AMVETS in Action

Category: News

AANP, AMVETS Promote Non-Pharmacological Approaches for Chronic Pain



Diane Zumatto, National Legislative Director
Phone: 301-683-4016

Michael Jawer, Director of Government and Public Affairs
Phone: 202-237-8150

Washington DC, September 16, 2015 – AMVETS, one of the nation’s largest veterans service organizations, has joined with the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) in seeking to promote natural, non-pharmacological approaches to treating veterans suffering from chronic pain.

The organizations have collaborated via a “Dear Colleague” letter in the US House of Representatives calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to take steps to employ licensed naturopathic physicians, who are specially trained in natural, non-invasive methods of healing. A “Dear Colleague” letter to that effect has begun circulating in the US House of Representatives. Leading the charge is Congressman Mark Pocan (D-WI), who – like many of his colleagues – is concerned about the dangers of overmedicating veterans, especially with painkilling opioids. Rep. Pocan is joined by Representatives Julia Brownley (D-CA), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), and Walter Jones as the letter’s initial signators.

“After incidents across the country of veterans overdosing on or abusing opioids associated with chronic pain, it is clear we need a new approach to veterans’ pain management,” Rep. Pocan stated. “Our veterans deserve access to all possible forms of care when making their healthcare decisions, including the services provided by naturopathic doctors (NDs).”

The VA serves 8.76 million veterans each year, and chronic pain is known to disproportionately affect those who are serving or have served in the military, affecting nearly half of all active-duty military personnel and veterans.

The letter urges VA Secretary Robert McDonald to assign an employment code to licensed NDs so that they can be brought into the agency’s healthcare system. Signators will be on record as supporting the inclusion of “licensed naturopathic doctors, who are trained in the use of safe and effective natural and conventional therapies, in the spectrum of healthcare professionals employed within the agency.” Citizens can quickly and easily urge their Representative to sign the letter by clicking here.

Before its collaboration with AMVETS to support the House Dear Colleague letter, AANP commissioned a nationwide survey of a representative sample of America’s veterans, finding that nearly two-thirds of veterans (64%) would prefer a doctor who prescribes natural therapies before considering drugs or surgery, and that nearly three-quarters of veterans (73%) would consider seeing a ND if he or she were on staff at a nearby VA facility.

For military veterans, chronic pain often coexists with other health problems such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. NDs are well suited to help, since they are specially trained in natural, non-pharmacological approaches that facilitate the body’s self-healing ability.

Approximately 4,400 NDs are licensed to practice naturopathic medicine, having earned their degree from 4-year postgraduate naturopathic medical schools accredited through the US Department of Education. The approaches studied include nutritional counseling and stress reduction, botanical medicine, therapeutic manipulation, and oriental medicine. A strong emphasis is placed on disease prevention and educating patients on proactive self-care to maintain wellness. Resolutions passed by the US Senate have urged Americans to learn more about this “safe, effective, and affordable form of health care.”

The seeds for the VA initiative were planted at this spring’s AANP legislative conference, when NDs and naturopathic medical students swarmed Capitol Hill expressing the need for the VA to bring NDs into its employment mix. The agency has the ability to assign NDs an existing employment code; Congress’ letter is intended to encourage the VA to take the next steps.

Ultimately, the letter will be delivered to the VA, with the agency asked to respond to this “clear and present need.”

AMVETS (American Veterans), a leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s Armed Forces, has supported Veterans, Active & Reserve Component Service Members, their families and survivors, for more than a half a century. As a leading advocate for Veterans rights and benefits, AMVETS serves as one of the preeminent voices of Veterans on Capitol Hill. AMVETS seeks to enhance and defend the earned benefits of all Veterans & Service Members through leadership, advocacy and service. Learn more at

About The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians:
The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) is the professional association that represents licensed naturopathic physicians. AANP strives to make naturopathic medicine available to every American, and to increase recognition of naturopathic physicians as the identified authorities on natural medicine. Learn more at

An Open Letter to Dr. Ben Carson from Leading Veterans Organizations

Dear Dr. Carson:

As leaders of the nation’s largest veterans organizations, with more than 5 million active members, we vehemently disagree with your dangerous proposal to eliminate the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system for America’s veterans. Eliminating the VA health care system – considering all that it has done in the past and all that it could be in the future – would inevitably endanger the health and well-being of millions of wounded, injured and ill veterans, an outcome that we cannot allow to occur.

Dr. Carson, we do not question your intentions to improve the lives of those who have served; your life’s work speaks clearly to your dedication to the lives of others. Nor do we dispute your observation that VA today faces very serious problems and challenges in providing health care and benefits. Each of our organizations has criticized VA whenever it has faltered or failed, as has too often been the case in recent years. But because our primary concern is about ensuring the best possible outcomes for the men and women who served, we have also proposed thoughtful and responsible reforms that if enacted, and properly resourced, could make VA great again.

While we certainly respect your medical credentials, we are concerned that your current knowledge of the VA is both outdated and inaccurate. We recognize that you received a significant part of your medical training in the VA (as has the majority of America’s doctors); however, the VA you worked in over three decades ago is dramatically different than the VA of today or even ten years ago. The post-Vietnam VA health care system that you observed firsthand during your medical education and subsequent residency operated a system of large hospitals typically located only in major cities. That VA no longer exists. Today the VA system is an integrated, tiered network of more than 1,400 outpatient clinics, medical centers, hospitals, and clinical research facilities, affiliated with hundreds of medical schools and universities.

In reading your recent op-ed in USA Today, it appears to us that you have not been provided with complete and accurate information on how the VA health care system has evolved. Your claim that VA health care has not modernized to meet the changing needs of veterans is simply not borne out by the facts. For example, in just the past dozen years, VA has developed a national integrated system of polytrauma centers and research efforts to address the devastating traumatic injuries from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, particularly traumatic brain injury (TBI). Long the world leader in diagnosing and treating PTSD, VA also has now become the first and perhaps only large scale health care system to fully integrate mental health into its primary care system nationally. Over the past five years VA has also updated its model of care to integrate and support over 20,000 family caregivers of severely injured veterans, not only to allow them to receive care in their homes and reduce government spending, but also to increase the emotional support so critical for their recovery and healing.

VA’s clinical research programs have helped to improve medical diagnosis, treatment and health outcomes for the entire U.S. population. It was VA scientists who developed the original nicotine patch and proved the benefits of low dose aspirin therapy to prevent heart attacks. Closer to your own field of medicine, VA researchers demonstrated that therapy with electrodes implanted into the brain was better than medication at controlling tremors and movement problems in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Dr. Carson, do you really think that veterans would be better off today had VA not existed, or that they would be better cared for in the future in a world without a national VA system dedicated to their unique and often complex needs?

Furthermore, your suggestion that giving veterans health savings accounts in lieu of access to a VA health care system would effectively diminish our nation’s sacred obligation to “care for him who shall have borne the battle…” It would put the onus on the veteran for finding their own health care providers, navigating through the private market-based system, determining whether it meets the standard of care they require, and dealing with the consequences if it goes awry. To suggest that disabled veterans could be sent out into the private economy with a health savings account card overlooks the fact that civilian health care providers have waiting lists of their own, that private practices often limit the number of government plan patients they accept due to low reimbursement rates, and presupposes that civilian doctors have the necessary skillsets and training to meet the unique health needs of military veterans.

Dr. Carson, as one of our nation’s preeminent medical practitioners, you are well positioned to work with us to promote needed reforms at the VA, reforms that will ensure this country keeps its promises to America’s veterans. We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and open a dialogue about the benefits of a national health care system focused exclusively on veterans. America’s veterans have earned the right to a VA system that provides veteran-centric, high quality, accessible health care. We invite you to join with us in an effort to strengthen and reform the VA, not destroy it.


Garry Augustine, Executive Director, Washington Headquarters, DAV
Robert E. Wallace, Executive Director, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States
Verna L. Jones, Executive Director, The American Legion
Homer S. Townsend, Jr., Executive Director, Paralyzed Veterans of America
Stewart M. Hickey, National Executive Director, AMVETS
Robert Puskar, National Commander, Military Order of the Purple Heart
Paul J. Rieckhoff, Executive Director, IAVA
VADM Norbert R. Ryan, Jr., USN (Ret), President, Military Officers Association of America

VA Releases Statement Following Obergefell v. Hodges Ruling

On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Obergefell v. Hodges that the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state. Therefore, VA may recognize the same-sex marriage of all Veterans, where the Veteran or the Veteran’s spouse resided anywhere in the United States or its territories at the time of the marriage or at the time of application for benefits.

VA will work quickly to ensure that all offices and employees are provided guidance on implementing this important decision with respect to all programs, statutes, and regulations administered by VA. Until this guidance has been issued, VA will temporarily wait to adjudicate all claims regarding same-sex marriage that cannot be immediately granted based on prior guidance.

2015 Scholarship Recipients

WASHINGTON DC – AMVETS announced the 2015 recipients of its National Scholarship Program recently.

Graduating high school seniors selected to receive four-year undergraduate scholarships of $4,000 are:

  • Karl Salzmann of East Northport, New York
  • Ryan Kinney of Matthews, North Carolina
  • Alexis Scott of Powder Springs, Georgia
  • Michael Thompson of Elizabethtown, Kentucky
  • Kendall Langum of Friendswood, Texas
  • Haley Kestler of Santa Maria, California

Graduating high school senior selected as the $1,000.00 scholarship recipient of the JROTC scholarship:

  • Mathieu Zamora of Colton, California

Veterans selected to receive four-year scholarships of $4,000.00 are:

  • Kacey Milligan of Winston Salem, North Carolina
  • Benjamin Elliott of Mount Clemens, Michigan
  • Bobby Linnane of Lewiston, New York

Veterans selected to receive the Dr. Aurelio M. Caccomo Family Foundation Memorial Scholarship of $3,000.00:

  • Kiel Edson of Pasadena, Maryland
  • Franklin Palacios of Portland Oregon

Veteran selected to receive The Henry G. Huestis Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $1,000.00:

  • Jo Young Chan of Newton Highlands, Massachusetts

The winners were selected on the basis of academic excellence and financial need. Since its inception in the 1950s, the AMVETS National Scholarship Program has awarded more than $2 million in scholarships to veterans and graduating high school students who are sons and daughters or grandchildren of American veterans.

An Open Letter to America’s Veterans from Secretary Bob McDonald


At the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), we have one of the most noble and inspiring missions in Government. I accepted this job and joined this mission to better serve you—our Veterans—and improve the delivery of the care and benefits you have earned. It is our privilege to serve you, and I have made clear that as we move forward as a Department, we will judge the success of all our efforts against a single metric—the outcomes we provide for Veterans.

The Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (VACAA), enacted less than 3-months ago, goes a long way toward enabling VA to meet the demand for Veterans health care in the short-term. VA has put considerable focus and attention on ensuring the law is implemented seamlessly, without confusion, and without creating hardships for Veterans. This legislation provides authorities, funding, and other tools to better serve Veterans in the short-term. We are appreciative of this temporary measure to improve access while we build capacity within the VA system to better serve those who rely on us for health care.

From June 1 to September 30, 2014, VA completed more than 19 million Veteran appointments in our facilities and made nearly 1.1 million authorizations for Veterans to receive care in the private sector and other non-VA health facilities—a 46.6-percent increase over the same period in 2013. This was all done under existing programs prior to the passage of VACAA, and sets the stage for strengthening existing partnerships between VA and the private sector. We have much we can share with one another to the benefit of Veterans.

VA has signed contracts with two private health care companies to help VA administer the Veterans Choice Program (Choice Program) under VACAA. The Choice Program is a new, temporary benefit allowing some Veterans to receive health care in their communities rather than waiting for a VA appointment or traveling to a VA facility. It does not impact your existing VA health care or any other VA benefit you may be receiving. We will begin implementing this benefit on November 5, as required by law. A call center is now operational to answer your questions and verify your eligibility for this program.

As part of this new program, we are issuing a Veterans Choice Card to every Veteran who is potentially eligible for the new, temporary health benefit. The Choice Card allows Veterans to elect to receive care outside of VA when they qualify for the new program based on the distance of their residence from a VA care facility, or when wait times for VA health care exceed the standards established in law. The Choice Card does not replace the identification card you already use to access other VA benefits; please do not throw away that identification card.

The Choice Card will be issued in three phases. The first group of Choice Cards along with a letter explaining eligibility for this program is currently being sent to Veterans who may live more than 40 miles from a VA facility. The next group of Choice Cards and letters will be sent shortly thereafter to those Veterans who are currently waiting for an appointment longer than 30-days from their preferred date or the date determined to be medically necessary by their physician.

The final group of Choice Cards and letters will be sent between December 2014 and January 2015 to the remainder of all Veterans enrolled for VA health care who may be eligible for the Choice Program in the future.

We are continuing to work with our partners—Congress, Veterans Service Organizations, and others—to get the information about this health program out to Veterans in as many ways as possible. Please visit our Web site at where we have provided helpful information on Choice Program eligibility. We will work with our partners to keep you informed as we improve our delivery of high-quality, timely care.

Thank you for your service and sacrifice.

Robert A. McDonald

» Facts about your Veterans Choice Card – PDF file (1 MB)

AMVETS Announces Winners of 2014 National Scholarships

AMVETS Scholarships

Helping Fund Education for Veterans and Their Families.

LANHAM, Md. June 30, 2014 – AMVETS announced the 2014 recipients of its National Scholarship Program today.

Graduating high school seniors selected to receive four-year undergraduate scholarships of $4,000 are:
• Jacob Marsden – Marblehead, Mass.
• Christina M. Burnham – Fayetteville, N.C.
• Sarah K. Cox – Naples, Fla.
• Hannah Mortan – Roscoe, Ill.
• Rachel E. Donovan – Duncanville, Texas
• Tucker N. Foote – Spokane, Wash.
• Victoria E. Krystynak – Ronceverte, W. Va.
• Jennifer M. Stawski – Junction City, Kan.

Graduating high school senior Eboni Freeman of Griffin, Ga. was selected as the $1,000 scholarship recipient of the JROTC scholarship.

Veterans selected to receive four-year undergraduate scholarships of $4,000 are:
• Bryan S. Anderson – Forest City, N.C.
• Brian Gardner – Pocasset, Mass.
• Alex Hawke – Newton, Iowa

Veteran McKenzie L. Brannen of Statesboro, Ga. was selected to receive a $1,000 Henry G. Huestis Memorial Scholarship.

An added round of $4,000 scholarships were awarded this year through the Ralph S. French Charitable Foundation Category. The veterans selected to receive these scholarships are:

• Shane Burke – Mcleansville, N.C.
• Kimberly N. Denny – Staunton, Va.
• Jeremy J. Foreman – Baton Rouge, La.
• Shannon L. Frady – Phoenix, Ariz.
• Alvaro D. Gonzalez-Davila – Islip, N.Y.
• Francisco J. Guzman – Los Angeles, Calif.
• Robert K. Hage – St. Cloud, Minn.
• Russell W. Husson-Matter – Las Cruces, N.M.
• Anthony P. Klemen – Anitoch, Calif.
• Michael Fussell – Norfolk, Va.
• Joey Morrissette – Lewiston, Maine
• Yong B. Park – Abingdon, Md.
• Kristin Perry – Hope Mills, N.C.
• Chad Woodward – Portland, Ore.
• Cameron Waites – Mt. Morris, Mich.
• Jeffrey B. Stone – Colona, Ill.
• Javier C. Ruiz – Houston, Texas
• Shane P. Robinson – Lake Balboa, Calif

The winners were selected on the basis of academic excellence and financial need. Since its inception in the 1950s, the AMVETS National Scholarship Program has awarded more than $2 million in scholarships to veterans and graduating high school students who are sons and daughters or grandchildren of American veterans.

Information on all AMVETS Scholarships, or how to apply for the 2015 AMVETS National Scholarships can be found at

A leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s armed forces, AMVETS provides support for veterans and the active military in procuring their earned entitlements, as well as community service and legislative reform that enhances the quality of life for this nation’s citizens and veterans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered veterans’ service organizations in the United States, and includes members from each branch of the military, including the National Guard and Reserve. To learn more, visit

Six Figure grant gives AMVETS ammunition to fight veteran unemployment

Grant for VeteransLANHAM, MD – June 10, 2014 – AMVETS National Headquarters is attacking the notably high veteran unemployment rate by continuing a successful national campaign made possible through a grant provided by the Call of Duty Endowment.

AMVETS received a $250,000 grant earlier this year to quickly mobilize and expand the Endowment’s presence across the nation. The AMVETS Career Center Program, which has now broadened its area of support to 9 states and 15 career centers throughout the country, is allowing even more veterans to benefit during 2014.

Each career center, including the one located at AMVETS National Headquarters in Lanham, MD, provides a one-stop shop for veterans looking for assistance. They provide interviewing skills, resume writing, access to statewide databases of veteran-friendly employers, certification programs and training, and even free business attire through donations from Men’s Wearhouse. Veterans can also receive help getting into post-secondary schools, and explaining their benefits.

Prior to this renewed $250,000 grant, the Seal of Distinction, awarded by the Call of Duty Endowment to recognize nonprofit organizations that have proven to be the most effective and efficient at placing veterans into high quality careers was presented to AMVETS for their dedication and achievement in combatting veterans’ unemployment.

“AMVETS is thrilled that the Endow­ment has once again rec­og­nized our work and we are proud to be one of the grantees selected this year to receive a $250,000 grant,” said AMVETS National Commander John H. Mitchell, Jr. “This renewed pledge allows us to sustain the AMVETS Call of Duty Endowment Career Centers and continue to provide for the needs of veterans and their families, just as we have done in so many different ways over the past 70 years.”

Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families issued its May 2014 Employment Situation of Veterans in American findings showing that the unemployment rate of all veterans has improved, decreasing from 5.6 percent in April to 5.0 percent in May 2014. The unemployment rate for our nation’s youngest veterans, ages 20-24, improved by 3.7 percent, decreasing from 13.4 percent in April to 9.7 percent in May 2014. They are experiencing unemployment at a rate that is currently 1.6 percent lower than that of their non-veteran peers of the same age.

To find out more about AMVETS Call of Duty Endowment Career Centers visit Gold Strike Casino or call 1-877-726-8387.

A leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s armed forces, AMVETS provides support for veterans and the active military in procuring their earned entitlements, as well as community service and legislative reform that enhances the quality of life for this nation’s citizens and veterans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally chartered veterans’ service organizations in the United States, and includes members from each branch of the military, including the National Guard and Reserves. For more infor­ma­tion visit

Fix the VA

Fix the VA

Recog­ni­tion of any prob­lems within the VA health­care sys­tem should not be taken as a need or desire to com­pletely dis­man­tle or replace our exist­ing vet­er­ans’ health­care sys­tem, but only to improve it. The cul­tural and health­care needs of our vet­er­ans are unique and the VA alone is uniquely qual­i­fied to meet those impor­tant needs. The basic framework for suc­cess is already in place and imme­di­ate results are achiev­able with prompt, effec­tive and culture-changing best prac­tices; let’s not throw out one of the pre­mier health­care sys­tems in the world in our haste to fix these cur­rent prob­lems or achieve polit­i­cal goals.

It is our respon­si­bil­ity to vig­or­ously defend a sys­tem that has set itself above all other major health-care sys­tems in this coun­try. In spite of all of the crit­i­cism that the VA health-care sys­tem receives, it con­tin­ues to out­per­form every other healthcare sys­tem in Amer­ica, both in qual­ity of care and patient sat­is­fac­tion. The one main focus mov­ing for­ward is the health and well-being of our vet­er­ans. AMVETS offers these rec­om­men­da­tions to help save and improve our VA health­care sys­tem, not elim­i­nate it:

Specific Recommendations:

  1. Ensure both advanced appropriations and discretionary funding for VA, as recommended in the IB, keeps pace with medical care inflation and healthcare demand so that all veterans healthcare needs can be adequately met;
  2. Maximize the use of non-physician medical personnel to mitigate physician shortages and reduce patient wait times especially while utilization of the VA system continues to rise;
  3. Ensure VA makes more realistic third-party medical care collection estimates so that Congress doesn’t under-appropriate funds based on false expectations which in turn negatively impact veteran care
    1. VA needs to redouble its efforts to increase its medical care collections efforts (the cumulative effects of overestimating and under-collecting only degrade the care available to our veterans)
    2. Establish both first- and third-party copayment accuracy performance measures which would help minimize wasted collection efforts and veteran dissatisfaction;
  4. Incorporate civilian healthcare management best practices to attract the best and the brightest healthcare managers in the industry
    1. Include a pathway to VA hospital/clinic management for civilians as part of their succession plan requirements
    2. Adopt proven recruitment, hiring and retention policies to ensure the timely delivery of high quality healthcare to our veterans. (VA’s current cumbersome and overly-lengthy hiring process reduces its ability to deliver critical services. Adopting a more expedient hiring/approval process could include some form of provisional employment;
  5. Immediately increase doctor/patient (d/p) ratio to realistic and productive levels; this one change would drastically improve access to needed healthcare by cutting wait times for veterans needing treatment and/or referrals
    1. Current VA (d/p) ratio is only 1:1200, the (d/p) ratio for non-VA physicians is close to 1:4200;
  6. Improve the patient management system to provide veterans more appointment setting options and reduce staffing errors and requirements
    1. Utilize a private sector best practice hybrid system whereby a portion of the day consists of scheduled appointments and the other portion for walk in or same-day appointments
    2. Eliminate the need for non-specialty appointments to allow veterans quicker access to their primary care providers;
    3. Expand primary care appointment hours to include evening/after hours and Saturdays to help reduce wait times and improve access to needed healthcare
  7. Bring in outside advisory/consulting expertise to reassess VA’s organizational structure and improve its healthcare operations
    1. Adopt private sector best practices for system efficiencies, maximizing human and financial resources, and minimizing waste and redundancies;
    2. Incorporate private sector best practices to rebalance the administrative staff to patient-focused clinical staff ratios
    3. Reduce administrative staff by implementing monitoring and patient advocacy positions at VA Medical Centers to be resourced by trained volunteers from Veteran and Military Service Organizations
  8. Collaborate with HHS (Health & Human Services) to utilize/share the benefits of the Uniform Data System (UDS)
    1. The UDS is a core set of information appropriate for reviewing and evaluating the operation and performance of individual health centers. The ability to track, through the UDS system, a wide variety of information, including patient demographics, services provided, staffing, clinical indicators, utilization rates, costs, and revenues would be invaluable in improving the overall VA healthcare system;
  9. Collaborate with HHS (Health & Human Services) to allow veterans to utilize the existing system of Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC):
    1. FQHCs include all organizations receiving grants under section 330 of the Public Health Service Act, certain tribal organizations, and they qualify for enhanced reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid, as well as other benefits.
    2. FQHCs are required to serve an underserved area or population; offer a sliding fee scale; provide comprehensive services; have an ongoing quality assurance program; and have a governing board of directors
    3. Rather than going unseen or untreated due to limited appointment or physician availability, veterans could seek immediate care on a temporary basis until the VA appointment backlog is eliminated;
  10. Exercise the option to terminate non-performing employees at all levels of the organization so that only dedicated, accurate, motivated employees will remain in service to our veterans; and
  11. Reform incentive programs so that only high-performing employees receive appropriate bonuses for their excellence in serving our veterans

Swift and Decisive Actions, Promises Acting VA Secretary

VA issuesMessage from the Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Sloan D. Gibson

Not all Veterans are getting the timely access to the healthcare that they have earned. Systemic problems in scheduling processes have been exacerbated by leadership failures and ethical lapses. I will use all available authority to swiftly and decisively address issues of willful misconduct or mismanagement.

VA’s first priority is to get all Veterans off waiting lists and into clinics while we address the underlying issues that have been impeding Veterans’ access to healthcare. The President has made clear that this is his expectation.

Even as we implement these immediate actions, we will work with Veterans Service Organizations, members of Congress, academia, public and private organizations, and with all other agencies and institutions that can help us move forward.

We will also continue to depend on the faithful service of VA employees and leaders who place the interests of Veterans above their own, those who serve Veterans with dignity, compassion, and dedication, and who live by VA’s core values: Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence.

Finally, as we accelerate our access to care, we will not lose sight of the fact that the quality of VA healthcare remains strong. Ten years of external validations have consistently shown that, on average, Veterans who use VA healthcare rate our hospitals and clinics as high or higher in customer satisfaction than patients give most of the Nation’s private sector hospitals.

On behalf of all Veterans, I express my appreciation to Secretary Shinseki for his leadership of VA. For decades to come, Veterans will benefit from the transformation begun in the past five years.

Thank you for your support and dedication to Veterans and our mission to serve them.

Sloan D. Gibson
Acting Secretary


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