Army Secretary Pete Geren and Dr. James B. Peake, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, signed a mutual support agreement today, Feb. 12, outlining continued assistance to service members and their families transitioning through the military Disability Evaluation System. Wounded, ill and injured service members in the Disability Evaluation System process will continue to be offered assistance from the Army and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

"By providing VA support to Soldiers, this agreement formalizes a resource that will help them get the health care and benefits they earned with their service," Geren said. "We must look at our policies through the eyes of our Soldiers and their Families, as we have done in developing this agreement."

"Today's agreement reaffirms VA's commitment with the Army to provide the care and benefits our veterans deserve," said Secretary Peake. "We share a duty to do what's right for our soldiers and their families."

The Army will continue providing nurse case managers, legal assistance, physical evaluation board liaison officers, chain of command, primary care managers and other service specific support. Soldiers also may call the Wounded Soldier and Family Hotline at 1-800-984-8523 (overseas DSN 312-328-0002) or E-mail,

VA service representatives will continue providing information and advice regarding how medical evidence is used in the evaluation of disabilities under the Department of Veterans Affairs Schedule for Rating Disabilities. VA service representatives will assist and advise service members as they prepare documentation for VA benefit claims. VA benefit claims include the VA portion of joint claims processed through the Disability Evaluation System Pilot Program.

At military installations where the VA does not have permanent staff available, service members may contact VA service representatives via phone or e-mail. A listing of veterans' service organizations recognized by VA to help with VA benefits claims can be found at VSOs also may provide assistance with this process.

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For more information, contact Paul Boyce, Army Public Affairs, (703) 697-2564