This week, we discuss RAND's new limited-series podcast, Veterans in America; whether civilian health care providers are prepared to treat veteran patients; how the government could help rebuild America's infrastructure; what Turkey's realignment in the Middle East means for Washington; how to measure autonomous vehicle safety; and the costs and benefits of refugee vetting procedures.
Yesterday, RAND launched Veterans in America, a special limited-series podcast. In honor of Veterans Day this weekend, we'll spend three episodes journeying into the lives of veterans and their loved ones. In particular, we'll learn about new ways to help veterans overcome PTSD. We'll explore why women in the military face greater risk of suicide than civilian women. We'll meet the nation's military caregivers. And we'll hear insights from RAND research on how to improve their lives. The first episode of Veterans in America is available now.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is shifting billions of dollars for veteran care to outside providers. But are those providers even ready? RAND researchers recently surveyed hundreds of them to find out. Most of these private-sector providers lacked the specialized knowledge and training to treat veterans. Few even asked their patients whether they had ever served in the military.
After Tuesday's election, there's speculation that a newly divided Congress may unite on infrastructure policy. According to RAND research, transportation and water infrastructure funding and finance are not as dire as some believe. But policymakers must reach a consensus on priorities. Targeted spending and policy changes will be critical, too. “Spreading federal dollars around to fund short-term, 'shovel-ready' projects without a sense of national purpose or priority will not get the nation where it needs to be,” says lead author Debra Knopman.
Realignments in the Middle East have intensified following the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. One big change has been Turkey's move away from the United States and toward Iran and Russia. RAND experts say this could lead to a more fundamental power shift in the region, with long-term implications for Washington.
The success of driverless vehicles will largely depend on how safe the public perceives them to be, says RAND's Marjory Blumenthal. That's why it's important for manufacturers and riders to “speak the same language” about safety. An overarching safety framework would help, she says. Such a framework could establish standards for measuring safety. It would also help inform the public and policymakers.
The Trump administration has expressed dissatisfaction with U.S. policy on vetting refugees. According to RAND's Ian Mitch, no vetting system alone is likely to weed out all security threats. So officials must find a balance between the competing interests at play: Accepting refugees comes with risk. On the other hand, it offers humanitarian, reputational, and economic benefits.
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