As you know, the Save Our VA National Campaign is dedicated to education and outreach on issues that contribute to and accelerate VA privatization. Many of the problems we face, as a campaign and as veterans are the various legislative actions taken to make what look like small changes to veterans' healthcare, but really are pushing more veterans to private-sector care. The VA claims these outsourcing initiatives are necessary because it can't do it alone and needs help from the private sector to care for veterans. Congressional representatives and representatives of VSOs insist outsourcing VA healthcare is essential because many veterans are excluded -- because of their discharge status --from access to VA care and benefits. Therefore, the only option, they insist, is care in the private sector. In making this assertion, they ignore a critical solution to this problem that the VA has rejected, but many Veteran healthcare advocates have sounded the alarm.
The VA is subverting congressional intent by not serving the full veteran population. Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations defines a veteran as "a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable." Currently, the VA tends to veterans with Honorable and General discharges, which excludes more than 575,000 veterans who have served since 1985. Withholding healthcare is a clear violation of veterans' rights. Instead of making it possible for these service members to receive healthcare through the VA, the administration, with the support of major VSOs has been able to justify outsourcing care because these veterans, who desperately need healthcare services, are excluded from the VHA.
Well, the buck stops here! Save Our VA is taking a stand with Veterans Healthcare Policy Institute, Swords to Plowshares, the Veterans Legal Services, and The Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School to stop privatization and get our fellow veterans the care they deserve. Welcoming all veterans into the VA healthcare system is the ONLY way to fight privatization effectively. If more veterans can access VA care, there will be no legitimate reason to send them to the private sector which costs more and is often of inferior quality.
Please write to the VA telling VA leaders that you want the VA to live up to congressional expectations to care for ALL eligible veterans, including those with Other Than Honorable discharges.
The VA accepts comments from the public until September 8th on the VAs
' practice of Character of Discharge Reviews, which excludes veterans from VA benefits.
You can learn more about the issue at this VHPI roundtable.