IAVA calls SOTU statements on VA electronic medical records system ‘misleading’

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) says a statement made by President Obama during his second State of the Union address on January 25 concerning electronic medical records needs to be corrected so the public, service members and veterans don’t assume the system, the so-called “Blue Button” initiative is fully operational.

IAVA disagrees with the president’s comment that “Veterans can now download their electronic medical records with a click of the mouse.”

“Contrary to the President’s comment, the only thing a veteran can download from the VA’s system are pharmaceutical records and personal health information that he or she has self-entered. This is a critical distinction,” IAVA said in a statement. 

IAVA also urged the president to launch an aggressive national suicide prevention campaign involving the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs and community-based nonprofits. “He must also issue a national call for more military mental health providers, who can support service members, veterans and their families throughout deployment and beyond,” said IAVA founder and executive director Paul Rieckhoff.

Experts say that about 20 percent of veterans that served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and suicide rates continue to climb.

Growing more frustrated with government policies and the lingering economic problems, IAVA also called on the president, Congress and the business sector to address growing unemployment among veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Despite hiring incentives, the jobless rate among these veterans is higher than the national average, estimated at 11.5 percent versus 9.4  percent for non-veterans, according to the Department of Labor’s  most recent report. Unemployment in some states and among the youngest veterans is even higher. Unemployment among the youngest veterans, ages 18 to 24 is at 21 percent, according to the labor department.

Kathlyn Stone

Kathlyn Stone is a Twin Cities, Minnesota-based writer who has covered general news, and business, international trade, and health care news and policies for public and professional audiences.