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Lumpkin told reporters it had become clear that the department needed a “paradigm shift” from what some have called “outdated, institutionalized thinking and behavior that didn’t deliver the number of remains accounted for that we had hoped.”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


 
 

 

VA announces single regional framework under MyVA initiative

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Jan. 26 that it is taking the first steps under the MyVA initiative to realign its many organizational maps into one map with five regions to better serve Veterans. The new regions under the MyVA alignment will allow VA to begin the process of integrating disparate organizational boundaries into...
 
 
Navy photograph by PO2 Brian Wilbur

Nisei veterans honored with France’s highest award

Navy photograph by PO2 Brian Wilbur Adm. Harry Harris Jr., commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, delivers remarks at a ceremony honoring World War II veterans of the 100th Battalion 442nd Regiment at the Japanese Cultural Center of ...
 
 

VA announces appointment of new members to advisory council

The Department of Veterans Affairs is announcing the appointment of new members to the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses. VA will appoint Stephen L. Hauser, MD as committee chair for a term through September, 2016. Hauser is the Robert A. Fishman Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology at the...
 

 

Applications accepted for 2015 National Veterans Wheelchair Games

The Department of Veterans Affairs is accepting applications for the 2015 National Veterans Wheelchair Games. Registration began in early January and will close April 15. The National Veterans Wheelchair Games is a sports and rehabilitation program for military service Veterans who use wheelchairs for sports competition due to spinal cord injuries, amputations or certain neurological...
 
 

Report: Agent Orange planes hold risk years after Vietnam

The health of some U.S. Air Force reservists could have been put at risk from the residue left in planes that sprayed Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, the Institute of Medicine reported Jan. 9. There’s not much data about the level of contamination, but limited testing years later make it plausible that some reservists...
 
 

Consolidation of POW/MIA mission moving forward

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Jan. 9 the Defense Department will, effective Monday, consolidate into one new agency the organizations that account for U.S. military prisoners of war and those missing in action. Hagel called for a review early last year to bring together the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, the Joint Personnel Accounting...
 




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>