Commission Says Injured Soldiers Face Unacceptable Obstacles To Medical Treatment
(AP) Injured American soldiers returning home for medical treatment face an unacceptable maze of paperwork and bureaucracy, leaders of a presidential commission on veterans' health care said Saturday.
At their first public hearing, members pledged to work quickly to find solutions rather than assign blame.
"This is not going to be a witch hunt," said former Republican Sen. Bob Dole, one of the heads of the Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors.
Dole noted that at least nine congressional committees are investigating veterans' health care problems after the disclosures in February of squalid conditions and poor outpatient treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.
Donna Shalala, health and human services secretary under President Bill Clinton, said the commission planned a report by late July that would be pragmatic and "solution-driven."
The commission heard from three of its members who experienced problems after they or their spouses were injured in Iraq.
\Jose Ramos, a student at George Mason University in Virginia, lost an arm during combat in 2004. He praised the medical care at Walter Reed — once he could get an appointment.
He described having to wait four hours after a scheduled appointment to get in, as well as rescheduling follow-up visits.
"I constantly had to re-explain my symptoms and medical history. It was like starting all over again every time I had an appointment," Ramos said.
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