Founded in 1978 in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is dedicated to representing the interests of Vietnam veterans and their families. VVA maintains an active involvement in a variety of veterans’ issues, including health care, public perception, and the support of future generations of American war veterans. Through its legislative advocacy program, VVA serves as a voice for Vietnam veterans in a number of important capacities. Here is a brief overview of the legislative agenda of VVA.
Military Medical History
VVA encourages the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to reform its health care policies and provide a more comprehensive range of medical services to veterans of American wars. In particular, VVA supports legislation requiring clinicians at VA hospitals to compile a complete military medical history as a component of each patient’s treatment record. Because many medical conditions only begin to appear years after a veteran has completed his or her military service, VVA stresses the importance of physicians asking whether a patient has served in the U.S. Armed Forces. With this knowledge, doctors can proceed with a special interview designed to reveal medical conditions potentially sustained during active duty.
Oversight and Accountability
The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), the organization responsible for the distribution of compensation and pension for American veterans, is currently experiencing an ever-expanding backlog of appeals and claims. To ensure that all veterans receive the benefits promised them, VVA presently works to redesign the entire compensation and pension system. In addition to drawing upon cutting-edge information technology to streamline the process, VVA supports competency-based testing to determine the skills and qualifications of all VA adjudicators and service representatives. For the new system to succeed, however, the VBA must seek out highly trained managers and implement a reliable system of oversight and accountability.
PTSD and Substance Abuse
For many veterans, even those returning home without physical injuries, mental health issues have a profound effect on their quality of life. In particular, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has emerged as one of the most significant mental health issues among veterans returning home from war. To provide much-needed mental health support for American veterans, VVA works closely with members of Congress to fund diagnoses and treatments for veterans with PTSD. In the same vein, VVA encourages the VA and the Department of Defense to develop and implement programs that address problems of substance abuse among veterans.
To learn more about Vietnam Veterans of America, visit www.vva.org.
About the Author
A longtime supporter of Vietnam Veterans of America, Kevin Fallon is a successful entrepreneur and President of Fallon Associates, LLC, in Denver, Colorado. Fallon contributes to a number of other charities and community service organizations, including Colorado UpLift, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, and the American Heart Association.