Dear American Legion Family Members and Friends,
I am so proud of our American Legion service officers. They tirelessly assist veterans with their benefits claims, often guiding them through a complicated maze just to receive the compensation earned through their service.
Consider this: In fiscal year 2022 alone, veterans and other claimants represented by The American Legion received more than $16 BILLION in VA benefits compensation. In the same fiscal year, the Legion’s Board of Veterans’ Appeals Unit represented more than 17,000 appellants – helping them to secure more than $66 MILLION in retroactive VA claims benefits.
It’s worth noting that our 3,000 accredited service officers provide this expertise at no cost to the veteran, whether they are a Legionnaire or not. Some organizations charge for this service but do not get better results.
There are countless success stories that we’ve heard — and many more that we have not. Veterans have received major adjustments in their disability ratings, significant increases in benefits and — perhaps best of all — the reassurance that someone cares enough to help them.
At this time, The American Legion has identified implementing what’s outlined in the PACT Act as one of our key legislative priorities. We want to ensure that necessary oversight and proper funding are in place so that VA can fulfill its obligation. That means helping up to 3.5 million veterans affected by toxic contamination. VA has increased staffing to process the influx of new claims, adding nearly 1,900 newly authorized PACT Act positions to handle millions of new disability claims.
Already, more than 300,000 PACT Act claims have been filed since President Biden signed the law last August.
That is great news for our veterans who deserve coverage for their illnesses, injuries and ailments linked to toxic exposure. However, it also means that our service officers will face a significant increase in caseloads.
Let’s support our service officers the best we can. I have no doubt that they will continue to serve our brothers and sisters with their gold standard of service that has already brought much needed assistance to millions of other veterans.
And, thank you for what you do to improve the lives of our fellow veterans, servicemembers and their families.
Vincent J. “Jim” Troiola
The American Legion