By Bob Brewin 05/08/2009
The Veterans Affairs Department said in its proposed fiscal 2010 budget released on May 7 that it has placed a high priority on building a virtual lifetime electronic record, which will follow soldiers from active duty through their retirement, an initiative that the yet-to-be-confirmed VA chief information officer said last week will be supported by a single Web site.
The virtual record, which the Defense Department and VA will share from the time a recruit joins the military to when he or she becomes a veteran, supports the Obama administration’s initiative for a standard registration process for VA for all service members. Its aim is to improve how benefits are delivered to vets because it will provide medical and administrative data in one file so doctors can treat soldiers and vets in the examining room and also determine benefits for service-related disabilities.
VA officials said its proposed $3.3 billion budget for information technology in fiscal 2010, which it released on May 7, would support the shared record as well as other projects, including the development of a paperless benefits processing system scheduled for completion in 2012.
Roger Baker, President Obama’s nominee for chief information officer at VA, said at his confirmation hearing on May 6 that development of a single Web site to provide benefits and health information to military personnel and veterans would be a key element of the virtual lifetime electronic record.
As service members transition from active duty to veteran status they should be able to access the same Web site, using the same username and password, to check on their medical record and health and disabilities benefits, Baker told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Vets now must use separate systems to access that information. As far as veterans are concerned, they are dealing with the same government as they did when on active duty and they should be able to use the same system, he said.