Washington, DC – DAV (Disabled American Veterans), a leading veteran service organization with more than 1.2 million members, released the following statement by the Executive Director of its Washington Headquarters, Garry Augustine, on the President’s signing of legislation to strengthen the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and increase veterans’ access to timely medical care:
“Today’s signing of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 is a welcome first step toward restoring confidence and rebuilding VA’s capacity to ensure that all enrolled veterans have access to timely, high-quality health care. Now Congress and the Administration must continue to work in the same bipartisan manner to address the long term structural issues that created the access crisis in the first place.
“For years, DAV has argued that woefully inadequate funding and budget gimmicks left the VA with neither the medical staff nor the health care facilities to handle the influx of veterans seeking care. This legislation will make a down payment needed by VA to hire new doctors and nurses, repair and expand treatment space and lease additional clinic facilities.
“While no veteran should be forced to wait too long or travel too far to get their care, we remain concerned that the new private care provisions could create unrealistic expectations among veterans if not carefully implemented. Simply giving veterans plastic cards and hoping that they find qualitied providers is no substitute for a coordinated system of care. The VA must remain fully responsible for ensuring the best health outcomes for veterans not only by purchasing such care when VA is unable to provide it directly, but also by coordinating the delivery of non-VA care, including all follow up necessary.
“We all share in the sacred obligation to provide wounded, injured and ill veterans the care and benefits they have earned, not just today, but far into the future. Congress must take a second look at VA’s appropriation levels for the next couple of years to ensure that veterans are never again left waiting in lines to access care and benefits they have earned. Moreover, to ensure that veterans are fully protected from future budget battles, Congress must swiftly enact pending bipartisan legislation to extend advance appropriations to all VA programs, services and benefits.”
DAV empowers veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. It is dedicated to a single purpose: fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served. DAV does this by ensuring that veterans and their families can access the full range of benefits available to them; fighting for the interests of America’s injured heroes on Capitol Hill; and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life. DAV, a non-profit organization with 1.2 million members, was founded in 1920 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1932. Learn more at www.dav.org.