Obama said the electronic records will provide a "seamless system" to facilitate information sharing and cut red tape, ending the need for veterans to transfer military records to receive benefits.
The new Joint Virtual Liftetime Record is expected to track individuals once they enlist, through their military service and beyond. The administration said the electronic system will help deliver health care benefits to veterans and active-duty military members and could serve as a model for the rest of the U.S.
The president announced the initiative at a White House event alongside Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, a retired Army general, before an audience of veterans, including patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the National Navy Medical Center and the D.C. Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Obama said the U.S. has fallen short in caring for veterans in the past and vowed that would change in the future. Obama's fiscal 2010 budget calls for the largest-ever one-year increase for the Veterans Affairs Department and a $25 billion bump for it over five years. Obama said such increases will ensure that veterans get the care they need, including mental health care.