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Pentagon asks troops to rate health care

The Pentagon is asking wounded, ill or injured service members and their families to rate their medical care in an anonymous poll that officials hope will encourage candor.

The Defense Department on Thursday posted questionnaires on the Web site of the Military Health System, which has struggled to meet unprecedented demand because of the two ongoing wars on Iraq and Afghanistan.

The system serves some 9 million people - not only soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, but their dependents, as well as retirees and their dependents.

"Support for the wounded and their families has been enhanced and improved on a continual basis since" the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said S. Ward Casscells, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs.

"Yet we know there is still more that can be done," Casscells acknowledged in a message on the web site. "In some locations we hear that things are going very well, in other locations we hear that things need to be improved."

The two questionnaires - one to be completed by services members who have been sick, wounded or injured and the other to be completed by their families - asks how they would rate their doctors as well as the ease with which they get appointments, medical equipment, rehabilitative services and other care.

The questionnaires must be completed by Oct. 15

"By listening to service members and their families, the Military Health System will be in a better position to meet their needs and expectations," said Cynthia Smith, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

The questionnaire is at http://www.health.mil/Pages/Page.aspx?ID18

Pauline Jelinek © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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