Wednesday, September 1, 2010

In Iraq address, Obama gives nod to veteran health care

Posted by Meredith Melnick
In his Oval Office address Tuesday night, President Barack Obama announced the end of combat operations in Iraq — and with it a return to challenges at home, especially those faced by veterans. Obama pointed to his Post-9/11 GI Bill — which came into effect in August 2009 and has since helped 300,000 veterans achieve a college education — as evidence of his commitment to veteran well-being. Further, referring to post-traumatic stress disorder as a "signature wound of today's wars," Obama highlighted the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 (CVOHSA), passed in May, which is designed to improve health care for returning veterans. But what does the bill really say? Below, five ways that CVOHSA should help veterans and their families:

Increase commitment to veterans of previous wars, especially those exposed to Agent Orange

Despite the controversy over the automatic funding of Agent Orange claims by Vietnam War veterans, even claims for disabilities that are not linked to the herbicide by clinical data (a review of the policy is slated for Sept. 23), the authors of CVOHSA evidently did not want to leave Vietnam-era veterans out — or Gulf War vets either. Gulf War vets and Vietnam vets who were exposed to Agent Orange will have increased access to services, including VA hospital care, medical services and nursing home care, for any disability.

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