American Legion Commander Visits South Mississippi

The national commander of the American Legion visited South Mississippi Wednesday. He's urging those veterans who did battle overseas, to join the fight for promised benefits here at home.

"But I know one thing we do agree on. We need to support our troops. We need to take care of them," said Thomas Cadmus, as he addressed a group of veterans at the American Legion Post 119 in Gulfport.

He told the veterans a critical part of that care involves VA medical benefits. He's disturbed by President Bush's budget proposal that would require a 250 dollar enrollment fee for the medical plan.

"Also the prescription drugs, which you have a co-pay right now of seven dollars, would be going to 15 dollars. Well, I think this is not right. It's not fair to the veteran," said Cadmus.

He commands the largest veterans organization in America. The American Legion helps lobby for the benefits of nearly three million veterans.

"We need to take care of our veterans. We feel that the veterans and the VA system is a total part of our national security. You don't just send them over around the world and bring them back and say, you didn't get hurt, we don't have to care for you anymore," he told the luncheon group.

The American Legion and several other veterans groups support a plan to move the cost of VA medical care out from under the umbrella of discretionary spending and make that mandatory spending instead.

"Does it mean that you have to take a hit before you're able to use the VA medical center? We don't think so. We think the medical center should be open to all veterans," said the commander.

He's enlisting the help of veterans across the country to make sure medical care and other benefits get the attention they deserve in Washington.