Joint Hearing of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the U.S. Senate and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives at 1:00 p.m. CDT.
Opening Statement of Hon. Ann Marie Buerkle, Chairwoman, Subcommittee on Health
Good morning and thank you all for joining us today as we examine “The Federal Recovery Coordination Program: From Concept to Reality.”
The Federal Recovery Coordination Program was the brain child of the Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors, commonly known as the Dole-Shalala Commission.
The Commission, which was established in 2007, rightly recognized that navigating the complex maze of Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) care, benefits, and services can be a task of almost Herculean effort for wounded warriors and their families at a time when all of their energy and focus should be on recovery.
The Commission recommended that we swiftly develop a program to establish a single point of contact for wounded warriors and their families to make these systems more manageable, eliminate delays and gaps in treatment and services, and break through VA and DOD jurisdictional boundaries to ensure a truly seamless transition.
However, almost four years since DOD and VA signed a memorandum of understanding to establish the Federal Recovery Coordination Program, significant challenges persist in areas as fundamental as identifying potential enrollees, reviewing enrollment decisions, determining staffing needs, defining and managing caseloads, and making placement decisions.
Further, it appears that rather than having the joint program envisioned by the Commission to advocate on behalf of wounded warriors and ensure comprehensive and seamless rehabilitation, recovery, and transition, we have two separate programs—a VA program that utilizes Federal Recovery Coordinators and a DOD program that utilizes Recovery Care Coordinators.
The intent was to streamline. The intent was to simplify. The intent was to serve the most seriously wounded, ill, and injured. But, instead, there is duplication, there is bureaucracy, there is confusion.
This is unacceptable in any program that receives tax-payer funding. But it is unforgivable in a program that serves our most severely wounded servicemembers, veterans, and their families. I want to hear from each of today’s witnesses how they are going to solve these problems.
I now recognize our Ranking Member, Mr. Michaud for any remarks he may have.