On Aug. 26, Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., welcomed Legionnaires to the Legion’s 96th Annual National Convention. The wife and sibling of U.S. military veterans, Hagan said honoring promises made to those who serve or have served is a “personal obligation.”
Hagan, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, says a complete cultural change was needed at the Department of Veterans Affairs. She said passage of the VA reform bill was a good start but “just the beginning. The administration has a long road ahead to the restore the faith and trust in our veterans.”
Hagan said that new VA Secretary Bob McDonald is up to the challenge of restoring that faith. “And I look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure that our veterans get the treatment that you deserve,” she said. “I really appreciate your service, your support, everything that this organization is doing to benefit our current veterans. You represent the very best that our country has to offer.”
Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the ranking minority member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, also welcomed Legionnaires to his home state – and thanked them.
“Had the Legion not stood with some of us in Washington about the need for change at the VA, I’m here to tell you today we wouldn’t have a new secretary that I’ve got tremendous confidence in,” Burr said. “We wouldn’t have reform … and we wouldn’t be talking about addressing wait times or the claims backlog. “It was the action of the executive team of The American Legion that gave us the clout to reach the changes that have been reached this far. You should be commended for that.”
But Burr said more work remains. “This is the first step,” he said. “This is a small step. It’s a step in the right direction, rectifying a promise we made to every veteran in the past and that we will make to every veteran in the future.”