Veterans

April 2, 2014

Hagel orders overhaul of POW/MIA identification agencies

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced March 31 that he’s ordered an overhaul of the Pentagon agencies responsible for recovering and identifying the remains of America’s war dead.

The reorganization seeks to consolidate the mission, improve efficiency and increase the number of remains identified by the two key agencies charged with POW-MIA accounting efforts — the Defense Prisoner of War Missing Personnel Office and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, Hagel told a Pentagon news conference.

Last month, the defense secretary directed Michael Lumpkin, acting undersecretary of defense for policy, to provide him with recommendations on how to reorganize the two organizations into a single, streamlined unit with oversight for the entire mission.

“These steps will help improve the accounting mission, increase the number of identifications of our missing, provide greater transparency for their families and expand our case file system to include all missing personnel,” Hagel said.

An armed forces medical examiner working for the yet-to-be-named agency will be the sole DOD identification authority and will oversee operations of the central identification laboratory in Hawaii as well as those in Omaha, Neb., and Dayton, Ohio.

“By consolidating functions, we will resolve issues of duplication and inefficiency and build a stronger, more transparent and more responsive organization,” Hagel stressed.

In explaining why the reorganization was necessary, Lumpkin told reporters it had become clear that the department needed a “paradigm shift” from what some have called “outdated, institutionalized thinking and behavior that didn’t deliver the number of remains accounted for that we had hoped.”

“As of next year, Congress has mandated the department have the capacity to identify up to 200 sets of remains a year, but last year the DOD agencies only identified 70 sets,” he said.

Lumpkin said the new agency will maintain a single database of records related to missing Americans instead of the multiple databases currently in use. In addition, he said, proposals will be developed for expanding partnerships with private organizations already working to recover and identify remains to “fully embrace progressive science.”

No date has been set for when the new agency will be stood up, but the undersecretary said it would be led by a civilian appointed by the president.

“This is a top priority for the Department of Defense. There is no greater sacrifice a service member can make than by dying for this country and we want to honor these heroes by bringing them home,” Lumpkin said.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Army photograph by Sgt. Ryan Hallock

The long road home: Lewis-McChord honors Vietnam veterans

Army photograph by Sgt. Cody Quinn Former and current service members gather together during Vietnam Veterans Salute Day, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Oct. 9, 2014. The event was held to honor Vietnam veterans by giving ...
 
 

VA processes more than 1.3 million veteransí claims in fiscal 2014

More than 1.3 million Veterans received decisions on their Department of Veterans Affairs disability compensation and pension claims in fiscal year 2014 ñ the highest number in VA’s history, surpassing last year’s record-breaking production by more than 150,000 claims. This second year of record-breaking production comes as VA continues to transform the way it provides...
 
 

Obama: Move heaven and earth to care for disabled vets

With the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, the nation commemorates for the first time the two battles disabled veterans have fought – the battle over there and the battle at home – the battle to recover, President Barack Obama said Oct. 5 during the dedication ceremony. Congress approved the building of the memorial with...
 

 

VA wards contract for independent assessment of health care

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Oct. 1 that the MITRE Corporation, a not-for-profit company that operates multiple federally funded research and development centers, has been awarded a contract to support the Independent Assessment of VA health care processes, as required by the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014. MITRE Corporation will serve...
 
 
Army photograph by SSgt. Mary S. Katzenberger

82nd Airborne helps commemorate 70th Anniversary of Operation Market Garden

Army photograph by SSgt. Mary S. Katzenberger A paratrooper assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, reflects near the grave of a British paratrooper at the Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery, Sept. 14, 2014, in the Netherlands. The...
 
 

VA announces awardees of grants that support disabled veterans in adaptive Sports

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald announced Sept. 29 the award of approximately $8 million in grants to provide adaptive sports opportunities for disabled veterans and disabled service members of the Armed Forces. Adaptive sports are those sports that have been created or modified for persons with disabilities. Partnering with national, regional, and community-based...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>