Col. Jeffrey Jones explains the layout of the Air Force campus to National Commander Jimmie L. Foster, Legion Deputy Director of Healthcare Jacob Gadd and Past National Commander Ronald Conley during the System Worth Saving site visit to Alaska. Photo by Loren Holmes

Legion wraps up 'System' site visits

The American Legion's primary Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare evaluation tool is a program called A System Worth Saving. Designed in 2003 by then-American Legion National Commander Ron Conley, the System Worth Saving task force visits between 30-50 VA nedical centers annually. The reports from these site visits are compiled into a publication which is distributed to the president, members of Congress, VA officials and American Legion members. Since its inception, the program has found both best practices and challenges during these site visits, from which The American Legion has subsequently developed resolutions and congressional testimony to improve the timeliness and quality of VA healthcare.

In the 2011 System Worth Saving report, which will be officially released at during The American Legion National Convention in August, the task force visited 46 VA medical centers. During the two-day site visits, these facilities were asked about transition of care from the Department of Defense into the VA, and efforts to research, screen, diagnose and treat traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress. Task task force members also discussed the facility's budget, enrollment, staffing, long-term care, mental health, construction, suicide prevention and women veterans programs.

Prior to the System Worth Saving Site visits, letters were sent to the department commander and adjutant to request state participation in the site visit. The American Legion's Legislative Division sent letters of invitation to members of Congress whose offices were in the jurisdiction of the VA medical center. Several staffers from congressional offices attended the site visits; the Legion looks forward to continuing to work with Congress in sharing site-visit findings and recommendations. The Legion's Media Relations office also sent media advisories to media located near hospitals the SWS task force visited this year - which generated several camera, radio and print articles on the program.

The full report with the findings from these site visits will be released in September 2011 and can be found at To view The American Legion's 2010 System Worth Saving Report, click here.

For more information on the System Worth Saving program, please contact Jacob B. Gadd, Deputy Director for Healthcare, by e-mail.