[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book II)]
[November 11, 1998]
[Page 2018]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 2018]]

Memorandum on the Creation of the Military and Veterans Health 
Coordinating Board
November 11, 1998

Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Veterans 
Affairs, the Secretary of Health and Human Services

Subject: Creation of Military and Veterans Health Coordinating Board

    Our Nation is truly indebted to our active duty military, reservist, 
National Guard, and veterans for protecting America's interests around 
the globe. From small peacekeeping missions to large combat operations, 
these men and women put their lives on the line to ensure our peace and 
prosperity at home and abroad. We owe them and their families a great 
debt. We have an obligation to protect their health while they serve and 
to care for their service-connected injuries or illnesses for as long as 
they live.
    Our experience with the Gulf War demonstrated that we were not 
adequately prepared to deal with the health consequences resulting from 
a large-scale combat deployment in the unique environment our soldiers 
faced. The aftermath of this conflict underscored the need to improve 
significantly our ability to address post-deployment health problems. 
Your extensive efforts to understand the causes and treat the illnesses 
experienced by Gulf War veterans have identified numerous deficiencies 
in the way we prepare for and deal with the health of our military, 
veterans, and their families. I am pleased that we are applying these 
lessons learned from the Gulf War and other recent military missions to 
current and future military deployments.
    In its December 31, 1996, report, my Presidential Advisory Committee 
on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses recommended that the National Science 
and Technology Council (NSTC) review existing Federal policies and 
programs and develop an interagency plan ``to address health 
preparedness for and readjustment of veterans and families after future 
conflicts and peacekeeping missions.'' The NSTC's plan, developed by 
your departments, identifies numerous actions, including improved health 
protection for military forces, which must be taken to avoid the 
mistakes of the past. One of the key recommendations contained in the 
plan is to establish a Military and Veterans Health Coordinating Board 
to continue improving the coordination among your departments and to 
oversee the implementation of the NSTC's plan.
    Therefore, I direct you to establish the Military and Veterans 
Health Coordinating Board and report annually to the Assistants to the 
President for National Security Affairs and for Science and Technology 
on its progress. Specifically, the Board should focus on issues 
associated with deployment health, research, and communications 
regarding health risks. In addition, the Board must ensure that record-
keeping requirements linked to military and veterans health 
preparedness, health protection for military forces, disease prevention, 
and medical care are incorporated into your departments' relevant 
information technology and information management systems.

                                                      William J. Clinton