A commission -- led by former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., a wounded World War II veteran, and Donna Shalala, president of the University of Miami and a former secretary of Health and Human Services -- studied the care system for wounded military personnel.
It reported problems in:
- Coordinating care and patient information by the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments, whose procedures often leave veterans in limbo between the two agencies.
- Reconciling the differing Defense and Veterans Affairs standards for evaluating veterans' disabilities.
- Treating post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, common among those deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, because of a lack of staff specialists.
- Supporting family members of wounded soldiers, even as relatives are uprooting themselves for months at a time to help loved ones recover.
Its key recommendations included:
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- Maintaining the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in top shape, with first-rate staff, until its scheduled closing in 2012.
- Simplifying the disability-ratings system.
- Assigning a care coordinator to each seriously wounded service member.
- Improving care for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
- Increasing support for relatives to care for wounded service members, including expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act.