The bill has findings saying:
- While good work is being done, the United States needs a wider and more thorough process for welcoming veterans back from war and more effectively reintegrating them into society;
- The country has fought wars, but many citizens have not been directly involved, and civilians need to be more regularly connected with veterans.
The bill would create a Commission and a small program:
First, a Commission on Veterans Care -- a citizens’ commission, made up of veterans and citizens knowledgeable about the impacts of war on our Armed Forces and on society. The Commission would:
- Recommend ceremonies for Memorial Day Weekend in May, 2014 for a national acknowledgment of the wars recently fought and for the heroism and costs in lives, injuries, families and communities;
- Convene a conversation (hearings) around the country about:
- the impact of war on soldiers, their families and communities,
- the reintegration experience for veterans, and
- the gap between the military, veterans and civilian life
- Report to Congress and the President on:
- How we as a country can do a better job welcoming soldiers back from war;
- How we can make reintegration a complete and positive experience;
- How to put a particular emphasis on addressing the effects of post-traumatic stress and the other social, economic and health issues of veterans;
- Report to the Secretary of the VA, Congress and the President on how to best conduct an ongoing interaction between combat veterans and civilians, particularly with young people, with whom combat veterans will share their stories and the impact of their combat and reintegration experience directly with civilians and for recorded history.
Second, an Office of Armed Services and Veterans Public Outreach at the Dept. of Veterans Affairs:
This office will work with organizations throughout the government and country to facilitate, through private and non-profit groups, matching veterans and service members to audiences.
The Commission would have 18 members appointed by the President and Congressional leadership.
Hearings around the country about the impact of war on our Armed Forces and communities would start within 120 days. The Commission’s recommendations for special remembrance are due in December 2013. The Commission’s report on programmatic gaps is due by the end of 2014. The veterans outreach program would start in 270 days and be ongoing.
Funding and Termination:
The Commission would finish its work at the end of May, 2016. The Veterans outreach program would be ongoing. The Commission would have some (several million $) initial start-up funding and then be able to raise money from the public. The small outreach facilitation Office at the VA would be run from existing funds.
If you have any questions, please call Toby Whitney in Congressman McDermott’s office at 202-225-0098
Note: there was a 2007 Commission on Veterans’ Care, headed by Bob Dole and Donna Shalala, that issued useful recommendations. It is now time to go farther.