Legion-backed CORE bill becomes law

Legislation that The American Legion played a role in developing - the VA Claims, Operations, and Records Efficiency (CORE) Act (H.R. 1729) - has officially become law.

The VA CORE provision, introduced by Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., and passed as an amendment to the Department of Defense reauthorization bill, directs the Secretary of Defense “to provide the service records of veterans to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs in an efficient, electronic format.”

Staff members from two of The American Legion’s divisions in Washington (Legislative and Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation) worked with Kirkpatrick’s office in developing language for the measure, which is supported by the Legion’s resolution on the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER).

The VA CORE measure codifies a plan that DoD and VA agreed upon in February 2013, when they cancelled a more ambitious project to develop a fully integrated health-care record system for both departments.

The law should help to reduce wait-times for veterans filing benefits claims, which are often extended by the time it takes DoD to transfer paper-based records to VA.

In May 2013, then-American Legion National Commander James E. Koutz sent a letter of support to Kirkpatrick, noting that the CORE act would help to ensure the development of electronic service records “easily transferable in an electronic format between the agencies, such that transitioning servicemembers can be assured that their records are available if and when they need VA assistance.”

Koutz wrote that The American Legion “believes that the development of an electronic records system which is capable of seamless transfer between DoD and VA is a key component of working toward the goal of eliminating the (disability claims) backlog.”