September 28, 2023
Dear Congressional Leaders:
We write to you as representatives of the coalition of voices listed below to call attention to a serious issue facing our brave men and women who have served this country.
We stand united in our unwavering conviction that our nation’s veterans are not merely entitled to the right to choose the process by which they apply for benefits claims but they are owed it as a fundamental right.
Recent legislative developments in Congress have given us cause for concern about the erosion of veterans’ right to choose, particularly when it comes to accessing benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Given the complexity of the VA system, veterans must have the freedom to choose from a range of support options, whether government-provided or specialized services from private companies.
We are particularly concerned about the proposed GUARD VA Benefits Act (H.R. 1139 / S. 740). While well-intentioned, this act channels veterans into fewer avenues for support and assistance – thereby limiting their access to potentially transformative services and slowing the process through which they receive the benefits they are entitled.
This is why we strongly advocate for the value of public-private partnerships, as demonstrated by alternative initiatives such as the PLUS for Veterans Act (H.R. 1822 / S. 1789). Such collaborations infuse the public system with private sector expertise and innovation, mitigating bureaucratic inefficiencies and tailoring services to meet individual specifications. Moreover, the legislation establishes rigorous accreditation standards for private entities, ensuring quality, accountability, and the prevention of malpractice while keeping veterans’ best interests at the forefront.
Any new legislation concerning VA benefits should be founded on the core principles of choice and collaboration. We are united in support of the bi-partisan PLUS for Veterans Act, a measure that aligns with these values. Our veterans, who have risked their lives to preserve our freedoms, should not be confined to one-size-fits-all options. Legislation must be ambitious in expanding the range of services available to veterans across the country.
We are ready to provide further information and look forward to contributing to a dialogue that champions the welfare and choices available to our nation’s heroes.
Every man and woman in uniform has made sacrifices to protect our country. In reciprocity, America has pledged to protect its veterans and ensure they receive the benefits they are rightfully entitled. Central to this promise is the veterans’ right to choose how they access their VA benefits. Upholding this commitment is not merely an option – it is an imperative. It is crucial that we stand by this promise and support those who have given so much to keep our country safe.