DoD, VA cite progress in record-sharing

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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) reported to the Senate on the progress that has been made to integrate their systems and improve care to wounded veterans.

The VA and DoD have taken steps to speed the veteran disability process, to share health data across the departments and establish centers for traumatic brain injury and a coordinated recovery program, Gordon Mansfield, deputy VA secretary, told the Senate VA Committee.

Even as the VA reported that it is hiring more mental health professionals to care for veterans, senators challenged Mansfield by charging that the VA was withholding the full effects of the risk of suicide and suicide attempts by returning service members, according to Government Health IT.

The service delivery gaps that the VA and the DoD are trying to fix came to light from revelations last year of bureaucratic problems and poor post-hospital care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for wounded service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, Government Health IT reported.

The DoD and the VA said they are carrying out recommendations from the President's Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors. The departments are working, through an oversight committee made up of senior VA and DoD officials, to target immediate corrective actions, Mansfield said.

The VA and the DoD have dealt with 500 recommendations and have schedules, metrics and milestones for all of them, said Gordon England, DoD's deputy secretary. He and Mansfield are currently leading the collaborative efforts.