Research Institute Calls for Coordinated, National Approach to Veterans Services

A think tank report released Tuesday calls for the federal government to craft a “whole-of-the-nation national veterans strategy” to take advantage of the progress made over the past decade promoting veterans issues and the overwhelming public support for returning veterans and military families.

Under the more holistic approach proposed by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, a single federal entity would coordinate and direct national veterans programs that are currently housed in six separate agencies not counting the Department of Veterans Affairs. The study found that the departments of Defense, Labor, Education, and Housing and Urban Development, along with the Small Business and the Social Security administrations, all provide services for veterans, reported the Washington Post.

The report also identified more than 1,300 federal and state policies, laws and executive orders affecting veterans.

“This report is essentially an argument for how we can provide more efficient and effective delivery of services and care to veterans,” said James Schmeling, managing director of the institute. “We’re not arguing for more services, but better coordination, planning and implementation across government and better engagement with the private sector.”

The report proposes that the Obama administration create a presidential commission to develop a broad-based approach to support veterans. The panel would engage a diverse group of stakeholders that could make recommendations for the national veterans strategy. An interagency policy committee would be established to craft the strategy. A separate advisory board would be responsible for providing strategic advice to the president and Congress. The institute also proposes creating a periodic review process to assess evolving veterans policy and programs across the federal government.

“The argument is that it isn’t just coordination,” Schmeling told the Post. “Rather there is a need for a holistic look across all of government, and all of society, to make broad decisions about veterans, and then to appropriately allocate authority, budget, resources, expertise, collaboration and so on accordingly.”

Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen

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