Category Archives: News

The American Legion and USAA® return

INDIANAPOLIS (August 4, 2014) – Hundreds of motorcyclists will show their support for the children of America’s fallen servicemembers when they embark on the ninth annual American Legion Legacy Run.

American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger will lead the American Legion Legacy Run from The American Legion national headquarters in Indianapolis to the 96th annual American Legion National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. later this month.

The 5-day journey will cover approximately 1,350 miles and cross through Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina as participants raise money and awareness for The American Legion Legacy Scholarship program, which helps fund college educations for the sons and daughters of military members who lost their lives while serving since 9/11.

The Legacy Run will begin in Indianapolis with a gathering of riders on Saturday, Aug.16 for safety training and banquet hosted by the Indiana American Legion and the Indiana American Legion Riders. Sponsored by USAA®, The Legacy Run is one of the largest multistate, multiday cross-country motorcycle events in the United States.

The Run officially begins Aug.17, with the Riders expected to arrive in Charlotte on the afternoon of Aug. 21.

“As an consequence of the hazardous nature of military service, many children of our active-duty military personnel are now members of single-parent families,” Dellinger said. “In some cases their chances to attend college have diminished. These children are entitled to receive some money from the government, but it is not nearly enough. We know we must assist. To us, it’s a sacred obligation.”

– MORE-

Legion Ride 2-2-2-2-2

The Legacy Run will stop along the way for events arranged by American Legion posts and Legion Riders chapters along the route. Plans include lunches and dinners at American Legion posts, military- themed museums, and a special appearance at the American Legion Baseball World Series championship game on Aug. 19 in Shelby, N.C.

American Legion posts and American Legion Riders chapters along the route also play an important role planning rest stops, coordinating with local traffic officials and law enforcement officers, and helping with the logistics at a dozen or more refueling stops.

Registration is open to all as an additional fundraiser, even those who do not own motorcycles or who do not plan to participate. The first 600 registrations will receive the Run patch as well as a special mapbook with Rider travel information with routes, scheduled stops, timetables, daily maps and refueling locations.

Dellinger will be available throughout the for local media promotional events and to collect donations along the way. Upon arrival in Charlotte, the Riders will enjoy Tar Heel hospitality with American Legion Post 155 in Kings Mountain, N.C. for two days of group rides, visits to area American Legion posts, and a national American Legion Rider meeting at the Charlotte Convention Center. They will also lead the National Convention Parade on Aug. 24, through downtown Charlotte. Nearly 10,000 people each year attend the national convention.

Registration information is available at www.legion.org/riders.

The registration fees and generous support from USAA®, Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing® and other sponsors make the Legacy Run possible. Scholarship donations are not used. Every dollar donated is placed directly into The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund. For information about the fund, visit www.legion.org/scholarships/legacy.

For more information, contact Bill Sloan, Assistant Director, Internal Affairs/ALR, PO Box 1055, Indianapolis, Indiana, 46206, tel. 317-630-1321, or email ia@legion.org.
John Raughter
Media & Communications, National Headquarters
Phone 317.630.1253 :: Fax 317.630.1368

American Legion says compromise bill is ‘critical component’ for VA improvement

The measure would seek to correct longstanding systemic problems within the department
WASHINGTON (July 28, 2014) – The country’s largest wartime veterans organization welcomed the introduction of a bill in Congress that would fix longstanding, widespread problems within the Department of Veterans Affairs, which have impaired its ability to deliver timely health care and benefits to America’s veterans.
At a news conference today, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., discussed their joint sponsorship of the Veterans Access to Care Act of 2014, a compromise measure that emerged from previous bills introduced in the House and Senate.
“This measure is a critical component in developing a long-term solution to problems that have dogged the VA for years,” said American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger. “We know that Sen. Sanders and Rep. Miller have labored diligently to reach bipartisan consensus. But it would be a great mistake to see this legislation as a one-time fix for all the woes that have been hobbling VA’s performance and credibility.”
Sanders, chair of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, said at the news conference that the bill “makes certain that we will address the immediate crisis of veterans being forced onto long waiting lines for health care. It strengthens the VA so that it will be able to hire the doctors, nurses and other medical personnel it needs, so that we can put a permanent end to long waiting lists.
“It addresses the very serious problems of accountability and makes certain that dishonest and incompetent senior officials at the VA do not remain employed there….”
Sanders said funding for veterans needs must be considered “a cost of war.”
Miller, who chairs the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, said, “We have a VA that is in crisis today. This agreement will go a long way to helping resolve the crisis that exists out there today. Helping to get veterans off of waiting lists is extremely important and this bill does that.”
The VA reform bill, Miller said, “starts a conversation, I think, about VA for the future. Sen. Sanders and I differ about certain things but one thing that we do agree about is that the veterans of this country deserve the best-quality health care that they can get, in a timely fashion – and that has not been the case as of late …. The VA is not sacred, the veteran is.”
Major provisions of the bill include:
• Authorization and funding for VA to contract with community providers to help get veterans immediate care for those who had to wait, or would have to travel excessive distances to VA facilities.
• Authorization of 27 Community-Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs), which is one more than the number authorized by the Senate bill
• Increased authority for the VA Secretary to manage senior personnel. Expedited authority to move or fire SES and other senior-grade executives.
• Extension of the traumatic brain injury (TBI) resident pilot program.
• $5 billion to help VA to hire more physicians.
• $10B to help VA reduced the benefits claims backlog.
• Continued VA development of an upgraded IT patient-scheduling system.
The bill would also require the establishment of a Commission on Capital Planning for VA medical facilities, in order to improve VA’s capital asset processes — from facility planning and individual project management to managing the multi-billion dollar backlog of facility construction and maintenance projects.
At his congressional testimony last September, Dellinger addressed The American Legion’s concerns over VA’s chronic cost-overruns and construction delays for new medical centers.
“We hope this commission, after thoroughly examining the way VA builds facilities, will have some useful recommendations to make. In any case, we appreciate Congress’s interest in taking a very close look at the department’s construction process.”
The bill would also establish another commission to examine VA health-care access issues and recommend actions to bolster capacity. A report to the president would be required within 90 days of the commission’s first meeting.
-30-

Media contact: Marty Callaghan:202-263-5758/202-341-8900, mcallaghan@legion.org. A high resolution photo of Nat. Cmdr. Dellinger is available at www.legion.org.

Legion to set up crisis center in Phoenix

Legion to set up crisis center in Phoenix

The center will assist veterans and family members affected by VA’s waiting-list scandal

The American Legion announced it is sending a team of experts to Phoenix next week to set up a Veterans Crisis Command Center to help veterans and family members affected by the health-care scandal at the city’s Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center.

The crisis center, located at American Legion Post 1 on 364 N. 7th Ave., will open its doors at noon on June 10. It is the Legion’s latest response to a situation at the VA facility that has kept 1,400 veterans waiting for medical appointments, and kept another 1,700 off any type of waiting list. The preventable deaths of patients have been linked to what VA’s Office of Inspector General has called a “convoluted” scheduling system.

“We came to Phoenix last month and heard complaints from many veterans at our town hall meeting,” said Verna Jones, director of the Legion’s Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Division in Washington. “Not only are we going there to listen again, but we are going to follow up on their concerns, and provide services and support in their time of crisis.”

Another town hall meeting for local veterans and the community at large is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, June 9, also at American Legion Post 1.

The next day, Jones and her staff will meet with the Phoenix VA facility’s acting director and staff to learn about their action plan to provide immediate care for more than 3,000 veterans who have been waiting for their medical care.

Jones said the Legion’s crisis center will have a “triage team” to identify problems of those who visit the center, then direct them to appropriate stations on-site for benefits claims, enrollment in VA health care and bereavement counseling. Individuals will also be given the opportunity to share their experiences with any local media outlets reporting on the activities.

The claims station will assist those who may be eligible to file benefits claims with VA that are associated with their lack of medical care. If it can be proven that veterans perished because of delayed care, or their conditions worsened, dependency and indemnity compensation benefits may be awarded.

Accredited Legion representatives will also help to enroll veterans into the VA health-care system, and help those who believe their care has been unduly delayed but not yet identified as such by VA.

Grief counselors at the crisis center will assist family members who have lost loved ones due to VA negligence. Counselors from VA Vet Centers will also be on hand to help affected veterans. Long wait-times may have caused or aggravated mental-health conditions such as depression.

Ron Abrams, co-executive director of the National Veterans Legal Services Program in Washington, will also be available to discuss any legal issues with visitors. He is also an accredited American Legion representative.

Ralph Bozella, chairman of The American Legion’s Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Commission, said the crisis center in Phoenix will serve as a template for helping veterans in other cities affected by VA’s wait-list scandal.

“The American Legion wants to help restore the faith of veterans in the VA health-care system,” Bozella said. “We can do that by reaching out and helping people affected by the current VA scandal. That’s why we’re going to Phoenix. That’s why we’ll be going to other cities where men and women who have served America need our help.”

The crisis center will be open from noon to 8 p.m. on June 10, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the 11th and 12th, and 8 a.m. to noon on the 13th.

Media Contact: Marty Callaghan:202-263-5758/202-341-8900, mcallaghan@legion.org.

John Raughter
Media & Communications, National Headquarters
Phone 317.630.1253 :: Fax 317.630.1368

Legion supports Veterans Choice Act

Legion supports Veterans Choice Act

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.”

Media contacts: Washington – Marty Callaghan:202-263-5758/202-341-8900, mcallaghan@legion.org or Indianapolis – Joe March, 317-630-1254/317- 748-1926, jmarch@legion.org. , John Raughter, 317-630-1350 / 317 441-8847. A high resolution photo of Nat. Cmdr.Dellinger is available at www.legion.org.

John Raughter
Media & Communications, National Headquarters
Phone 317.630.1253 :: Fax 317.630.1368