Veteran Town Hall with Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Deputy Secretary of Veteran Affairs
Published by Public Relations Elizabeth Martinez Gonzalez (email@example.com)
The American Legion Department of Puerto Rico has dedicated all its resources to serving the veteran community of Puerto Rico since 1923. It is for this reason that the Department of Puerto Rico sponsored a press conference and a Veterans Town Hall meeting this past Friday, November 10th, 2023, with Mrs. Tanya Bradsher, Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and several members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, to discuss all issues pertaining the veteran community here in Puerto Rico. The veterans deserve to express themselves in all the issues that create a disparity in service and benefits between the veterans living in U.S. territories and the ones living in the mainland. For example, “funding for the State Veterans Advocate office is so short that the State Veterans Advocate can barely support the needs of the veterans in Puerto Rico, plus for over 65,000 veterans they only have 14 employees”, said by Alex Ortiz, Commander of VFW Chapter in the Island.
“The American Legion commits to keep bringing these opportunities so veterans can receive the same treatment as their counterparts living in the States”, said Department Commander Carmen Rosario.
A variety of questions were introduced from our veteran community to The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Panel with their concerns in many topics, some were as follows:
· Accountability in the corruption in our Government from the Federal Government.
· Improve the Tricare services for the service members & their families on the Island.
· Difficulty with reaching the VA Caribbean Healthcare System with appointments and extensions.
· Equal rights for our Veteran Community on the Island due to having served proudly in military service.
· Improving our Mental Health programs.
· Difficulty in changing Discharge codes on DD214 that took a veteran that brought the issue (13 years to resolve).
· Better services for the amputee community.
· The wait time to get appointments is astonishing, in many cases can take up to 6 months.
· Veterans are leaving to the Diaspora (USA) for better care and compensation opportunities.
· Within others…
This visit by the first female appointed as the Deputy Secretary of Veteran Affairs and Department Commander for the American Legion in Puerto Rico were key in promoting on local news outlets and press releases in efforts to encourage our past service members of all ERAs to enroll in the VA Caribbean HealthCare System if they have not done so at this moment and to submit for the PACT ACT benefits that you may be entitled to since August 2022 when it was approved. "The American Legion is thankful for all the efforts by every organization to get Pact Act Bill approved to better serve our Veteran Community. I would love to remind each and every Veteran of all Era's to join the efforts that the VA Hospital and the service officers are helping with to ensure all our Veterans get a better quality of life and A+ care that they deserve. It will be a group effort, and we must join to accomplish this" Carmen Rosario, Commander for The American Legion, Department of Puerto Rico
Governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Pierluisi later joined for a second press conference to ensure we get the word out that every service member goes to a Service Officer in the American Legion Offices around the Island or to the VA Regional Office in Guaynabo to submit their claim for benefits that may have been included in the Pact Act. He encouraged veterans that had been denied in the past to resubmit their claims. He also encouraged veterans to enroll in the VA Hospital.
If you are a service member that needs to verify your record to ensure you have the benefits you are entitled to please feel free enroll with your DD214 in the VA Caribbean Healthcare System. If in need to submit a claim you may call The American Legion, Department of Puerto Rico at 787-792-4899 or visit the VA San Juan Regional Office in Guaynabo or call 1-800-827-1000.