VFP's Save Our VA (SOVA) National Campaign was organized several years ago to seek justice for veterans and to strengthen and improve the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). Today, the SOVA National Campaign consists of over a thousand individual VFP members and supporters working across the nation in collaboration of our allies in the VA unions: the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and National Nurses United (NNU). We also partner with the Veterans Healthcare Policy Institute. SOVA's activities include:
- political analysis;
- alerting our network of SOVA veterans' groups and other activists to contact members of congress in response to legislation/policies impacting the VHA;
- encouraging people to write letters to the editor, Op-ed articles on the issues;
- building/maintaining a VFP network of SOVA groups and support them in lobbying members of congress and expanding their lobbying potential; and
- conducting educational meetings including Zoom meetings/presentations.
Save Our VA seeks justice for veterans by fighting to stop outsourcing of VHA health care, which is critical to all veterans, their families, and to the larger population. Veterans are a unique population with healthcare needs that require specialized care. Recognizing this, Congress gave the VHA four key missions:
- delivering clinical care;
- teaching future health professionals throughout the nation;
- conducting cutting edge research; and
- backing up the civilian sector in local or national emergencies.
Conservative political leaders, Big PHARMA and the healthcare industry have attacked the VHA by trying to privatize its services, outsource veteran care, and assure that the VHA is underfunded and understaffed. Their campaign created a bi-partisan consensus in Congress that produced The Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (CHOICE Act) and more recently The VA MISSION Act of 2018 (MISSION Act) - that negatively impact the VHA.
Under the guise of providing "greater healthcare access to rural veterans", these legislative Acts expanded veterans' eligibility for "referrals" to private-sector and urgent care doctors. Funds directed to the private sector have increased from 8% to 39% under the CHOICE program and are escalating even further under the MISSION Act's new Veterans Community Care Program (VCCP). Every dollar for non-VA healthcare comes out of the VHA's already insufficient budget and undermines the VHA's capacity to serve the nine million veterans who depend on it. Even though several studies have shown that VHA healthcare is as good and often superior to private-sector healthcare.
Recording of the SOVA Advocacy Conference!
The SOVA National Committee held a 1-day virtual conference on advocating Congress to strengthen the VA on February 19, 2022 from 1-4 PM EST.
The session covered advocacy techniques to use when meeting virtually with members of Congress and their staff and current issues important to the VA healthcare system. The training was led by Suzanne Gordon - a member of the SOVA Steering Committee, Senior Analyst of the Veterans Healthcare Policy Institute, and author of Wounds of War: How the VA Delivers Health, Healing, and Hope to the Nation's Veterans – and Marilyn Parks, a longtime union organizer with vast experience in advocating in Congress.
After the training SOVA will be meeting virtually with members of Congress. We plan to have meeting dates set with representatives of those attending the training and hope attendees will join us for a meeting with their representative.
Click here to watch the recording of the conference.
SOVA sends the SOVA Update every 3 weeks. Lobby your representatives on issues important to saving our VA by sending the latest Call to Action (CTA). Read the latest articles about the CTA issue by following the links given.