Homeland Security: Need to Consider VA's Role in Strengthening Federal Preparedness, Statement of Cynthia A. Bascetta Director, Health Care--Veterans' Health and Benefits Issues, Testimony before the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, House of Representatives [open pdf - 91KB]
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) aims to provide backup medical resources to the military health system and local communities. VA supports federal agencies that provide lead responsibilities for responding to disasters, including terrorism. The areas of responsibility also include disaster simulation exercises and maintaining medical stockpiles. VA's efforts in these areas have enhanced national emergency preparedness by improving medical response procedures and by strengthening the security of federal pharmaceutical stockpiles to ensure rapid response to local authorities. VA has resources that could play a role in future federal homeland security efforts. Its assets include the bricks, mortar, and human capital components of its health care system; graduate medical education programs; and expertise involving emergency backup and support activities. In managing large-scale medical emergencies arising from terrorist attacks, VA's emergency response capabilities have strengths and weaknesses. Determining how VA can best contribute to homeland security is especially timely given the extraordinary level of federal activity underway to manage large-scale disasters.
Government Accountability Office (GAO): http://www.gao.gov/