A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) study found that communications problems and other issues were impeding the effectiveness of a program designed to help coordinate life-long care for the most severely wounded Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The program was the No. 1 recommendation of a 2007 presidential commission created in response to news media reports that the wounded were getting lost in the military health care system. The program provides a social worker or nurse to shepherd Veterans through a bureaucratic maze that can involve years of follow-up care, rehabilitation and disability assessments to ensure the best options for care.
Unfortunately, eligible Veterans are not easily identified because the Pentagon and VA have no specific classification for “severely wounded, ill or injured” service members, the GAO Office study says. Instead, the VA relies on referrals from military hospitals and other programs, and the case coordinators figure out who should be enrolled, the report says. The referrals doubled from 25 per month in 2008 to 50 per month last year. “The bottom line is that the VA and the Pentagon need to do a better job of working together to determine clear criteria for this program so that we aren’t leaving veterans to fend for themselves,” says Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. VA officials concurred with the GAO findings and said it was correcting the problems. The Pentagon said a committee has been formed to improve coordination between the Defense Department and VA.
For the complete article, please see: www.militarytimes.com/news/2011/03/gannett-veterans-care-snafus-study-032411/
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