Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) unveiled its 2014 policy priorities
today, aimed at meeting unfulfilled obligations to the nation's newest
wounded veterans, during testimony before the Committees on Veterans
Affairs for the Senate and the House of Representatives.
In testimony before a joint session of both committees, Anthony K.
Odierno, a member of WWP's Board of Directors and himself an injured
veteran, acknowledged the support of Congress and the progress made by
the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). However, he emphasized there
are still wide gaps between legislation passed by Congress and the
on-the-ground experience of veterans who need the intended services.
"Your Committees have a strong record of legislative accomplishment,"
testified Odierno, who lost his left arm while serving in Iraq in 2004.
"But there's still hard work ahead to make the promise of those laws a
Odierno outlined four key areas where VA and Congress must act in 2014
to remedy longstanding problems that compromise the care and support
owed to our injured veterans:
Implement a nearly two-year-old law aimed at improving long-term
rehabilitative services and maximizing independence for veterans with
traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Ensure, through a range of needed actions, that timely, effective
mental health care becomes the norm at all VA facilities.
Reduce case loads and improve training for Vocational Rehabilitation
and Employment (VR&E) Service case workers to transform VR&E into a
program that supports the career and educational aspirations of our
veterans instead of being purely a jobs program.
Fully implement the 2010 Caregiver Assistance law by revising overly
restrictive determination criteria; setting clear, consistent
standards for clinical decision-making; and providing meaningful
appeal rights to review denials of caregiver assistance.
While emphasizing these issues, Odierno testified that WWP would
continue advocating for continued improvement across the spectrum of
veterans issues including improving VA's provisions concerning care
related to military sexual trauma; providing greater and consistent
access to non-pharmacological services to manage acute and chronic pain;
ensuring that VA prosthetics and prosthetics research are high
priorities; and encouraging schools and universities to do more to
support disabled veterans.
During his testimony, Odierno highlighted the results of WWP's annual
survey, the most statistically significant data available on service
members injured since 9/11, as well as recent survey results from
caregivers to illustrate the widespread challenges this generation of
injured veterans face:
75% of respondents report experiencing PTSD and 44% report having TBI
34% of respondents reported not getting the health care they needed
with 41% reporting inconsistency or lapses in treatment as the cause
25% of respondents reported needing more than 40 hours of care or
attendance by another person per week
40% of caregiver respondents said their request for VA assistance was
denied with no explanation
17.8% of our respondents remain unemployed
Odierno stressed that, despite these continued challenges, WWP remains
committed to working with Congress and VA to address the needs of
America's newest veterans.
"We look forward to working with the Committees to realize the changes
needed to help our wounded warriors achieve the goals to which we all
aspire," said Odierno.
The full testimony can be found at http://www.veterans.senate.gov/hearings/legislative-presentation-of-various-vsos-031214.
Wounded Warrior Project
Wounded Warrior Project is recognizing its ten-year anniversary,
reflecting on a decade of service and reaffirming its commitment to
serving Wounded Warriors for their lifetime. The mission of Wounded
Warrior Project® (WWP) is to honor and empower Wounded
Warriors. WWP's purpose is to raise awareness and to enlist the public's
aid for the needs of injured service members, to help injured servicemen
and women aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct
programs and services to meet their needs. WWP is a national,
nonpartisan organization headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. To get
involved and learn more, visit woundedwarriorproject.org.
Wounded Warrior Project
Amanda Jekowsky, 202-644-9150