Administration Sets Agenda for Veteran Care
By Army Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 21, 2009 President Barack Obama has promised to deliver the care and benefits the nation’s military veterans deserve while transforming the Department of Veterans Affairs into a 21st century organization, according to an administration agenda posted on the White House Web site.
“Keeping faith with those who serve must always be a core American value and a cornerstone of American patriotism,” Obama said during a speech April 2007 in Kansas City, Mo. “Because America’s commitment to its servicemen and women begins at enlistment, and it must never end.”
Obama, who served on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, plans to reverse the 2003 ban on enrolling modest-income veterans into the VA system, allowing all veterans the opportunity for care, according to the agenda on veterans. The administration also plans to continue the fight to end employment discrimination for Guardsmen and Reservists.
Additionally, the administration aims to improve the process of transitioning from active duty to civilian life for military members leaving the service or returning from deployment. To improve the benefit decision system, the administration will look at hiring additional claims workers with an improved accountability and training criteria, according to the agenda.
Also, the administration plans to launch new programs and expand proven programs to prevent homelessness among veterans, as well as to explore the possibility of a national “zero tolerance” policy to ensure no veterans end up on the streets.
As they works to make VA a national leader in health care reform, the agenda says, administration officials will explore ways to improve mental health studies, polytrauma care, prosthetics development, spinal cord injury treatment and women’s health.