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American Legion launches Phoenix crisis command center  

The American Legion is sending a team of experts to Phoenix next week to set up a Veterans Crisis Command Center in an effort to help veterans and family members affected by the health-care scandal at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

The crisis center, which will be at American Legion Post 1, 364 N. 7th Ave., will open its doors at noon Monday June 10, according to a press release.

This effort is the American Legion’s latest response to the situation at the VA facility that has kept 1,400 veterans waiting for medical appointments, and kept another 1,700 off any type of waiting list, the release states.

“We came to Phoenix last month and heard complaints from many veterans at our town hall meeting,” said Verna Jones, director of the Legion’s Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Division in Washington.

“Not only are we going there to listen again, but we are going to follow up on their concerns, and provide services and support in their time of crisis.”

Another town hall meeting for local veterans and the community at large is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, June 9, also at American Legion Post 1.

The next day, Ms. Jones and her staff will meet with the Phoenix VA facility’s acting director and staff to learn about their action plan to provide immediate care for more than 3,000 veterans who have been waiting for their medical care, the release states.

According to Ms. Jones, the crisis center will provide veterans with a “triage team” to assist with benefits claims and enrollment in VA healthcare and bereavement counseling.

In addition, accredited American Legion representatives will also help to enroll veterans into the VA health-care system, and help those who believe their care has been unduly delayed but not yet identified as such by VA, the release states.

Ron Abrams, co-executive director of the National Veterans Legal Services Program in Washington, will also be available to discuss any legal issues with visitors. He is also an accredited American Legion representative.

Ralph Bozella, chairman of The American Legion’s Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Commission, said the crisis center in Phoenix will serve as a template for helping veterans in other cities affected by VA’s wait-list scandal.

“The American Legion wants to help restore the faith of veterans in the VA health-care system,” Mr. Bozella said in a prepared statement.

“We can do that by reaching out and helping people affected by the current VA scandal. That’s why we’re going to Phoenix. That’s why we’ll be going to other cities where men and women who have served America need our help.”

The crisis center will be open from noon to 8 p.m. on June 10; from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on June 11 and June 12; and 8 a.m. to noon on June 13.


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