Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Concerned Veterans of America is an organization that advocates for better medical care for America’s veterans, including the Mission Act. KGVO News spoke with Strategic Director Christopher Enget on the issue of health care for veterans through a campaign called the Veterans Rights Unleashed Tour.

“We have the Veterans Rights Unleashed Tour going on right now,” began Enget. “One issue that we're facing as veterans here in Montana very specifically, is that the Mission Act was put into place in 2018 and 2019 that allows veterans to get care in the community, and that allows them to get that health care in a timely fashion without long wait times, without long drive times and just be able to get it right there in their community. Unfortunately, the VA is not following that.”

Veterans are Very Knowledgeable about their Health Care

Enget said veterans are among the most knowledgeable of health care recipients and are advocating for their health care rights.

“Veterans know what their rights are, and they know what that is supposed to look like, and they can advocate for those benefits,” he said. “They can advocate to be healthier, whether it's physically or mentally. Especially here in Montana, mental health is a really big issue. So we want veterans to understand that they have the ability to get care in the community and they can get that health care taken care of. Right now, we're seeing the VA very consistently is trying to pull back on that and not allow veterans that option and that veterans overwhelmingly approve and want care in the community.”

Enget said veterans are fully capable of choosing their own healthcare providers.

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Enget said Veterans Want to Choose Their Own Health Care Providers

“So the way that the Care in the Community Program is supposed to work is that these providers out in the community actually contract with the VA,” he said. “So what we're advocating for is that a veteran can choose one of those providers that's contracted with the VA or the VA themselves, to be able to figure out what's best for them, and how can they get seen (by a doctor) the soonest and what is going to be the best avenue for their health.”

Enget said VA Should be More Similar to Medicare and Medicaid

Enget said the VA should provide health care in the same manner as Medicare and Medicaid.

“The same way that Medicare and Medicaid operates,” he said. “I mean, I couldn't imagine a senior citizen that's on Medicaid being told by Medicare, you can only get your health care in this way at this place, and if you're not willing to do that you don't get health care. That's effectively what the VA is doing to veterans right now.”

Enget encouraged Montana veterans to contact Montana Senator Jon Tester, Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, to enforce the Mission Act for veterans’ health care.

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