American Legion National Commander: ‘Together, we can get VA back on track’

Posted on July 29th, 2014

American Legion national commander expresses confidence that McDonald will work closely with veterans to restore trust in VA.

WASHINGTON (July 29, 2014) — American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger today thanked the Senate for acting quickly to confirm the nomination of former Procter & Gamble Chief Executive Officer Robert McDonald to become secretary of the embattled Department of Veterans Affairs. “The time to act is now,” Dellinger said. “Veterans are waiting for the care they earned and deserve.”

The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs voted 14-0 Wednesday in support of McDonald, 61, who would replace retired Army Gen. Eric Shinseki, who resigned in late May. Shinseki’s departure came after The American Legion called for urgent change, starting with new leadership at the top, to restore trust in the system after revelations that veterans had died waiting for VA doctor appointments that were never really scheduled and that executives received bonuses for falsified performance reports.

From McDonald, Dellinger said he looks for the kind of changes one would expect in the corporate world when a company is in trouble.

“The American Legion is confident that Robert McDonald will apply his experience leading big, complex business operations to the Department of Veterans Affairs, a complex operation that desperately needs a system-wide overhaul right now,” Dellinger said. “I am also confident Mr. McDonald will understand the importance of engaging the veteran stakeholders of the VA health-care system as reforms are adopted in the coming months.”

Dellinger said the incoming VA secretary must make patients his first priority and include them at the table as changes are planned and executed. “It’s time to put the veteran back into the Department of Veterans Affairs,” Dellinger said. “No more secret lists. No more bonuses for poor performance or unreasonably long waiting times for appointments. No more accuracy breakdowns in deciding benefits claims. In this equation, the veteran is the customer, and The American Legion represents that customer. We look forward to working with Mr. McDonald. Together, we can get VA back on track and restore trust among the patients it serves, as well as the public, which expects nothing less than timely, high-quality care for our nation’s veterans.”

With more than 2.4 million members, The American Legion is the nation’s largest veterans service organization.

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Media contacts: Washington – Marty Callaghan:202-263-5758/202-341-8900, mcallaghan@legion.org or Indianapolis – John Raughter, 317-630-1253/ 317-441-8847, jraughter@legion.org. A high resolution photo of Nat. Cmdr.Dellinger is available at www.legion.org.



PDC J. G. “Lupe” Garza – Funeral Arrangements

Posted on July 28th, 2014

It’s our sad duty to inform everyone that Past Department Commander J. G. “Lupe” Garza was called to the Post Everlasting today. Once funeral arrangements are know we will post them.

Here is the Visitation and Funeral arrangements for PDC Lupe Garza.

Visitation on Thursday, July 31 from 4pm – 9pm at Caballero-Ryder Funeral Home, 722 Grillo Way, Rosenberg. 281/238-4500 or  http://www.caballero-ryderfuneralhome.com/memsol.cgi?user_id=1366152

Rosary will be at 7:00pm at Caballero-Ryder Funeral Home

Memorial Service will be on Friday, August 1 at 11:00am at St John Fisher Catholic Church, 410 Clay St, Richmond 281/342-5092

Burial will be Greenlawn Memorial Park, 3900 BF Terry Blvd, Rosenberg



Texas Youth Elected as Boys Nation Vice President

Posted on July 23rd, 2014

Texas Senator Louis Lombardo was elected to the high office of Boys Nation Vice President, he was sponsored to Texas Boys State by American Legion Post 624. Congratulations to Louis, his Family and Mansfield Post 624.



Department Moble App launched

Posted on June 21st, 2014

We have created a mobile app for use on smartphones and tablets. It is available in the Apple App Store, iTunes, Amazon and Goggle Play Store. Download and enjoy. You can also click on the link above to get the app.



VA Moves to Secure New Scheduling System

Posted on June 19th, 2014

WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) announced it is continuing the process to replace its medical appointment scheduling system through an acquisition process.  Today, VA is hosting pre-solicitation “Industry Day” meetings with technology vendors to discuss the Department’s upcoming scheduling system acquisition.

“Our top priority is getting Veterans off waitlists and in to see their doctors,” said Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson.  “We’re taking a series of immediate actions to ensure our Veterans receive the timely access to quality health care they have earned and deserve.  We need lasting, long-term reforms, including a complete overhaul to replace the outdated technology for our scheduling system.  Bringing an innovative scheduling product into our world-class electronic health record system is a crucial part of providing the scheduling staff in our facilities with the tools necessary to succeed.  Our Veterans deserve nothing less than our best, and that’s exactly what we intend to give them.”

This Industry Day presents a unique opportunity for VA to communicate directly with potential vendors on all aspects of the upcoming scheduling system acquisition. The Industry Day serves as a face-to-face platform for exchanging information about business needs, industry best practices and challenges specific to VA’s scheduling system.

VA’s scheduling technical requirements are complex and require clear, well-articulated communication to ensure comprehensive understanding by industry and potential vendors. As part of today’s events, VA is conducting a live scheduling system architecture Q&A session to ensure potential solutions seamlessly interface with VA’s VistA electronic health record.

VA uses this type of event to facilitate communication with vendors and reduce the risk of misinterpretation and miscommunication on technical requirements. The information shared during the Industry Day will provide VA with a better understanding of what needs to be included in the upcoming scheduling system solicitation, with the ultimate goals of receiving solid proposals and reducing time to field new technologies.



Legion supports Veterans Choice Act

Posted on June 4th, 2014

The senate bill would allow VA enrollees to use private health care under certain conditions

WASHINGTON — Legislation introduced in the Senate on June 3 would give veterans more choice and flexibility in their health-care treatment under certain conditions, such as the inability of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers to schedule appointments in a timely manner.

Veterans would be free to seek health care in the private sector if VA cannot schedule a timely appointment for them, or if they live more than 40 miles from the nearest VA medical center or community-based outpatient clinic.

Under provisions of the American Legion-backed bill (authorized for only two years) VA enrollees would receive a “Choice Card” to use for medical care from a non-VA provider.

In his letter of support, American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger wrote that the bill “provides resources now to assist veterans being denied health care by lengthy wait-times.”

Noting that any legislation addressing access to VA health care should protect the department as the primary means of care for veterans, Dellinger stated, “The health care veterans will receive through non-VA facilities will still be managed through VA’s office of non-VA care….

“While this legislation expands on VA’s existing authority to allow veterans to receive care outside the system when VA cannot meet the demand for care, it strengthens the system by providing clear direction on how that outside care will be managed with the end goal of bringing those veterans back into the system.”

The measure would also improve transparency by directing VA to post on its medical center websites the current wait-times for appointments, and establish disciplinary procedures for any employee who knowingly falsifies data pertaining to wait-times and quality measures.

Provisions of the VA Management Accountability Act (H.R. 4031), which passed the House, are also included in the bill, which would give the VA Secretary the authority to demote or fire senior executives based on performance.

An October 2012 resolution (http://archive.legion.org/bitstream/handle/123456789/2306/2012F046.pdf?sequence=1) passed by The American Legion called on VA to “develop a well-defined and consistent non-VA care coordination program, policy and procedure that includes a patient-centered care strategy” that takes veterans’ “travel and distance (from VA facilities) into account.”



Department of Texas Wins National Commanders Eagle Award

Posted on May 16th, 2014

Congratulations to the Department of Texas for winning National Commander Dellinger’s Eagle Award for Category 2.

Six American Legion departments showing the highest percentage of membership gain in their respective size categories between Oct. 9 and May 8 of this year will receive a metallic eagle statue (pictured above).

The Commander Dellinger Eagle Award will be awarded to the top department in each Big Twelve category showing the largest percentage of membership growth between the 55- and 100-percent target dates. A seventh eagle will be presented to the national vice commander whose region displayed have the highest percentage of membership gain during the same period.

The Big Twelve categories are:

Category I – departments of 100,000 or more members

Category II – departments of 70,000- 99,999 members

Category III – departments of 40,0000- 69,999 members

Category IV – departments of 25,000-39,999 members

Category V – departments of 10,000-24,999 members

Category VI – departments of 9,999 or less members

 



Post/Squadron Commander & Adjutant Report

Posted on April 27th, 2014

The New Post/Squadron Commander & Adjutant Report form from National has been sent out to all Posts, please fill out and return the two copies to Department Headquarters. This form should be submitted with your Post Office Certification Form.



American Legion Centennial Celebration Website

Posted on February 3rd, 2014

The American Legion National Headquarters has created a Centennial Celebration http://centennial.legion.org. All Posts are asked to go to the webpage and register your Post to the site. The Department of Texas currently only has 9 Posts registered.

The American Legion Centennial Celebration is not only about honoring the past 100 years of our history, but also preparing to continue our legacy of service. Events and activities at posts all around the world will showcase The American Legion “Still Serving America.”



Legion efforts influenced IRS DD-214 revision

Posted on December 13th, 2013

American Legion efforts recently were successful in getting the Internal Revenue Service to revise section 501(c)19 of the Internal Revenue Code requiring Legion posts to keep records on file of its members’ DD-214s – the separation document given by the military to prove honorable service.

The IRS had been fining Legion posts up to $1,000 per day for not keeping records of veterans’ DD-214s or other valid documentation. The Legion felt it was being wrongly targeted, resulting in the passing of three resolutions during its 2013 National Convention in Houston last summer that called upon Congress to look into the IRS’ field investigations into Legion posts, while lawmakers wrote letters to the IRS asking why inspectors were asking posts to provide discharge papers or service records during reviews of their tax-exempt statuses.

Earlier this month, Legion staff and legal representation met with four IRS officials – the only veterans service organization (VSO) to do so – during which time the Legion asked that the IRS agree to change its internal regulations and guidance to comply with the above three resolutions. The Legion explained that while it preferred to fix this issue administratively, rather than legislatively, both options are available to the organization.

The IRS complied. Effective immediately, DD-214s are only required if an agent “possesses information that contradicts documentary information provided (by the veterans service organization) or if the organization fails to satisfy a reasonable request…” If an agent requires proof of membership eligibility, he or she will first request four sets of documents before requesting DD-214s or other discharge documents.

The American Legion also requested that the IRS create a new position within the agency – an ombudsman serving as a resource for VSOs – and agree to appoint a VSO liaison in each district that will agree to attend Legion department conventions to provide training and personal assistance to any department that needs it. Types of assistance can include Form 990 completion, initial requests for nonprofit status, compliance measures, and any other IRS compliance or relationship matter with which posts or departments may need assistance.

Read the revised IRS guidelines – http://www.legion.org/documents/legion/pdf/dd214irs.pdf