Transformation of the VA Needs to Begin at the Local Level

Jim Lorraine, President and CEO of America’s Warrior Partnership says that the time to fix the VA is NOW.  President-elect Trump’s administration offers a tremendous opportunity to transform Veteran care in our nation.

Mr. Trump’s proposed ten points on reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs address the needed top-down changes required to remove some of the roadblocks veterans experience when trying to access healthcare, behavioral health and in voicing their concerns to this agency.  However, no top-down reform can, by itself, provide Veterans with the community-level care essential to successful transition from military to civilian life.  For this, a coordinated effort is necessary.

America’s Warrior Partnership supports President-elect Trump’s ten steps which include such necessary actions as the creation of a commission to investigate any fraud, or other wrong-doing at VA; increases the power of the VA Secretary to remove or discipline employees who have jeopardized the health or safety of any Veteran; protects VA employees who bring wrong-doing to light; and, establishes a White House hotline for VA issues.  These points are a good beginning.

"We at America's Warrior Partnership see a great opportunity for communities to strengthen their partnership with their Veterans. To succeed, we must shift our perspective from what is best for Washington DC to what is best for our Veterans, their families, and their communities. We are hopeful that all service members returning to their communities - not just the 33% of Veterans currently served by the Department of Veterans Affairs - know that they will be supported both by the federal programs in place to help them and by their communities."

Jim Lorraine, President & CEO of America's Warrior Partnership

Without widespread support at the community level – where our Veterans live and work – their day-today issues will remain unresolved. America’s Warrior Partnership has succeeded in creating a community environment that improves the quality of life for all Veterans, while also improving the quality of life for the community.  America’s Warrior Partnership focuses on using existing community resources to build relationships between the community and Veterans and their families. Through the community integration approach of proactive outreach and engagement with Veterans, it is proven that Veterans can find hope and purpose in their lives through personal growth and community service. A community of 10,000 Veterans can have an estimated $166M economic impact on their community. A study by Got Your 6, showed that volunteerism and civic engagement of Veterans complement the economic value of veterans in the community.  The basic services for Veterans are available in the community, but the federal programs (GI Bill, VA Home loans, health care, disability support) provide life-changing resources. Working together will result in the empowerment of Veterans to succeed in their communities.

Now is the time to get this right.  Communities cannot relinquish their responsibility to work for our nation’s Veterans. In addition to the ten policy points outlined by President-Elect Trump, America’s Warrior Partnership would encourage a program, policy, and funding review from the bottom-up with the perspective of closing the gap between the community and federal programs.  It is suggested that President-elect Trump include the following points as he seeks to implement his plan:  1) Expand the proposed White House Call Center to one that uses the power of the presidency to resolve Veteran issues in addition to rectifying VA wrongdoing; 2) Insist that the VA become community-sensitive by removing current restraints that hobble efforts to provide local services to Veterans; 3) Engage all Veterans and their families – not just the most disabled or those with the greatest financial need; 4) Change the perception of Veterans as broken or needy to the reality of Veterans as the community assets they are by consistently portraying them in a positive light.  

Jim Lorraine, President and CEO said, “We at America’s Warrior Partnership see a great opportunity for communities to strengthen their partnership with their Veterans.  To succeed, we must shift our perspective from what is best for Washington DC to what is best for our Veterans, their families, and their communities.  We are hopeful that all service members returning to their communities – not just the 33% of Veterans currently served by the Department of Veterans Affairs – know that they will be supported both by the federal programs in place to help them and by their communities.  Their uniformed service to our country, especially in a time when just one percent of the country serves in the military, demands no less.”

The mission of America’s Warrior Partnership is to empower communities to empower veterans.

Media contact:  Lori Noonan, 706-524-2821 or lnoonan@americaswarriorpartnership.org

Source: America's Warrior Partnership

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