Because it Endangers and Limits Our Veterans Ability to Get Help in Engaging the Complex and Challenging Bureaucracy
December 6, 2022
Dear Member of Congress:
We want to begin by thanking you for your tireless efforts on behalf of our veterans. These men and women have sacrificed much for our country, and we owe them the highest levels of care and support upon returning to civilian life. In this vein, we write to you regarding the GUARD VA Benefits Act. While we believe the best of intentions are at the heart of this legislation, as written, it will unintentionally deprive many veterans of private assistance in preparing disability benefits claims, overall hindering their ability to receive that which they are owed.
While the Veterans Administration (VA) strives to provide the best possible care, it is widely acknowledged that they are plagued by a six-figure backlog that is actively endangering our veterans. Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) offer free VA claims preparation assistance, but many veterans have expressed difficulty navigating the system even with their help. While the intention of these VSOs is noble, it is clear that other pathways of assistance must be provided to our veterans.
A number of reputable private companies have stepped in to fill a gap in the marketplace, wherein veterans are simply not equipped to secure the benefits they deserve on their own or with the help of volunteer VSO representatives. Some private companies offer a full suite of support, including screenings, benefit eligibility counseling, and assistance in compiling all necessary information for the disability claims submission. It is our belief that the best actors in this space are those who charge a fee only when they succeed in securing or increasing a veteran’s VA rating and only a portion of the veteran’s increase.
We understand that at the heart of the GUARD VA Benefits Act is a desire to protect veterans and ensure they receive the help they need. Unfortunately, your bill appears to criminalize reputable private companies, who are helping disabled veterans navigate a highly complex and challenging government bureaucracy, just as companies like TurboTax who are helping taxpayers with IRS and tax code complexities and challenges. Veterans deserve the same level of outside support, should they choose to use it.
We urge you to reexamine and correct these troubling aspects of the GUARD VA Benefits Act and to work in a holistic manner in the 118th Congress, including with private businesses, to have hearings and roundtables with stakeholders focused on reforming the accreditation process and increasing access to services for veterans. We must increase the VA’s capability to enforce laws against exploitation and punish truly bad actors. But we cannot label all for-profit companies “exploitative,” especially when many veterans can attest to the great support they have received when using their services.
Our veterans have given up so much to ensure the safety of our country and the protection of democratic ideals around the world. We, and the world, are better for their work and sacrifice. The least we can do is make sure they have timely, effective access to health care and support, which can be achieved by increasing the breadth of this legislation and bringing reputable companies into the fold. Please reconsider this legislation, which runs counter to our shared, longstanding goal of fighting for our men and women in uniform.
George Landrith, President, Frontiers of Freedom
Morton Blackwell, President, The Leadership Institute
James L. Martin, Founder/Chairman, 60 Plus Association
The Honorable George K Rasley Jr, Managing Editor, ConservativeHQ.com
Horace Cooper, Director, Project 21
Paul Caprio, Director, Patriotic Veterans
David Williams, President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance
Steve Pociask, President / CEO, American Consumer Institute
C. Preston Noell III, President, Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.
Andrew Langer, President, Institute for Liberty
Bob Carlstrom, President, AMAC Action
Seton Motely, Founder & President, Less Government
Saulius “Saul” Anuzis, President, 60 Plus Association
Ryan Ellis, President, Center for a Free Economy
Governor Mike Huckabee, Former Governor of Arkansas, President of HUCK PAC
David Wallace, Founder, Restore America’s Mission
Charles Sauer, President Market Institute
Karen Kerrigan, President & CEO, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
Judson Phillips, Founder, Tea Party Nation
Martha Boneta Fain, President, Vote America First
Susan Taylor, President, Strengthening America for All
John Cooper, President, Defending America Foundation
Scott Vanatter, President, The Last Best Hope on Earth Institute
Mark Thomas, Founder, Freedom & Prosperity Caucus
Nicholas Willis, President, Americans for Liberty & Security