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Biological Threats and Terrorism: Assessing the Science and Response Capabilities: Workshop Summary (2002)

Chapter: Appendix F: Veterans Affairs/Department of Defense Contingency

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Veterans Affairs/Department of Defense Contingency." Institute of Medicine. 2002. Biological Threats and Terrorism: Assessing the Science and Response Capabilities: Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10290.
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Appendix F
Veterans Affairs/Department of Defense Contingency

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) serves as the primary medical backup to the military health care system during and immediately following an outbreak of war or national emergency. The VA/Department of Defense (DoD) Contingency Hospital System Plan outlines how the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) supports that effort.

BACKGROUND

The VA/DoD Health Resources Sharing and Emergency Operation Act (Public Law 97–174) was enacted on May 4, 1982. This law gave VA a new mission: to serve as the principal health care backup to DoD in the event of war or national emergency that involves armed conflict. In addition to the contingency mission, this public law amended Title 38, United States Code (U.S.C.), to promote greater peacetime sharing of health care resources between VA and DoD.

In response to Public Law 97–174, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was executed between the Secretary of Defense and the Administrator of Veterans Administration (presently the Secretary of Veterans Affairs), specifying each agency’s responsibilities under the law.

DoD maintains medical operations plans that would coordinate the receipt, distribution, and treatment of returning military casualties. The VA/DoD Contingency Hospital System Plan describes how VA hospital beds would be made available to treat returning military casualties.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Veterans Affairs/Department of Defense Contingency." Institute of Medicine. 2002. Biological Threats and Terrorism: Assessing the Science and Response Capabilities: Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10290.
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VA/DOD CONTINGENCY ANNUAL REPORT

Annually, VA medical centers estimate the number of beds that could potentially be made available to receive returning military casualties. These reported bed estimates take into account the impact on local operations of VA employees subject to military call up. This annual report includes Estimated VA Contingency Beds and VHA Employees Subject to Mobilization. An annual report is provided by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to select members of Congress.

BED AVAILABILITY REPORTING EXERCISES

Quarterly estimates of VA/DoD contingency beds are gathered from VA medical centers nationally. These exercises are conducted quarterly in order to maintain VA’s awareness and readiness to respond in a timely fashion should the VA/DoD Contingency Hospital System be activated.

POINT OF CONTACTS FOR VA/DOD CONTINGENCY

VA/DoD Annual Report:

Philip Wooten

Director, Plans

Phone: 304-264-4837

Fax: 304-264-4499

VA/DoD Quarterly Bed Report:

Michael Vojtasko

Director, Operations

Phone: 304-264-4801

Fax: 304-264-4810

 

SOURCE: www.va.gov/emshg

Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Veterans Affairs/Department of Defense Contingency." Institute of Medicine. 2002. Biological Threats and Terrorism: Assessing the Science and Response Capabilities: Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10290.
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Page 252
Suggested Citation:"Appendix F: Veterans Affairs/Department of Defense Contingency." Institute of Medicine. 2002. Biological Threats and Terrorism: Assessing the Science and Response Capabilities: Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10290.
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Page 253
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In the wake of September 11th and recent anthrax events, our nation’s bioterrorism response capability has become an imminent priority for policymakers, researchers, public health officials, academia, and the private sector. In a three-day workshop, convened by the Institute of Medicine’s Forum on Emerging Infections, experts from each of these communities came together to identify, clarify, and prioritize the next steps that need to be taken in order to prepare and strengthen bioterrorism response capabilities. From the discussions, it became clear that of utmost urgency is the need to cast the issue of a response in an appropriate framework in order to attract the attention of Congress and the public in order to garner sufficient and sustainable support for such initiatives. No matter how the issue is cast, numerous workshop participants agreed that there are many gaps in the public health infrastructure and countermeasure capabilities that must be prioritized and addressed in order to assure a rapid and effective response to another bioterrorist attack.

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