When I'm writing a story on veterans issues and need the cold, hard facts, I often turn to the people at Veterans for Common Sense (VCS), a non-profit organization that is on the front lines helping veterans on a variety of issues. Entrenched in America's veteran community, VCS, which was founded in 2002, provides public policy advocacy, public education, government relations and more.
VCS's executive director, Patrick Bellon, a dedicated advocate, is a former Army Cavalry Scout and Iraq War veteran who worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and holds
a Masters of Public Administration degree from Texas State University,
where he attended using the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
Bellon (left), whose military awards include the Army
Commendation Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal and
the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, leads VCS's efforts in Washington DC and participates in public events and media interviews that raise awareness.
VCS was responsible for Veterans for Common Sense v. Eric K. Shinseki, the landmark lawsuit against VA. Originally filed in 2007, the lawsuit, spearheaded by former VCS executive director and current board member Paul Sullivan, demanded that the department fix its broken mental healthcare system.
As I reported in Newsweek/The Daily Beast, the lawsuit, which initiated several positive changes at VA, was dismissed by a California appeals court four months ago. But sources tell me it may now be headed to the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, I just received this heartfelt message from a two-tour Iraq veteran and Purple Heart recipient about how much VCS means to him.
I don't often include pleas for financial help from organizations, but I wanted to pass along this deeply felt letter from a true American hero about a deserving organization that has improved the lives of so many veterans and their loved ones:
I don't usually send emails like this, but when I do it is important. I work with Veterans for Common Sense, which as you may know is a nonprofit organization that fights hard for American soldiers and veterans, and I am asking you to show your support today by helping with their Fall fund drive.
By hard, I mean they took the Department of Veterans Affairs to court when they let veterans down. VCS's litigation has caused actual changes at the VA. The lawsuit also lead to the establishment of the VA crisis line for veterans that has saved an estimated 20,000 lives.
VCS also works hard taking military and veteran's issues straight to Capitol Hill, and in 10 years has built strong relationships with Congressmen and Senators on both sides of the aisle. Many legislative offices call VCS on veterans' issues, not the other way around.
VCS has connections with leaders of both parties, even contributing to developing the veteran's plank of the Democratic Party platform.
VCS spends every day fighting for those who serve our country.
It's not very often VCS makes a direct appeal for donations to fund their fight, but when they do, rest assured it goes directly to pushing for policies in support of military and veteran's issues, standing up for those who were there when our country needed them. Please make your tax deductible donation today to this great organization that really is making a difference for our veterans and military.
Take a few minutes and help VCS meet its Fall fundraising goals.
Christopher Miller LL.B (HONS)
Iraq Veteran and Purple Heart Recipient