From my view as a veteran of Navy service during the Vietnam era, the move to Acceptable Clinical Evidence (ACE) is an important process improvement in handling veterans' disability claims within 125 days, by 2015.
We need to applaud Rep. Kevin McCarthy for his work in requesting an audit of the Department of Veterans Affairs. However, 2015 is two years away, and we will have 1 million vets over the next five years as the Afghan war winds down. In the coming hearing by the full House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, attention should be given to the number of veterans coming back who will need medical treatment on their return and when they will need it. If the VA hospitals cannot provide medical services, veterans needing medical attention should be able to go to any hospital or medical clinic of their choice for a two- to five-year period, free of any charges, until the VA hospitals can see them.
The House should make sure the budget can accommodate our veterans' medical needs from the first day of their discharge. The military should enroll them prior to their discharge, so that their entry into civilian life for potential medical treatment is seamless. We are going to have medical coverage of nearly everyone come January 2014, and creating a path for medical care for our veterans on their return is a small way of saying thanks for their valiant service. We owe them this for putting their lives on the line for America.