Make The Connection



At The American Legion, we are dedicated to serving our fellow service members and Veterans in a variety of ways; including helping ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) delivers the best possible health care for our nation’s Veterans.  As The American Legion’s Deputy Director for Health Care for the National Veteran Affairs and Rehabilitation Commission, I lead four national field service representatives in our “System Worth Saving” program to evaluate VA Medical Facilities nationwide.

The System Worth Saving was founded in 2003 by American Legion Past National Commander Ron Conley to assess the quality and timeliness of Veterans’ healthcare and to provide feedback from Veterans on their level of care.  Since 2003, the System Worth Saving program has continued to conduct site visits to between 30-50 VA Medical Facilities nationwide.  The reports from these site visits are compiled into a publication, which is distributed to the President, Members of Congress, VA Officials and American Legion members.  Our efforts during these site visits include interviewing VA Medical Facility senior leadership and staff, inpatients and outpatients, and family members of Veterans to help improve or enhance care throughout VA’s healthcare system. Our System Worth Saving report is a key driver in improving several areas affecting Veterans with their health care benefits.

As a United States Navy Hospital Corpsman, a Legion field representative, and as deputy director, I’ve seen firsthand how much easier it is for Veterans to seek treatment for physical wounds as opposed to invisible injuries.  Many of these injuries may go unrecognized for months, years, and even decades after military service. Mental health challenges affect Veterans of every service era, whether they’re recent OEF/OIF/OND Veterans dealing with the transition to civilian life or they’re Veterans of Korea or Vietnam with unresolved issues heightened by life changes such as aging.

Although over a million Veterans benefitted from VA’s mental health services last year alone, regrettably, there are still many who do not. A variety of reasons exist for why these Veterans may not seek mental health treatment for life problems or mental health symptoms. They may be unaware of how past experiences or trauma could impact their lives, or may not realize that treatment really works. Many struggle with trusting someone enough to talk through the feelings and experiences troubling them. And some Veterans may just be uncomfortable with seeking any mental health services, even if these resources could help get their lives on a better track. As challenging as these obstacles seem, we know that time after time, Veterans have been more than willing to follow in the footsteps and successes of their buddies.

That’s where VA’s new Make the Connection campaign and website come in. It’s a safe, easy, private way for Veterans—and their families—to explore and connect with the experiences and challenges Veterans like them face every day. At MakeTheConnection.net, any time, day or night, Veterans can quickly access video testimonials of other Veterans who have lived through life events similar to their own. They can browse through clear, concise information, connect some of the signs and symptoms they may be experiencing to treatable mental health conditions, and locate resources and services in their communities.

As a veteran, I’m excited VA is connecting Veterans to the experiences and stories of their peers – a proven and effective way to encourage those who haven’t reached out for help to ask for and find support, whether from VA or within their own communities. Make the Connection is another way VA is demonstrating its commitment to stand by our Veterans and guide them to the services and benefits they have earned in innovative ways. I encourage your help by making sure every veteran and his or her loved ones know about this unique website. Visit MakeTheConnection.net—because Veterans cannot receive the treatment they have earned through their service, if they are not first able to make the connection.

Jabob Gadd is the Deputy Director for Health Care, National Veteran Affairs and Rehabilitation Commission for The American Legion.

Author

Jacob Gadd

Comments

  1. Dan F    

    I salute the American Legion for being a watchdog for veterans health. We need more outside monitoring of the practices, procedures, policies and final delivery of care.

    I recently went to my VA for an examination and upon check-in I was asked for my ID card and a second piece of identification. I said to the check-in clerk, “is this something new?” Her reply was that we always have checked you in this way. That was sure news to me, as I never even have been asked for my VA ID card. I later noticed a group of people being escorted through the facility. I inquired who they were and was told they were from the American Legion. So, at least for that one day everyone was on their toes doing things according to policy.

    Interestingly, just before reading this article I called the VA to ask why a new medication ordered at a visit over a week ago hadn’t arrived and it appears (according to myhealthevet) it was never ordered. The nurse I was connected to said, yep you are right, I will remind the doctor today. Fortunately, it was medication that wasn’t critical.

    Incidents such as this is why we need outside scrutiny of the VA. Unfortunately, there is no centralized outside source that we, as veterans, can report deficient care (except to our elected representatives). I would hope that some organization, such as the AL would establish a national data collection point where issues could be addressed.

  2. Eric Mangum    

    Here in this State( North Carolina) theses agencies that are suppose to support the Veterans have there own agenda.A Veteran Service Officer tells a Veteran to drop there claims,because it is Political,Lack of Effort on there part.Tried using theses agencies but they show me how they are with the system to block Veterans from receiving benefits.Cut the bullshit,The Veterans Health Administration has done research on things like High Cholestrol that leads to Coronary Heart Disease if not properly taken care of while on Active Duty.Turn the blind eye to this type of research and then tell the Veterans its a Lab Test.Golly gee dumb-asses how is this Finding done,uhmm A Blood Test (Lab Test).So thank you dumb asses for disabling me for the lack of proper Medical Care while serving this Country.

    1. john cunningham    

      I am a 70+ Japan/Korea vetran and never felt I was due any “HOOORAS’ for my time!
      My brother and best friend served in combat in Nam each paid a heavy price!
      My brother never was the same upon his return and only I know his “story”. My best friend was a fighter pilot, a poet and a great ball player….he never came back. He would never expect to be admired/adored or honored. Ya he would probably kick
      someones assut only the educated and intelligent ones not the dumb shits who woulden’t lift a finger for god, country or friend! JFC NAPLES

  3. Charles T. Cauthen    

    Mr. Gadd, I would love to sit down with you or one of your reps and show you a 5″ stack of VA medical records, 19 months of mistakes, neglect, non-treatment, non-truths and total incompentence. I tried for 2 months to see your rep here at WP. She never returned my calls, someone in her office called a few weeks after I just gave up. I made notes of almost all my visits. You would not believe what they said to me and put me thru. I went to one patient advocate with my problems, he did help, comments were put in my records that were untrue to make me look like an unreasonable or whatever person, retalliation. I’m getting treatment from private pratice now. Medicines, quick lab tests,medicines and being treated with respect and concern. I don’t want the VA to touch me. They can not hurt me anymore. I’m concerned about other vets getting the same treatment I got. It’s not right. American Legion is my VSO who filed my claims. Doug McClure in St. Pete.I’ll look you up @ American Legion.com.

    Charles T. Cauthen
    173rd Airborne, VN Combat vet 69-70

  4. Greg    

    I have been a member of the Legion for 11 years, have filled in for the Service Officer that was/is supplied by my Post on a number of occasions, was asked to fill a vacancy at the Federal Building – Legion Office and much more ‘active duty’ with the Legion. I and my wife, developed, coordinated and were soley responsible for a program for Veterans displaced by Katrina (funding provided by Vermont Power Tools Accessories & the VFW’s Unmet Needs Fund), we distributed more that 500,000.00 in money, clothing, food, water etc., not one cent was unaccounted for. Now when I needed the assistance of my Legion for a FRAUDULENT VA HOME LOAN BY BANK OF AMERICA, no one, not one person, within the Legion would even discuss ANY possibilities with me. Now, for just over one year (one year last October) my wife, myself and my service dog, live in our Van in Walmart parking lots, hotel parking lots (in order to get wifi). My membership in the Legion is not going to be renewed as a result of the outright refusal of same to help us when we need it the most. We have documents that show the fraud, prima facie, and no one cares. So, anyone thinking of joining the Legion, be forwarned; it is there when it’s time to pay your dues and then it vanishes when YOU need it the most. Just another of many scams to get into the Veteran’s pocket.

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