Memorial Day rally will call for more health care

Memorial Day rally will call for more health care A Memorial Day rally will be held at the Sioux Falls Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center to draw attention to a crisis in veterans' health care. Military veterans and supporters will carry hand-painted placards protesting drastic cuts in veterans' health care.

The rally will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 30 at the Sioux Falls Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), 2501 West 22nd Street.

Members of South Dakota's congressional delegation and other officials have been invited to hear veterans' concerns and address the rally.

The nearly 70,000 South Dakota veterans are concerned that the federal budget for veterans health care could be a recipe for disaster � not just for the coming fiscal year, but for decades to come. Years of tight federal budgets have forced drastic cuts in health care services to local veterans, even as the demand for that care increases.

Veterans all across the country are holding similar rallies at most of the nation's 170 VA hospitals to demand that Congress and the White House keep American's promise to veterans.

Memorial Day rallies like the one at the Sioux Falls VA Medical Center are being held at veterans hospitals nationwide to persuade lawmakers to put enough money in the federal budget to prevent devastating cuts in Department of Veterans Affairs health care services and unnecessary hospital closings.

Joining hospital patients and other veterans at the rally will be VA health care workers who also have felt the effects of years of flat-lined budgets. The results have been a steady erosion in the number of VA health care providers and cutbacks in care and services for sick and disabled veterans. Some veterans hospitals are even developing plans to consolidate or shut down completely because of budget pressures.

Four of the nation's top organizations, the DAV, AMVETS, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, say the VA's current medical budget must be increased by $3 billion to meet the health care needs of veterans. But there is a very real danger that lawmakers may be provided only a token increase when the appropriations committees write a check � a recipe for disaster.

The Disabled American Veterans, a non-profit organization founded in 1920 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1932, represents this nation's 2.3 million service-connected disabled veteran and their families.

For more information, contact Larry W. Bouska, national service officer, 333-6896 or Roger Andal, rally coordinator, 334-9791.

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