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(Washington, DC) U.S. Senator Richard Burr, the lead Republican on the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, thanked members of the Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission and said he looks forward to fully reviewing their 500-plus page report, which was released today.
"We must always look to improve veterans services and benefits. I take seriously the recommendations of the commission members and hope that Congress and the Department of Veterans Affairs will use this report to help guide meaningful, long-term policies to improve the lives of veterans and their families," Burr said.
Commissioners highlighted 14 issues among their 113 recommendations as priority items, including improving the disability claims process, establishing new ways of compensating and treating veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), streamlining the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs disability evaluation process, and adjusting the amount of compensation veterans and survivors receive when disability and death impact families.
The Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission was established by Congress in 2004. Twelve of its thirteen Commission members are themselves veterans and nine of those served in combat. Collectively they have 260 years of military experience, 2 Medals of Honor, 2 Distinguished Service Crosses, 9 Silver Stars, 6 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 5 Bronze Stars for Valor, and 13 Purple Hearts.
In July, a nine member Presidential panel led by former U.S. Senator Bob Dole and former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala called for an overhaul of the disability rating system, creation of recovery plans with recovery coordinators, a new e-Benefits website, and guaranteed care for PTSD from the VA for injured service members from Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I look forward to reviewing these reports with my Senate colleagues and continuing our work to care for our nation's veterans," Burr said.