Legion: VA outsourcing should be temporary

“A good temporary solution” is how American Legion National Commander Clarence Hill characterized VA’s decision to employ an outside contractor to assist in processing the large volume of GI Bill claims.The American Legion, which usually opposes outsourcing services it believes the Department of Veterans Affairs should directly provide, recognizes the unprecedented number of claims facing VA as a result of the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the urgency of delivering those benefits in a timely manner.“The American Legion applauds the Department of Veterans Affairs and Secretary (Eric) Shinseki for taking prompt and decisive action to ensure that the applications are processed as quickly as possible,” Hill said. “However, as we have indicated in the past, The American Legion believes that VA’s personnel are very capable of handling the workload and implementation under normal circumstances. We urge the secretary to employ the services of this outside contractor only as long as they are needed to expedite the current flood of applications. We would not approve of a long-term arrangement under which an outside contractor would be performing functions that VA’s staff is perfectly capable of performing for itself.”Post-9/11 GI Bill students can also contact The American Legion directly for assistance with education benefits questions and issues at (202) 263-2995 or by sending an e-mail to Valerie Vigil, vice president of the National Association of Veterans’ Program Administrators, at askvalerie@legion.org. Moreover, The American Legion has created a Web site, www.mygibill.org, to aid veterans in understanding and applying for their new education benefits.Shortly after the Post-9/11 GI Bill passed Congress, U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Texas, a key congressional appropriator, said the new GI Bill would not have happened without the hard work of The American Legion.“Unlike some organizations, The American Legion does not wish to unfairly castigate VA. We believe in being part of the solution, not the problem,” said Hill, referring to the GI Bill backlog.