VA AND DOD COOPERATION AND COLLABORA TION CARING FOR THE

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COMMITTEE ON VETERANS AFFAIRS,DANIEL K AKAKA Hawaii Chairman. JOHN D ROCKEFELLER IV West Virginia RICHARD BURR North Carolina Ranking. PATTY MURRAY Washington Member,BARACK OBAMA Illinois ARLEN SPECTER Pennsylvania. BERNARD SANDERS I Vermont LARRY E CRAIG Idaho,SHERROD BROWN Ohio KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON Texas. JIM WEBB Virginia LINDSEY O GRAHAM South Carolina,JON TESTER Montana JOHNNY ISAKSON Georgia. ROGER F WICKER Mississippi,WILLIAM E BREW Staff Director.
LUPE WISSEL Republican Staff Director, VerDate Nov 24 2008 10 58 Mar 24 2009 Jkt 000000 PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 5904 Sfmt 5904 H PS41451 DOCS 031108 TXT SVETS PsN PAULIN. C O N T E N T S,MARCH 11 2008, Akaka Hon Daniel K Chairman U S Senator from Hawaii 1. Burr Hon Richard Ranking Member U S Senator from North Carolina 2. Murray Hon Patty U S Senator from Washington 3,Brown Hon Sherrod U S Senator from Ohio 4. Sanders Hon Bernard U S Senator from Vermont 5, Bunce Col Peter USAF Ret Father of Justin Bunce OIF Veteran 6. Prepared statement 9, Verbeke Robert Father of Daniel Verbeke OIF Veteran 12.
Prepared statement 15, McMichael Jackie Wife of Michael McMichael OIF Veteran 20. Prepared statement 22, Davis Lynda C Ph D Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Military. Personnel Policy U S Department of the Navy 35,Prepared statement combined with Ms Day 38. Response to written questions submitted by Hon Bernard Sanders 46. Day Kristin LCSW Chief Consultant Care Management and Social Work. Office of Patient Care Services Veterans Health Administration U S De. partment of Veterans Affairs 36,Prepared statement 38. Response to written questions submitted by,Hon Daniel K Akaka 48.
Hon Bernard Sanders 48, Response to questions arising during the hearing submitted by Hon. Richard Burr 60, Dulin Jane LCSW Supervisor Soldier Family Management Branch U S. Army Wounded Warrior Program 49,Prepared statement 51. Sayers Steven L Ph D Clinical Psychologist Philadelphia VA Medical Cen. ter and Assistant Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry and Medicine. University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine 53,Prepared statement 54. Response to written questions submitted by Hon Daniel K Akaka 55. Phillips Suzanne B Psy D ABPP CGP on behalf of the American Group. Psychotherapy Association prepared statement 65, Kerr Pat Rowe State Veterans Ombudsman Director Operation Outreach.
Missouri Veterans Commission prepared statement 73. The National Military Family Association Inc prepared statement 78. Beard Elisabeth Mother of Army Specialist Bradley S Beard prepared. statement 84, Henderson Kristin Military Spouse Journalist prepared statement 87. VerDate Nov 24 2008 10 58 Mar 24 2009 Jkt 000000 PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 5904 Sfmt 5904 H PS41451 DOCS 031108 TXT SVETS PsN PAULIN. VerDate Nov 24 2008 10 58 Mar 24 2009 Jkt 000000 PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 5904 Sfmt 5904 H PS41451 DOCS 031108 TXT SVETS PsN PAULIN. VA AND DOD COOPERATION AND COLLABO,RATION CARING FOR THE FAMILIES OF. WOUNDED WARRIORS,TUESDAY MARCH 11 2008,U S SENATE,VETERANS AFFAIRS ON. Washington D C, The Committee met pursuant to notice at 10 02 a m in room. 418 Russell Senate Office Building Hon Daniel K Akaka Chair. man of the Committee presiding, Present Senators Akaka Murray Brown Sanders and Burr.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON DANIEL K AKAKA CHAIRMAN,U S SENATOR FROM HAWAII. Chairman AKAKA Good morning Aloha and welcome to all of. you to today s hearing This hearing will be in order. One tragic effect of the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is. the toll on the servicemembers and their families This toll will be. felt for years without any question or entire lifetimes to come We. know that lives are disrupted lifelong plans put on hold and fami. lies damaged as veterans struggle to deal with their service con. nected wounds, This morning we will hear from the fathers of two severely. wounded warriors and veterans who suffered Traumatic Brain In. juries Sadly these parents have stories of unfulfilled expectations. They are working with a system that is often too slow to respond. They were forced to look for help elsewhere when VA failed them. Their sons are part of a relatively small group of veterans suffering. from TBI It is outrageous that they continue to face these chal. lenges with the VA system At this point it is not an issue of fund. ing it is an issue of priority and focus and this is truly unaccept. Parents should not have to fight VA to ensure their children re. ceive the therapy and care they earned and need Spouses should. have access to the tools and professional help that would hold their. families together in these most trying times I am hopeful that our. second panel will be able to shed some light on the solutions to. these problems, There has been much attention placed on improving the dis. ability process for those with injuries sustained in battle As a. Committee we have also studied TBI and mental health programs. that provide services directly to veterans Today our focus is on the. burden of families of the veterans The fathers mothers and. VerDate Nov 24 2008 10 58 Mar 24 2009 Jkt 000000 PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 H PS41451 DOCS 031108 TXT SVETS PsN PAULIN. spouses of those who have sustained serious injury have already. given so much They cannot and should not be caring for veterans. all by themselves, In closing VA must recognize that family support is an integral. part of its mission VA must overcome obstacles stopping it from. incorporating family members into the care rehabilitation and re. covery process To paraphrase President Lincoln we have an obli. gation to help those families who have borne the burden of the bat. A special thanks to our witnesses especially those who are here. to share personal stories We are deeply in your debt and we thank. you for the service and sacrifices you and your loved ones have. made for our great country, In the interest of time I will stop here and turn to Committee.
Members of course beginning with our Ranking Member Senator. Richard Burr for his opening remarks,Senator Burr,STATEMENT OF HON RICHARD BURR RANKING MEMBER. U S SENATOR FROM NORTH CAROLINA,Senator BURR Thank you Mr Chairman and aloha. Chairman AKAKA Aloha, Senator BURR Colonel it is awfully good to see you again since. our House days Welcome and I am sorry it is under these cir. cumstances Mr Verbeke thank you for your testimony and Ms. McMichael thank you It is indeed an honor to have I am proud. to have a North Carolinian here before us today I thank you for. your willingness to share what is a very difficult family story with. the Committee this morning, Jackie your personal perspective is one of the loving wife We. will also hear the perspective of two fathers Your stories will help. us understand that being a father or mother or husband or wife in. addition to being primary caregiver to an injured servicemember. can be an unbelievable challenge It is also a critical need. If there is a common theme that I see in the first panel s testi. mony today it is this we can help families most by providing. quick hassle free and quality services to their loved ones. We are about to hear three different stories of how that didn t. happen how there was a breakdown in the system and how ac. countability was lacking or nonexistent Congress has been wres. tling with how best to ensure the seamless transition of the se. verely wounded from active duty to veteran status since this war. began Although I do believe we have made progress the testimony. today is a reminder that we still have a tremendous amount of. work to do, Families play such a crucial role in the recovery process of our.
wounded warriors that it is important to provide them with the. proper support As the old saying goes and I quote A family in. harmony will prosper in everything unquote We should always. remember that if a spouse or a parent is feeling stressed or if fi. nances have caused a strain on the family then that may nega. tively impact the recovery and rehabilitation of our service. VerDate Nov 24 2008 10 58 Mar 24 2009 Jkt 000000 PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 H PS41451 DOCS 031108 TXT SVETS PsN PAULIN. I would like to conclude with one final point Mr Chairman We. spend a lot of resources trying to provide the highest level of care. and benefits for our injured servicemembers veterans and their. families In fact we are approaching almost 150 billion in com. bined VA and Department of Defense programs to help these serv. ice personnel I highlight this to suggest that the challenges facing. many veterans and family members today have as much to do with. confusing bureaucratic programs operated by many different offices. of the Federal Government as they do with the lack of benefit pro. grams or the lack of resources I don t think there is one Member. of Congress who would hesitate to provide injured servicemembers. and their families with every potential resource they need but I. expect and I know these families expect that these resources will. be used effectively to treat their loved ones, Quite frankly to summarize we must do better period end of. sentence I thank the Chair for convening this hearing today and. more importantly for the tremendous outreach to our witnesses. today and I welcome them once again I yield the floor. Chairman AKAKA Thank you very much Senator Burr,Now we will hear from Senator Murray. STATEMENT OF HON PATTY MURRAY,U S SENATOR FROM WASHINGTON. Senator MURRAY Thank you very much Chairman Akaka for. holding today s hearing to talk about how the VA and the DOD are. working together to care for the families of our wounded warriors. I thank you and Senator Burr for holding this important hearing. I want to thank all of our witnesses for coming and sharing their. personal stories with us to help us understand the true impacts of. the decisions that we make here So thank you very much to all. Mr Chairman it was actually Abraham Lincoln our 16th Presi. dent who said you cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by. evading it today Well there is mounting and indisputable evidence. about the tremendous toll this conflict has taken on both our men. and women in uniform and it has become even more evident that. their families have been and will continue to pay a very high price. for the service of their loved ones We cannot afford to be compla. cent The stakes are very high and if we don t confront this issue. today many of our veterans families are going to suffer tomorrow. and many tomorrows to come, Studies in medical literature continue to document the detri. mental effects of this conflict on our warriors families I have per. sonally heard as I know everyone has many stories from family. members who are unable to cope with both the physical and mental. wounds of their loved ones and who don t feel they have the ade. quate resources or support to give to those who have given so much. to all of us, But don t just take our words for it Listen to the Commandant.
of the Marine Corps General Conway who said last week when he. testified in front of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on De. fense He said We do have a significant issue with our families. Simply put they are proud of their contributions to this war but. they are tired We owe it to those families to put our family service. VerDate Nov 24 2008 10 58 Mar 24 2009 Jkt 000000 PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 H PS41451 DOCS 031108 TXT SVETS PsN PAULIN. programs onto a wartime footing For too long our programs have. been borne on the backs of volunteers acceptable perhaps during. peacetime but untenable during a protracted conflict These are. the words of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Mr Chairman when our heroes go off to fight so do their fami. lies This conflict has torn at the very fabric of our American fami. lies and we have to realize that protecting and providing for the. families of our men and women in uniform is not only good policy. it is the right thing to do We as a country owe it to them to make. sure we do everything to make the transition of their loved ones. to civilian life as smooth as possible and that we provide every. available resource to their families for the physical and mental. wounds they incurred as a result of their service, Unfortunately today that is not happening and too many fami. lies don t have the resources they need and far too many families. aren t even aware of the resources that exist So it is clear that. the VA and DOD must not only make our veteran and active duty. servicemember families a priority but we have got to improve out. reach so these families have every resource that is available to. them to care for their loved ones, So Mr Chairman I very much look forward to hearing this and. I want to thank our first panel especially for being here to share. your personal stories with all of us Thank you,Chairman AKAKA Thank you very much Senator Murray. Now we will hear from Senator Brown,STATEMENT OF HON SHERROD BROWN.
U S SENATOR FROM OHIO, Senator BROWN Thank you Mr Chairman Thank you for hav. ing this hearing and Ranking Member Burr and Senator Murray. In the last year or so I have conducted about 85 or 90. roundtables around the State of Ohio to hear people s concerns. verely wounded from active duty to veteran status since this war began Although I do believe we have made progress the testimony today is a reminder that we still have a tremendous amount of work to do Families play such a crucial role in the recovery process of our wounded warriors that it is important to provide them with the proper

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