WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 22, 2009) – On what leaders of The American Legion characterized as “an historic day,” President Barack Obama signed into law the Veterans Health Care, Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009. The landmark legislation contained a provision for which the nation’s largest veterans’ service organization had long campaigned: advance budget appropriations for the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) medical care operations.

        “While this is indeed an historic day for VA,” said Peter Gaytan, executive director of The American Legion’s Washington headquarters who attended the Presidential signing at the White House, “it is an especially important day for our nation’s veterans.”

        “No longer will VA and the veterans in its care have to suffer from the ‘check’s in the mail’ syndrome,” said Clarence E. Hill, national commander of The American Legion. “Now the VA will know a year in advance what resources will be available to it so plans can be made accordingly. Advance appropriations will go a long way toward minimizing compromises in the delivery of the high quality VA health care our veterans expect and deserve.”

        President Obama made brief remarks during the White House ceremony, which was attended by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki and members of Congress who played key roles in the passage of the legislation. The signing ceremony was also attended by The American Legion’s Director of Economics, and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran Joseph C. Sharpe, Jr., as well as representatives of several other veterans’ service organizations. 

        With a current membership of 2.5-million wartime veterans, The American Legion is the nation’s largest veterans organization.  It was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through more than 14,000 posts across the nation.



Media contacts:  Craig Roberts (202) 263-2982 or Joe March (317) 630-1253.  A high resolution photo of National Commander Hill is available at www.legion.org.