American Legion National Dale Barnett

American Legion National Dale Barnett

Dale Barnett, National Commander

There were 31 resolutions passed by the National Executive Committee during May’s Spring Meetings at National Headquarters in Indianapolis, including Resolution No. 26. The resolution calls for the opposition of any “legislation effort to close or privatize the VA health-care system.”

VA’s Commission on Care will release a detailed report this month outlining its plan to shut down VA medical centers over time, sending veterans out into their local communities to receive all of their medical treatment.

We, The American Legion, need to advocate for troops and veterans, especially when it comes to VA health care and our opposition to the privatization of it. The private sector works very well when building automobiles, computers and other popular goods and services. Veterans are not commercial products. Our veterans served in the United States military and the United States government has a solemn obligation to care for them.

If you outsource veterans from VA, the cost for the remaining veterans who need it will go up. And if you think vouchers will truly cover the cost of seeing a private doctor, just take a look at what’s happened to TRICARE premiums over the last few years.

One of the many ways the Legion is working with the VA to provide the best possible health care and to find solutions to several recurring issues faced by veterans, such as the claims backlog, appointment scheduling and medical record transfers, is through our System Worth Saving site visits. Since December 2015, The American Legion has conducted six site visits to VA medical centers in Minnesota, Alabama, Nevada, Texas and Colorado. An additional six site visits are slated to be conducted in the following months.

Ralph Bozella, American Legion’s Veterans Affairs & Commission chairman, told members of the NEC that “we are here to work with the VA, to work shoulder to shoulder at these site visits to develop relationships so that we can fix it.”

The American Legion is at the forefront when advocating for changes within the VA health-care system to ensure that the VA provides the best possible care to serve veterans. But the Legion’s message to the White House and to Congress is not to dismantle it but to fix it. The VA health-care system is truly a system worth saving.