During 2011, The American Legion conducted site visits at 46 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers. And while patients praised the care they received, there still remain challenges facing VA health-care recipients. Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn servicemembers transitioning back into the civilian world and into the VA health-care system face the challenge of navigating their way through a process that is fragmented and difficult for them to understand.
The Legion's 2011 System Worth Saving report, now available for download here, provides insight into those challenges, which include:• A lack of joint DoD/VA medical record;• A lack of a common classification in DoD/VA for servicemembers and veterans based on their severity of injury;• No joint transition website tailored to servicemembers and veterans based on their severity of injury; and • Veteran service organizations not being invited to attend and present at Transition Assistance Program (TAP) events to explain how veterans apply for VA benefits and services.
This information was garnered from the dozens of site visits that American Legion staff and volunteers conducted during 2011. Compiled into detailed report, it will be given to the president, members of Congress, VA and Legionnaires next week to improve the timeliness and quality of health care provided to the nation's veterans. The American Legion believes this report clearly illustrates unique demands facing the VA health-care system as it continues to meet its obligation to former and current members of the armed forces.
The focus of the 2011 site visits were servicemember's transition of care from DoD to VA, as well as PTS and TBI. Legionnaires are encouraged to review the findings and provide recommendations in order to help improve these important areas of veterans health care.
This year, the System Worth Saving Task Force made some enhancements to the program and will now have two annual System Worth Saving Task Force meetings and draft two publications per year. Each six-month evaluation and publication will focus on only one key health-care issue/concern. The first topic of the 2012 System Worth Saving Task Force is rural health care. Legion staff would appreciate input and feedback on any issues or concerns with the delivery of VA rural health-care programs.
The American Legion is proud of its history of advocacy on behalf of America's veterans and their families. National Commander Fang Wong seeks to continue that legacy of visiting VA medical centers through The American Legion's System Worth Saving program.
In additional to electronic copies, printed copies of the publication are available by contacting the Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Commission by phone at (202) 861-2700 or via email.
For specific policy questions about veterans' health care or the System Worth Saving program findings, please contact Jacob B. Gadd, deputy director for Health Care, at (202) 861-2700 or via email.
To access the Legion's System Worth Saving page, click here.