Bush Calls for 'Seamless' System for Wounded Warrior Care
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 13, 2007 President Bush today visited the Washington D.C. Veterans Affairs Medical Center and reaffirmed his commitment to improving the care of wounded servicemembers and veterans.
“We've got great health care for our wounded. We just want to make sure that the system is seamless and that the families are treated with the utmost of care during these difficult moments,” said Bush, who was joined by former Kansas Sen. Robert Dole and former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala.
Bush appointed Dole and Shalala to head the President's Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors in March.
“Any time there is any doubt in anybody's mind that our veterans are not getting excellent care, then we in government have a duty to deal with those doubts,” Bush said.
The Dole-Shalala commission reviewed the military and veterans health care systems and submitted recommendations to Bush at the end of July. Bush noted today that after he received the recommendations, he directed the secretaries of the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs to implement the recommendations and improve the care of wounded troops.
Some of the recommendations from the commission require congressional approval, and the administration will work with Congress to ensure that happens when it comes back in September, Bush said. For now, the departments are moving ahead with the recommendations that they can, emphasizing cooperation between the two agencies, he said.
“The commitment of this government is this: Anybody who is sent into harm's way deserves the best possible care,” Bush said. “We're dedicated to this goal. If we find problems, we'll solve the problems.”
Bush praised the “amazing things” going on at the VA medical center here. He said he saw health care records being passed between the Defense Department and VA seamlessly, volunteers helping wounded troops regain balance and confidence with kayaking, and physical therapists treating their patients with compassion and care.
“For those who are providing the care, we thank you,” he said. “For the soldiers who are receiving the care, we owe you the best. And for the families who stand by them, we thank you for your patience.”