Congressional Hearing yesterday as contentious as predicted

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Congressional Hearing yesterday as contentious as predicted

Sounds like it might have been a tough day for Secretaries Panetta and Shinseki yesterday on Capitol Hill...


 Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki warned Congress today that looming budget cuts as well as the surge of troops returning from a decade of wars will further challenge the government’s ability to provide for veterans in a timely manner....

Panetta told lawmakers troop drawdowns as well as the impact of wars over the last decade will, for years to come, place additional strain on an already burdened system charged with caring for veterans.

“We’re going to be adding another hundred thousand per year. And the ability to be able to respond to that in a way that effectively deals with the heath care issues, with the benefits issues, with all of the other challenges, that is not going to be an easy challenge,” he said, adding that the current system is already “overwhelmed.”

For their part, Congress doesn't seem much happier with either of them, atleast insofar as integration of DoD and VA transition is concerned (from Leo Shane, an outstanding reporter for Stars and Stripes):

Lawmakers frustrated at years of limited collaboration between defense and Veterans Affairs officials pressed the secretaries of those departments Wednesday to ensure that servicemembers’ lives aren’t lost to paperwork mistakes and red tape.

“We’ve been talking for decades about this. ... We have to break down the bureaucracy,” said Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif. “People are dying because these systems aren’t integrated.”...

Panetta said he too is concerned with the slow progress, especially in curbing suicides. He said caring for troops after combat is part of the larger cost and responsibility of war, and he assured lawmakers that officials take seriously that “sacred responsibility.”

“We are in the process of building an integrated military and veterans support system,” he said. “Something that should have been done a long time ago.”

Meanwhile, you know how there aren't enough funds at the DoD and the system is broken?  How does one explain this from the Air Force Times (behind wall, so you only get a taste):

House lawmakers want to know why the Defense Department has a $708 million surplus in health funds when the Pentagon consistently has argued it needs to raise beneficiary costs to sustain health care benefits for troops and retirees.

Rep. Joe Wilson, R-N.C., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s personnel panel, and 25 other lawmakers sent a letter July 24 to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta asking him to explain a DoD request to move money from the defense health fund to other programs.

This fight has been going on for 15 years now that I've been tracking it.  Hopefully sooner or later they can actually make a little bit of progress.  Hopefully before it is too late.  I'm not even going to pretend I know the answer because I don't, and there's been a lot of smart folks looking at this.  Is it impossible or something? 

Anyone have an answer?



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Applied for VA medical care via the county veteran service office on Monday 23 July and on 28 July received a letter informing me of my doctor's appointment Monday 20 Aug. at 9:00 am. at the VA medical center. Pretty prompt and efficient service if you ask me.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.