IMMEDIATE RELEASE





Press Release

January 22, 2004

No. 04-003

Contact:
Mokie Porter

(240) 485-1600 or
(301) 585-4000
Ext. 146


 
VVA and Congressman Strickland File
Lawsuit to Ensure VA Outreach to Veterans and Their Families 

(Washington, D.C.) – "We cannot simply stand by as potentially tens of thousands of veterans and their family members suffer the consequences of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) decision to discontinue providing outreach with respect to VA health care benefits and services,” said VVA National President Thomas H. Corey.  Earlier this morning, Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) and Congressman Ted Strickland (D-OH) filed suit in U.S. District Court to compel the VA to comply with its legal obligation to inform potential patients and beneficiaries of available VA programs and services. 

Federal law charges the VA with an affirmative duty to seek out eligible veterans and their family members and to provide them with information and assistance to ensure that that they apply for all available VA benefits and services.   While the VA has no discretion to curtail its outreach program, that is exactly what has happened.  In July 2002, the VA issued a memorandum to all VA regional health care networks, directing them "to ensure that no marketing activities to enroll new veterans [will] occur,” regardless of local capacity to accommodate more enrollees.  VA employees were specifically directed to refrain from actively recruiting more people into the VA health care system and to provide only general information.  The lawsuit asks the Court to declare the directive contained in the memorandum unlawful and to order the VA to immediately reinstate congressionally mandated outreach efforts to inform veterans and their dependents of benefits to which they are entitled. 

“It is time to ask the Federal courts to order the VA to do what the law requires,” Corey said.  “The failure to provide information to those individuals who are most at risk, those who are in need of medical care, and those who may not even realize that their illnesses are related to military service is the equivalent of denying services and benefits in violation of the VA’s legal mandate.  With a new generation of veterans emerging from the war against terrorism and Operation Iraqi Freedom, the need for VA outreach is equally as great as it is for veterans of earlier conflicts.”

Attorneys from the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University Law Center are representing VVA and Congressman Strickland.

To view H.R. 831 go to http://www.theorator.com/bills108/hr813.html

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Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families.  VVA's founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

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