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AMAC Joins Coalition to Oppose Legislation that Limits Veterans’ Choice

Veterans“AMAC Action joins thirty-six other conservative organizations in strong support of preserving the right of veterans to choose their own counsel and representatives to assist them in navigating the bureaucracy of the Veterans Administration and secure the disability benefits they rightly deserve. This letter is in opposition to a Senate bill entitled Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act (S. 2141) that would in effect criminalize as so-called “unaccredited actors” consultants and representatives, other than those registered with the VA, working veterans on their claims. While well meaning, the bill is overbroad and wrongly limits a veterans’ choice of advisors and representatives, thereby leaving the initiation phase of the claims solely on the backs of either the overburdened veteran service organizations or veterans themselves.”

February 15, 2022

Dear Chairmen Takano and Tester, and Ranking Members Bost and Moran:

In 2021, Frontiers of Freedom launched the Veterans Choice Initiative, a grassroots effort committed to supporting disabled veterans by protecting their right to choose how to best navigate the bureaucracy of the Veterans Administration and secure the disability benefits they rightly deserve.

Providing access to high quality disability benefits support is one of our most important obligations to the brave men and women who have served this country. Unfortunately, the current government-run and volunteer system is both confusing and under-resourced, leaving veterans at a disadvantage when seeking the benefits, they are ethically, medically, and legally entitled to.

As you look to set the Committee’s priorities for the New Year, we ask that you not repeat the mistakes of the past.

In 2021, Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act (S. 2141) was introduced in the Senate which in effect criminalized “unaccredited actors,” that wish to help veterans with their claims. This includes private consultants that provide necessary and life-changing assistance to millions of veterans around the country.

These proposed changes will limit a veterans’ choice and leave the initiation phase of the claims solely on the backs of VSOs or veterans themselves. While VSOs are filled with well-meaning and sometimes qualified individuals and volunteers, most of the organizations do not have the manpower or expertise to handle the massive inflow that is expected over the next few years.

This latest attempt built upon a 2019 bill that aimed to amend title 38 of the United States Code, to provide criminal penalties for individuals acting as agents or attorneys for the preparation, presentation, or prosecution of a claim. Thankfully, the initial bill was rightfully defeated.

Our veterans have earned the right to choose their consultation and representation, regardless of Accreditation status, as they navigate a confusing system.

As you consider reforms to the veterans’ benefits system in 2022, we ask that any legislation around this issue in Congress will ensure a veteran’s right to choose is not jeopardized.

Thank you for your consideration.

Print Opposition Letter


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Shawna
7 months ago

I have experienced this first hand while helping a dear friend

Stephen Gavaza
7 months ago

I’ve never understood why the VA healthcare system operates as it currently does. When I separated from active service I went to college using the GI Bill and could choose what college to attend and what professors to learn from.
With the VA healthcare system, the VA controls where you go and who you see. I know there are some exceptions but it would seem logical if the healthcare system functioned similar to the educational part of veterans benefits where the veteran can choose their hospital and their doctors.
It would seem that granting healthcare benefits to veterans in this manner would also save tax payer money since the Veterans Administration wouldn’t have all the many hospitals to manage and operate.
This is a little different vein from the article but thought a fitting place to mention. Curious as to anyone else’s thoughts regarding this.

Smike
7 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Gavaza

This is a very double-edged sword. I had a 15-year break in service. When I got out after serving in the Air Force during the Viet Nam war I got no, repeat no help from anyone about my benefits. I paid for my ADN, BSN and MSN on my own – not even a student loan. There wasn’t anyone to ask and talking to the VA was useless.
There wasn’t anybody willing to help except the vendors who would make money from you. They assisted me to waste most of my GI bills learning to fly and obtain a GI Morgage. Most of my generation didn’t use their GI benefits and refused to enter any VA health care facility. In those days they were lacking.

Returned to the service after 15 year break and retired with 28 years at Ft Lewis. Here there were VA benefits experts that sat down with me and explained my benefits and how to obtain them. It’s very complicated and a lot of it makes no sense whatsoever. But that’s how the system works so you really do need an expert, well versed in the ways of the VA to be successful. Also, the VA health care system had come a long way and is now equal in all respects to any civilian or military health care system out there. Even though I get Tri-Care for life with the military, I’m Tier 1 with the VA and am very satisfied with their services at Seattle, American Lake and Puyallup. My VA clinic is less than 5 miles away.

The problem is it’s very easy to do it wrong and get denied for simply saying it wrong, marking the wrong box and waiting too long. And the rules are always changing. This is as challenging as doing your taxes. But with VA benefits each application is audited, looked at and ruled on. It’s got to be done right. Mistakes don’t just slip by, if it ain’t right it’s denied, delayed and not processed. Today VFW, Legion and others have volunteer members who want to help but that’s not their full-time job. They can and do help a lot and can get you started. But you need to talk with the real deal and make sure you’re heading down the right path. Everybody’s unique. Do it right the first time and get what you EARNED.

Smike
4 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Gavaza

The VA is not national health care for veterans. It wasn’t created to do that and it certainly isn’t funded to do that. The VA mission is to treat military veterans who have military related health care issues with priority to combat related issues. That covers a lot of ground but on any given day I’m sure the majority of patients being treated are not for issues related to their military service. I believe the VA is doing a very good job – at least they are in Seattle VA, American Lake VA and the Puyallup VA clinic. I use the VA instead of Tri-Care for Life because they do a better job of taking care of me.

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