American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger provides his closing remarks during the 2014 NEC Spring Meetings in Indianapolis. (Photo by Lucas Carter/The American Legion)

Dellinger: Our membership gives us influence

American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger used his closing remarks on Thursday morning at the end of Spring NEC Meetings to issue a stern reminder: the Legion is only as strong as its members.

That sentiment, Dellinger said, was proven true earlier this week when The American Legion called for the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and two of his top lieutenants, and the media - and much of the news-watching public - listened.

Dellinger said the Legion's stance received such acclaim and respect because it had 2.4 million members standing behind it.

"We earned a headline in today’s New York Times, which calls us 'one of the nation’s oldest and most influential veteran’s organizations'," Dellinger said to a room filled with National Executive Committeemen and Legion dignitaries. "Do I need to remind anybody in this room why we are the most influential? Our (membership) numbers are a big reason why."

Since the Legion demanded the ouster of Shinseki and two other ranking VA officials in the wake of an administrative scandal that cost veteran patients their lives, the national media has not only devoted a great deal of attention to the Legion's position, they have looked to the Legion for continued coverage of the matter. Dellinger pointed out that several media outlets - The Arizona Republic and Phoenix's NBC affiliate - have requested to attend next week's "town hall meeting" in the Phoenix area which the Legion will host as part of its System Worth Saving site visit to the Phoenix VA.

The Phoenix VA Medical Center is where the scandal began, as CNN reported that at least 40 veterans' deaths went undocumented there in an administrative cover-up. The so-called "secret list" is alleged to have misrepresented patient waiting times at the facility, keeping unpublic the names of veterans who perished as a result of long-delayed appointments.

"I just told Chris Cuomo on CNN this morning that one veteran’s death is tragic, a preventable death is unforgivable," Dellinger said.

The Legion immediately had the ears of the media and the collective public, but Dellinger cautioned that the organization can't take its clout for granted. Dellinger told the NECmen and department commanders in attendance on Thursday morning that they must take it upon themselves to continue growing the membership base in their departments if they want the Legion to retain its spot as the nation's largest - and ultimately most influential - veterans organization.

"Many important resolutions and issues were discussed during this NEC Meeting. They all matter," Dellinger said. "But the one most important message that I want you to take from this meeting is that without a growing, vibrant membership – there can be no advocacy for veterans. If we don’t do it, who will?"


  1. This Commander is out of control. Of oourse he should advocate for Veterans Benefits and Veterans Care. He had NO right to act as judge and jury and call for anone's head. He certainly has no right to question the prisoner exchange. What would he have done, left this Soldier behind? This wasn't about negotiating with terrorist. This was a prisoner exchange. I'm tired of having Commander Dellinger use the American Legion to spew his personal bias.
  2. I was told by American Legion Rep. To go find help somewhere else. How sad is that? Only because I caught him lying to me about the Phoenix Arizona Ratings Office. So he's dishonorable and now shoving a Combat OIF Vet out the door. No wonder I feel fricking hopeless and beat down. Its not just the VA. Its also American Legion Rep. If Dellinger would open his mail he would had known my situation. But like the VA getting caught, they hide. I'm really needing some Veteran help. Can anyone please assist me? SGT John T. Tucson Az.
  3. I work with Vets as an outreach. The best I can tell you is contact the Service Officer of the local DAV. If that doesn't work contact the DAV headquarters.
  4. May 15, 2014, Notice: Reference to VA Care. VA fail to comply with the following provisions: (CFR ) Code of Federal Regulations 1. CFR §17.33 Patients' rights. 2. CFR §17.52 Hospital care and medical services in non-VA facilities. §17.33 Patients' rights. (a) General. (1) Patients have a right to be treated with dignity in a humane environment that affords them both reasonable protection from harm and appropriate privacy with regard to their personal needs. (2) Patients have a right to receive, to the extent of eligibility therefor under the law, prompt and appropriate treatment for any physical or emotional disability. (3) Patients have the right to the least restrictive conditions necessary to achieve treatment purposes. §17.52 Hospital care and medical services in non-VA facilities. (a) When VA facilities or other government facilities are not capable of furnishing economical hospital care or medical services because of geographic inaccessibility or are not capable of furnishing care or services required, VA may contract with non-VA facilities for care in accordance with the provisions of this section. When demand is only for infrequent use, individual authorizations may be used. Care in public or private facilities, however, subject to the provisions of §§17.53, 17.54, 17.55 and 17.56, will only be authorized, whether under a contract or an individual authorization, for— (1) Hospital care or medical services to a veteran for the treatment of— (i) A service-connected disability; or (ii) A disability for which a veteran was discharged or released from the active military, naval, or air service or (iii) A disability of a veteran who has a total disability permanent in nature from a service-connected disability, or (iv) For a disability associated with and held to be aggravating a service-connected disability, or (v) For any disability of a veteran participating in a rehabilitation program under 38 U.S.C. ch. 31 and when there is a need for hospital care or medical services for any of the reasons enumerated in §17.48(j). (2) Medical services for the treatment of any disability of— (i) A veteran who has a service-connected disability rated at 50 percent or more,
  5. I agree with Jerry only until someone is found criminally negligent be it in Phoenix or DC. The VA Director of the Phoenix facility is now on paid leave. If she is found to have tampered with or falsified any records, or directed anyone to, she should be removed and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. She should also loose her pension.
  6. I agree with Jerry Slaughter. It seems like whenever something goes wrong the first words "off the lips" is "fire them", sent them to prison", "they need to apologize" and many, many more. All of the so people need to stop a look and even do a little thinking. I would be willing to say they all need to look behind them and see if their job and the way of doing business is "without" fault and no mistakes were made. I doubt it. There is no way the Sect. of The VA cannot know what each and every VA hospital and all of the employes or doing. I have been using the VA facility since 1981 without excellent service.
  7. So who do you think should be held accountable,eh. Maybe you should talk to the families of the dead patients,eh.
  8. I regret that you feel obligated to ask for these resignations. What happened is regrettable and should be investigated but everyone jumping in without an giving these people time. To do their job is not the right thing to do. Jerry Slaughter
  9. So who do you think should be held accountable,eh. Should this type of negligence be allowed to continue? You might be next,eh.
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