VA Budget 'Not Good Enough' for The American LegionFrom: "DocMelson.com" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Feb. 28 /U.S. Newswire/ -- American Legion National Commander Ray G.
Smith issued the following statement today concerning the Bush
administration's FY-2002 Department of Veterans Affairs budget.
Smith will convene an annual meeting of national- and state-level
American Legion officers March 12-14 at the Hyatt Regency Washington
on Capitol Hill. The Legionnaires will personally lobby their
congressional delegations during the Washington Conference. The
2.8-million member American Legion is the nation's largest veterans
administration's Fiscal Year 2002 budget for the Department of
Veterans Affairs is not good enough.
not good enough to provide quality health care to those who provided
honorable military service to our nation. It's not good enough to
address emerging veterans' health care concerns such as hepatitis C
treatment and long-term care mandates contained in the Veterans'
Millennium Health Care and Benefits Act. It's not good enough to
hire enough claims adjudicators to expedite the delivery of
benefits; it takes months, sometimes years, to get a claim
processed. It's not even good enough to simultaneously offset
inflation and universally extend homeless, dental, mental health,
spinal cord, and other services systemwide.
this budget is insufficient to fulfill the campaign promises George
W. Bush made Sept. 6 at The American Legion 82nd National Convention
in Milwaukee. As a candidate, Mr. Bush said he would improve VA
health care, modernize the VA claims process, and reactivate VA
facilities that have been unoccupied, due to scant funding, so that
they may provide services that many veterans lack.
American Legion will fight for a minimum $1.4 billion increase in VA
health care spending alone. The president called for merely a $1
billion increase in the entire current VA budget. Starting with our
Washington Conference in March, the men and women of The American
Legion will insist members of Congress find the money to help
President Bush keep his promises.
health care for veterans is important because veterans are
important. The sacrifice of America's veterans is the human cost of
American foreign policy. Whenever the VA budget suffers, some of
America's finest citizens suffer: the ones who stormed the beach at
Normandy or who fought through the stinging cold at Chosin or who
charged a hill in Vietnam or who liberated Kuwait, and in so doing
contracted illnesses that mystify science. They wait ... and wait
... for a claim to be processed and for a medical appointment to
arrive. We know so few of their names, but we owe so much to their
sacrifice. The American Legion exists to fight for them, and for the
values they fought to protect.
March 13, I will lead my Legion to Capitol Hill. We will fight for a
budget that will allow VA Secretary Tony Principi to implement
crucial reforms and to provide quality health care to America's
veterans. Congress additionally should implement two key provisions
of The American Legion's GI Bill of Health, those which would make
VA health care accessible to all Medicare-eligible veterans and to
all military retirees on Tricare. The third-party funding would help
finance improvements in VA and open up the system to more veterans
-- and their families.
the immediate future, we will fight for an adequate VA budget for
Fiscal Year 2002. The administration's budget is not good
the way comes to an end, then change - having changed, you pass through."