Now Playing: Donna E. Shalala
Topic: Take Care of Them
For decades, local communities have gathered on Memorial Day to march down their "Main Street" to salute our troops and celebrate our freedom. This year, as we gather at local and national events around the country to remember our fallen heroes, let's take a moment to salute those who have also sacrificed dearly -- our injured and wounded warriors.
Perhaps this is on my mind more this year than ever before because I have spent the last two months as co-chair of the President's Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors talking with our service men and women, their families, health care professionals and countless experts. Our Commission is tasked with the enormous, yet critical responsibility of providing recommendations to the president on how to ensure that our wounded warriors have a seamless system of care. It's a problem that many before us have tried to tackle with varying degrees of success. But my co-chair, Bob Dole, and I are not people who take no for an answer. We would not have taken this assignment on if we did not think that solutions could be found and implemented.
U.S. soldiers carry a wounded soldier, following a blast on a road between Fallujah and Baghdad, at a military base in Abu Ghraib May 19, 2007. A U.S. soldier died following the roadside bomb attack south of Baghdad. Five other soldiers including two Iraqis were also wounded. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
Our one frustration is that, given that we need to get our recommendations to the president by the end of July, we cannot get to every place we want to see or talk to as many wounded warriors and their families as we should. That's where our website comes in. We have set up a "share your story" feature on the Commission website and we encourage wounded warriors, their families and all concerned citizens to email us. The emails and correspondence we receive are very helpful to us as we get down to the hard task of drafting the recommendations. So, take a moment, and log on -- see what we've been up to and if you have a story to share, send us an email.
We live in a twenty first century world with technology and the means to communicate that I never thought possible. Now, our task is to create a twenty first century system of care for our twenty first century wounded warriors and those injured in the line of duty. It may mean knocking down some barriers, but we've got the will to do it. Stay tuned...
Donna E. Shalala became Professor of Political Science and President of the University of Miami on June 1, 2001. President Shalala has more than 25 years of experience as an accomplished scholar, teacher, and administrator.
In 1993 President Clinton appointed her U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) where she served for eight years, becoming the longest serving HHS Secretary in U.S. history. At the beginning of her tenure, HHS had a budget of nearly $600 billion, which included a wide variety of programs including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Child Care and Head Start, Welfare, the Public Health Service, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). One of the country’s first Peace Corp volunteers, she served in Iran from 1962 to 1964.
As HHS Secretary, she directed the welfare reform process, made health insurance available to an estimated 3.3 million children through the approval of all State Children’s Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP), raised child immunization rates to the highest levels in history, led major reforms of the FDA’s drug approval process and food safety system, revitalized the National Institutes of Health, and directed a major management and policy reform of Medicare. At the end of her tenure as HHS Secretary, The Washington Post described her as “one of the most successful government managers of modern times.” Read her complete blogger biography at Huffington Post.com