Fresh off of the Walter Reed hearings earlier this month, Vermont’s freshman Congressman found success in two of his troop-related policy initiatives this week.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Government Accountability Office – the nonpartisan wing of the federal government that oversees spending – agreed to conduct an investigation into the Bush administration’s planning of care for soldiers returning from Iraq and Afganistan.
That investigation was first suggested by Rep. Peter Welch, who bolted to the forefront of the issue as a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the body that has found itself steering several investigation’s into the Bush administration.
"I strongly believe the cost of the war must include care for the warriors," Welch said in a press statement on the news, repeating his oft-used mantra on the issue.
It’s a phrase that he repeats in his March 1 letter to David Walker, the comptroller general of the GAO. In that letter, Welch suggests that the poor physical conditions at Building 18 at Walter Reed are a "clear indicator of a systemic failure in the delivery of quality outpatient health care and services to those who have bravely served our country."
That same day, Welch also successfully passed his first amendment to a bill. This provision – which was attached to the "Wounded Warrior Assistance Act of 2007" – requires that the secretary of defense conduct health care outreach to returning soldiers and their families and "ensures that the medical case manager and service member advocate have the resources they need," according to the congressman’s office.
Welch also introduced the "Veteran’s Care Advocate Act" on Wednesday, a bill that would create an ombudsman position to help soldiers and their families overcome the bureaucracy of the army medical system.
"If the system breaks down, the ombudsman will go to bat on their behalf and cut through the bureaucracy," Welch said.