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Opening Statement of Hon. Michael H. Michaud, Ranking Democratic Member, Subcommittee on Health

Thank you, Madam Chair. 

I would like to thank you for holding this hearing today. Certainly this is an important and appropriate topic for this Subcommittee.   

We are here today to examine the effectiveness of the Federal Recovery Coordination Program (FRCP) and to assess if outreach has succeeded in bringing coordinated care to veterans who were injured prior to the FRCP.  When a service member returns from combat we must make every effort and direct our considerable resources to ensuring that they and their families receive compassionate, comprehensive, and coordinated care from the beginning.  Continued oversight of this important program is critical because if it is not done right, service members suffer.  

For some time now we have heard stories of service members returning home from serving their country, with no guidance and no support.  Too often we hear of families carrying the burden of a service member’s recovery and reintegration back into civilian life.   In addition, we know that service members experience confusion, redundancy of services, and conflicting advice given by the many coordinators that are part of the recovery process.  I am sure you will agree that we must do better. Challenges remain and there is still much work to be done.  Although there is a solid foundation for the FRCP, I am looking forward to not only hearing testimony from the panelists but also having a frank discussion on ways to fix the issues and overcome barriers. I am confident that by working together we can do just that.

The Dole-Shalala Commission, which set out recommendations for the care of wounded warriors, said it is not enough “merely patching the system, as has been done in the past.  Instead, the experiences of these young men and women have highlighted the need for fundamental changes in care management and the disability system.”  The Commission emphasized that significant improvements require a “sense of urgency and strong leadership.” 

I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for your dedication to our nation’s veterans