The American Legion National Executive Committee passed 25 resolutions during its annual Fall Meetings Oct. 11-12 in Indianapolis at National Headquarters. The approved resolutions are available in the Digital Archive. The following are a few that focus on the Legion’s Be the One suicide prevention mission, Legion-accredited service officers and transitioning servicemembers.
Resolution No. 9: Department of Veterans Affairs S.A.V.E. Training at Posts. The origin of this resolution is from the Department of New York, as VA S.A.V.E. training has been held at the post, district and department level in support of the Legion’s Be the One suicide-prevention mission to save the lives of veterans and destigmatize asking for mental health support. The acronym stands for:
S - Signs of suicidal thinking should be recognized.
A - Ask the most important question of all, “Are you thinking of killing yourself?”
V - Validate the veteran’s experience.
E - Encourage treatment and expedite getting help.
Resolution No. 9 strongly encourages American Legion posts to host VA S.A.V.E. training classes and to invite local community, government agencies, not-for-profits and businesses to participate in the training.
American Legion posts interested in hosting a VA S.A.V.E. training class can facilitate it through their local VA Medical Center’s suicide-prevention team. A post can locate contact information for their local suicide prevention team through the Veterans Crisis Line Resource using this link. Once on the website, enter a ZIP code and press search. Then select the box next to Suicide Prevention Coordinators and press search again. Once completed, you will be provided with the closest suicide prevention coordinator and their contact information.
The NEC also passed Resolution No. 5, which calls on Congress to pass legislation funding continued research of emerging therapies, such as MDMA, Ibogaine, 5-MeO-DMT and psilocybin, to address veteran suicides, and for VA to conduct research on these emerging therapies and funding and training of VA clinicians on safe administration.
Resolution No. 10: Oppose Claims Reviews by Private Companies. Legislation currently pending in Congress, Preserving Lawful Utilization of Services for Veterans Act (PLUS Act) proposes amendments to Title 38 of the United States Code to allow private companies, including foreign-owned entities, to handle the review of claims for benefits under laws administered by the VA Secretary. The American Legion has concern regarding the protection and security of sensitive data and medical information of military veterans, and believes government entities responsible for reviewing claims for benefits possess the necessary expertise, understanding and accountability to serve the unique needs and circumstances of military veterans.
Resolution No. 10 affirms the Legion’s stance that only properly trained VA-accredited representatives should be authorized to file initial claims, and it urges Congress to pass legislation to restore criminal penalties for persons or companies, including those with foreign ownership, violating VA rules regarding representing or charging veteran fees to file, prepare or prosecute initial VA claims without VA accreditation. The resolution also urges Congress to fully fund and support VA staffing for the enforcement of criminal penalties, as well as for oversight of new VA-accredited persons and companies; and it urges VA and Congress to support the efforts of VA-approved and accredited organizations like The American Legion so they can ensure veterans and their families continue to receive free representation when filing a VA benefits claim. If you need help finding an American Legion accredited service officer, click here.
Resolution No. 13: Transition Assistance Program App. An estimated 200,000 servicemembers separate from the military every year, and while active-duty servicemembers must begin Transition Assistance Program (TAP) no later than 365 days before separation or retirement, the Government Accountability Office found in its December 2022 report that 70% of transitioning servicemembers did not start TAP at least 365 days in advance. And the report showed 25% of servicemembers requiring maximum transition support did not attend a two-day individual training track or were waived from attending by unit leaders.
In Resolution No. 13, The American Legion “urges Congress to direct all federal executive branch agencies involved in the Transition Assistance Program to establish a private-public partnership to create a transition app with an artificial intelligence component;” and that the app equip active-duty servicemembers and veterans with the necessary information on the resources and benefits available to them.
In line with TAP, the NEC passed Resolution No. 6, which “urges Congress to mandate that separating servicemembers utilizing Department of Defense mental health services who find themselves in need of additional support post-transition are made eligible to use the Veterans Health Administration behavioral and mental health services for up to 12 months from their date of separation, with the first six months of copay requirements waived.”