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What panelists discovered

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:

  • 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.
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