Nicholson Leads Federal Task Force on Combat Benefits

Secretary Pledges "Comprehensive, Soldier-Oriented" Review
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America's Veterans


WASHINGTON (March 7, 2007) - President Bush has created a special, inter-agency task force under the leadership of Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson to thoroughly examine and cut through red tape affecting the latest generation of combat veterans seeking services and benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or any other federal agency.

Called the "Task Force on Returning Global War on Terror Heroes," the panel held its first meeting today. The task force consists of the secretaries of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Education, plus the administrator of the Small Business Administration and the director of the Office of Management and Budget.

"No task is more important to me personally or to the men and women of the Department of Veterans Affairs than ensuring our heroes receive the best possible care and services," Nicholson said. "This task force will identify ways to cut red tape and ease the transition back home for our combat troops, especially our wounded heroes. They deserve less hassle and more action from their government, and that will continue to be our focus."

Under the terms of the executive order creating the task force, the group has 45 days to:

  • "Identify and examine existing federal services that currently are provided to returning Global War on Terror service members;"
  • "Identify existing gaps in such services;"
  • "Seek recommendations from appropriate federal agencies on ways to fill those gaps;" and
  • "Ensure that appropriate federal agencies are communicating and cooperating effectively."
  • Executive secretary of the task force is retired Rear Adm. Patrick W. Dunne, VA's assistant secretary for policy and planning. Matt Smith, special assistant to Secretary Nicholson, will serve as the task force's senior advisor.