VFW Washington Weekly

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    VFW Washington Weekly
    September 21, 2007

    In This Issue:
    1. House VA Committee Hearings
    2 .Senate Holds Hearing on VA IT
    3. Vietnam Veterans Memorial 25th Anniversary


    1. House VA Committee Hearings
    The House Veterans Affairs Committee had a busy week of hearings beginning with some final words from VA Secretary Jim Nicholson (slated to depart Oct. 1) on the state of VA. Nicholson talked about the department's success in mental health and their innovative electronic medical records database, but cautioned that the war in Iraq has strained the VA's disability claims system. He said the claims issue has bedeviled him and many others because so many are being filed by current and previous war veterans.

    - On Wednesday, the committee heard from former Sen. Bob Dole and former Health & Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, co-chairs of the President’s Commission on the Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors. Their report was released in July and made recommendations on modifying the current VA and DOD systems with regard to personnel. The VFW supports 5 of the 6 recommendations.

    To read the full Dole/Shalala report, go to: http://www.pccww.gov/.

    To read the VFW Press Release, go to: http://www.vfw.org/index.cfm?fa=news.newsDtl&did=4147


    - On Thursday, VFW testified before the House VA Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity on current licensure and credentialing as it applies to returning servicemembers. The VFW testified that many gaps still exist between requirements for civilian occupational credentials and what is provided by the military, which makes it difficult for transitioning military to re-enter appropriate civilian sector employment. Changes need to be made quickly as an aging workforce retires, leaving highly demanding occupations open.

    For the VFW testimony and more information on the hearing, visit the HVAC website at: http://veterans.house.gov/hearings/.

    2. Senate Holds Hearing on VA IT
    The Senate VA Committee held an oversight hearing to discuss a recent GAO report on VA’s Information Technology system. Last year Congress passed legislation to reorganize the entire IT department under the direction of an Assistant Secretary. The reorganization was accelerated after the 2006 data theft and several other reports of stolen or missing personal data records across the country. The committee hopes to get answers on the effects of changes to VA's IT management structure on the department's ability to deliver health care, benefits and services to veterans, as well as the status of the development of a DOD-VA joint electronic health record system.


    3. Vietnam Veterans Memorial 25th Anniversary
    The House passed a resolution (H Res 326) commemorating the 25th anniversary of the construction and dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The Wall is the most visited site in Washington, with more than 3 million people visiting annually to honor those who served and died in the Vietnam War.

    To read the resolutuion go to the Thomas website at:http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:h.res.00326:
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