Sanders Tells American Legion More Must be Done for Veterans

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Aug. 27 – Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told the American Legion convention here today that a new law to improve health care for veterans is a step forward but “there is more work to be done.”

At the Legion’s national convention, National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger presented Sanders the prestigious Patriot Award for his role crafting the legislation to improve access to timely, quality health care for veterans and to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs. Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), Sanders’ House counterpart, also was commended by the Legion for his work on the bill that was signed into law on Aug. 7 by President Barack Obama. The president addressed the Legion convention yesterday.

The new law provides $5 billion for the VA to recruit more doctors, nurses and other medical providers to care for the surging number of veterans returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The measure also lets veterans on long VA waiting lists and those who live far from VA facilities see private doctors or go to community health centers, Department of Defense facilities and Indian Health Centers. 

Another provision improves the delivery of care for veterans who experienced sexual trauma while serving in the military. The law also strengthens Post 9/11 GI Bill education benefits by offering them to surviving spouses of veterans and by making all states offer in-state tuition rates.

“Will this all be enough to solve all of the VA’s problems? Frankly, I doubt it,” Sanders told the Legion convention.

Sanders called for eliminating long delays for processing disability claims. He said all veterans should have access to VA health care for 10 years instead of the current five years after they leave the military. He advocated improved dental care and mental health services. And he said he supports expansion of a caregivers program to help family members who provide around-the-clock care for disabled veterans.

To read the American Legion news release, click here.

To read the senator’s prepared remarks, click here.

To view photos of Sanders with Vermonters at the Legion convention, click here.