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Panel urges plan to care for veterans

Associated Press / April 1, 2010

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WASHINGTON — Looking decades ahead, the Institute of Medicine is urging the Veterans Affairs Department to begin planning now for the long-term health care needs of the estimated 1.9 million veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Specifically, the institute says in a report released yesterday, not enough is known about what works best in the long term to treat veterans with traumatic brain injuries, often caused by roadside bombs.

While many programs are available to help the men and women who have served in the recent conflicts, there is little coordination and sparse information about which ones are effective, the report said.

A 16-member panel coordinated by the Institute of Medicine reviewed the readjustment needs of troops, veterans, and their families at the request of Congress. The institute is part of the National Academies, which advises the government on scientific matters.