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VFW Against VA Collection Increase Proposal
Date:3/4/2009

WASHINGTON, March 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. wants the Obama administration to kill a controversial budget proposal that would bill veterans with private health insurance for the care they receive for their service-connected disabilities and wounds.

"It is unconscionable to pass along the costs of war to wounded and disabled veterans," said the VFW's Glen M. Gardner Jr., a Vietnam veteran from Round Rock, Texas. "This is one policy proposal that the VFW will work hard to defeat because it breaks a sacred trust that veterans have with their government."

The administration proposed Thursday that the Department of Veterans Affairs would receive $55.9 billion in discretionary funding in fiscal year 2010, an amount that exceeds the current year budget by $5.5 billion. Gardner said the proposal includes good initiatives, such as additional funding to enable more veterans to enroll into the VA system, to expand the concurrent receipt of disability compensation and retirement pay for medically-retired veterans, and to target access to care issues, especially for rural veterans. But the VFW national commander stopped short of applauding the budget when it was confirmed that VA would increase third party collections by billing for service-connected disability treatments.

Gardner said the administration's budget proposal for the VA will get a much closer examination once details are released in April, but he fears the collections increase could lead to higher insurance premiums, as well as make it more difficult for veterans and their families to obtain or retain private health insurance.

On Friday, the VFW and 10 other major veterans' and military organizations wrote President Obama to voice their objections to the budget proposal.

"The VFW adamantly opposes this proposal, and I am asking every VFW and auxiliary member, as well as every American, to urge their congressional delegations to block this move," said Gardner. "Charging veterans for the VA care they receive for service-connected disabilities and combat wounds is not how a grateful nation takes care of her warriors."

To contact a member of Congress, go to: http://capwiz.com/vfw/dbq/officials/. To view a copy of the joint letter to the president, please visit http://www.vfw.org/PR/Legislative/Joint%20VSO%20Letter%20to%20President%20Obama.pdf.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is a nonprofit veterans' service organization composed of combat veterans and those who currently serve on active duty or in the Guard and Reserves. Founded in 1899 and chartered by Congress in 1936, the VFW is the nation's largest organization of war veterans and is one of its oldest veterans' organizations. With 2.2 million members located in 7,900 VFW Posts worldwide, the VFW and its Auxiliaries are dedicated to "honor the dead by helping the living" through veterans service, legislative initiatives, youth scholarships, Buddy Poppy and national military service programs. The VFW and its Auxiliaries contribute more than 13 million hours annually in community service to the nation. For more information or to join, visit the organization's Web site at www.vfw.org.

    Contact:
    Joe Davis
    Director of Public Affairs
    VFW Washington Office
    (o) 202-608-8357
    jdavis@vfw.org


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SOURCE Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S.
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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