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DOD, VA Work Hand in Hand for Better Outcomes for Veterans, Officials Tell Senate

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Strategic planning is the bedrock of the joint effort between the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and it sets a condition for collaborative work to improve the outcome for active duty personnel who are separating from the service and for veterans, Gilbert R. Cisneros Jr., undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness told a Senate committee today.

Veterans gather for a Memorial Day ceremony.
In Formation
Veterans stand in formation during a Memorial Day ceremony at Misawa Air Base, Japan, May 25, 2018. Memorial Day ceremonies often incorporate U.S. Air Force personnel, Japan Air Self-Defense Force members and members of veteran organizations.
Photo By: Air Force Airman 1st Class Collette Brooks
VIRIN: 180525-F-HV115-1009M

Cisneros and his VA counterpart, Donald Remy, deputy secretary of veterans affairs, testified today before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. The work between the two departments reflects their shared vision for the future and enduring commitment to service members, veterans, their families and caregivers, Cisneros said.

"I'm also pleased to share that Secretary Remy and I recently signed the VA-DOD Joint Strategic Plan, charting our joint endeavor for the next six years," he told committee members. 

The VA-DOD partnership has never been stronger, Cisneros said. "Our roles and responsibilities position us well to ensure open and frequent dialogue, lead change, resolve conflict, guide joint actions, initiatives, programs and policy. We have already developed a meaningful open-door cooperative relationship, which has yielded results, some of which I've highlighted in my written testimony," he said.

A woman in military uniform serves another woman food. Two women in uniform next to her wait to serve food as well.
Breakfast Time
Vandenberg Air Force Base members serve breakfast during the 2019 Santa Barbara County Veteran Stand Down event Oct. 19, 2019, in Santa Maria, Calif. During the event, airmen from Vandenberg AFB assisted with serving food, carrying items for veterans and providing assistance in the supply warehouse.
Photo By: Air Force Airman 1st Class Hanah Abercrombie
VIRIN: 191019-F-IZ563-1112M

"Military-to-civilian readiness is one area Secretary Remy and I are both committed to. [It] aligns more than 20 transitional programs, activities and actions owned by multiple offices and agencies under an overachieving framework during a critical and officially designed transition period, which extends from 365 days pre- to 365 days post-separation," Cisneros said.

Standardized assessments and exams, integrated programs, mental health touchpoints, and a new online single, authoritative tailored statement of benefits are all components of this important framework that we continue to champion, he told the committee.

Interoperability and shared business practices are critical to increasing access and improving outcomes for service members and veterans, Cisneros said.

World War II veterans and soldiers gather for a D-Day anniversary.
Birthday Celebration
At the 244th birthday celebration of the U.S. Army at Warrior Field June 14, 2019, World War II veterans retired Maj. Gen. Erbon Wise, Johnny Davis and Jack Jones sit next to 1st Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry Regiment soldiers Capt. Robert Doyle and Sgt. 1st Class Jerrod Choate. The soldiers represented the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk,La., at the 75th D-Day anniversary ceremonies in Normandy, France.
Photo By: Patricia Dubiel, Army
VIRIN: 190614-A-ZB476-253

As of September 2021, there are 147 active health care resource sharing agreements and 35 active non-medical agreements nationally, he said, adding that these agreements cover a wide range of support services, operating and integrating programs like the VA-DOD Integrated Disability Evaluation System. 

"Secretary Remy and I are committed to the collaborative efforts needed to realize the strategic vision laid out in the VA-DOD joint strategy," Cisneros said.

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