CRAIG ENCOURAGES VETERANS TO CONTACT REVIEW PANEL
U.S. Senator Larry Craig, the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, is encouraging veterans and their family members with concerns about VA and military health care to contact a new task force established by VA Secretary Jim Nicholson -- called the Interagency Task Force on Returning Global War on Terror.
"The purpose of that panel is to identify problems so that we can take action to fix the identified problems," Craig said. "The panel is only going to be operational for approximately 45 days, so it is important that people with concerns act quickly. Of course, the Senate committee I serve on will continue its oversight of VA operations long after the presidential panel completes its report."
People can email their comments to the panel at TFHeroes@va.gov or fax comments to 202-273-9599. Task Force information and mailing address can be obtained on the VA home page, www.va.gov/taskforce.
On Thursday Sen. Craig met the Co-Chairs of the President's Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors, which is led by retired U.S. Senator Bob Dole and Donna Shalala. She served as the U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services during the Clinton administration.
That group is also reviewing VA as well as military health care.
"We are all committed to improving the lives of all injured servicemembers. The main objective is to see that our service wounded members receive the finest care available," Craig said.
According to VA officials, comments veterans make will be studied by the task force, used in the panel's evaluation of gaps in service and form the basis of recommended solutions. In addition to Senator Dole and Secretary Shalala, other members of their panel include:
* Marc Giammatteo, a former U.S. Army captain whose leg was severely injured during an attack in Iraq. He has undergone more than 30 surgeries at Walter Reed.
* Jose Ramos, a student at George Mason University. While in the Navy, he treated soldiers injured in Iraq. In 2004, during his second tour of duty in Iraq, he lost an arm in combat.
* Tammy Edwards, a research assistant at the Geneva Foundation. In 2005, her husband was severely burned in Iraq when a 500-pound bomb exploded under his vehicle.
* Kenneth Fisher, chairman of the Fisher House Foundation, a nonprofit that builds "Fisher Homes" for families of hospitalized veterans.
* Dr. C. Martin Harris, a medical doctor who has served on other government and private commissions that have examined health care problems.
* Edward Eckenhoff, a leader president of the National Rehabilitation Hospital.
* Dr. Gail Wilensky, an economist and senior fellow at Project HOPE. She was Administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration from 1990-92, during the senior President Bush' administration