Officials Extend Survey Deadline for Wounded Warriors, Families

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 4, 2008 - As the Defense Department observes November as Warrior Care Month, officials have extended to Nov. 28 the deadline for wounded, ill and injured servicemembers and their families to respond to a survey designed to assess the programs and services they receive.

Dr. S. Ward Casscells, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, said the extension resulted from overwhelming response.

Two Military Health System questionnaires, one for servicemembers and another for their family members, solicit feedback about satisfaction with the care and services provided. All responses to the online surveys are anonymous to encourage honest assessments, officials said.

The questionnaires are part of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates' focus on providing the best care possible for wounded warriors and their families. "I take the issue of wounded warriors personally," Gates told wounded warriors and families of wounded and fallen troops who attended last month's Wounded Warriors Family Summit.

"I will repeat here the pledge I made to myself, to Congress and to countless moms and dads, husbands and wives," Gates told the group. "Other than winning the wars we are in, my highest priority is providing the best possible care for those who are wounded in combat."

With that goal in mind, Gates directed Defense Department leaders to review all programs affecting wounded, ill or injured servicemembers and their families to identify best practices that can be more broadly applied.

Casscells noted that support for wounded warriors and their families has improved continually since the beginning of operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

"Yet we know there is still more that can be done," he said. "Each individual and each family has specific needs, and our goal is always to provide services which meet or exceed the expectation of those we serve."

He encouraged wounded warriors and their families to respond to the survey to help Military Health System leaders get a clearer picture of where they stand in meeting their needs and expectations.

The questionnaires are posted at:!ID+18.

Gates assured participants in the first Wounded Warriors Family Summit their concerns ? expressed directly or through the survey -- won't fall through the cracks with the upcoming change of administration. He promised to "continue to press forward with a sense of urgency" to provide top-level care and support for wounded warriors in a way that lays groundwork for the next administration's leaders to build on.

As it presses forward, Gates said, his team will "do everything we can to set up the next leadership team for success" to ensure the work continues without interruption.

"As long as there are wounded warriors in our care, we must ? and we will ? continue to fulfill our obligation to them," he said.

*Related Sites:*
Survey Questionnaires [ ]
Military Health System  [ ]
Warrior Care  [ ]
Officials Extend Survey Deadline for Wounded Warriors, Families [ ]