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