Linda Bilmes, the Harvard finance expert who helped establish the true cost of the war, including veteran healthcare, turns her attention to the Walter Reed scandal, and the bureaucratic quagmire that keeps our soldiers from getting help. Bilmes offers four lessons to avoid future problems. We can only hope someone takes her advice.
Soldiers injured in theatre are supposedly able to apply for disability benefits before they are discharged. But to take advantage of the program a soldier must know when he is going to be discharged. Unfortunately, much of the force doesn’t know when it will be discharged because of repeated deployments and “stop-loss” orders. Furthermore, National Guard and Reserve soldiers are excluded from the pre-discharge program.
The bureaucratic fumbling between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs also diverts the VA’s stretched medical resources into claims processing and away from providing prompt, needed treatment.
Here are some simple lessons from the Walter Reed scandal that will improve the lot of the 900,000 servicemen who are still deployed into the Iraq and Afghanistan wars: