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PANEL WANTS NO DELAYS ON BETTER CARE FOR VETS

Leaders of a presidential commission urged the White House and Congress on Thursday to act in the next two months to expand mental health care and improve disability benefits for thousands of injured Iraq war veterans.

Former Sen. Bob Dole said he was optimistic that President Bush and congressional leaders would make good on their pledges to implement the commission's 35 proposals for broad changes to troop and veterans care.

Dole, a former Senate majority leader and 1996 GOP presidential nominee, also made clear that he and co-chair Donna Shalala, who was health and human services secretary in the Clinton administration, would not accept undue delay and expected some concrete action by late September.

ALSO THURSDAY: The Massachusetts family of an Iraq war veteran sued Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson and the U.S. government, accusing them of negligence in the suicide death of their son, Jeffrey Lucey, 23. The Marine killed himself in June 2004 after he allegedly was denied mental health care following a tour in Iraq. The action comes days after the group Veterans for Common Sense sued the Department of Veterans Affairs on behalf of injured Iraq war veterans, saying the agency unlawfully denied the veterans disability pay and mental health treatment.

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