What You Missed at the Warrior Family Symposium

September 11, 2015

MOAA and the Wounded Warrior Project co-hosted the 9th annual Warrior-Family Symposium on September 9.

This year’s theme, “Our Nation’s Military: Caring for Our Own,” focused on government and non-government solutions to improve the mental wellness of servicemembers, veterans, their families and caregivers.

The morning panel discussed how the government has moved the needle forward in improving the well-being and care for our military, veterans, their families and caregivers on issues like mental-behavioral health, suicide, sexual trauma, and substance abuse.

Although the government has come a long way in improving care for veterans and their families, panelists discussed challenges with program awareness and accessibility.

The afternoon panel provided a five-year outlook on mental health care needs.

Keynote speaker Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee, said, “When it comes to veterans’ health care, there are no excuses.”

Although Sen. Isakson noted the progress made by the VA, he stressed the need for continued improvement and congressional support.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald also attended the event, and talked about the progress made by the VA over the last few years, as well as the remaining challenges the department faces.

The VA has reduced the backlog dramatically and cut decision times. Wait times for appointments have gone down, and claim decision accuracy has gone up.

McDonald said that although there has been considerable improvement, the department still has a long way to go. He worries that Congress will see the improvements and cut the necessary funding needed to close the remaining gaps.

“We tend to be a shortsighted government,” said McDonald.

For videos of speakers and panels, please visit MOAA’s website.