Veterans react to signing of VA Mission Act

(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
Updated: Jun. 7, 2018 at 10:58 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - This week President Donald Trump signed the VA Mission Act into law. This will provide a new option for medical care for the men and women who have served our country.

Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis, USAF (Ret) considers his 26 years of service to our country one of his biggest accomplishments.

"There is no better group, if you want to talk about who loves America, than those who have served," said Lewis.

Behind his patriotism he carries a heavy load on his heart watching firsthand the disparities veterans face when receiving treatment at VA hospitals.

"I have a dear friend who passed after waiting eight months for an appointment," said Lewis. "He died of cancer before getting the treatment he needed. He was not aware of how bad it was."

Wednesday, Trump signed the VA Mission Act of 2018. This law gives veterans, who previously could only get care from VA facilities, the opportunity to now see doctors in the private sector.

"It will give those of us who are veterans, and especially the newer veterans coming back, the care that they need," said Lewis.

Other veterans, like Tom McKnight, would like to see continued improvement of the Department of Veterans Affairs even with this solution.

"I think it requires a little bit more thought and review. It is an internal problem within the institution and you have to understand and diagnose what the problem is before you can provide the remedy," said U.S. Air Force veteran Tom McKnight.

The legislation will give veterans access to private care when they have endured lengthy wait times or the treatment was not what they had expected.

Acting VA Secretary Peter O'Rourke released a statement after the bill's signing.

Clyde Marsh, the Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs, gave this statement regarding President Trump signing the Mission Act:

"The Mission Act signed by the president today was very important piece of legislation that will improve services and conditions for all veterans. Specifically it provided $5.2 billion in mandatory funding for the veterans choice program as the previous funding expired. This choice provides flexibility for veterans to use the VA or private sector health providers. The Mission Act also removed barriers for Telehealth statewide and nationwide medical consultations and diagnosis. Provides resources to hiring and training more healthcare professionals. Allows the VA to modernize assets and infrastructure to better serve veterans in facilities like CAVHCS Montgomery and Tuskegee. It also address other programs such as reducing opioid addiction. The majority of states including Alabama and veteran service organizations supported the passage of the Mission Act!"

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