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House approves help for wounded soldiers 426-0

Published March 29, 2007


WASHINGTON - Reacting to shabby treatment of wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the House on Wednesday created a coterie of case managers, advocates and counselors for injured troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The "Wounded Warrior Assistance Act," approved 426-0, also establishes a hotline for medical patients to report problems in their treatment and demands an end to the red tape that has frustrated disabled service members as they move from Pentagon to Veterans Affairs Department care.

The bill would affect some of the more than 25,000 U.S. service members wounded in hostile action since military operations began in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We cannot allow those who have fought our foreign enemies in the defense of freedom to come home and fight the federal bureaucracy to get the health care they need," said Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., a member of the Armed Services Committee.

The White House, in a statement, said that while those goals were commendable, the legislation is premature.

It suggested that Congress wait for a report from a presidential commission and a task force on the war-wounded. Those findings are expected by the end of July.

More can be done later, said Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo., but the legislation is "needed now to provide immediate support for our wounded warriors."

The bill requires Senate action before it goes to the president.

The White House also objected to a provision imposing a one-year moratorium on a program letting private companies compete with public agencies for military hospital work contracts. The administration said the program, criticized for contributing to substandard conditions and inadequate nonmedical staffing at Walter Reed, is generating billions in savings.

[Last modified March 29, 2007, 01:57:05]

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