tv Capital News Today CSPAN December 24, 2009 11:00pm-2:00am EST
>> i spent a restless night last night trying to figure out how i can show some bipartisanship. i think i was able to accomplish that for a minute today. never before has the senate resolved to make health insurance coverage more accountable and affordable until today. t(this is a victory for the american people. those fortunate enough to have health insurance will be able to keep theirs. those who do not will be able to have health insurance. this is a victory because we have affirmed that the ability to live a healthy life in our great country is a right and not merely a privilege for the select few. this morning's vote brings us one step closer to makingxd ted kennedy's dream our reality.
the dream of americans, also, are part of that dream and that has also become a reality. every step of this processw3 has been an enormous undertaking. i want to thankç chairman's -- baucus -- ç office, dodd and others. i want to thank my leadership team - durbin, schumer, murray. senators murray and harkin are off with their families. çi look forward to working with our friends in the house so we can send a bill to the president as soon as possible. will her from -- we will hear from bachus, dodd, schumer and murray. questions.ill not takeç any- >> it has been nearly two years since we began work on this. we stand here at the finish line.
we are not standing alone. we stand with those who have blazed a trail before us. champions of away from president theodore roosevelt to our good friends who is with us in spirit, ted kennedy. we stand with millions of american families who were forced into bankruptcy over the cost of health care. we stand with 45,000 americans to die because they could not get health insurance. we stand with small business owners cannot afford health insurance for their employees. we stand with american suffering from cancer and diabetes and those who have been discriminated against or denied health coverage because of a pre-existing condition. today we made history. i especially want to thank leader harry reid for the terrific way he has managed to navigate the waters and get as here to final passage.
this is going to be a day that we will look back upon as senators. i am very proud of what we have accomplished. we are happy to see people getting health care. we are happy to see health care costs of being much more under control. this is why we came here. this is why we were hired out for these jobs, to pass something very important and historic like this. >> let me also thank senator harry reid. on this christmas eve, i cannot think of a better gift united states senate can give to our fellow -- fellow citizens than lifting the burden from their soldiers -- shoulders. the fear that they would not be able to provide for a loved one at a time of need. this is an enormous victory for the american public. last year, proved that progress is not easy. but today, we were able to prove that it is not impossible.
because of the leadership of senator harry reid, max baucus, tom harkin, and others, we are something that has defied generations. xdthere has never been a vote passed in my tenure thatç has provided more security for middle-class americans. i am just proud to have been part of this vote. i thank my colleagues for staying with us. i wish to ted kennedy wereçfá e with us today to enjoy this. çmerry christmas to everybody. çóççqçó>> the corridors of the are filled with portraits and statues of political leaders whose reputations in contributions it many times have faded into obscurity. i will tell you the contribution to this nation it made by a senator from searchlight, nevada, will become one of that shining chapters in the senate and our nation.
he achieved what others have failed in trying to achieve,ç and he did it with tenacity and strength and determination that i have never seen in my time is serving in congress. i am honored to have stood beside him with so manyywg othes to see this great day arrived. this is a time of year of long nights and darkness, when history tells us that from the beginning of time, people would gather, with their family and friends, and they will look for signs of hope and light of light and even light a candle. this morning, this vote in the united states senate lit a candle of hope for 50 million americans who went to bed last night without health insurance. for the surgical procedures, for the medication it -- it is a candle of hope for this nation that we are tackling an
issue that every business and every family knows is central to our progress as a nation. we have succeeded with the help and inspiration of a president. with the hope and inspiration and leadership of the president who made this the highest item on his agenda and told us that he would work hard, night and day, to help us reach this moment. we owe our appreciation to him and the vice president for presiding over this historic session this morning. >> thank you. happy holiday, merry christmas, happy new year to everybody. the bill can be described in a single sentence. at the same time, it cuts costs, waste and fraud endemic to our system and at the same time, it covers 31 million people. who would have thought we could
do both in the same bill? çwho would have thought we coud do it without a single republican vote and getting every one of the 60 democrat votes? who would have thought that we could finally get a handle on that thing that is driving our budget deficit to great heights, which is health care costs, and at the same time do so much good by covering so many people? this is an amazing accomplishment. it would be under ordinary times. it is more amazing under extraordinary times. the three horsemen of this bill stand behind me -- leader harry reid did an incredible job. i just watched with awe, with how he could weave the legislative fabric. max baucus who never gave up. he started out early and persisted and persisted in persisted. no matter what was thrown in the way. and chris dodd, who kept the flame of ted kennedy in his spirit of doing the right thing
and doing a good thing and reaching to the highest values of this country alive. this is a happy day. mitch mcconnell said on the floor that we are going to go home and your our constituents rail against this bill. i do not believe that. i believe the negativity that leader mcconnell and others have continually displayed on the floor has peaked. now, when people learn what is actually in the bill and all the good it does, it will become more popular, because it is goodokçó for americqcould for çv:thew3 people, and a true -,d symbol ofç what we can do if we l pull together. çq>> thank you, everybody. w3çñrxdqç 7roxdç
>> after is the senate passed its health care bill, the president spoke briefly with reporters at the white house. >> hello, guys. good morning, everybody. in a historic vote that took place this morning, members of the senate joined their colleagues in the house of representatives to pass a landmark health insurance reform package legislation that brings us toward the end of a t(çónearlyç century-long strugo reform america's health care system. ever since teddy roosevelt first called for reform in 1912,
seven presidents, democrats and republicans alike, have taken up the cause of reform. time and time again, such efforts have been blocked by special interest lobbyists who perpetuated the status quo that works better for the insurance industry than it does for the people. with passage of bills in the house and senate, we are now poised to deliver on a promise of real, meaningful health insurance reform that will bring additional security and stability to the american people. the reform bill that passed the senate this morning, like the house bill, includes the toughest measures ever"t- to hold the insurance industry accountable. companies will no longer be able to deny you coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions. there will no longer be able to drop your coverage when you get sick. no longer will you have to payw3 a limited amounts of your own pocket for treatments you need.
you will be able to appeal unfair decisions by insurance companies to an independent party. çif this legislation, becomes law, workers will not have to worry about losing coverage if they lose or change jobs. families will save on premiums. businesses that would see their costs rise if we do not act, will save money now and they will save money in future. this bill will strengthen medicare and extend the life of the program. it will make coverage affordable for over 30 million americans who do not have it. q30 million americans. ççbecause it is paid for and curbsç the waste and inefficiey in our health care system,çok s bill will help reduce our deficit by as much asç $1.30 trillion in the coming decades,( making it the largest deficit reduction plan in over a decade. as i have said before, theseç are not small reforms. these are big reforms. if passed, this will be the most important piece of social
legislation since the social security act passed in the 1930's. çóthe most important reform our health care system since medicare and the 1960's. what makes it so important is not just the cost savings are deficit reductions. çóçit is the impact the reform will have on americans who no longer have to go without a checkupq or prescriptions they need because they cannot afford them. families are no longer have to worry that a single illness will send them into financial ruin. and businesses that will no longer face exorbitant insurance rates. t is the difference reform wylì+ make and allies of thei] americn people. ç-- in the lives of the americn people. i want to commend senator harry reid, the extraordinary work that he did. speaker nancy pelosi for for extraordinary leadership and dedication. having passed reform bills in both the house and senate, we now have to take up the last
and most important step and reach an agreement on a final reform bill that i can sign into law. i look forward to working with members of congress of both chambers over the coming weeks to do exactly that. w3w3with today's vote, we areçw critical close to making health insurance reform or reality in this country. our challenge is to finish the job. i]we cannot doomç another generation of americansç to soaring costs, eroding coverage and exploding deficits. çwe need to do what we were set here to do and improve the lives of the people we serve. çfor thm@vake of our citizens, let's make 2010 a year we finally reform health care in the united states of america. çmerry christmas and happyççw year. çççççç>> do you have a leh for the troops? ñrçççç>> -- a holiday wish e troops? ç>> i do and i am on my way to call a few of them to wishç thm a merry christmas and to thank them for their extraordinary service.
-- in iraq and afghanistan. ççç>> following the vote, democratic senator ben nelson who supported the bill spoke about its abortion provisions. ç bill spoke about its abortion provisions. health care bill, one of my primary concerns has been ensuring that the long-standing hyde amendment would be incorporated into the bill. i have strongly-held views on the subject and i fought hard to prevent the tax dollars from being used to subsidize abortions. i was pleased that the house included strong abortion provisions in its health care bill in the form of the stupak amendment. i modified this language to meet the senate bill and offered the nelson-hatch-casey amendment to prohibit federal funding of
abortion. and i was disappointed to see that that amendment was tabled by a vote of 54-45. i knew then that the underlying bill did not adequately prohibit federal funding of abortion and consequently i would not be able to support it. so i began to look for other language to accomplish the goal that no public funds should cover abortion in the new health care bill. and after long days of negotiations, i believe we came up with a true compromise that stays faithful to my principles. and i want to be clear: i stuck to my guns and stood for my pro-life principles. i did not look for weaker language. i looked for clearer language, and my goal stayed the same to:o maintain the standard that we've had in federal law since the mid-1970's. while i respect the senator from kansas' opinion, i have to respectfully disagree.
the senate language fully uphold the hyde principle -- upholds the hyde principle like the lange wimg in the hous -- langue house bill. the wording may be different but the principle is in fact upheld. urn the health care bill, if you cannot -- under the health care bill, if you cannot afford insurance, you will receive federal assistance to help pay for a plan. the stupak language prohibits that federal assistance from paying for insurance that covers abortions. if you'd like a plan that covers abortion, you must purchase a rider or an endorsement to your plan with your own funds. you could do that as well by writing just one check to the insurer. for that you'd get a separate piece of paper addressing abortion. the senate language with my added compromise also prohibits federal funds for paying -- from paying for private insurance that covers abortion. the only difference is that in
the senate bill, if you're receiving federal assistance to buy insurance and if that plan has any abortion coverage, the insurance company must bill you separately and you must pay separately from your own personal funds, perhaps a credit card transaction, separate -- your separate personal check or automatic withdrawal from your bank account. now, let me say that again. you have to write two checks: one for the basic policy and one for the additional coverage for abortion. the latter has to be entirely from personal funds. so under both the stupak and the new senate language, no federal funds can be used to pay for a plan that covers abortion. and if you choose to purchase abortion coverage, if it's available, you must pay out of your own pocket. furthermore, the senate language allows states the right to ban
public and private insurance from supplying abortion covera coverage. already, 12 states ban abortion coverage on public plans and five states ban abortion on both private and public plans. so, in short, the senate bill ensures once again no federal funds would be used for aborti abortion. i'd like to note that the senate bill goes beyond stupak in two life-promoting ways. one, it adds funding to support pregnant and parenting teens and women. and, two, it expands the adoption tax credit to help adoptive parents with the considerable expense of adoption by making that credit a refundable tax credit. this means that many parents -- potential parents who lack the regular resources to adopt will now be in a better position to do so.
the senate bill also contains the same strong conscience protections included in the stupak language. we tried winning approval for the nelson-hatch-casey abortion language in the senate but we were unsuccessful. however, we did not give up. i know people have very strong feelings about the issue of abortion and i respect those who disagree with my position. but i could not support health reform that did not maintain the 30-year standard barring public funding of abortion. i did not compromise my pro-life principles. we just found different wording, different language that both will work. i believe people see that no public funding will go to abortion. now, in addition, my provision empowers the states to pass laws that -- banning the sale of insurance that covers abortion. we make it clear that this new law, this new bill does not in
any way preempt the rights the states to be able to continue to make that ban in the -- and the decisions that they might make legislatively and we wanted to make certain that there is no doubt but what this bill has no preemption of the states' rights. but despite what some partisans and talk-show hosts say in their scare tactics, the conscience clause remains. also, despite what those same people and even some of my colleagues have said, the bottom line is that the senate health care bill will want allow taxpayer money -- will not allow for taxpayer money to pay for abortion, ç>> for details about what is next for health care legislation, we spoke with a reporter. the u.s. senate came in on this
christmas eve at 6:45 a.m. eastern, shortly after 7:00 a.m., they voted on h. r. 3590. it passed the senate with a vote of 60-49. w3i]--q 60-ok39. kathleenu! hunter joins us. u!t(she writes for "congressionl quarterly." çwhat is the next step? çç>> now that the bill has pad out of the senate. the next step is for the house and senate to meet in conference and resolve versions. çó conference and resolve differences between the two versions. >> what will be some of the most contentious issues between the house and senate negotiators? >> it is going to be a lot of the same issues that were contentious during the debate -- the public option. potentially, abortion language. and also a lot of questions
about how the bill is financed. each have different mechanisms for paying for the bill. >> as is typical after passage of major legislation, a number of members and senators releasing a statement. senator feingold released a statement saying that he is deeply disappointed that the bill does not include a public option to keep costs down. can a bill that does not include a public option pass the house? >> the house bill that included does include a public option. the senate bill did not. there are a number of senators who had pushed hard for the public option. senate leader harry reid, the bill he originally brought to the floor, did include a public option with the option for the states to opt out. the republicans led the fight against that and there were enough moderate democrats that oppose it, most notably independent joe lieberman from
connecticut, who is very much against that. the public option was dropped from the bill. does not seem as though the contours' of that debate will change between that -- between now and january. it seems unlikely that there will be support in january it for something there is not support now. >> already at their indications that congressman bart stupak is not happy with ours -- happy with regards to language about abortion and the bill. >> that was the main sticking point for senator ben nelson from nebraska. there were marathon sessions for two days last week to work out compromise language. i spoke with senator nelson, and he is adamant that that language does not change in conference. the language she worked out would not change. i know that congressman's department has been talking on his side about pressing --
congresssman stupak has been talking about moving in the house direction. they could lose the support of liberals who signed off [captioning performed by çnathónal cappjájjr'stitute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] v:t(ç>>ç coming up next onúc$r interview with gary cheek about the woundedçç warrior program kowhich assists the disabled veterans. çlater,w3 the ceo of the sesame street workshop. qçxdçc-span, christmas day. a look aheadxd to 2010 politics, including eric cantor and nbc's
david gregory. the legacy of apollo 11. the discussion of the role of muslims around the world. and a former u.s. intelligence officerç on the strategy in afghanistan. remembering the lives of william f. buckley and senator ted kennedy. this week donna karan"newsmakerçó-- this week on "newsmakers," ççour guest is e director of the national institutes of health. çwe spoke with gary cheek about the army'sçç program for wound veterans. this is about an hour. çç gary cheek.
walton to the program. -- welcome to the program did tell us about the army would warriors program. guest: we have soldiers from three basic areas, about 40% isolated from theater, 20% are soldiers who have had injuries in mobilization or demobilization, mostly reserve components soldiers, and the other 40% are soldiers, mostly active duty soldiers, who have become wounded or injured, things that just happened in every life or part of the training, etc. for the nine dozen soldiers, we have 29 units across the united -- 9000 soldiers, we have 29 units across the united states. the other part of the program, which looks after the most severely injured soldiers that are part of that, about 1000 of
them are on active duty, and about 4700 are retired and have gone back to the community. we have a program that cares for them following active duty and for the most seriously injured looks after the active duty of the army as well. host: why was it necessary to create this wounded warrior program for medical treatment beyond what they receive at places like walter reed or after they separated from the military at a veterans affairs -- veterans facility? guest: one of the key reasons is we tend to keep about 50% of the soldiers on active duty when they go through the program. for the army, it is imperative that we try to rehabilitate them and bring them back to duty. for many of the soldiers, particularly the non- commissioned officers, there is a wealth of experience that we really should not just simply release them to the department of veterans affairs for the treatment. there's a lot to gain for us
there. our army warrior ethos is that we never leave a fallen comrade. we wanted to all we can for the soldiers and their families, and they are professional soldiers who volunteered to serve the country. this is a career that they have chosen. they have made a commitment and we have made a commitment to help them. when the conditions are very, very complex, and are going to take a significant amount of time for them to rehabilitate, we bring them to the specialized units so that they can focus on their care, on the rehabilitation, and returned to duty, hopefully. host: in a recent article about the program, they talked with the program director, and they said that soldiers with a combined disability rating of 50% will be eligible for the program as long as the injuries are combat-related. what does 50% mean? guest: that is taken from the rating tables of the department
of defense and the department of veterans affairs when they are assessing the seriousness of a wound, kill us, or injury. probably -- wound, illness, or injury could probably in better terms, the kinds of injuries you will see -- i will give you some examples. posttraumatic stress disorder is a category where we put a soldier in the most serious army wounded warrior program, burns and education, brain injury. -- burns an amputation, brain injury. that is why we have the army wounded warrior program, to continue to advocate for the soldier, help them navigate through the many benefits and opportunities they have and assist them well into the future, for as long as it takes. host: is this just for soldiers that have been injured during the iraq and afghanistan conflict, either directly or indirectly? or is it something that they've
suffered before these conflicts started up, that they could come in and get treatment? guest: the army would warrior program was for soldiers -- army wounded warrior program was for soldiers of this generation on active duty since 2001, the ones most seriously injured. the wounded warrior program is really an advocacy program and assistance program to connect a soldier with other non clinical services or medical care. for soldiers on active duty, they could also be enrolled in this program, but they will have all whole other series of care providers, case managers, and those who provide non-clinical services. it is a pretty complicated program that brings several pieces together. host: for the better part of the next hour, we will talk to the brigadier-general about the army's wounded warrior program, and if you want to get involved in the discussion --
we have a special line for veterans, wounded veterans and their family members. our first call comes from oklahoma, randy on the line for republicans. go ahead. caller: i believe that if our government is going to send our citizens to fight wars, then they should be obligated to give the soldiers or the veterans and the warriors the best of care above all. and that includes the so-called universal health care that the of the coming up here -- that they have got coming up here. the veterans deserve all the attention of the government
should be obligated to serve them after they've served our country in the manner that it did. -- that they did. guest: i agree completely with him. obviously, if we are going to have a professional army, all-volunteer army and military, if we cannot guarantee the care and take care of these soldiers, both from the point of injury all the way into the future, and help them with a productive, wholesome, and rewarding future, that young americans are not going to volunteer to serve the country. soldiers on the battlefield, if they're not assured of their medical care, are not going to fight with the same intensity and tenacity that they do today. we have a moral obligation, and frankly, soldiers, for those who dedicate their lives to it -- it is something we feel we have to do. host: our next call this from teresa, a va nurse.
caller: i'm a nurse at the va, taking care a lot of the soldiers coming back to some of them, when they first come back, the haft family and support, but because of their mental health and posttraumatic stress disorder, they start to lose their families and their jobs, and they come to the va, and there is no help for them in terms of housing and support. they have to wait and wait, and they cannot wait. they give up hope. i was wondering if the congress could create an emergency fund so at least warriors could be put on disability quickly until the funding comes through each year. host: sir? guest: well, that is a tough
problem, and one of the key things that she is bringing out is that in our case, our 9000 soldiers, every one of them is an individual, with unique medical issues at a minimum. they bring with them a whole host of other potential challenges, be they family, personal, private, or otherwise. but they also bring in goals and dreams and aspirations of other things that they have always wanted to do. our program, as we have learned in eight years of war, and through that period, we of constantly improved this program. we have got what i would call very dedicated cadre and staff, excellent facilities, but we have learned that is not sufficient. it is not enough just to provide those services and provide nice facilities. what we have worked on and what we are going to is an inspirational model to convince our soldiers to overcome their disabilities, live with the things that they have to come
out of focus on whether their abilities -- focus on what are their abilities, and focus on a viable, productive, and rewarding future. in this particular case, she described a soldier who starts to lose the support structure, and has a difficult time transitioning into civilian life. we have to reach back and assist them. we are strong and great partners with the department of veterans affairs. they have been an enormous help to us. they have an officer that works with us. we have a the representative in every one of our war years transitions unit. we partnered very strongly with them and we want to look after every soldier, whether they are on active duty or as a veteran. the role of the family, as she mentioned, is just so critical, and the support, love that they provide, we cannot repay. we cannot replace. and certainly, the nation should
do all it can to provide more for the families. host: we want to remind our viewers and listeners that we've shifted gears in our discussion this morning. a lot of you have called in about the health care vote, and while that is an important issue, we have shifted gears and are talking about the army's wounded warrior program if you want to get involved in that conversation, please give us a call. of course, our special line for wounded veterans and their family members -- next up is cliffside, north carolina, on our line for democrats. good morning, daniel. caller: yes, it seems like the
administration of the last eight years did an excellent job of paying lip service to giving help to returning veterans, and to me, there is nothing more important than that. i'm just curious -- mccain was against some sort of benefits that veterans were getting because he was afraid we were going to lose volunteers. can you tell us what that was that he was so dead set against when the presidential campaign was running last year? host: are you familiar with that? guest: i am not familiar with anything that senator mccain had been opposed to or against. but i guess what i would say is, for the army, we work very closely, obviously, with the administration, the office of the secretary of defense, and with congress. what i have found is across all of those, both administrations
and with the congress, have been enormously generatio -- enormously generous, very open, very, very helpful to us. and i believe also that they worked very cooperatively with the department of veterans affairs. putting the politics of this aside, i think for both congress, the administration, the officials that serve in the office of the secretary of defense, and others, we have enormous cooperation, and army has been very well taken care of. host: for the soldier that has the 50 percent disability rating, does he have to make the direct application to the program, or is the army tracking them from the time he is injured and taken off the field and identified as a person that would be moved into this wounded warrior program? guest: it varies, mainly because sometimes it is very evident from the injury but the disability rating is very
likely -- in the case, say, of an entity or a burn. in other cases, it is not as a parent. as soon as we recognize that the soldier is going to be a candidate for the program, we will enroll them in that. but regardless of whether they are on active duty, they are assigned to the warrior transition, those that are seriously injured, and they will receive great care, case management, at the dedicated management, at the dedicated leadership caller: good morning. sir, i honor your service to our country and the service of all of your other fellow warriors. i am anç anti-war veteran. what lessons have we learned -- [inaudible] çwe did not receive.
and what are weç doing to address the deficits that we had for our vietnam war veterans that were so mistreated? secondly, i would like to know when we are going to get a surgeon general. why do they not step up to the plate? let's make you the surgeon general. let's get on with it. understanding the first question. i just got the lessons in care. çi will take a guess as to whai think. you may have guessed, what lessons we have learned in warrior care. with the problems at walter reed. what we learned there is that the army, and if you remember forrest gump in the movie and he was role-playing a patient in
the army rehabilitation center. the 1970's, we had one of those at valley forge, pennsylvania, were general frank reelected after being wounded in vietnam and decided to have this leg amputated and have another year of recovery there, where he ultimately, based on how inspired he was by the other soldiers he was with, decided to return to active duty. by the 1970's, the disability was really gone from the army. we have a program called medical pulled and pulled over, that work adequately for a peacetime army -- medical hold and holdover, that work to adequately for a peacetime army. but the different things that we had done became in addition to take care of the number of soldiers, both casualty -- became not sufficient to take care of the number of soldiers,
but casualties and those in medical care. we created these warrior transition units and we are in our third year of being operational. what we've done is put dedicated and trained leadership, traditional leadership that soldiers are familiar with, and we provide case management to train those that can help schedule points, keep soldiers on track, as well as the physicians or assistance who can help orchestrate multiple conditions and helped negotiate for -- and i will say to collaborate with other physicians. we have said all those things up. this is a great start for the army. what we've learned now is that it is not enough. we want to get to where we get our soldiers focused on their future, and through a pretty deliver it co -- pretty deliberate goal set, medical
care, real politician, personal life, family -- rehabilitation, personal life, family, the ultimate goal is that we want a soldier who was fully prepared to step into civilian life and go back to the army. most importantly, it is confident that they can do that. with any change in your life, there is anxiety that goes with that. we are not necessarily going to eliminate all that, but we want to increase the level of confidence that we have a good handoff that a soldier steps from one part of life to another. the next year is going to be an exciting one as we step into the comprehensive transition plan, which will automate these practices, and allow us to identify and resolve issues for the soldiers as we get them ready for the next step in their life.
we are changing from just providing the services to one where we really want to inspire our soldiers to be excited about their future. so many of them had so much to give. host: this next question was e-mailed to us, along those lines. guest: what a great question. what we have found, obviously, for the soldier was injured -- soldier who was injured, we certainly don't want them being idle and doing nothing with their time, because this can lead to large despondency, depression, other things. we want soldiers to get engaged in the work program or education program, and sometimes both. that is what is so critical about selecting a track for the soldier, one week to an initial
assessment. -- when we do an initial assessment we might have an intere -- might have an infantryman that is not medically qualified to return. the soldier could be a legal clerk could we want a soldier to go through some counseling with a career counselor, select a new specialty, and then we will set up an education plan to help them work on that while they are recovering. we offer opportunities to go to college, vocational training. a whole host of things that soldiers can do but we set them up in some cases with smaller shops, or using va benefits to go to -- to set them up in some cases with scholarships, or using va benefits to go to college. a friend of mine, while he was recovering, got a master's degree from georgetown, and he is going to remain on active duty, recently selected for promotion to colonel.
he is currently on his war college scholarship as well. we really want our soldiers to be actively working to go to school while they're in the program. host: we're talking about the army's wounded warriors program with brigadier-general gary cheek. it is the commander of the warrior transition to man. -- he is the commander of the warrior transition commanded thomas on our line for independencts. caller: good morning, general, and tv announcers. i have an interesting question, regarding what a person leaves the military, first-termer, third-termer, or the retiree -- why can't we use the central part of the united states for a west coast, east coast base
program, because the skills we have in the military, any branch could accomplish the maintenance, food service, and hospitalization, and you can have your wounded warrior at that base, which has been closed. i was very saddened when i was up in the north central part of the united states where the air force base was come and they are selling everything off to the civilians. host: thanks for your call, thomas. guest: it is interesting. i guess what i would say is that these 9000 soldiers, each one as an individual8 -- every one of them has their own goals, dreams, and desires, and the last thing they want is to be forced into doing something, or be pushed into a certain direction what we really want to do is offer them a lot of opportunities. this is probably what america
-- where america can do more for our wounded and injured service members as they returned to civilian life. the support of america for our armed forces has never wavered. in fact, it continues to be a remarkable -- it continues to be remarkable what they offer every day for soldiers in terms of gifts, welcoming, etc. it is far warming for all of us. -- heartwarming for all of us. would warriors get invitations to a sporting events and gangs like that. -- and things things like that. those are nice and they make them feel appreciated, but they are transient things. what we need to do is embrace these service members and offer them a career. bring them back into the community. get them involved in sporting events and athletic activities.
for the golfers, who have not played golf until you've played with a double amputee. you have not been a cyclist until you of been told by a soldier with a missing arm that " i will play you forward as we move through a course." or kayaking. get them into the community, offutt them a clear, and you'll be surprised. -- offer them a career, and you'll be surprised. host: mike, you are of veteran? caller: yes, sir. good morning, general, and good morning, sir. i was in desert storm, and operation iraqi freedom in 2003. lately, when i come back from
iraq, i had a lot of injuries. i want to also said that the treatment program i'm involved in an alabama, it is of the program, and they have been very good -- it is a va program and they have been very good. the only problem i have is the long way. other than that, excellent job. thank you, sir, for your time. guest: that is actually good to hear. with our 9000 soldiers that we have on active duty, we do have a lot of issues. frankly, sometimes, you cannot get it right. -- you do not get it right. when we do not get it right, we want to make the corrections to take care of that soldier. the conditions and issues change. what is right yesterday may not be right the next day. for michael, i think it shows
how far we have come in our relationship with the department of veterans affairs. it is a very positive one. is one where when we had a veteran with a problem, we contact va and work with them. or if they have an active duty soldiers, they contact us. we work very collaborative leap we have a number of va officers working with the army, and we of army officers working with the va, and liaisons' in different places. it is critical that we work together. it is good that he is doing well with his treatment and his recovery, but i think, if i could, i could probably offered those on the line, if we have a wounded soldier and family with an issue, we of got a hot line, 1-800-984-8523. they will when you walk with the
right person who will care for you. -- live view up with the right person who will care for you. host: later in the evening, c- span will air the senate armed services committee hearing, talking about the wounded warrior program, and was chaired by senator ben nelson, democrat of nebraska, and features several wounded warriors and their spouses. if you want to find out more about the program, you can tune in this evening at 11:00 hour for the reair of the senate armed services committee hearing. back to the phones. rhode island, on the line for republicans. caller: to the general, thank you very much for your service. thank everyone who is in uniform or past uniforms. really appreciate it. i'm a vietnam veteran of three years. it's just ironic that the news conference that the president just had, someone in the
audience yelled out, "what about the troops?" he had to be reminded. as far as i'm concerned, that sucks. thank you. guest: one of the things i would say -- let me express my gratitude to the vietnam veterans. the treatment they receive, which is much different from what we have today, is attributable to them. they stepped up and told us that we will not allow this to happen again to this generation of warriors. we are very, very appreciative of that bond we have with the warriors of that generation. i know they know that they have passed the guide to this generation, and the army has not filled this generation and will certainly not fill them. --not failed this generation and
will certainly not fail them. host: is this unique to the army? guest: no, they all have a version of the program. we collaborate quite often and share ideas. but all of them are somewhat different all the services of a different culture and different circumstances. all of them approached this in a little bit differently. we are really, really good about sharing ideas. host: host: our next call comes from california. on our line for democrats. caller: good morning, general. i want to commend you and bringing this issue to the forefront and to the american people. -- the advancement of the american -- the military and
medical personnel. we are seeing a lot more military being injured versus killed, which is a good thing. i do not see a lot of hearings on the military spending that will balance out more towards these types of programs to help with that. i would like to see your response on that. guest: as i pointed out earlier, the congress has been very generous to the army. they listen to was a very closely in terms of what our requirements are. and particular, when you look at the budget requirements for health, it is really funded completely separately to the office of the secretary of defense. it is centralized. -- the number of casualties we have and the number of soldiers we need to take care of. we do program and budget for them and, to make sure that we can cover those costs. we are very well taken care of
by the congress. . . stress disorder has come up several times this month last week in "the new york times," there was this headline, talking about a private first class who has struggled with posttraumatic stress disorder and production after tours in iraq -- posttraumatic stress disorder and drug addiction after course in iraq -- tours in iraq. in iraq -- tours in iraq. it talks about the of his ptsd and whether he violated military laws. he refused to sign a waiver. he talked to a therapist afterwards. is there any thought of changing that policy to get these soldiers to be more forthcoming about their experiences? guest: well, i think in this particular case, what this
policy is oriented on is determining if this soldier poses any immediate threat to those around him or to his family. it is not intended to be a dive into history to find culpability for something the soldier may have done. that is really not what it is about. if anything, is probably providing a little more clarity into what we are trying to accomplish here, as opposed to being part of an investigation into potential war crimes. i think all of us who have served in combat, we have to make decisions, particularly commanders and leaders, but also soldiers, especially in counterinsurgency. all of them have to make decisions, and very quickly, but there can sometimes be consequences that are unintended. that can trouble the soldiers and leaders for an extended amount of time. i do not think there's anything wrong necessarily with the policy. i think what the provider is
doing is telling the soldiers that if there is something that you are doing or my be that might pose a risk to your family or soldiers, they an obligation to make sure that does not happen. host: our next call is from trees in california. you are a veteran? -- teresa in california. you are a veteran? caller: no, my husband is. my daughter just married a wonderful young man in the army. my question is, i wrote a proposal here in my city of riverside to have support housing built for these families that would have everything that they needed on- site, and housing would have a care givers unit, because so many family members want to care for their wounded vets while they are transitioning. there were also the physical therapy there, social workers,
everything that they would need, a clinic. my proposal was accepted, but the time i went to the builder -- by the time i went to the builder, he did not seem to want to build what was needed, because of cost, and the land was bought, he was to build this thing, about the time it got approved by the planning commission, it had turned into housing for seniors, because they felt that would be the easiest way to get to the community to accept what was needed. i know, because my husband and i have been in the system for a long time, that most of the housing that is being built by the bva and the money coming through the states is going for alzheimer's units for very old veterans. i also know, going through the system, my husband became completely disabled by the age of 29.
he was fast track on to social security disability, which is what is happening now, because it is so difficult when you are a board through the va. my husband, completely disabled at 29, did not win 100% with me being his advocate until december of 2006 could what happens with these families is that their credit falls down and they end up living on credit card debt, and they cannot even get, when they don't have a car, they cannot get a ride to the hospital appointments, because they have not met the threshold of being disabled get --. of being disabled yet. my husband and i would love to live in one of these transitional programs and be there, because we know this life, and we know that the divorce rate is high, and
keeping your kids together -- i would have to quit jobs to get my kids' teeth fit or their eyes taking care of, because my children were deprived of benefits they should have had all through their lives. host: you have given us much to work with. thank you very much for your call. guest: first of all, thank you for what you're doing and thank you for your interest in your community. it is wonderful what you have undertaken to help veterans from all our wars, not just this generation's war is. i wish the best for you and your husband and i thank you for your advocacy and support for him, which is really typical of what we see in army families. really wonderful and what they do. i have a couple of lots for you. -- couple of thoughts for you. the statute that governs disabilities and compensation for veterans is 60 years old, was written under the leadership
of omar bradley. we are well overdue for reform of this statute. we have got from agricultural, industrial america, with the draft army and a draft military, and now we are an all-volunteer army, the information age in america, with an army that fights by unit, not by individuals. we have a lot of married soldiers could we have a lot more women, not just single, young men, as in past wars. it is high time for a new look at this ability statutes -- at disability statues for veterans that goes beyond just disabilities and awarding compensation. this generation wants something more along the lines of replication -- rehabilitation and future productivity, and that is what week owe them. our message to congress and the secretary of defense is that is
what we need to do. the statue to change oba's the takes some time, and it is a complex -- obviously takes some time, and it is the complex and difficult issue. as a soldier is going through the disability board process, we do it collaboratively and expanding the program. it will become the standard program. we do a joint physical with the day -- with the va, and at the end of the process, va disability and army disability assessments will be completed, they will be enrolled in the va, and a lot of the challenges you have will be prevented by the way we are currently doing business. unfortunately, it is too late to help you and your husband. host: our guest is a graduate of
the u.s. military academy at west point, and his awards included the bronze star, meritorious service medal, and army achievement medal. how does an officer with field artillery experience become the assistant surgeon general for care and transition? -- for warrior care and transition? guest: most of my experience has been in operational units and strategy policy, that type of thing. when they told me that this was the job i was moving too, my jaw hit the floor, but quickly told them that i would be honored to do that but i think there is some brilliance and a but the army has done. you cannot simply put the responsibility for the care of our wounded soldiers on the medical corps. it is also an army responsibility. they have a soldier like me from the operational army to help run
this program, and i do it in collaboration with great doctors and nurses and medical support service officers in the medical corps. what it has enabled us to do is that when we have a soldier with an issue -- fort hood is an example -- if the soldier has an issue that percolates to an outside channel, i can contact the general at fort hood and allowed him to that issue. the senior commanders like him have taken a personal interest in taking care of the soldier and resolving issues. in essence, what we have done is bring multiple cultures within the army together to solve problems. the progress we've made in the army would not have been possible without the other general offices, senior commanders, everyone within those installations where we have these units. if not for them, we would not have anywhere near the program we have now. their support, their interests,
their influence, and their leadership has been absolutely spectacular for us. host: the general is featured 's "new york times," "at fort hood, reaching out to soldiers at risk." it has making an average not only to soldiers still in the service, believed to be at risk, -- making an out reach not only to soldiers still in the service, believed to be at risk, but to conscientious objectors, whatever, from the service, and he is making and our reach to bring them back into a situation where they can resolve differences with the military. is that part of the wounded warriors program, or is that above and beyond the call? guest: it is not necessarily part of our program but there could be a soldier at third that had become absent without leave -- a soldier out there that had
become absent without leave. what is fascinating -- the general is a terrific leader down there. what he shows is that part of the army that america doesn't see very often is that we learned many years ago that you cannot be thin skin, you cannot be defensive about issues when we have problems. we have to be open and transparent if we want to prove ourselves. that is the underlying message that general cone is sending. he wants his army at fort hood to be the best it can be for soldiers. the fact that he is willing to reach out and listen to others it signifies that. host: 4 collins, colorado, allen on the line for republicans. caller: good morning. i'm kind of nervous. it is the first time i've ever called but i work with an organization at fort collins
that works with disabled kids. we cooperated with the cheyenne va and signed up for the horses for heroes program. i want to commend them, the army and the va, for going outside the box and doing whatever is good for the veterans. really works wonders, watching the mental and physical therapy that these veterans go through, working with horses, riding. it helps to balance them. i want to give them a high-five for doing a good job. guest: you know, alan, i am thrilled to be here for your first call. what he is doing is exactly what we want america to do, getting our soldiers out into the community, showing them what we ca -- what they can do. we have a lot of programs like this with other organizations. there are a lot of therapy
programs like this that we're doing and other units. this one is a great idea. we have excursions' we do, we have a program called "ride to recovery," where we take a soldiers out on 600-mile trips. i did one of them, and the last time, the soldiers put me to time, the soldiers put me to shame. that soldier -- those soldiers, they find their way forward by çççt(approving the abilitiest maybe they thought were lost, but they are rejuvenated in programs likeçó this, and the wounded warrior project does a number of thingsç like this. çthere are great organizations out there didi] bring ourç wars outçç of their hospital roomsd get them back into society and prove the things they can do, and that little bit of
restoration restores the confidence, the self-esteem, and it starts to encourage them to reach for greater things, more things, and it reminds them their life can be very productive and that it is not about disability and compensation. it is about aç rewarding, productive, and wholesome w3myfuture, and i thank you forr reachingw3 out to them. that is a terrific program. guest: the soldiers thatç comeo this program that want to stay in the program, is it something they are genuinely trying to make the best of? are they surprised they can still stay in the military, even with a disability? guest: we have had a program around for a long time, and when i mentioned generalp'k in january 1970, he was approved and rose to be a four-star general with an amputated leg.
the decision to stay on active duty is a soldier's decision. they apply for it. it is not a guaranteed thing. we have got to make sure that they can continue to contribute to the service. in most cases, that is very possible. i can point to several great soldiers out there, and i was doing a disservice to the about 600 or so that have continued on active duty since these wars began, but i will give you a few examples. sgt jonathan pryce, a single entity, unbelievable soldier with -- what he is s -- single amputee, unbelievable soldier with what he has accomplished. and we have one who is now a platoon sergeant at our warrior transition unit. a lieutenant colonel, a soldier
who is paralyzed in both of his feet from wounds in iraq. he now, as the warrior transition unit battalion -- now commands the warrior transition unit battalion at fort lewis, washington pi. and another one injured in 2005 by an ied, that he has a master's degree from west point. we have a lot of roles we can fill just within our wounded warriors program for these soldiers. but they are not limited to that. they can do whatever it is they want to do. we want to put them in positions where they can continue to make a contribution. host: let's go back to the phones. of kentucky, dave on the line for independence. -- independents. caller: i joined the army that i
felt so sorry for those guys in world war iii, correa, because -- will war ii -- world war ii, korea, and they made a truck driver out of me, and i was over there a few months. they started building the berlin wall. then they turned around, and my mother almost died, so they sent me home by plane, and return to me by plane. the following summer, the cuba crisis come up, and that was more. no fooling around, no weekends off. the following summer, my mom was sick again, and my priest and my
dad contacted the company, and they said, "you just want to go home." three weeks later, she died. if you think that did not tell me up, you are mistaken. -- did not tear me up, you are mistaken. oh, i hated that captain so bad. they tried to put me on a medical discharge, and i fought my way out of that, thank god, and got my honorable discharge. what i really want to bring up is the fact that after that, there was a general smacking people in the face for being cowards, but at any rate, i did not feel that way about myself. i had great medical care until the late 1990's from the va. then they started to bring the indian people in, and if you explain to of foreign person how
the american way of life is, it is impossible. they cannot understand it to start with. then they outlaw the one medication i had for years, and i got married and had kids and was a success in big industry. and so here i sit, and i've lost my home to to all this mess -- i bought my home on the gi bill in 1970, and i paid the bill in 2002, or to us one, but this housing program -- they got ahold of my house and took that for me and i did not have much to pay on it. i live in a travel trailer in kentucky on top of a mountain. host: dave, we're going to have to leave it there. sorry about that. guest: dave, i just have to say, thank you for your service, and we wish you the best with your care. i am confident that the the able to the best -- the va will do the best it can to give you the care that you need and can work
directly with you on your personal medical issues. host: we have this e-mail from peg conroy. guest: again, that is a great question. this is a tough area here, and one of the things for ourselves, particularly wounded and injured soldiers, the decision they make on where to live. if they choose to live in remote or rural area, that will make the care more complicated and difficult. i really appreciate the comment about women. there is far more women serving and the military in far more dangerous roles than past wars. the va in particular has stepped
up quite a bit with women's clinics and things like that. i cannot speak for what is available in the state of maine, but there are things that are available. they have mobile clinics that the use and there is telemedicine as well. if your daughter, for example, is a reserve component soldier, there are issues that have come up since she has been released from active duty, there is a process where she can apply to come back on active duty for treatment in the case that she wants that. i encourage you to do that. she can apply with her local reserve unit if that is appropriate. there are a number of ways we can get assistance for your daughter that would require her to step forward and work with her local unit to do that. host: our next call is from fort worth, texas, jordan, a father of the wounded warrior participant. caller: thank you for much for
taking the call. general, your program is working great. our son was originally injured at the pentagon b. he was on the scene pulling people out, and some beams fell on them, and then he spent time in afghanistan as a translator, and went back to iraq, and got stuck with injuries there. three back surgeries, mental issues. the wounded warrior program for the last year-and-a-half has been exceptional good without it, it would have been very difficult. he and his wife live outside of fort bragg it has just been great. we a trichet all the help. a lot of people -- we appreciate all the help. a lot of people needed. thank you very much. host: before you go, can you tell us what the program, besides what it did for your son, what it did for his family and wife?
guest: it is a huge umbrella safety net. bacon called the case manager and there is no paperwork -- they can call the case manager and there is no paper work, none of the rigmarole. support groups. it is just a huge umbrella that they know -- it is kind of like travelers insurance, a big red umbrella. it is such a relief with the issues they are dealing with with a two-and-a-half-year-old baby. he is not a deployable -- nondeployable. he has a lot of titanium in his back from his last surgery. he is a super soldier. the wounded warriors -- the whole family unit -- they received tremendous benefits.
the program works, and we are very, very appreciative of what is being done for our boy. host: jordan, thanks. sorry to cut you off, but thank you very much for your call. guest: what a great story. jordan, thank you for all your doing for your son and his family, and our thanks to your son for his service, both in the theater of war and on 9/11. i am very proud of our program. it's a great program, but not a perfect program. as i said, we want to move beyond just providing great facilities and care management and leadership. now we want in its operational model of goal setting and focusing soldiers on their future. we are doing it with an automated program that we're testing right now and we will have that out army-wide in february, that lays out every goal aspect of the soldier's life and helps to identify issues and allows us to see where we have problems and shortfalls and the services to provide.
if i could add one other thing, we do provide a lot of great services for families, but i am not satisfied by that, either. it is too -- we make a lot of things available, but we provide no guide, and no plan. it is not tailored for the family. our next step this spring is to get a comprehensive transition plan automated and up and running. we will have a family program, sit down with the family, find out what the family goals, desires, dreams, the senetc., a. line them up with opportunities for education, assist them with understanding battered the conditions of the soldier, the problems, if there is a behavioral health issue, serious injury, how that affects the family unit. we are very anxious to do more for the families.
we are so grateful for what they do. so many of them do this, of course, out of the absolute love of the soldier, with no thought of compensation or anything. but quite frankly, we cannot be successful without what they do. i'm glad your son is having a good experience at fort bragg, and we wish 1him and his family the very best. host: we will be airing our recent senate armed services committee hearing on the wooded warrior program -- on the wounded warrior program. our last call is from ohio on the line for democrats. caller: good morning. first of all, i would like to wish all our service members overseas and at home a safe and happy christmas and a safe new year. i'm a disabled vietnam veteran, and i tell you what, i have nothing but praise for teh va.
they have been taking good care of me. they gave me a breathing machine from sleep apnea -- for my sleep apnea the other day. also, i wanted to make a comment. i tried to get through the other day. there was some republican -- i forgot what his name was -- congressman are something -- was that nothing -- was badmouthing the va about health care or something. i thank god every day for iteh he va. without them, i don't know where i would be. guest: i agree completely. but -- the department is not perfect, but not always get it right, but they are great partners of ours. i got a call from the mother of a soldier who is having
difficulties, and as it turns out, she told the story of how he had been wounded in afghanistan, a real serious brain injury. he arrived in a coma. ultimately, his next treatment ultimately, his next treatment was done at the minneapolis va, ç he went from basically in a coma to walking and talking and fully functional, and as he went to the next level of care, he çstarted to have problems, ande said it was not aggressive enough for him,çó so we brought him back to walter reed. he completed his care there. this young man has reenlisted now. he is an intelligence specialist, and he is going to stay in the army. i was honored to get back with him on veterans day last year [ned tow3 minneapolis andç tçóhankeç=)çv:d the car
they did for him, so we're grateful for the services they provide for a number of veterans çbut active duty]i?z]ççó solds well. çw3>> thank you very much for?g on the program. çfáguest: it is my pleasure, ai am very grateful for the support america gives it soldiers of all f it comesves it soldiers of all from the nation is greatly appreciated and makes quite a differencew3w3w3. >> tomorrow morning on the "washington journal," the general will give an update on the training of military and police. phyllisç bennis will discuss troops around the world, and we will be talking with viewers about the famous nonfiction books for 2009. ddes then begin.
eastern on c-span. w3--ç this beginsçç at 7:00 . eastern on c-span. coming up, a house hearing looks at the army's wounded warrior program and treatmentç of disabled veterans, and then from the national press club, the ceo of the sesame street workshop, and later the head of the federal aviation -- federal aviation commission talks about aviation safety. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] ççfá>> we have three daysi] ov on c-spanççç 3w3ç. qççincluding taylor branch ons newest book. you will see sara pailin -- palin on her recent book tour, and justice scalia. b.you can get the full schedult booktv.org. and now follow booktv throughout
the week on twitter. mayor christmas. >> a senate hearing examines how wounded warrior programs are being performed. soldiers other stories about lack of adequate health care and treatment. -- soldiers tell their stories about lack of adequate health care and treatment. nelson of nebraska chairs this subcommittee meeting. it lasts about two and half hours. >> the subcommittee meets today to discuss implementation of wounded warrior programs, policies, and plans by the department of defense and department of veterans affairs. this meeting had to be postponed. i want to thank you for your
patience and understanding, but actually, the delay produced a positive result. on that same day, april 1, senator gramm and i were fortunate enough to meet with a group of wounded warriors and some family members who very candidly shared with us the positive and negative experiences they have gone through and are still going through on their journeys through treatment, disability evaluation process and transition to the next chapters of their life. during that meeting, senator gramm and i mentioned the possibility of the group testifying at a hearing on a future date, to which they all graciously agreed. little did they know the day would come so soon, but because of the hearings postponement, we were able to create a new panel and have invited them all to speak about their experiences as seriously wounded service members and veterans and spouses
of wounded warriors. we all remember february 18, 2007, the day the first in a series of articles appeared describing problems faced by our wounded warriors receiving care and outpatients status. many of the service members wounded or injured in service to our nation were living in substandard facilities, were unaccounted for, and were fighting their way through adversarial administrative process is to rate their disabilities. after their -- after they left the care, they had to start all over with the va, and many go through the cracks in the transition, and as a result of these articles from various reports on wounded warrior policies and programs, congress passed the wounded warrior act, which was incorporated into the fiscal year 2008 national defense authorization act.
the wounded warrior act require the work together to improve the care of wounded service members. the act also required now they assess and report on progress made by the two departments in this endeavor. this report is near completion, so on our second panel, we will ask for the government accountability office to share their findings. on our third panel, we will have several representatives from the department of defense, and they will discuss efforts to organize woodenware programs and policy improvements as well as the accomplishments to date region wounded warrior programs and policy improvements as well as the accomplishments to date. it is comprised of several high- level dod and va officials. earlier this year, secretary
gates himself pledge to share this -- to share these oversights meetings during this time of transition along with the chairman. this is evidence of the priority placed on helping wounded warriors and their families within the highest echelons of the departments. i will introduce our dod and va witnesses when the third panel convenes. i am very pleased to welcome our first panel. these men and women who represent wounded active-duty service member veterans and their families are the reason we are all here today. we have lieutenant colonel of the united states army, a lieutenant colonel rebus, retired , his wife, kimberly, ph.d., the spouse of a seriously wounded service member, and
first lieutenant canard. wounded warrior legislation requires the department's collaborate on many levels. the department have been passed with some great challenges, jointly developing a fully operable health record process improving the disability evaluation system, establishing centers for assessing psychological health, of brain injury, and much more. collaboration on such a large scale was new ground for these huge government agencies. the fact of these agencies have been able to work so closely on so many levels is a sign of great commitment on their part to insuring our wounded, ill, and injured service members are
given the best support possible while navigating to these bureaucratic processes, but with any undertaking of this magnitude, they are bound to be -- there are bound to be outstanding problems to work out along the way. with many of our wounded warriors, the service members i have spoken with, a lot of the treatment they were receiving, so i commend them. i also learned of many issues that indicates there is still work to be done. we have heard of the shortage of health care professionals, but we still look to our troops and country to adequately assess the medical condition of our service members prior to deployment. i recently learned of incomplete medical assessment due to shortage of time.
medical assessment results in the employment of medically unfit service members, whose condition deteriorated, causing him to collapse in the field. the service member had to be medically evacuated from a foreword deployment within known medical condition. when our service members return with war wounds, it is imperative that we have the medical personnel and resources available to care for them. it is also essential we make efforts to treat our members as close to home as possible. the ability to receive care will likely speed recovery times, ensuring we have the proper facilities is why this is very important. as we work on improving these policies and programs to our
service members and their families, we must also identify any existing gaps and problems in the transition called the -- transition process. only after we identify problems and we were to provide the highest quality care for our wounded and injured service members and their families, but this is far more than a procedural issue. the program will care for our wounded warriors, and it is my pleasure to welcome just-in- time, senator brown. weirton -- senator gramm. we're delighted to have you with us to discuss these issues and ask if he would like to make an opening statement. i would like to also welcome senator web. it is possible he might return. senator gramm, would you like to make an opening statement. >> i want to thank you for conducting the hearing.
you have been a terrific supporter of the wounded warrior program. we get to meet with this group a couple weeks ago when we had a lot of votes scheduled, but the chairman was kind enough to come to my office, and i think we got a lot of that meeting, and we have learned a lot. one thing i learned is i do not want these hearings to be taken as a lack of caring. people care a lot. there is a lot of bureaucracy that cares a lot. we have to get it focused on doing the best job we can. secretary gave has put $300 million in the budget, which will help us, and the purpose of these hearings is to learn how to do it better and not to question anybody's motives. if the services are not being delivered well, it is not because people do not care. it is just not working right. for these warrior transitions
programs, we hear disturbing records were people felt now the climate was not as responsive as it could be. if you are in charge of a warrior transition movements. i hope the problem can be fixed, and it is not as bad as people said it was. we are here to learn, and the best way to learn is by people who lived it. the next panel are people in charge of making sure it works. every american wants us to get this right. this has nothing to do with party politics. this is the one thing that will bring this party together -- bring this country together above all else, so thank you for having the right attitude about how to do this. >> thank you. you have been steadfast in your support of this program. when you were chairman, and i
was ranking member, and we continue to make it non partisan, because there is nothing partisan about the need for care for the members ofs are family. now to our first panel. we welcome any recommendations you may have for improvement in the future. we will begin by hearing opening statements followed by questions, and first lieutenant danson -- gadson, will you start as off? >> chairman nelson and senator gramm, thank you for this opportunity.
first, walter reed medical center and other facilities have treated trauma and not only successfully treated those but enable those who have been injured to rejoin society and live a productive life. i m -- i am humbled. dealing with severe injury is not easy. when you consider the myriad of injuries with the unfamiliarity of typical families with dealing with an injured service member, it is easy to understand how difficult a task is to recover. i can say from my vantage point that our medical system is up to the task.
over the past 24 months, i have seen tremendous improvement in the quality of care for injured servicemen and their families. that does not mean there is no room for improvement. one such gap i have personally experienced, current policy allows them to be reimbursed for meals. the role is to provide assistance to injured service members in activities they cannot do for themselves flag waving and driving -- like bathing and driving. when we decided to relocate to the local area, the medical -- the non-medical attendant
reimbursement was canceled. we do not want to the families in a hardship situation in deciding how and who will assist the service member who needs assistance. the fact death logging is -- the fact of lodging is page shows and inconsistent, essentially paying non-medical attendants on location. i believe there should be a set rate for non-medical attendance as well as a per diem for lodging. the situation family members often find themselves in how to deal with the loss of income by the service member bridget while the service never recovers. i've seen families torn apart because they cannot afford to remain together. this is a choice families should not be forced to make. i would like to emphasize the army's dedication to our wounded warriors. our purpose is to see continued
improvement. thank you for holding these hearings, and thank you for your continued support. i look forward to your questions. >> i would first of all like to thank the committee for allowing me to speak today on behalf of my husband. scott was severely injured in afghanistan, 2007. he suffered a severe brain injury and damage his frontal lobe and brain stem. he had two broken ribs, a pelvic fractures, so he sustained a very traumatic injury. however, the brain injury was the worst caribbean he is currently minimally conscious two years later -- brain injury is the worst. he is currently minimally conscious two years later. it has been challenging considering we as a country were not prepared to take care of the
severely injured soldiers. many men and women are surviving injuries that would not have survived other wars because of the medical technology available and because of our excellent training from medics. however, there is a huge gap between technology and training available and what is available stateside for continued long- term health-care services for our severely wounded warriors. i come here today representing the minority of injured, the minimally conscious, but represent the ones who need the majority of long-term health care for the rest of their lives. one issue that needs to be addressed is the lack of coverage of cognitive rehabilitant care. they are prohibited once retired, which is why many families fight to stay in active-duty service.
unfortunately, just recently as the department consent since concert, when they issued an assessment on the benefits of rehabilitation for injured veterans. this found the available evidence was insufficient quantity or quality to reach meaningful evidence on the efficacy of cognitive rehabilitation. however, a center created by this committee recently issued a white paper supporting cognitive rehabilitation as a well-except it component of comprehensive rehabilitation. unfortunately, for no other reason, the conclusion of the report stated even though cognitive rehabilitation
research showed promising results, they are not covering for veteran status injured soldiers. if they will cover cognitive rehabilitation for active-duty soldiers, why will they not covered for a veteran? why is it sound for an active soldier but not for a retiree? it is still important you understand that compensation for men and women with mild to moderate functional traumatic brain injury needs to be addressed. these men and women will not have the opportunity to have a career or retirement because of their limitations from combat injuries. what will their future entail? these individuals fall short for benefit coverage is that will ensure a healthy lifestyle, but they are not employable because of their injuries, end the mean age of injured soldiers is 22 years old. if this individual who requires
24 hour, seven days a week care for safety, have been their family, who mostly there are part of their career, the forced to quit their job to take care of their loved ones? what about the 18-year-old wife who did not have the opportunity for education and chose to take care of her severely injured husband instead of putting him in a nursing home? this wife will not have means for income and should be compensated for her services. nursing home is not an option for these young men and women coming home with injuries triggered the collaborative efforts have been evident. there is still much work to be done. it would still be helpful if employees would house all of the offices like the one that was my main source. due to the classified nature, they were located in the office
to transfer the veteran status because of the continued presence from the transition of veteran status. finally, we would like to say we should not reinvent the wheel. if rehabilitation is better in the private sector, that is where our men and women should go. this country alone has 1.5 million brain injuries a year, while the armed services has only sustained 8000 since 2001. they should have an open mind to provide necessary care to these individuals as well as try care, stepping up to the plate to provide such services as cognitive rehabilitation. these men and women have earned options and deserve the best and continued health care services for their entire life, and i would like to say that even though these have been a negative aspect of that journey, i do thank the dod and the care coalition. scott was a proud army ranger
and fought valiantly for his country. not why would like to thank -- i would like to thank the va, who kept my husband alive. thank you. >> lieutenant. >> yes, sir. good afternoon, chairman nelson, senator gramm, representatives of the health committee. i am pleased to be before you to discuss my experiences as a warrior in transition. i hope by sharing these challenges with you that i faced and some of the successes of hand that we can sort of get a collective understanding, and what i would like to focus on really are some common themes that unite a lot of wounded warriors who are returning home. can you hear me ok? although i face many challenges in the two and half years of my recovery since being injured in
iraq, first, let me say i would not be here today if not for the dedication and professionalism of our medical service personnel. every breath i take is a testimony to their service. i mean that. i was injured two and a half years ago, and my subsequent medical evacuation and recovery consisted of over 60 surgeries and countless hours of occupational therapy. you name it, i went to just about every service except gynecology. i was an indication at walter reed when the washington post posted stores and remain there through all the changes and fallout, and some of them have been pretty attractive. we have a way to go forward on some. -- have been pretty effective. on some, we have a way to go forward. if i made -- if i might make a
comment, i have had a chance to read that study, and their overall assessment shows 60 out of 76 of the criteria have been met. my comment to that is also mathematically that sounds like a pretty good progress report, the gao itself admits they did not study the effectiveness of each policy. all they did was check the box that there is a policy created. they did not look that if this is working or not, and what i would like to talk about is looking at these policies out there and say, are they or are they not? how can we reduce redundancies within the system? how can we streamline things so that it affects a decrease in the amount of confusion amongst the wounded veterans and their families? the biggest item aiken somewhat this case management -- the base item i can sum up is the case management.
it all faces -- the meaning of this cannot be overstated, but it is especially critical during the rehabilitation phases of a person's transition. if you get the proper care identified, i think you're going to of a successful chance of a good recovery. -- you are going to have a special chance of a good recovery. when we were identifying which service i needed, there was no question that walter reed was excellent. however, the problem arises in an outpatient status. keeping track of the number of case managers alone can be overwhelming. i can count a different case managers i had to keep track of any one time. the burden of responsibility fell on me to make sure i know which of my case managers to go to for which problem, end i was left with a handful of business cards, and they all said, call
me if you need any problems. i do not know what to us or not to ask, so one of the things that has been a great success i think has been the creation of an overall coordination program within the diem and -- the and the va. the dod has a program. the va has frc, and what they simply do is bring together all the resources we have available within the dod and the va, and at the 30,000 level view say how can we coordinate some of these things, but what my concern is, while dozens rcc's and frc's are really doing the same thing and the only difference is what category are they treating theyfrc -- they are treating, frc typically deal with the more
severely injured. they are administered by different departments. they are supposed to be doing the same thing by being the same resources there, so my question is at what level are we going to be coordinating these programs to make sure we are getting the most effective treatment to the service member while reducing redundant programs so we can also make sure we are spending dollars where we need to as well as maximizing our dollars spent on wounded warriors. i would also like to comment briefly on the disability evaluation program created directly as a response to some of the criticisms raised in the walter reed coverage by "the washington post." in an effort to streamline the process, before the def pilot
was created, a recovering service member would have to be rated by the dod, found unfit to continue service, then transferred to the va, rated again, and then received this note of compensation, and the va would take quite awhile, and there would be a gap between receiving at critical compensation, and what we did was streamline the process by eliminating medical examinations, but at the same time, i think we need to make sure and follow up with the the part we did because the department of defense -- and follow-up to make sure they are doing the hand of correctly. i did not want to get into is the civics of my case. -- into the specifics of my case. it took roughly nine months to figure out my legs are not growing back. there're some efficiencies we
there is a diffusion of responsibility within the system. what they do is that they bring those together to one person. there is one person that i can call to figure this out with. that is a great improvement that the department of defense has made. i cannot say in every single case that the case managers drop the ball. >> it appears that we cut over
the hurdle where people wear the credit for. the -- were unaccounted for. did you make any progress? >> i think the individual services have put tremendous improvements in accountability. the average patient will trust the guy in uniform. the services should be commended on how they stepped up to the plate with case management. >> i was grateful to have the
care coalition managing scots? -- and managing scott's care. i think if that we should model our system on be care coalition. i have not had any bad experiences with case management thanks to the care coalition. >> we have not had any either. the case manager just sat there in a room and at that point there was no case manager. when they assigned him one, that is when things started moving along. oshe coordinated everything and made sure that he got where he needed to be an all of his care was taken care of. we had a wonderful experience.
when the care coalition found him, that is when the ball started rolling. they made sure that we are up on a new care issues that arise. >> the case manager, she was the one that was able to get him an outpatient from out to an institute that helps with mild to severe brain injuries. if it was not for that, he would not be where he is today.
>> this is a simple concept. we don't want this to lose its momentum. >> it has made all the difference in the world to us. be he could not do simple things. he could not carry on a conversation. ththey work with him and he is better to date. his counselor got him involved in the easter seals program.
>> thank you. >> we have some additional case managers. where is the accountability. even to this point, i would say that i don't understand what the delineation between responsibility is. there is a potential gap, not that i have had any personal issues with it. you have to be on your game and understand what is going on and make sure that does not happen.
there is room to streamline that. >> i think the panel for sharing your experiences you get wounded, you come back home, your active duty pay remains in ticket discharge. >> correct. >> in terms of the spouse, there is a compensation stream deflects well, first i would like to say that we have the dramatic insurance that you get. the >> how much is that? >> it depends on your injury. >> but you get a payment? >> you did it in a payment.
in some cases, that can be used to offset that. i can tell you in certain circumstances where people have had to move and they cannot sell their house. this starts to get into the money that was not designed for that. >> a family member might have to quit their job. certainly there life is affected dramatically. what the income stream is available to them. >> right now, they have a small portion which is utilized to pay for care giving. >> how much money -- >> $580. >> what do single people get?
>> sago guys with their family members coming to take care of them, i'm not familiar with the compensation. >> i believe the per diem would have been $30 a day. >> your concern is that it should not be based upon where you are located, it should be a flat rate? >> that is correct. >> did you get any income support? >> i am not aware of any of this. we lived off of his retirement pay and savings. >> the country needs to come to grips with the fact that a moment that the person is catastrophically injured, the family changes. most americans would like an income stream available to
family members that provide that support the otherwise be given by the government. the government caretaker or not live with you like a family member. how old are you? >> 28. >> what is your educational background? >> i have a doctorate in chemical engineering. >> most of the people in your husband -- how old is he? >> he is 31. >> most of these wounded people are young people. >> yes. >> what have you found in terms of their ability to survive these financially? >> the two years i have been in patients with my husband, the majority of the families are very young. most of the wives who come with
>> will they let you stay on active duty? >> they will. >> i want to congratulate you. >> i did most of all work when i was a fellow in your office. >> you are going hollywood on me now. >> one of the big issues that was highlighted was the inadequacies with the flexibility and -- >> you are medically discharged
from the marine corps. >> yes, sir. >> you are disabled? >> yes, sir. >> what took nine months for them to figure out your legs were not going to grow back? >> i went through the medical evaluation board. is the evaluation of your fitness to continue penn tele. they decide you're not fit to serve and then they take you to the board and they compensate you for the injuries. they prepare the materials. if there's anything wrong, it gets set back. >> it is that still the case today? >> it is. i hate to say that every case is nine months but i think i fell
within an average amount of time within the system. >> senator, if i can make a comment. my situation is different. i was retired 100% from the military. i was a civilian engineer. i was medically retired. we have seen significantly reduced to income. as the way the lot is currently written, if i had 20 years, i
would receive from both. i did not choose to get blown up before i made sure to have 20 years of active duty. we have to wait. we had 16. >> if you were injured when you were a guard member? >> the reserve. i have come down with some secondary issues such as kidney failure. my family is concerned that i'm not lit -- might not live long enough to get to become current receipt. >> we have a long way to go. >> i want to thank you for your service.
your husband is in tampa. >> he is still in patient at the temple fee a. >> will he leave? will he be sent someplace else? what is his long-term prognosis? >> we will make it where he can come home. i don't believe in putting him in a nursing facility. >> from the standpoint of any financial help to you, what is the fda establishing? >> they have a benefit package that scott will receive.
the net income will be small. you have to take in consideration our bills. i know a family with a quadriplegic who is on the event. because of having power source through a ventilator and his bed has to have a special type of bed that is sent up to power, their power bill is over $1,000 a month. because of that, the special care that scott will have to receive because of his injuries even though the money will come in per month, but we would have to pay for bills will be large. the net will be small. >> dimension one other comment. -- you mentioned one other comment. once he became a veteran, it was not funded. >> that is correct. >> is the currently giving that?
>> he is currently receiving cognitive therapy which is absolutely fabulous. try care one not pulled from the supplemental fund. they're asking soldiers to pay for cognitive rehabed. right now, they're not covering the elective we have. >> we should do something about that. >> i hope that you can. >> we are not talking about to be concurrent pay issues as well. we need to meet moving forward.
>> thank you, mr. chairman. let me add my appreciation to you for the great service to your country and the sacrifices that have been made. we are grateful. please know how much we appreciate that. major general merlon outlined several improvements that have been made to the evaluation system. more should be done. we need to "shift away from a focus on pain in tadema's to one of recovery, rehabilitation, transition and making the service member a viable member of society >" what steps can be taken to improve the system and focus more on recovery and we have?
>> i have a few suggestions. the army has sent me to graduate school and i am finishing up my degree at georgetown. there are some va benefits that i don't have access to. i am only authorized a one time and vehicle grant because i lost my legs. there is a $60,000 housing grant for the modification of existing
homes. i cannot extend my education benefits. my daughter is a junior in high school. i will not be able to use my veterans benefits towards college which i would be able to do if i was in college. we need to take a comprehensive look at those benefit and merge them. those were built on the assumptions that if a service members of was injured, he would be out.
this would give you access to it when you need it. that is a discussion and dialogue that needs to take place as we look at these two things holistic way. >> about the rehabilitation, i really do think that integration into a civilian sector rehab would benefit these men and women greatly because there are four, centers in the country right now. the fifth one is being built in [inaudible] i am grateful for the house i have been staying at.
families are having to relocate and ordered to be to the closest public trauma center. they should be able to relocate and have some sort of rehabilitation and the private sector. my husband is still active duty. i'm fighting to keep him active duty. it is not about the money. what i care about is the fact that when he retires, he will lose some of the coverage for his therapies. i'm fighting to keep him in. i'm appreciative of the department of defense for understanding my reasons for wanting to keep him active-duty.
need to work on how we can better improve the health care after the veteran status has changed. >> anybody else? >> if we are shifting away from the focus on entitlements, where are we shifting to. becoming productive members of society is essential. we have a value. we can be productive. we need to take a look at some of the employment opportunities. there's a program here that that i think it's fantastic that allows people to go in turn in any of the federal agency's on the d.c. area. the downside is that it is only in the d.c. area.
i don't know what programs are available to get people into some kind of internship especially for those that will be transitioning out of service. also, idle hands make for the devil's work. calving gainful employment could be a step forward towards reintegration. >> with a the integration into society, the employment rate is drastically lowered because of their combat injury. i know soldier that is not able
to have a very high stressful job because of his injuries. and he is able to do produce at a grocery store. that is a very healthy transitions for him because he feels a part of the society. he is proud of the job. helping these bringing injured men and women find something to help them become a productive citizen is very important for them for long-term recovery. >> i would like to add something. a counselor got us involved with the easter seals. they have been working with them on a daily basis on cognitive skills and job skills and job training. outsourcing to easter seals had been a big help. >> i appreciate the perspective
offered here. i hope that we can use the insights as we shape policies to deal with these issues. >> thank you very much for being here. >> >> thank you for your testimony. we have learned about a program that exists. i want to make sure i understand how this works and how the nonmedical attendants receive pay or don't receive pay. >> a soldier is injured. typically they will remain in the hospital and the inpatient
status until a medical condition gets to a point where they can transfer to an outpatient status. >> these are all military operative facilities? >> i cannot speak for anything outside of walter reed. typically, walter reed and fort sam houston had the most severely injured. we have traumatic brain injury and there are some other situations. when a soldier is in an outpatient status when they cannot perform all the things they need to do. i could not drive, i cannot get out of a vehicle without
assistance. my wife became the attendant for me. the person that did those things for me. we had to relocate our family to this area. >> during that process, she did receive or did not receive. >> she received nonmedical attendant. >> when we moved here to consolidate our family, its stock because she was in the local area. it really does not make any sense.
the rule does not make sense my point is that it pays lodging and per diem for the local area. someone in san antonio front table asked than washington, d.c.. -- probably gets paid less than someone from washington, d.c. >> the transition from your acute military facility post injury to your cute rehabilitation facility, all have to use myself, our experience. when scott was injured he was taken to bethesda and we were there for 8 weeks and then we transferred to the shi'a in tampa. the status remained with me and still is in tampa.
i will tell you what, we earned that money when ever we are receiving that because it is very hard. being a care giver is the hardest thing i could ever imagine doing. i love him very much and that is why i do it. that table be drastically reduced whenever he is in veteran status. it actually goes away. everyone continues to tell me that his benefits will counteract the nonmedical attendees pay. i think that people forget that because of his status, i had to file for guardianship of him. now i have to account for every cent that i pay from his benefit money. when i have no income coming in, i have to have accountability for every cent is spent out of his benefit money.
it will be very stressful. i know i'm not the only family out and there that this is happening to. it is worse when the soldiers' parents receive guardianship. they are watched like a hawk with their money. it is very unfair in some circumstances. >> thank you. buthem but not the, that isthato longer productive in society. my wife is no longer working. that is a double whammy. i am not advocating that you have to cover all of that. you have to understand that the
scope is not just someone putting their job and being compensated. there are no longer producing money towards the household, retirement, all of those other things. >> thank you. and stand the stress this as to the family attends the economic costs. -- i understand the stress. this has helped me on moving forward. >> thank you very much. let me thank our witnesses.
i want to say to the spouse's how much we appreciate we understand that commitment to the military is a family commitment. we appreciate your service. and true, you feel that you are in combat every day that you worked for graham. this goes to what you're talking about with respect to the ordination of all of these services that you have received. you have a unique situation in agusta. case management is a key aspect
of what they're doing. i noted with interest what you're talking about. he did not know who to call. i want you to talk about how this is working today versus how it was two years ago, a year ago, or whenever, when you had a state of confusion. >> the one single point of contact i have is that if agusta. -- out of agusta. she is a coordinator. this program credit in response to some legislation.
my experience has been very positive. i referred into this program in january of this year after struggling through. i reached some walls. i called on the phone and i was referred to the program. there were options e-mail to me. i selected my option and it was done. it felt great in knowing that there was someone that i could call, i could hold their feet to the fire. i don't have any suggestions for the programs. by want to highlight that this takes a -- merits taking a look
at. the program that was assigned to take care of the very seriously injured service members, do they have the right authority that they need? can they take care of their problems? senator nelson, i appreciate your statement, sir. no one is arguing here about what service members to serve. the best of the best that our nation can provide. i applaud you for that recognition. how do we provide that? i think the program is a great start. the program director will be testifying here today. i recommend you ask her some questions about how she feels about to the authorities that have been provided to her.
you have heard care coalition, care coalition, many times. this is the advocacy group from the special operations command. andrew did not know who to call first. from day one, this was my one point of contact. they have been able to organize my life when i was not able to print them they were able to itemize the pros and cons of staying active duty forces retirement -- vs retirement. they have made my life easier. i have never been told no by that coalition. i have been told maybe a couple of times on some sticky issues.
i feel that the way that they have modeled, they should be modeled after, they were able to take me from the most dramatic day of my life and have taken me through where i was able to graduate with my dissertation and ph.d.. at one point of contact has been there for me in day one. >> is the same for us, the care coalition. we also have the va as well. it is the care coalition that has helped us the most. >> senator chambliss, the care coalition is a separate entity in the same scheme. each of the services have their own service oriented warrior transition unit.
when they show up, the special forces people, they just disappear. they're taken care of. my concern is about to the department of defense programs and then the service specific programs. there's a different one from the navy and the army and the marine corps. who is helping to move to eliminate redundancies? >> the wounded warrior project manager from the army and involved in his care as an active duty.
they actually work hand in hand. they even have him back to the care coalition office. i do a credit to the u.s. army for taking good care of my husband. >> i think the department of defense is working towards making it more efficient. sometimes people were trying to do good are stepping on each other. you're dealing with traumatic and difficult times the in the.
>> thank you very much all of you for your excellent testimony. >> thanks, mr. chairman. i would like to add my thanks for your willingness to come and tell us how you have seen it and experienced it. we are very interested in what you have to say but also in solutions that need for their work. we will do everything we can to try to plug those holes and make it work the way americans want it to work for our men and women and our families. thank you, god bless you. thank you. let's give them a round of
mr. williamson, a deal have been the opening statements? >> we are pleased to discuss the actions taken to the transition our service members back to active duty. recovering members may face challenges including difficulties managing their outpatient recovery process, maintaining the evaluation system and a transitioning between the different departments. we want to jointly develop policies for covering service members. will address challenges the agencies face as they develop and implement policies on these issues.
we jointly developed and implemented comprehensive policies in four areas. medical, disability, returning service members to active duty, then transitioning them from the dot to this shi'a. there are 76 individual requirements in the act. we are addressing these to the senior oversight committee. this was established in may, 2007, as a vehicle for addressing issues. it is staffed with both dot and veterans affairs employees. overall, they develop policies in 2008.
they have completed this for 60 of the 76 requirements. the remaining 16 are in progress. the officials to complete policy developments by the mid year. in developing policies to address the requirements, we have faced numerous challenges and will continue to do so as we further development of policy. improving disability evaluation process poses a major challenge. numerous studies have highlighted long delays in confusion that our service members face as they navigate the system. to not remedies this, there was a program to consolidate key departments decisions on the
feasibility will be made after the pilot project is completed. possible expansion is currently being considered. from our perspective, it is unclear which criteria that will use to evaluate the plan and whether they will have complete information needed. another daunting challenge involves sharing electronic health records. this effort has been underway for more than a decade. while they're making progress, they face further challenges in managing the issues. the department's plans a further increasing the capabilities to not consistently identified results or performance measures to accurately assess the capability. nor have they completed all
necessary activities to set off their program office including hiring a permanent director. until these challenges are fully addressed, the departments and their stake holders may lack the comprehensive understanding they need to effectively managing their progress done to recent changes could also pose a future challenge. some officials consider the changes to be a positive element and it will enhance the effectiveness. others look concerned with issues related to communication, the interaction amongst members given the changes that have
occurred. mr. chairman, i would be happy to answer any questions you have. >> as you looked at trying to develop and enter cooperative orangeman between two distinct agencies, did you give it a sense that maybe the tendency of an agency to create a silo of protection for their own agency, did you see an indication that that might be broken down to where they're truly could be a bridge built between the two
agencies to smooth the transition to for there is a transition in place but it is not smooth. it is it possible to smooth it to a level we needed to be? >> as you know, this was created to deal with a crisis situation. it was created to overcome what might have been created in both agencies. it has enjoyed some relative success. the question now is within your organizations on the dod side, we're certain other changes, whether that smoothness will continue. there is the indication that things are being accomplished. a large amount of success has
occurred due to personally considerations. the people that have been there have got along and they have communicated well up to this point. with the future changes coming in terms of a top-level people who will be leaving and others taking their place, it remains to be seen just how smooth things work out. >> any comments from the other panelists? >> we have followed this pilot from the initial table topped exercise, but to the initial pilot phase. they're trying to flat in the process. i do see an effort to do that and tel.
they are looking to make this a seamless process. ultimately, they're making a decision with what they will be doing with that person's future. there is coordination between the board plays on and the service representatives. there is an effort to do that. there's always room for improvement. we can talk about that. >> lot of people think that the information technology is just something that is essentially mechanical. will everything transfer? >> that is a misnomer. there is a big issue in terms of interoperable liddy.
this requires a lot of agreement relative to standards. they relate to medical terminology, data transfer. there is a complex toasted issues that have to be considered. it is not just a matter of having systems developed. it is also understanding the requirements said each of the departments have. how do you build those systems and build the interoperable capabilities that will allow the data to be exchanged? >> it is it possible to get to the two agencies to determine the same model and interest and need for the same criteria for the termination of status of health and whether you are partially incapacitated or grossly incapacitated are their
interests so different that you cannot bring this together with a single set of criteria? are you hopeful that it is possible to establish a single set of criteria which means coming up with the same language, the same approach which would make the transfer of records more possible? >> clearly, mr. chairman, the two industries are distinctly different even though they share many of the same issues. and through the joint executive committee, they have taken steps to come together.
what is mental health? there are other issues regarding service members and this depends on a common understanding of those things. they have worked their way through about 3/4 of the definition. they're working on another but it is not easy. certainly they're working on it. i think that this provides a good vehicle for doing it. >> i was taken about the willingness to cooperate. people of good will find a way to make things happen. what do you think that in the process there is a senior partner and a junior partner? do we have equal partners between the two agencies? >> i think that they would like to view themselves as equal.
there's probably one where one takes precedent when you're talking about issues. some are focused more on the department of defense. you will have that department taking a lead. other issues, the veterans affairs might take the lead on this. they both try to play full partner. >> i'm encouraged to hear your assurances. it appears that there is a cooperative spirit and a sincere effort to make happen what everyone would like to have happen. a smooth transition for our members and their families. >> one thing is that the secretary's have come together and they have been real participants in this debate. they have participated in