America’s failure to prepare for and adequately address the impact of war upon service members and veterans is one of the most significant challenges of the post-September 11 era. In America’s Duty: The Imperative of a New Approach to Warrior and Veteran Care, Nancy Berglass, CNAS Non-Resident Senior Fellow and Director of the Iraq Afghanistan Deployment Impact Fund, argues that the strength and viability of an all-volunteer force is undermined when the health and well-being of its members are not being adequately addressed by the U.S. government.
In America’s Duty, Berglass argues that the current government-led infrastructure is inadequate to provide fully for our nation’s warriors and veterans, and makes concrete recommendations – and an action plan for implementation – to help solve these serious shortfalls:
1) The Administration should develop and implement a “national homecoming plan” that will address short- and long-term needs of troops and veterans, and attend to their successful reintegration with family, workforce, community and society.
2) The Department of Defense (DOD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) should institute a Comprehensive Interagency Continuum-of-Care Model that establishes and enforces clear communication and collaboration between the two departments. This includes establishing a high-level Veterans Policy Board, similar to the Defense Policy Board, which would include carefully selected national leaders and experts from across disciplines to provide the VA Secretary with strategic advice on important VA issues.
3) Implement partnerships with nonprofit service providers.
“During and after active service, thousands of service members and veterans are still falling through the cracks of government and nonprofit safety nets. For these military and veteran families to get the support they have earned, policymakers, the private sector and the nonprofit and philanthropic community must work together in dramatically different ways,” writes Berglass. “DOD and VA should embrace the opportunity to rally the dedication and resources of the American people through a new public-private partnership model of service to accomplish the critical mission of providing for those who have served.”
America’s Duty is an important contribution to CNAS's ongoing work on the future of the U.S. military. Current projects include the Military Wellness and Veterans' Health Initiatives, which focus on our nation’s capacity both to care for our troops and veterans and to address the impact of deployment on their families and communities.