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Vets React to VA Announcement on Electronic Medical Records 

NEW YORK, NY (June 5, 2017) — Today, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the leading voice for the post-9/11 generation of veterans, issued the following statement in reaction to the announcement by VA Secretary Shulkin on the VA’s electronic medical records and a tweet by the President:

 

“Seamless electronic record-keeping has vexed the government for far too long. Time and time again, from multiple administrations, IAVA members have seen big promises on this problem that were never fulfilled. We’ve been here many times before. We were all there with President Obama back in 2009. The Trump administration’s focus today on solving this problem is encouraging. But making this announcement is the easy part. The hard part is actually getting it done,” said IAVA CEO and Founder, Paul Rieckhoff.  


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“Today is not the big day for veterans. The big day will come when we finally have a system that works. Our members look forward to seeing regular updates and will be in regular touch when and if they see improvements on the ground,” continued Rieckhoff.  

As outlined in our detailed and comprehensive Policy Agenda  on page 25, despite the commitments of past presidents and secretaries of DoD and the VA, there is still no sustainable system to share electronic health records. The consequence of the failure to seamlessly share information is that too many veterans are falling through the cracks in the transition from DoD to the VA. Despite initiatives to enroll more service members in eBenefits and reach more service members through the Transition Assistance Program, just 60 percent of all new veterans are registered for VA health care. National Guard members and reservists face particular difficulties in their transition between DoD and the VA, since they are bounced between the VA, DoD and state care. Dealing with so many agencies, they often struggle to obtain their medical and service records, resulting in more delays in applying for VA benefits and services.

IAVA has recommended the following:

  • Automatically enroll all eligible troops leaving active duty service in VA health care with an option to opt out and initiate Characterization of Discharge for those with other than honorable discharges.
  • Provide oversight by monitoring the interoperable DoD and VA health records, including submitting regular DoD and VA progress reports to Congress.
  • Improve the transition of National Guard medical and service records from state National Guard units to VA.
  • Fully implement the inTransition program and continue to assess to ensure service members receiving mental health care at DoD are handed off to VA for continued care as that individual transitions out of the military.

Note to media: Email press@iava.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. As a non-profit founded in 2004, IAVA’s mission is to connect, unite and empower post-9/11 veterans. Celebrating its 12th year anniversary, IAVA has connected more than 1.2 million veterans with resources and community, and provided more than 7,300 veterans with personalized support from IAVA’s Master’s level social workers.