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Under Secretary: ‘We are There for Our Veterans’

August 28, 2016

Dr. David Shulkin, Under Secretary for Health for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), presented The American Legion Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation (VA&R) Commission with the 25 ways the VA is leading in American health care at the Legion’s 98th National Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Shulkin mentioned that VA care consists of a comprehensive definition of ‘health’ in order to ensure that veterans are receiving well-rounded care: peer support, crisis lines, transportation, caregivers, homelessness services, medication support, behavioral health integration, aligned incentives, lifelong relationships, single EMR platform, partnerships with medical centers, and vocational training.

The presentation emphasized that the VA outperforms its private sector counterparts, according to various research studies. But when asked about the controversial wait times at the VA, Dr. Shulkin offered no excuses. “Until we have fixed everything else, we can’t talk about all the great things about the VA.”

Shulkin still praised the care of the VA for its innovative and proactive health care services by stating, “We are there for our veterans.” The VA is leading in public health issues, including an initiative to eliminate Hepatitis C in the military veteran community. Additionally, the VA is leading on telehealth services with more than 2.14 million episodes delivered to 677,000 veterans. Forty-five percent of VA’s telehealth services are tailored for rural veterans.

Among the list of 25 reasons why the VA is leading in health care in the U.S., Shulkin highlighted the benefits of The American Legion’s System Worth Saving (SWS) program. Past National Commander Ronald Conley started SWS almost 15 years ago to access the needs of VA facilities and help strengthen the care that it provides to military veterans by making recommendations to the president, congress, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The American Legion is the largest wartime veterans service organization with 2.2 million members in more than 13,000 posts in communities across America. The Legion, established by an act of Congress in 1919, was instrumental in getting the original GI Bill through Congress and the creation of the Department of Veterans Affairs.


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