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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Editorial: Enough with Congressional Reports, Time for Action is Here

From the Clarksville [TN] Leaf-Chronicle:

It's been established beyond doubt that the outpatient care that many injured troops and veterans are receiving is severely lacking. The attention now needs to be centered on how to make it better. ...

Among the charges is that the health care system is too difficult to navigate. Those who were injured in war complain of long waits for proper treatment — if it ever comes at all — and differing ratings on disabilities once they change from military hospitals to the VA system. On that latter point, during Senate hearings, members heard testimony that the Army is more likely than the other services to rate a disability at less than 30 percent. That's the cutoff for whether service members and their families get lifetime health benefits.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. James Terry Scott, chairman of the Veterans Disability Benefits Commission, testified there are various legitimate factors as to why the Army may rate below 30 percent. But he also said at the Senate hearing there obviously is incentive to keep soldiers at the lower rating "so only separation pay is required and continuing family care is not."

Scott's commission was formed in 2004 to study ways to improve the benefits system. It will be issuing a formal report later in the year. How much longer will our soldiers and veterans have to wait for action? The pressure is now on Congress and the Department of Defense to turn the situation around and ensure that everyone who needs a high degree of care actually receives it.

I couldn't agree more.

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