Veterans Groups Face Off Against ‘Caring For Our Heroes In The 21st Century Act’


U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) has recently drafted a 58-page document entitled,Caring For Our Heroes in the 21st Century Act”The document is a “discussion draft” with a goal to modernize health care for our veterans. Its purpose is to provide an “opportunity to discuss ideas for introduction in the future” as an official bill in the House of Representatives.

Bottom line? The bill is designed to fix many of the deficiencies, problems, and published failures that currently exist within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

However, in a very short period of time, veterans groups have come out on opposite sides of the bill. Concerned Veterans For America (CVA) is for it; Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), the American Legion, and Veterans of Foreign Wars are opposed to it.

John Cooper, Press Secretary for the CVA, published a reasonable explanation of why the bill is needed as well as describes changes such as restructure of the VA, expansion of veterans health care choices and monitors the future progress of veterans’ health reform. He said the bill

Would offer veterans real choice, enable better access and timely delivery of care, and give VA employees an incentive to pursue accountability. The only question is whether Congress will side with veterans, or whether it will allow special interests and entrenched bureaucrats to determine how we as a nation treat our heroes in this century.

However, Paralyzed Veterans of America came out swinging against it. In a press release PVA Executive Director Sherman Gillums expressed outrage:

The premium support model offered in Congresswoman McMorris’ bill will put the lives of catastrophically disabled and low-income veterans in jeopardy byforcing them into private sector systems that already face their own waitlist crises and are ill-equipped to provide the specialized care these veterans need.

It provides no mechanism to ensure veterans’ care is properly coordinated in the private sector, or that veterans receive the most appropriate care.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars also weighed in on the issue:

Politicians, pundits and politically-motivated organizations are using the national crisis in access to care at the Department of Veterans Affairs as justification to dismantle and privatize the VA health care system, with some even proposing that veterans be charged for their service-connected care. The VFW says no!

And The American Legion reported“a host of billion-dollar federal contractors, private medical enterprises and cottage-industry opportunists.”

The positions of these three veterans groups opposed to the bill have obvious points: one, they aligned themselves with the current VA healthcare system; and, more importantly, they have provided no alternate solutions to any of the reported problems within the VA.

With all due respect to all opposing veterans groups, it appears they have missed the point: The “Caring For Our Heroes in the 21st Century Act” is a draft of a proposed bill. It has no House of Representatives bill number showing it has not yet been introduced. Its purpose at this point in time is to provide a discussion of a future bill. It seems obvious that these groups should enter the discussion process, express their viewpoints, and resolve their differences.

Regardless of your position on “Caring For Our Heroes in the 21st Century Act”, you should provide your own thoughts about the bill.

Contact your representative now and provide your input!

Chuck Yarling has had many titles in his career thus far: veteran, engineer, math teacher, consultant, technical writer, book author and publisher, and triathlete. He was a member the Military Order of the Purple Heart and Bugles Across America, which plays Taps at military funerals and special events. Spec. 5 Chuck Yarling served with the 26th Combat Engineering Battalion in Vietnam as an awards clerk. His service with the U.S. Army resulted in being awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Army Commendation Medal. You may reach Chuck at [email protected]

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