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Letter to the Honorable James Peake, Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs


Location: Washington, DC

Letter to the Honorable James Peake, Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs

Obama Calls on VA Secretary to Provide Critical Data on Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans to Improve Veterans Services

U.S. Senator Barack Obama today sent the following letter to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary James Peake, requesting that he release critical information and data relating to veterans health care, disability claims and Vet Center activity. Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began, veterans have faced unique challenges as they return to their families and communities, including health-related needs as well as community readjustment concerns. It is essential for Congress to have as much information as possible in order to best determine the needs of community and veterans service organizations so it can better understand how to serve them. The National Academy of Sciences is also expected to begin a study, based on Obama legislation, to document the long term needs of these heroes and will require this information as well.

The text of the letter is below:

Dear Secretary Peake:

I am writing to request your cooperation in providing the American people with some critical information regarding the needs of our Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) veterans.

As you know, OIF and OEF veterans have faced unique needs as they return to their families and communities. Some of these needs are health-related, but other needs are related to community readjustment concerns. I am pleased that the National Academy of Sciences is expected to begin a study, based on my legislation, to document the longterm needs of these heroes. However, the VA can assist in our efforts to determine the needs of these veterans by sharing some critical information.

I am requesting the VA release, as soon as practicable, the following information:

1. The latest reports on healthcare use by the OIF and OEF veterans;
2. The latest reports on disability claims made by OIF and OEF veterans;
3. The latest reports on Vet Center activity by OIF and OEF veterans.

I appreciate your cooperation in providing this important information. With this information, the Congress can better determine the needs of this community and veterans service organizations can better understand how to best serve our most recent veterans.

I also want to commend your office on taking into account recommendations that
Chairman Akaka, I and other Senators on the Veterans Affairs Committee submitted on the proposed regulations regarding rating disabilities for veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The recently released revised regulations are a significant improvement from the draft regulations and I am pleased they will provide for consideration of both the frequency and severity of disabilities. I also appreciate that the VA will notify veterans who were rated under the previous regulations that they have the opportunity for a re-evaluation under these new regulations. As you know, we must do all we can to ensure our nation's heroes receive the benefits and services they deserve. I hope all OIF and OEF veterans are afforded this notice. I also hope we can continue to work together to increase TBI research and care for mild-moderate TBI victims.

Thank you for your assistance and I look forward to hearing from you.

Barack Obama
United States Senator

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