take care of those people that have honorably served and didn't get the help that they need. Let's go back in time and correct those problems, too."

Right on.


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