A Patch Won’t Work:

The Presidential Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors declared in their final report this week the need for “fundamental changes” in care management and the disability system, overseen by DOD and VA. “We don’t recommend merely patching the system, as has been done in the past,” the report states. In a joint release, co-chair Donna Shalala called the commission’s recommendations “innovative” but quickly “doable.” Bob Dole, the other commission chairman, asserted, “We will not let these recommendations sit on a shelf.” In a nutshell, here are the six proposed changes to the current system:

•Create a recovery plan for every seriously injured service member.

•Restructure the disability and compensation systems.

•Treat any veteran with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury and reduce the stigma associated with PTSD.

•Strengthen family support programs.

•Transfer patient information rapidly between DOD and VA.

•Support Walter Reed Army Medical Center by recruiting and retaining first-rate professionals through 2011, when the facility is to close under BRAC 2005.

According to VA Secretary Jim Nicholson, the report’s recommendations will be “addressed immediately” by the Senior Oversight Committee, which is co-chaired by Defense Deputy Secretary Gordon England and VA Deputy Secretary Gordon H. Mansfield. (You can find the commission’s final report here.)