Members of the committee understood that to carry out their task it would be important to talk to people who had first-hand knowledge of readjustment needs—active-duty personnel, veterans, family members, health-care providers, and community leaders. Therefore, in addition to its six meetings and literature reviews, the committee held several town hall meetings. The committee tried different venues and approaches for meeting with active-duty military personnel, veterans, and family members; some of the approaches were more successful than others.
Ultimately, the committee met with active-duty personnel, National Guard members, family members, veterans, and community leaders in cities, towns, and rural areas where there are large military bases and that were home to troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. The committee held those meetings in Killeen, Texas (near Fort Hood); in Austin, Texas (at Camp Mabry); in Jacksonville and Fayetteville, North Carolina (near Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg, respectively); and in Oceanside, California (near Camp Pendleton). Several committee members also met with the Marine and Family Services Division of Marine Corps Community Services at Camp Pendleton to gain a better understanding of the needs of marines and their family members and to become aware of the services offered. Those meetings were invaluable in providing the committee with an understanding of the challenges faced, not only by active-duty military with regard to accessing services but by providers who were trying to meet all the needs of service members and their families. Groups of committee members and staff went to Toledo, Ohio, to meet with National Guard members and representatives of the Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana Guard and to Watertown, New York, to meet with community leaders who serve those stationed at Fort Drum. The information-gathering sessions were open to the public. The committee also solicited comments from military-service and veteran-service organizations.
As a result of its approach to gathering information and its meetings and discussions, the committee decided to focus its findings on readjustment needs and gaps related to the conditions most frequently diagnosed in returning OEF and OIF active-duty personnel and veterans, such as PTSD and other mental health conditions, TBI, and social outcomes.
The committee is aware that it is addressing a dynamic set of issues in that the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are going on now and issues and needs will continue to change. The committee also recognizes that VA, DOD, and other government agencies are actively responding to changing needs of active-duty service members, veterans, and their family members, and that many of the committee’s recommendations consequently might already be in the process of being addressed. Overall, the committee has found
Relevant data on previous conflicts that are useful in addressing issues in the OEF and OIF populations.
A relative paucity of data on OEF and OIF populations that are adequate to support evidence-based policy on most issues of concern.
Information on a multitude of programs that have been developed to address the needs of the OEF and OIF populations.
A scarcity of systematic or independent evaluation of such programs.
As the committee notes in Chapter 3, every war is unique in important respects. Empirical evidence collected from multiple wars documents that exposure to combat, other war-