WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, held an oversight hearing today on the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES). This evaluation system, recently tested as a pilot program, is a collaborative effort between VA and DoD to streamline the process by which servicemembers are evaluated for disabilities by both departments.
"Both departments must ensure that each new location has what it needs to effectively operate the Integrated Disability Evaluation System before it is expanded," said Chairman Akaka. "The rush to move forward quickly should not come before our goal to provide a quality process to servicemembers.
"If broadened before it is ready, the new process could negatively impact servicemembers and veterans. I am optimistic that an effectively implemented program will improve the transition from active duty to civilian life for warriors disabled during their service to the nation."
Currently, wounded servicemembers who are discharged after receiving their disability rating from the military must go through the process again to receive a new rating from VA. The program, if implemented effectively, would eliminate this duplication.
At the core of IDES is a joint disability medical examination that can be used for the existing DoD Medical Evaluation Board/ Physical Evaluation Board process and VA disability compensation process. The hearing examined the problems that have surfaced over the course of the pilot program and VA and DoD’s plans to expand the program worldwide.
John R. Campbell from the Department of Defense, Daniel Bertoni from the Government Accountability Office, and John Medve from the Department of Veterans Affairs provided testimony for this hearing.
Chairman Akaka and the other members of the committee posed a number of questions regarding issues encountered during oversight visits in the pilot phase of the program, including shortages of staff to perform disability medical evaluations, program funding, and program participants’ satisfaction.
More information about the hearing including statements, testimony and the webcast is available here: LINK.