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Veterans, Infrastructure, Middle East: RAND Weekly Recap

November 9, 2018

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.

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A New Podcast for Veterans Day

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.

A doctor looking at an x-ray next to an American flag

Illustration by Chris Philpot

How Private Health Care Providers Could Better Serve Veterans

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.

Chickamauga Lock and Dam, near Chattanooga, Tennessee

Chickamauga Lock and Dam, near Chattanooga, Tennessee

Photo by Mark Rankin/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Can U.S. Lawmakers Come Together on Infrastructure Policy?

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.

Presidents Hassan Rouhani of Iran, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, and Vladimir Putin of Russia hold a joint news conference after their meeting in Ankara, April 4, 2018

Presidents Hassan Rouhani of Iran, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, and Vladimir Putin of Russia hold a joint news conference in Ankara, Turkey, April 4, 2018

Photo by Umit Bektas/Reuters

What Middle East Realignment Means for the United States

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.

Car driving autonomously with LIDAR sensor

Photo by Andrzej Wojcicki/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Measuring Autonomous Vehicle Safety

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.

Refugees and migrants try to warm themselves up, Indjija, Serbia, October 5, 2016

In Indjija, Serbia, refugees and migrants try to warm themselves up, October 5, 2016

Photo by Marko Djurica/Reuters

Refugee Vetting: How Good Is Good Enough?

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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