American Legion National Commander Charles E. Schmidt issued the following statement today after VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin’s testimony on the VA budget request for fiscal 2018:
“The American Legion applauds the President and Secretary Shulkin’s reversal on cutting funds for the Individual Unemployability program. Since the President’s FY-18 Department of Veterans Affairs budget request was submitted, we have been inundated with calls by veterans and family members who expressed alarm over the proposed cuts to their benefits and livelihoods. As Americans, we have a responsibility to care for our veterans – especially those who are disabled and unable to work due to their service-connected disabilities. We commend this Administration for coming to their senses and committing to protect the Individual Unemployability program that provides for our most vulnerable veterans and their families.
"Today, Secretary Shulkin also announced that he plans to move money from community care programs into the Choice Program. The American Legion adamantly opposes this cannibalization of services to fund the Choice Program – which was never intended to be a permanent solution to fixing VA care. Instead, we urge the President and Secretary Shulkin to consolidate and simplify the myriad out-of-system community care programs into one simple, efficient, responsive, and transparent process.
"Lastly, we applaud Secretary Shulkin for dropping the Staab lawsuit in which the Department of Veterans Affairs refused to reimburse a veteran for the costs of emergency room services he incurred. The court’s ruling is right and fair, and we thank the Secretary for doing the right thing in this case.”