While we fully support the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and believe the VA health care system is the best model of care to treat service disabled veterans, DAV is not satisfied with the state of VA today. VA absolutely must reform from top to bottom and must refocus its work squarely on veterans.
As we reported last week, there are some key reforms that are essential for building a healthy and robust VA health care system for the 21st Century. Congress must commit to provide the VA the resources it needs to modernize, rebuild and sustain its internal capacity to provide timely, high-quality health care. To better serve veterans, VA needs to restructure and consolidate all non-VA care programs into a single integrated Extended Care Network. VA must also realign and expand its health care services to meet the diverse needs of all generations of veterans, beginning with establishing new urgent care centers out in the community, and continue its extended operating hours. Finally, VA must reform its management culture through increased transparency and accountability.
As we previously noted, some elected officials are proposing additional reforms in VA health care that we believe would ultimately weaken the system and move VA in the wrong direction. We have warned that these types of proposals risk eliminating VA as a direct care provider-and will fracture the care that veterans would be able to find for themselves. Overly simplistic “choice” proposals sound good, unless you are a wounded, injured or ill veteran with complex and specialized medical needs who is left on his or her own to find care in the private sector, equipped only with a card.
DAV needs grassroots support, and your direct experience with VA, to remind Congress-and even your own VA facility, why the VA system is essential and important to you as a disabled veteran. Most importantly, please tell them we want to ensure veterans have the choice to get all or most of their care from VA, and for VA to have the resources and flexibility to provide coordinated care in the community when necessary.
In Washington, DAV continues to work with our service organization partners, and with the Administration and Congress, to address the problems that have been identified. We must work together to ensure a viable health care system for ourselves now, and for future generations of disabled veterans.
We hope in these messages that we have been able to convey the seriousness of the situation, what is at stake for you, and for all veterans nationwide. We are approaching a Presidential election year and it is more important than ever to collectively make our voices heard. Between now and the November 2016 election, it is likely the future course of veterans health will be decided. Please let your elected officials know what is important to you as disabled veterans, and what we need, deserve, and expect from our VA.
DAV hopes this information has helped you understand and appreciate why we are steadfast in our belief that VA is a vital national asset to disabled veterans. We recognize that some veterans have had a negative experience at VA and we appreciate you providing us that feedback.
DAV’s goal is to ensure VA is reformed and services improved so that all veterans who chose VA are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve and most importantly get the care they need in a timely manner.
Please join us in this battle.
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