DOD, VA working hand in hand for better outcomes for veterans

Strategic planning is the bedrock of the joint effort between the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and it sets a condition for collaborative work to improve the outcome for active-duty personnel who are separating from the service and for veterans, Gilbert R. Cisneros Jr., undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness told a Senate committee Nov. 3, 2021.

Vandenberg Space Force Base members serve breakfast during the 2019 Santa Barbara County Veteran Stand Down event Oct. 19, 2019, in Santa Maria, Calif. During the event, airmen from Vandenberg assisted with serving food, carrying items for veterans and providing assistance in the supply warehouse. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Hanah Abercrombie)

Cisneros and his VA counterpart, Donald Remy, deputy secretary of veterans affairs, testified today before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. The work between the two departments reflects their shared vision for the future and enduring commitment to service members, veterans, their families, and caregivers, Cisneros said.

“I’m also pleased to share that Secretary Remy and I recently signed the VA-DOD Joint Strategic Plan, charting our joint endeavor for the next six years,” he told committee members.

The VA-DOD partnership has never been stronger, Cisneros said. “Our roles and responsibilities position us well to ensure open and frequent dialogue, lead change, resolve conflict, guide joint actions, initiatives, programs, and policy. We have already developed a meaningful open-door cooperative relationship, which has yielded results, some of which I’ve highlighted in my written testimony,” he said.

“Military-to-civilian readiness is one area Secretary Remy and I are both committed to. [It] aligns more than 20 transitional programs, activities and actions owned by multiple offices and agencies under an overachieving framework during a critical and officially designed transition period, which extends from 365 days pre- to 365 days post-separation,” Cisneros said.

Standardized assessments and exams, integrated programs, mental health touchpoints, and a new online single, authoritative tailored statement of benefits are all components of this important framework that we continue to champion, he told the committee.

Interoperability and shared business practices are critical to increasing access and improving outcomes for service members and veterans, Cisneros said.

As of September 2021, there are 147 active health care resource sharing agreements and 35 active non-medical agreements nationally, he said, adding that these agreements cover a wide range of support services, operating and integrating programs like the VA-DOD Integrated Disability Evaluation System.

“Secretary Remy and I are committed to the collaborative efforts needed to realize the strategic vision laid out in the VA-DOD joint strategy,” Cisneros said.

At the 244th birthday celebration of the U.S. Army at Warrior Field June 14, 2019, World War II veterans retired Maj. Gen. Erbon Wise, Johnny Davis and Jack Jones sit next to 1st Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry Regiment soldiers Capt. Robert Doyle and Sgt. 1st Class Jerrod Choate. The soldiers represented the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk,La., at the 75th D-Day anniversary ceremonies in Normandy, France. (Army photograph by Patricia Dubiel)

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