WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, held a hearing today on the work of the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense to ensure a seamless transition from military service to veteran status.
"While VA and DOD are working in a variety of ways to improve transition from military service and veteran status, all of these improvements depend upon top-level involvement," said Akaka. "I am willing to take the necessary steps to ensure that the VA and DOD continue to work aggressively towards seamless transition for all veterans, and to be especially mindful of veterans at-risk of suicide and PTSD."
Chairman Akaka questioned Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England and Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Gordon Mansfield on the work of their Departments to respond to the rising suicide rate among servicemembers and veterans. Akaka noted that the Congress has not received accurate information on the true number of suicides, and that some data have been suppressed. Akaka insisted that both Departments provide accurate suicide data to the Committee.
Witnesses at today's hearing, including the Co-Chairs of the Senior Oversight Committee (the body charged with ensuring VA/DOD inter-department coordination for transitioning servicemembers), detailed the important VA/DOD progress made. Witnesses also outlined the immense amount of work still left to be done, and the human toll of a sometimes-disjointed VA/DOD transition where servicemembers do not receive the assistance they need and deserve.
The full witness list can be viewed here: link
The Chairman's opening statement can be viewed here: link