Tester, Disabled American Veterans Express Concerns on Future of Veterans’ Health Care

(U.S. Senate) – Disabled American Veterans (DAV) National Commander Dennis Nixon today presented the group’s 2019 legislative priorities to U.S. Senator Jon Tester and a joint panel of the Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committees.  

Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and DAV Executive Director Randy Reese expressed their shared concerns about the VA’s implementation of the bipartisan VA MISSION Act.

“Does the DAV believe that community providers should be held to the same standards as VA providers?” asked Tester.

Reese responded, “We absolutely believe that is the case.”

“So now implementation of our VA MISSION Act is coming down the pipe and we’ve got to get that right,” Tester continued. “Would the DAV support expansion of care in the community if it meant the quality or timeliness of that healthcare is reduced?”

Reese responded, “Absolutely not. Timely care is important and I think we all agree on that. High quality care is the key. The outcome has got to be equal to or better than the VA or they have no business being in the private sector.”

Tester and Nixon also expressed support for the recent Procopio v Wilkie court ruling in favor of Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans.

“The VA needs to do the right thing and implement the court’s decision immediately and not challenge it. Veterans have waited too long for this. Exposure occurred more than 40 years ago and we’re losing Vietnam veterans every minute of every hour of every day,” said Tester.

“The Procopio case actually identified that this was a misinterpretation years in the making. Bottom line, these Vietnam veterans have been waiting 40 years. Justice delayed is justice denied. Our feelings are that that would be a complete and total betrayal,” Reese said, if the VA intends to appeal the court ruling.

DAV endorsed two Tester-authored, bipartisan VA reform bills this year. Tester’s Deborah Sampson Act gives the VA tools to better serve women veterans and his Servicemember and Veterans’ Empowerment and Support Act improves resources and care for survivors of military sexual trauma (MST).

Prior to the hearing, Tester met with Great Falls veteran and DAV 3rd Junior Vice Commander Joe Parsetich. A photo of their meeting can be found online HERE.

Today’s hearing kicked off a series of joint Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearings in which the nation’s leading Veterans Service Organizations will deliver their 2019 legislative priorities to Congress. More information about the upcoming hearings can be found online HERE. More information about today’s hearing can be found HERE.