Legion to Congress: Veterans want strong, robust VA

Posted on June 20th, 2016

Jun 20, 2016 

In a strongly worded letter sent Friday to all members of Congress, American Legion National Commander Dale Barnett criticized proposals to privatize the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“The American Legion has grown increasingly concerned over the past several months about egregious and politically driven comments from some groups claiming to represent veterans’ needs,” Barnett said. “Such comments show little concern for the millions of veterans who rely on VA care and support that they receive at their local facilities.”

Barnett emphasized that “The American Legion wants lawmakers to completely understand that our more than 2 million dues-paying members support a strong and robust VA that puts veterans first.”

Acknowledging VA’s well-publicized mistakes and deficiencies, Barnett said, “Election sound bites, media hyperbole, hollow grandstanding and smoke and mirrors aren’t going to correct the imperfections of a $65 billion per year enterprise that employs well over 250,000 caregivers and serves millions of veterans and their families. If there were a better health-care solution for veterans, rest assured The American Legion would support it.”

The complete text of Barnett’s letter can be found here.



Internet outage

Posted on June 18th, 2016

AT&T reported that there was a large internet outage in the Austin, Dallas, San Antonio and Houston areas on Friday, July 17th beginning around 2:00 pm. If you sent an electronic communication (email) on Friday to the Department Headquarters we suggest you resend to ensure we get your message.



American Legion hails unanimous Supreme Court ruling

Posted on June 17th, 2016

WASHINGTON (June 16, 2016) — American Legion National Commander Dale Barnett praised a Supreme Court ruling today that sided with a lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from a service-disabled veteran-owned small business for the VA’s failure to comply with Public Law 109-461, commonly referred to as “Veterans First.”

“The American Legion applauds this unanimous ruling by the Supreme Court which is a victory to all veteran-owned businesses that submit reasonable bids for VA contracts,” National Commander Dale Barnett said. “The justices wisely ruled that the Department of Veterans Affairs should continue to recognize these businesses even after its contracting goals are met.  That was clearly the intent of the 2006 Veterans Act, which was intended to broaden opportunities for business owners who served their country by wearing our nation’s uniform. The Department of Veterans Affairs was  created to serve veterans. Today’s ruling expands VA’s opportunity to do that.”

The ruling directs VA to give preference to veteran-owned businesses when procuring contracts for goods and services. The law gained exposure in 2012 when the plaintiff, Kingdomware Technologies Inc., protested a contract award, citing PL 109-461 as the basis.  In support of the plaintiff, The American Legion filed an amicus curiae with the Supreme Court, submitting written statements addressing Kingdomware’s concerns.

With a current membership of 2.2 million wartime veterans, The American Legion, www.legion.org, 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 nearly 14,000 posts across the nation.

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Media Relations Manager:  Crystal Jackson (202) 263-5758/ cell (202) 320-0408 cjackson@legion.org



National Commander: “We stand with the people of Orlando”

Posted on June 13th, 2016

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2016 — American Legion National Commander Dale Barnett expressed support and sympathy today for the people of Orlando, Fla., families of victims, law enforcement officers, first responders and investigators after 50 were killed and more than 50 were wounded early Sunday morning in what is being called the worst terrorist attack in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001.

“As leader of the nation’s largest veterans service organization, I extend my deepest condolences and prayers to the families who lost loved ones in this horrific attack,” Barnett said. “We stand with the people of Orlando. We stand in support of law-enforcement authorities and emergency medical personnel on the scene. And we offer our deepest sympathies to the families of those who were senselessly gunned down. We understand that this case is defined as an act of terror influenced or inspired by the Islamic State. Such a tragedy underscores our need, as a nation, to stand strong in the war on terrorism as it continues to take the lives of innocent people, one attack after another, around the planet. We must do everything in our power to prevent any future such acts from happening on U.S. soil and around the world. We must stand united.”

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Media Contact: John Raughter, (317) 630-1253.

Social Media:

https://twitter.com/AmericanLegion

https://www.facebook.com/americanlegionhq

 



Legion, DAV & VFW respond to McCain comments

Posted on June 6th, 2016

Sen. John McCain attacked the nation’s largest and most influential veterans’ service organizations last Friday by alleging they were opposed to the Veterans Choice Program that created a new, but temporary, option for veterans to receive health care from non-Department of Veterans Affairs providers. The senator’s comments specifically targeted The American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and Disabled American Veterans.

All three organizations issued a joint statement in response to McCain’s comments. Speaking for the Legion was Verna Jones, executive director of the Legion’s D.C. office. She was joined by VFW Executive Director Bob Wallace and DAV Executive Director Garry Augustine.

The statement reads:

“Sen. McCain was factually wrong when he said our organizations oppose the Choice Program, which all of us supported as part of the VA Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 to address an emergency access to care crisis. The senator also appears unaware of the many reform proposals we have since offered to expand access to community care, improve quality inside the VA health care system, and strengthen accountability throughout the entire VA.

“We do not oppose efforts to increase the use of community care; in fact we have offered our own plans to expand access to non-VA care by developing local networks that integrate the best community providers into the VA system. What we are against is unrealistic proposals that promise unlimited choice, which in itself is unsustainable, and in reality could force millions of veterans to lose the option to use VA health care, which could ultimately shift the financial cost of care onto every veteran.

“Grandiose proposals such as Senator McCain’s plan to give every veteran a Choice Card to purchase unlimited health care in the private sector without any management could cost hundreds of billions of dollars, according to estimates by the Office of Management and Budget. This while Congress balks at spending just a few hundred million to fund critically needed VA hospitals and clinics.

“Just because a veteran has a Choice Card doesn’t necessarily mean private providers will see them, because they have long wait times, too, and many will not accept low government reimbursement rates. We hope to have the opportunity to work with Senator McCain and others interested in improving veterans’ health care. We want to find realistic ways to expand access by supplementing VA care whenever and wherever necessary, while maintaining VA as the premier provider of care for wounded, ill and injured veterans.”



American Legion Disappointed in Tentative Military Budget

Posted on May 25th, 2016

WASHINGTON (May 24, 2016) – The American Legion expressed dismay for a 2017 pay-and-benefits proposal for military members.

According to Military Times, the budget by Congress would increase the existing pay gap between service members and their civilian counterparts due to small pay increases. While the House is in favor of a full pay raise, the Senate opposes it. The proposed budget also includes slashing commissary discounts, forcing military families to pay an enrollment fee for health care, and decreased funding for basic allowance for housing.

“The caps put in place by the Budget Control Act are doubly painful.  We’ve already warned how these cuts weaken our fighting forces and leave our military unready to fight in a dangerous world. Now we’re seeing that they can’t even keep up the back end promises and take care of troops and their families.  This has to stop,” said American Legion National Commander Dale Barnett. “We can’t keep asking the military to bear the brunt of America’s burdens and continue to turn around and ask them to give more.”

With a current membership of 2.2 million wartime veterans, The American Legion, www.legion.org, 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 nearly 14,000 posts across the nation.

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Media Relations Manager: Crystal Jackson, (202) 263-5758, cell  (202) 320-0408, office, cjackson@legion.org



American Legion to VA Secretary: ‘People Don’t Die for Space Mountain’

Posted on May 24th, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS  (May 23, 2016) –The leader of the nation’s largest veterans organization took exception to VA Secretary Robert McDonald’s comparison of VA wait times to what is experienced by visitors at Disneyland.

“The American Legion agrees that the VA Secretary’s analogy between Disneyland and VA wait times was an unfortunate comparison because people don’t die while waiting to go on Space Mountain,” American Legion National Commander Dale Barnett said. “We also disagree with the substance of his comment because wait times are very important to not just the satisfaction quotient, but in some cases the veterans health.  All of VA needs to be exceptionally good, not just ‘on average.’”

With a current membership of 2.2 million wartime veterans, The American Legion, www.legion.org, 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 nearly 14,000 posts across the nation.



VA Announces Community Care Call Center to Help Veterans with Choice Program Billing Issues

Posted on May 17th, 2016

WASHINGTON – Veterans can now work directly with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to resolve debt collection issues resulting from inappropriate or delayed Choice Program billing. In step with MyVA’s efforts to modernize VA’s customer-focused, Veteran-centered services capabilities, a Community Care Call Center has been set up for Veterans experiencing adverse credit reporting or debt collection resulting from inappropriately billed Choice Program claims. Veterans experiencing these problems can call 1-877-881-7618 for assistance.

“As a result of the Veterans Choice Program, community providers have seen thousands of Veterans. We continue to work to make the program more Veteran-friendly,” said Dr. David Shulkin, Under Secretary for Health. “There should be no bureaucratic burden that stands in the way of Veterans getting care.”

The new call center will work to resolve instances of improper Veteran billing and assist community care medical providers with delayed payments. VA staff are also trained and ready to work with the medical providers to expunge adverse credit reporting on Veterans resulting from delayed payments to providers.

VA is urging Veterans to continue working with their VA primary care team to obtain necessary health care services regardless of adverse credit reporting or debt collection activity.
VA acknowledges that delayed payments and inappropriately billed claims are unacceptable and have caused stress for Veterans and providers alike. The new call center is the first step in addressing these issues. VA presented The Plan to Consolidate Community Care in October of 2015 that outlines additional solutions to streamline processes and improve timely provider payment.

For more details about the Veterans Choice Program and VA’s progress, visit: www.va.gov/opa/choiceact . Veterans seeking to use the Veterans Choice Program can call1-866-606-8198 to find out more about the program, confirm their eligibility and schedule an appointment.



PAID UP FOR LIFE PRICING Effective June 1, 2016

Posted on May 10th, 2016

The following is provided for your information:

As most of you are aware, the membership dues increased $5 in January of this year 2016.  Also part of the resolution to increase dues stated that the PUFL rates would remain the same until June 1, 2016 at which time the Finance Commission would adjust the rate to reflect prudent actuarial assumptions.  Last week at the National Spring meetings in Indianapolis, based on a report from actuaries McCready and Keene, Inc., the Finance Commission set PUFL pricing effective June 1, 2016 as follows:

PAID UP FOR LIFE PRICING EFFECTIVE JUNE 1, 2016
18-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-69 70-79 80-89 90+
$1,535 $1,399 $1,229 $1,025 $815 $599 $429 $329
This table is used for all paid-up-for-life pricing for posts’ dues rates of $48 or less.  For alll dues rates $48.01 and higher, telephone customer service at 317-860-3111 or 800-433-3318.

If you have members interested in buying a PUFL, I recommend they do it prior to the new rates effective June 1, 2016.



American Legion Backs ‘Veterans First Act’

Posted on May 5th, 2016

WASHINGTON (May 4, 2016) – The head of the nation’s largest  veterans organization praised the recently-introduced Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs comprehensive omnibus bill, known as the “Veterans First Act.”

“There is much to like in this bill,” said National Commander of The American Legion Dale Barnett. “Since the wait time manipulations and other irregularities were exposed in 2014, The American Legion has demanded accountability. This legislation will shorten the grievance process, make it easier to dismiss VA officials that  breach the trust of the veterans that they are supposed to serve and allow VA to offer competitive pay and incentives to attract talented physicians and other professionals.  We hope that Congress will pass and the president will sign this bill quickly.”

Barnett pointed out that accountability is a term that all veterans are familiar with. “I said during my congressional testimony in February that the men and women of the U.S. armed forces understand what the word means. When asked to stand in harm’s way – knowing that fulfillment of obligations and responsibilities can cost their lives – they accept without hesitation.  And they go about the business of executing their missions. That’s accountability. The VA Secretary needs to spread  that spirit throughout the entire VA system.”

If passed, this legislative will expand caregiver benefits to include the families of military veterans of all eras. Also, the bill includes improvement to every aspect of VA operations, including the G.I. Bill and prescription medications.

With a current membership of 2.2 million wartime veterans, The American Legion 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 nearly 14,000 posts across the nation.

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Media Contact: In Washington: Crystal Jackson, (202) 263-5758, cell  (202) 320-0408, cjackson@legion.org; Indianapolis: John Raughter, (317) 630-1350 / cell (317) 441-8847,  jraughter@legion.org