Veterans’ Healthcare Takes Center Stage at American Legion Conference


North Dakota Veterans gathered for their winter American Legion Conference.

But when Sen. John Hoeven took center stage, so did the issue of veteran’s healthcare.

There are plenty of badges, flags, and tokens of honor in this crowd, 

But it’s those unseen traces of service  that can often go unnoticed.

“We served our country and a lot of us that served have health issues because of where we served,” Leon Hiltner, North Dakota Arms, American Legion says.

So many military veterans rely heavily on VA services for their healthcare.

“The nation has to step forward and provide those services for the veterans,” Hiltner says.

Nationally, the VA has been plagued with long wait times for care.

So in 2014, the Veteran’s Choice Program was signed into law .

“They can get that appointment right away, and that doctor, and that hospital, gets paid so they take those veterans and give them that high quality service,” Sen. John Hoeven, (R) North Dakota says.  

Some North Dakota veterans are asking their senators in Washington to bring home the importance of healthcare.

“Veterans are dying waiting for the services that they were promised before they entered the military, which was that they would have healthcare for life,” Hiltner says  

And this vet says funding for VA benefits should still be a top priority.

“The longer they delay in funding these projects, the more veterans die waiting for service,”Hiltner says.   

And Hoeven says Veteran’s Choice is giving veterans more options.

“You need health care to live as you get older and if you can’t access that what’s the alternative?” Hiltner says    

To ensure access to the benefits they fought for.

In December, the president signed a resolution for more than $2 billion to continue funding the Veteran’s Choice Program into 2018.

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