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Release No: 067-02
February 12, 2002


The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense yesterday held the first meetings of the DoD-VA Executive and Health Benefits Councils.

"Our concern for the well-being of servicemembers extends beyond just their time on active duty," said Under Secretary of Defense David S.C. Chu. "These cooperative efforts with the VA will provide the best possible service through new initiatives and increased efficiency, to the benefit of servicemembers, veterans, and the taxpayer."

Yesterday's meeting is part of a long-term commitment by the two departments to build a more collaborative relationship. They were first in a series of quarterly meetings involving the new DoD-VA Health Executive Council and DoD-VA Benefits Executive Council. The two panels will work together to improve coordination between the departments in such areas as health care services, benefits delivery, information sharing and capital asset coordination.

"Building upon recent initiatives in inter-department cooperation, we will look for more opportunities to improve upon a wide range of services to our veterans and military personnel, while achieving efficiencies for the taxpayer," said VA Deputy Secretary Leo S. Mackay.

The agenda for the first meetings included ways to standardize billing and reimbursements, joint procurement, computer-based patient records and coordination of capital investments.

The meetings of the councils come four days after Mackay signed a landmark agreement with Secretary of the Navy Gordon England in Chicago to enhance coordination between the Great Lakes Naval Training Center and the North Chicago VA Medical Center.

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