The Veterans Administration (VA) problems continue to mount from reports of veterans dying while waiting for VA health care approvals, delayed medical treatments, claims being denied or lost, scandals and now, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion want action, not just spoken words.
Since February 2016, both the VFW and the American Legion have testified to Congress and stated that enough is enough and talking will not fix the problems that the VA has endured, causing undue hardships to war veterans as well as other veterans within the VA healthcare system.
The VFW’s main concern was not only to fix the problems at the VA, but also expressed concerns about the suggestions by some who want to privatize VA health care.
John A. Biedrzycki Jr., National Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. told the joint hearing of the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committees, “We agree that Congress must take a comprehensive look at the Veterans Health Administration to fix what is broken, and we will work with you to identify problems and make those needed changes. But let me be clear, the VFW is absolutely opposed to the privatization of VA health care! It cannot be replaced! And we will fight any efforts to do so!”
The American Legion went further by stating that the United States has a moral contract to care for its veterans in a compassionate and efficient manner that is easily accessible. That includes proper staffing, a timely and accurate benefits adjudication and appeals process, and a seamless Choice Program that creates no additional burden to the patient.
American Legion National Commander Dale Barnett told the same joint session of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs, “We can only achieve accountability to America’s veterans if we work together – honestly and transparently – to prove that a grateful nation will put real execution behind all the words.”
“You cannot imagine how disappointed I and my fellow American Legion members were on Oct. 21, 2015, when five senior VA witnesses failed to appear at an accountability hearing, and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs had to issue subpoenas to summon them,” Barnett said, adding that once two did show up, they invoked the Fifth Amendment to avoid explaining findings from the Inspector General that they had manipulated the system to the tune of about $400,000 in unscrupulous relocation costs and practices.
“Our disappointment only grew after additional hearings established wrongdoing, and punishments were imposed, only to be overturned in the appeals process. Veterans do not see this as accountability,” said Barnett. The American Legion also does not support privatizing VA healthcare.
“The words are all there. Execution is the problem.”
While problems at the VA and within the VA Healthcare system have gone on for many years on different levels of concerns without much public notice, the deaths of veterans, multiple scandals and corruption, at a VA Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona highlighted the true nature and severity of the problems within the VA system across the nation.
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