For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 8, 2007
Fact Sheet: Keeping America's Promise to Those Who Have Defended Our Freedom
President Bush Discusses Administration Progress Implementing Dole-Shalala Commission Recommendations, Calls On Congress To Act
President Bush Visits Wounded Warriors at Center for the Intrepid
Today, President Bush visited the Center for the Intrepid at Brooke Army
Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. The Center for the Intrepid,
built thanks to the generosity of more than 600,000 Americans, is a
world-class physical rehabilitation facility focused on medical and
rehabilitative care of wounded warriors and veterans, injured in service to
America. The facilities include a military performance lab, a pool, an
indoor running track, a two-story climbing wall, and a prosthetics center.
Speaking before Veterans Day 2007, the President reaffirmed his commitment
to the well-being of those who have served, and discussed the
Administration's efforts to ensure our veterans have all they need. Caring
for our veterans is a solemn responsibility of the Federal government, and
it is our enduring pledge to every man and woman who puts on our Nation's
uniform. If the FY08 Budget request is enacted, President Bush will have
increased funding for veterans by 77 percent since taking office.
The Administration Is Working Hard To Improve Care For America's Wounded
In March, President Bush signed an Executive Order creating a bipartisan
commission to conduct a comprehensive review of the services America is
providing our returning wounded warriors. Co-chaired by Senator Bob Dole
and Secretary Donna Shalala, the President's Commission on Care for
America's Returning Wounded Warriors released its findings on July 25,
2007, and the President immediately instructed the Secretaries of Defense
and Veterans Affairs to implement the Commission's six recommendations that
can be done administratively:
The first Federal Recovery Coordinators, who will individually guide
seriously wounded service members through their recuperation, will be hired
over the next three weeks.
A program establishing a single comprehensive disability exam - replacing
the two separate bureaucratic processes in the Department of Defense (DOD)
and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) - will be field tested in the
National Capital Area this month.
A new National Center of Excellence for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
(PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury has just hired its first staff members
and moved into temporary offices in the D.C. area.
A single Web portal where wounded service members can track their medical
and recovery records will be beta-tested soon.
A proposed regulation to update the disability schedule for Traumatic Brain
Injury and burns will be published soon and released by the VA for public
DOD is using special authorities to retain the best health professionals
working at Walter Reed right up to its scheduled closure.
President Bush recently sent Congress legislation to implement the
recommendations that require Congressional action. Congress should respond
to the President's leadership and consider this legislation promptly to
bring the highest quality care to those injured while protecting our
The VA will initiate two important technical studies that will allow a
thorough updating of our military disability system. The President's
Commission called for Congress to establish these studies, but the
Administration found the funding and the authority to start them now.
The President Has Nominated A Distinguished Surgeon And Combat Veteran As
On October 30, President Bush nominated Lieutenant General James B. Peake
(Ret.), M.D., to serve as our Nation's Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Dr.
Peake is a twice-wounded and highly decorated veteran of the Vietnam War,
who recently served as the U.S. Army Surgeon General. His career spans
over 40 years in the field of military medicine.
Congress must act quickly to confirm this highly qualified nominee, so that
he can begin the hard work that lies ahead of him. This includes
continuing to implement the reforms recommended by the Dole-Shalala
Commission and building on the Administration's work to provide the best
care possible to America's returning wounded warriors.
President Bush Has Demonstrated A Strong Commitment To Improving The
Quality Of Life For Veterans And Their Families
If the FY08 Budget request is enacted, President Bush will have increased
funding for veterans by 77 percent since taking office. The President has
submitted a budget of nearly $87 billion for our veterans - the highest
level of support for veterans in American history. President Bush calls on
Congress to send him a clean veterans' spending bill as soon as possible,
so our Nation's veterans do not pay the price for Congress' inability to
get its most basic work done.
Since 2001, the President has extended medical treatment to a million
additional veterans, including hundreds of thousands of men and women
returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. The President's FY08 budget continues
to prioritize resources for returning combat veterans and other veterans
with service-related disabilities, low incomes, and special needs.
New VA facilities are being built in communities where many veterans live,
so that more veterans can access top-quality health care closer to their
homes. The FY08 budget provides $750 million in medical care construction
funds to better align facilities with patient needs, provide care in places
where veterans needs are greatest, and improve access to both primary and
specialty care services.
The proposed budget will continue expanding VA access to non-institutional
long-term care, enabling veterans to live and be cared for near, or in the
comfort of their homes, surrounded by family. It will also enable all
combat-era veterans to obtain prosthetics and sensory aids.
The President remains committed to reducing processing time for veteran
disability benefit claims by continually improving methods and technology.
Since the President took office, average waiting time has dropped from 230
days to 177, and the President's FY08 budget provides resources to reduce
processing time to 145 days.
In 2003, the President signed into law the National Cemetery Expansion Act
of 2003, directing the establishment of six new cemeteries. The FY08
budget would fully fund the final design and construction of these
cemeteries, and advance the President's goal to ensure that most veterans
have a final resting place within 75 miles of their homes.
DOD and the VA have made great progress in sharing electronic data
necessary to make eligibility determinations for VA benefits and services
for separated service members. Over the past year, the Departments have
reduced the time it takes for making DOD deactivation and separation data
available to VA hospital and benefits processing centers from 90 days to
within three days.
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