The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

January/February 2006
PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE
Meet John Rowan. Click his picture to read his biography.
An Unbeatable Team
BY JOHN ROWAN

I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year. Now that all the festivities are over, it’s time to get back to work.

In this issue you will find VVA’s “2006 Legislative Agenda and Policy Initiatives.” This booklet, which will be distributed to all the chapters and state councils, outlines in detail our concerns for this year. While all of the major issues are covered, we believe three primary areas are critical for the effective and efficient delivery of health care services and service-connected disability benefits earned by veterans. They are 1) funding; 2) accountability; and 3) outreach.

We must impress upon members of Congress that funding for both the VA’s Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) must be fully funded under an acceptable formula that keeps up with inflation and the needs of all veterans.

Even if the VHA and VBA were to receive the funds that they need, we are still concerned about the need for strengthened mechanisms to insure the accountability of senior managers. Therefore, we must ask Congress to insure that performance-based bonuses for managers take into consideration quality as well as quantity and results in benefits to the veterans, as well as cost savings.

But, even with funding and accountability, the program will not be complete without an effective outreach program. Only five million of the 25 million American veterans use the VA as their health care provider. Because of this, many veterans have no contact with the VA and are unaware that many of their maladies may be service connected. For example, how many Vietnam veterans know that their diabetes or prostate cancer are service connected? This requires a separate budget line in the VA’s budget. Congress must establish this program and insure that the outreach is accomplished.

As you can see, all of these programs require congressional action. This is where you come in. We are asking all VVA members to become advocates on behalf of themselves and their brother and sister veterans.

Read our legislative agenda. Become familiar with the issues, and then contact your Representative and Senators. Get your chapter to contact the Representatives in your area. Get your state council to contact your state’s congressional delegation. Get your governors and state legislatures to support these issues. Get your city councils or county legislatures to support these issues. Get your civic and fraternal organizations such as the Rotary, the Masons, and the Knights of Columbus, or block associations to support these issues.

Together we can accomplish these goals. All it takes is a little work. All of these people want to support veterans. America wants to support veterans. We just have to show them how.

If you need any help, please contact our Government Affairs team in the national office. Together we are unbeatable.

   

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