BusinessJobsLocalMoneyPoliticsRegionsWorldHeavyweight veterans’ groups struggle with access to the VA

The American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars may evoke pancake breakfasts, but in addition to their integral role in local communities, these organizations have been longstanding heavyweights in political circles. But increasingly, upstart veterans’ groups are challenging their grip on power as the voice for veterans. And these new groups, some with naked political intentions, may have a particularly strong grip on power with the current Administration.  The New York Times reports:

“Last April, [VA Secretary] Mr. Wilkie hosted a breakfast for veterans’ service organizations that included representatives not just of the traditional Big Six, but also the Independence Fund and Concerned Veterans for America, which is financed by Charles G. and David H. Koch, who have backed conservative causes.”

Is Trump’s VA Secretary overlooking the old stalwart veteran groups and giving a new Koch-funded group too much access and leverage?

The Trump Administration has faced criticism from veterans’ groups before, when President Trump signed the Forever GI Bill into law to expand benefits for veterans and their families but didn’t upgrade the VA’s technology to make sure the agency would be able to actually implement the law and provide promised services to veterans.

The health and well-being of millions of American military veterans might hang in the balance. This year, Congress will be looking into changes to health care services for veterans. And which groups speak for veterans and who has influence in that process is going to matter a lot, to a lot of people.