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FY2014 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Issues

FY2014 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Issues (PDF) Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Military personnel issues typically generate significant interest from many Members of Congress and their staffs. Ongoing operations in Afghanistan, along with the operational role of the Reserve Components, further heighten interest in a wide range of military personnel policies and issues.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has selected a number of the military personnel issues considered in deliberations on the initial House-passed version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 and on the bill that was enacted and became law (P.L. 113-66). This report provides a brief synopsis of sections that pertain to personnel policy. These include end strengths, pay raises, health care, and sexual assault, as well as less prominent issues that nonetheless generate significant public interest.

This report focuses exclusively on the annual defense authorization process. It does not include language concerning appropriations, veterans’ affairs, tax implications of policy choices, or any discussion of separately introduced legislation, topics which are addressed in other CRS products. Some issues were addressed in the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act and discussed in CRS Report R42651, FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Policy Issues, coordinated by Catherine A. Theohary. Those issues that were considered previously are designated with a “*” in the relevant section titles of this report.

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New GAO Reports

Source: Government Accountability Office

  1. VA Health Care: Actions Needed to Improve Administration and Oversight of Veterans’ Millennium Act Emergency Care Benefit. GAO-14-175, March 6. Highlights – Podcast –

  2. Electronic Health Record Programs: Participation Has Increased, but Action Needed to Achieve Goals, Including Improved Quality of Care. GAO-14-207, March 6. Highlights –

  3. Nuclear Nonproliferation: Stronger Planning and Evaluation Needed for Radiological Security Zone Pilot Project. GAO-14-209, March 6. Highlights –

  4. 2013 Sequestration: Agencies Reduced Some Services and Investments, While Taking Certain Actions to Mitigate Effects. GAO-14-244, March 6. Highlights – Podcast –

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Department of Veterans Affairs FY 2014-2020 Strategic Plan

Department of Veterans Affairs FY 2014-2020 Strategic Plan (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

We serve a shrinking, but increasingly diverse, Veteran population. The number and complexity of disability claims continues to increase. Changes in health technologies, health legislation, and health care delivery systems will impact both public and private sector health care models. Technological advances in all disciplines are changing the way we communicate, learn, shop, travel, monitor our health, conduct warfare, and even memorialize the fallen. Our service to Veterans must reflect these changes.

This VA Strategic Plan for FY 2014-2020 builds on our prior (FY 2011-2015) strategic plan. We will continue to significantly transform how we operate as a Department. We will keep the promises we have made to increase access, eliminate the claims backlog, and end Veteran homelessness. In addition, this plan places a stronger emphasis on defining success by Veteran outcomes; enhancing the quality of and access to benefits and services through integration within VA and with our partners; and developing our workforce with the skills, tools, and leadership to meet our clients’ needs and expectations.

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New GAO Reports

Source: Government Accountability Office

1. National Mediation Board: Strengthening Planning and Controls Could Better Facilitate Rail and Air Labor Relations. GAO-14-5, December 3.
Highlights –

2. VA Health Care: Improvements Needed in Processes Used to Address Providers’ Actions That Contribute to Adverse Events. GAO-14-55, December 3.
Highlights –

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American Legion releases report on TBI and PTSD

Legion releases report on TBI and PTSD
Source: American Legion

The American Legion released a report on Sept. 11 that is the culmination of a study the wartime veterans organization did on current treatments and best practices for traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The report, entitled “The War Within,” includes findings and recommendations based on comprehensive research, conducted from January 2011 to February 2013, by an American Legion ad hoc committee chaired by William Detweiler, past national commander of the Legion.

Detweiler said the report shows that while the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) use a number of traditional medical treatments for TBI and PTSD cases, “they have not done a lot of research on alternative methods. There’s no simple answer to what works as far as PTSD or TBI is concerned, but we found that the (DoD and VA) medical profession shied away from certain things which they considered to be alternative medicine.”

For example, Detweiler said that hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is one alternative treatment that “works for some people. It’s not the answer for everybody, but (DoD and VA) have shied away from putting any serious money into doing studies.”

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