WASHINGTON — Layers of bureaucracy have bogged down efforts by the federal government to help troops transition to civilian life, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki told Congress on Wednesday.
The two departments are collaborating more successfully than ever, Panetta said at a joint hearing of the House Armed Services and House Veterans Affairs committees. But projects such as integrating electronic health records have taken an unacceptably long time, he said.
Better coordination could help the departments address high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, homelessness and suicide among veterans, Shinseki said.
More than 100 veteran deaths this year have been ruled suicides, and more than 100 others are being investigated as such, Panetta said.
GOP senators launch tour warning of defense cuts: Senate Republicans warning of the devastating impact from looming defense cuts will hit four presidential battleground states next week, ratcheting up pressure on President Barack Obama even though Congress endorsed the cuts. Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte announced Thursday that they will hold a series of town hall meetings in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and New Hampshire — states that are home to military installations and defense contracting jobs.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.