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MEDIA FROM THE INDEPENDENCE FUND

For media representatives looking to book an interview or speak with The Independence Fund, please contact our Director of Communications:

Nick Kaylor 
704-890-4009
[email protected]


Press Releases

  • 2-7-18: New Senate Budget Deal Leaves Out VA Choice?

    New Senate Budget Deal Leaves Out VA Choice?

    The Independence Fund calls on Senate to consider real VA choice before CR expires

    Media Contact: Nick Kaylor I C: 704-890-4009 I [email protected]

     (Washington, DC) – On Wednesday, Senate Leaders McConnell and Schumer announced the Senate reached a budget deal that apparently adds $4 billion to build more Veterans Health Administration hospitals and clinics. A topic not broached in this deal is allowing Veterans additional choices outside of VA care; a major campaign promise by President Trump in 2016.

    A recent bill proposed by Senators McCain and Moran was deemed too costly regarding choice, but the apparent $4 billion budget increase for VA care proves that the resources are there to provide true reform in Veteran care.

    “The VA is broken,” said Bob Carey, Director of Policy and Advocacy for The Independence Fund. “Veterans do not get the care they need.  And it has nothing to do with how many hospitals or clinics the VA builds.”

    Over the last 10 years, the VA budget’s increased nearly 114%, while the number of patients only increased by 33%. During the same time, the number of Veterans Health Administration employees increased 59%.

    “The VA’s failures have nothing to do with lack of funding or lack of facilities,” said Carey. “In fact, the Secretary wants to shut down more than 1,000 buildings and facilities. This failure is because of how the Veterans Health Administration has been set up to run over decades of bureaucratic mismanagement. The best shot for Veterans to get the care they need is to give them more choices outside the VA if they want it.”

    Last year, when the VA asked for additional funding, VA health care was plussed up by the same amount as VA Choice. Why is this not being applied now, and the apparent $4 billion plus up is not being split between VA hospitals/clinics and VA Choice?

    For more information on The Independence Fund’s stance on the matter, please visit www.realVAChoice.org.

    -30-

    ABOUT THE INDEPENDENCE FUND - Founded in 2007, The Independence Fund empowers our nation’s severely wounded, injured, or ill Veterans to overcome physical, mental, and emotional wounds incurred in the line of duty. We improve the lives of both our Veterans and their families through The Independence Fund’s Mobility, Caregiver and Advocacy programs, while also bridging the gap of unmet needs of Veterans and their caregivers. The Independence Fund works to give Veterans the best mobility device options available, and promote their mental and physical health through a variety of ways.

     For more details regarding the Independence Fund’s programs, how to donate, as well as event information, please visit www.independencefund.org or call 888-851-7996    

  • 2-9-18: Veteran Nonprofit Assisting Veterans in a New Way

    Veteran Nonprofit Assisting Veterans in a New Way

    The Independence Fund hires Veterans Service Officer to help Veterans with VA concerns

    Media Contact: Nick Kaylor I C: 704-890-4009 I [email protected]

    (Charlotte, NC) - The Independence Fund, a national nonprofit that assists severely wounded Veterans and their Caregivers, began a new chapter.  This year, the organization hired Mary Ramos, Ph.D., RN-BC, as its Veterans Service Officer (VSO).

    In this role, Ramos assists Veterans and Caregivers in accessing the benefits they earned through their service. Whether it's issues with Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare or benefits, it falls under Ramos' scope in her new role.

    "As is the case with any health care system, the VA has its barriers and complications to navigate", said Ramos. "My knowledge and experience from my previous career allows me to assist our Veterans in many ways; either by helping them directly or by contacting someone in the network that can help them."

    In Ramos' previous position as a Federal Recovery Coordinator within the VA Central Office, she worked directly with Veterans and their families to resolve barriers in care and benefits. In addition she facilitated transition management for the most seriously wounded, ill, and injured service members.

    "I'm thrilled that Mary has joined the team to assist Veterans and Caregivers in accessing what they were promised; what they are entitled to," said Carrie Stead, Director of Programs at The Independence Fund. "She brings tremendous experience and knowledge to this role. Between this and her positive demeanor, she is an immediate asset to the team."

    Ramos brings extensive experience in case management and quality within civilian, military, and Veterans Affairs (VA) systems of care. Additionally, her clinical experience in adult intensive care, adult acute care, psychiatric nursing, pediatrics, and pediatric hematology/oncology gives her the edge in understanding quality care for our Veterans.

    "I'm not a Veteran, but I've done the civilian side of helping-so I'm kind of a different type of VSO," said Ramos. "A VSO is normally someone who knows everything about (Veterans Health Administration) and (Veterans Benefits Administration). In addition to my vast life experience and extensive clinical background, I know the VA and can provide our Veterans with the assistance they require."

    For more information on The Independence Fund's VSO program, or to reach out for assistance, please email Ramos at [email protected] 

    -30-

    ABOUT THE INDEPENDENCE FUND - Founded in 2007, The Independence Fund empowers our nation's severely wounded, injured, or ill Veterans to overcome physical, mental, and emotional wounds incurred in the line of duty. We improve the lives of both our Veterans and their families through The Independence Fund's Mobility, Caregiver and Advocacy programs, while also bridging the gap of unmet needs of Veterans and their caregivers. The Independence Fund works to give Veterans the best mobility device options available, and promote their mental and physical health through a variety of ways.

    For more details regarding the Independence Fund's programs, how to donate, as well as event information, please visit www.independencefund.org or call 888-851-7996.

  • 1-16-18: Congress Failing President's VA Reform Promise

    Congress Failing President's VA Reform Promise

    Op Ed By Sarah Verardo, Executive Director, The Independence Fund

    Media Contact: Nick Kaylor   I   C: 704-890-4009   I   [email protected]

    (Charlotte, NC) – Last summer my husband and I met with President Trump to discuss the numerous challenges faced by wounded Veterans with VA health care. We live a unique and challenging lifestyle because of the wounds my husband, Michael, suffered while deployed to Afghanistan. Because of the unnecessary and burdensome challenges faced with VA health care, we’ve dedicated our lives to ensure other Veterans are afforded quality care, and no Veteran is forced to fight the same battles we have on our road home.

    The battles we fight are not the specifically the wounds Michael suffered, nor even the challenges I face as his wife. Rather, the battles we fight are often within our own government, and the bureaucracy and red tape thrown up by the VA healthcare. For example, here are some of those battles, major and minor, that we fight every day: 

    My husband lost his leg from an IED blast in Afghanistan, and much of his arm, but the VA still demands we drive 90 minutes each way to "check to see if he still has his serious combat injuries” – keep in mind he had two limbs blown off.

    Michael has had more than 100 surgeries, and despite his doctor indefinitely ordering his home nursing we must jump through hoops in order to receive the doctor’s orders. This is not the only time she has ordered items that were lost in the bureaucratic shuffle. One time it took an item being ordered nine times before it finally came through. 

    Don’t get me wrong – since President Trump’s inauguration, we’ve seen the VA health care system improve dramatically: access to care already became easier for my husband; we started to receive better access to prosthetics and repairs; and basic accessibility improvements to our house, which were authorized under law, were completed in two weeks. Under the previous Administration, these improvements sat uncompleted for more than three years. We also see a marked change in the attitudes and approach of VA health care providers, who appear to realize the President is serious about his promises to Veterans.

    Most of the issues with VA health care are written into law. The President cannot change them by Executive Order or regulation. Current law limits Veterans’ access to see only health care providers the VA approves. If that same Veteran’s healthcare was paid by Medicare, Medicaid, or Tricare, that Veteran could choose their own health care provider. Those systems find the Veteran fully competent to make that choice, but that same Veteran enters the VA health care system, and is suddenly incapable of making that choice. That is condescending and paternalistic to say the least, and limits a Veterans ability to get the best health care. USA Today recently reported a series of stories where the VA hired doctors with revoked licenses, and covered up medical malpractice. Even in these egregious cases, the Veteran has no choice but to suffer with whomever the VA chooses to deliver their healthcare.

    The President understood that inequity with his clear campaign promise: "We are going to ensure every Veteran in America has the choice to seek care at the VA, or to seek private medical care paid for by our government.” The President already delivered on many of the campaign promises laid out in his 10 Point Plan to Reform the VA. But on this last issue of VA healthcare choice, only Congress can make the necessary changes.

    Unfortunately, to date, Congress has not delivered on that promise. While both VA healthcare reform bills passed out of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees are an improvement on the status quo, they simply nibble at the edges of the fundamental issues, and both fail to provide the real healthcare provider choice promised by the President. Neither one of these bills will provide the real choice provided in the President’s promise.

    Because of that promise, and because Veterans issues were such a central item in the last campaign, almost three million more Veterans voted in 2016 than in 2012; voting at a rate almost 35% greater than the general population. Veterans understood exactly what the President meant in his campaign promise to provide them a real and comprehensive health care choice, and they understand the legislation currently under consideration in Congress does not come close to meeting that promise.

    Because of that, The Independence Fund recently called on the Senate Majority Leader and the Speaker of the House to move forward on VA healthcare reform legislation only if it has exactly that type of broad healthcare choice Veterans were promised and deserve. Further, we called on President Trump to deliver on his campaign promise. He has so far, and we implore the President to tell Congress he cannot accept either the House or Senate Veterans Affairs Committee passed bills, and that Congress must provide full choice to Veterans before he will sign that legislation.

    This President is the one who can bring about the fundamental reform to the VA healthcare system that is so desperately needed. Now is the time to get that done. Unfortunately, what Congress is considering now will fail to deliver that reform, and will condemn Veterans to suffer under a needlessly limited and bureaucratic system that’s consistently failed them. Our elected leaders must do better for our Veterans.

    -30-

    ABOUT THE INDEPENDENCE FUND - Founded in 2007, The Independence Fund empowers our Nation's severely wounded, injured, or ill Veterans to overcome physical, mental, and emotional wounds incurred in the line of duty. We improve the lives of both our Veterans and their families through The Independence Fund's Mobility, Caregiver, Adaptive Sports, and Advocacy programs.

    For more details regarding the Independence Fund’s programs, how to donate, as well as event information, please visit www.independencefund.org or call 888-851-7996

  • 1-16-18: Letter to POTUS on VA Health Care Reform

    Letter to POTUS on VA Health Care Reform

    The Independence Fund recently sent a letter to President Trump, urging him not to accept any proposals from the House or Senate that do not include clear provisions giving the Veteran primary decision-making authority for their healthcare provider, and more. Th contents of the letter are below:

    The President
    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, DC 20500


    Dear Mr. President:


    Because of your laser like focus during the campaign on VA and national security issues, almost three million more Veterans voted in 2016 than in 2012. Those Veterans believed in what you promised, and look for you to ensure their interests are protected.


    A key element of your campaign that resonated especially with Veterans was your promise to choose their health care provider, as you detailed in the 10th point of your 10-Point Plan for VA Reform: "We are going to ensure everyVeteran in America has the choice to seek care at the VA, or to seek private medical care paid for by our government.”


    The Independence Fund fully supports the complete execution of that promise – the Veteran should be able to choose his or her healthcare provider while under the VA’s care, whether that be a provider within the VA, or from outside the VA in the community.


    Unfortunately, neither bill reported by either the House or Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, H.R. 4242 or S. 2193 respectively, deliver on your campaign promise. In fact, they both perpetuates Veterans dependence on VA chosen health care providers, and will limit the Veteran to only those health care providers the VA chooses. Both bills explicitly state the VA must approve community care outside the VA and further limit care to specific criteria established by the VA, further limiting the VA health care provider from choosing community care for the Veteran.


    When you compare what you demanded in your campaign alongside the provisions of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee bills, the contrast could not be starker, nor the shortcomings of those bills clearer. Your campaign promise put health care decision-making authority with the Veteran; just like they have under Medicare, Medicaid, or Tricare. The bills passed out of Committee leave health care decision making with nameless bureaucrats who have consistently and repeatedly failed Veterans.


    Therefore, Mr. President, we implore your Administration make it clear to the House of Representatives and the Senate that neither Committee passed bill comes close to your requirements, and that you cannot accept them. In the alternative, we believe S. 2184, The Veterans Community Care and Access Act, and H.R. 4457, The Veterans Empowerment Act, come closest to meeting your campaign promise, and believe Senators McCain and Moran, as well as Representative Lamborn must be parties to any agreed VA healthcare reform legislation considered by Congress.


    Thank you very much for your time and consideration, and feel free to call upon us if you have any questions. We look forward to working with you on this vitally important issue.


    Very Respectfully,

    Bob Carey
    CAPT, USN (Ret) Director, Policy & Advocacy 


    POTUS Letter

  • 1-16-18: Letter to Speaker of the House on VA Health Care Reform

    Letter to Speaker of the House on VA Health Care Reform

    The Independence Fund recently sent a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, urging him not to proceed with consideration of H.R. 4242 unless it is revised to incorporate clear provisions giving the Veteran primary decision-making authority for their healthcare provider, and more. The contents of the letter are below:

    The Honorable Paul Ryan
    Speaker of the House of Representatives H-232, The Capitol
    Washington, DC 20515


    Dear Speaker Ryan:


    Almost three million more veterans voted in 2016 than in 2012.


    Those veterans voted in such huge numbers because Veterans issues, especially VA health care reform, were central in the Presidential election debate. A key aspect of that debate was then candidate Trump’s 10th point in his 10-Point Plan for VA Reform: "We are going to ensure every Veteran in America has the choice to seek care atthe VA, or to seek private medical care paid for by our government.”


    Veterans were motivated by that promise in 2016, and turned out in record numbers to vote on that exact issue. And The Independence Fund fully supports the complete execution of that promise – the Veteran should be ableto choose his or her healthcare provider while under the VA’s care, whether that be a provider within the VA, or from outside the VA in the community.


    Unfortunately, the bill reported to the House from the House Veterans Affairs Committee, H.R. 4242, does notdeliver on the President’s promise, and perpetuates Veterans dependence on VA chosen health care providers. The bill explicitly states the VA will only provide community care outside the VA if such an health care "provider at a Department [of Veterans Affairs] facility is not available”. In fact, the bill specifically directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to "give priority to medical facilities and health care providers of the Department [of VeteransAffairs]”. That does not empower the Veteran in their healthcare choices.


    When you place the President’s campaign promise alongside the text of the HVAC passed bill, it is clear the gap between the two is huge. The President’s campaign promise put health care decision-making authority with the Veteran; just like they have under Medicare, Medicaid, or Tricare. The HVAC bill pushes health care decision making back to, and prioritizes the decisions with, the same nameless bureaucrats who have consistently and repeatedly failed Veterans.


    Therefore, Mr. Speaker, we implore you not to proceed to consideration of H.R. 4242 unless it is substantially revised to incorporate (or move to any other VA healthcare reform legislation unless it contains), clear provisions giving the Veteran primary decision-making authority for their health care provider. We believe H.R. 4457, The Veteran Empowerment Act, comes the closest to meeting the President’s campaign promise and believe Representative Lamborn must be party to any agreed VA healthcare reform legislation considered by the House.


    Thank you very much for your time and consideration, and feel free to call upon us if you have any questions. We look forward to working with you on this vitally important issue.


    Very Respectfully,

    Bob Carey
    CAPT, USN (Ret) Director, Policy & Advocacy 


    Ryan Letter

  • 1-16-18: Letter to Senate Majority Leader on VA Health Care Reform

    Letter to Senate Majority Leader on VA Health Care Reform

    The Independence Fund recently sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, urging him not to proceed with consideration of S. 2193 unless it is revised to incorporate clear provisions giving the Veteran primary decision-making authority for their healthcare provider, and more. The contents of the letter are below:


    The Honorable Mitch McConnell U.S. Senate Majority Leader S-231, The Capitol, Washington, DC 20510

    Dear Leader McConnell:

    Almost three million more veterans voted in 2016 than in 2012.

    Those veterans voted in such huge numbers because Veterans issues, especially VA health care reform, were central in the Presidential election debate. A key aspect of that debate was then candidate Trump’s 10th point in his 10-Point Plan for VA Reform: "We are going to ensure every Veteran in America has the choice to seek care atthe VA, or to seek private medical care paid for by our government.”

    Veterans were motivated by that promise in 2016, and turned out in record numbers to vote on that exact issue. And The Independence Fund fully supports the complete execution of that promise – the Veteran should be ableto choose his or her healthcare provider while under the VA’s care, whether that be a provider within the VA, or from outside the VA in the community.

    Unfortunately, the bill reported to the Senate from the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, S. 2193, does notdeliver on the President’s promise, and perpetuates the Veterans dependence on only those health care providers the VA chooses. The bill explicitly states the Veteran’s VA health care provider must determine care outside the VA is in best medical interest of the covered veteran...” and then even further limits that community care access by limiting the doctor’s decision to, "...criteria developed by the Secretary”, even continuing the arbitrary 30 day/40 mile standard from the current VA Choice system. This does not empower the Veteran in their healthcare choices.

    When you place the President’s campaign promise alongside the text of the SVAC passed bill, it is clear the gap between the two is huge. The President’s campaign promise put health care decision-making authority with the Veteran; just like they have under Medicare, Medicaid, or Tricare. The SVAC bill leaves health care decision making with nameless bureaucrats who have consistently and repeatedly failed Veterans.

    Therefore, Mr. Leader, we implore you not to proceed to consideration of S. 2193 unless it is substantially revised to incorporate (or move to any other VA healthcare reform legislation unless it contains), clear provisions giving the Veteran primary decision-making authority for their health care provider. We believe S. 2184, The Veterans Community Care and Access Act, comes the closest to meeting the President’s campaignpromise and believe Senators McCain and Moran must be parties to any agreed VA healthcare reform legislation considered by the Senate.

    Thank you very much for your time and consideration, and feel free to call upon us if you have any questions. We look forward to working with you on this vitally important issue.

    Very Respectfully,

    Bob Carey
    CAPT, USN (Ret) Director, Policy & Advocacy 


    McConnell Letter

  • 10-30-17: Wounded Veteran gets special chair at Chiefs’ Salute to Service game

    Wounded Veteran gets special chair at Chiefs’ Salute to Service game

    Chiefs Game


    KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Before the Chiefs take the field Monday night against the Broncos, Chiefs Kingdom will be cheering for another team: the men and women of the military.


    Monday's game marks the Chiefs' annual Salute to Service game, honoring the men and women in uniform.

    There was a time that it was hard for Michael Liscomb, an Army veteran, to think he’d be able to walk again. But he is about to walk onto an NFL field for the very first time and for a very good reason.

    "This is my very first NFL game ever. I`m looking forward to it and for it to be of this magnitude,  it`s kind of surreal. It's still sinking in,” Michael said.

    Michael is a guest of the Kansas City Chiefs and the Independence Fund and will be receiving a very special wheelchair to help him with daily and physical activities. Michael opted to have his left leg amputated after enduring more than a dozen limb-saving operations over four years due to an injury he sustained while in Iraq in 2012.

    "It was taking time away from my kids. It was taking time away from the things I like to do and so finally it was right on the spot, don`t give it a couple days, I asked the doctor if amputation is in the cards. I felt like I would lead a much better life with this then with a year, two years, three years process just to see if we could kill the infection,” he said.

    It was a decision that Desiree, Michael’s wife, signed off on and one she is happy they made.

    "I saw before the surgery where he'd want to play with the kids but couldn't necessarily keep up with them because his leg would start hurting but now he can play around with them a lot more and he does a lot more with them,” she said.

    The wheelchair is one that will allow him to fish, hunt, and play with his two children. The Independence Fund, an organization based out of Charlotte, North Carolina, has helped Michael and more than 1,900 veterans across the country.

    "We are so thrilled to continue to honor so many of our nation`s heroes that have returned having incurred these wounds in the line of duty and being able to get them back out and doing the things they love and having more options to go on vacations with their families and not having to worry about how we are going to navigate the beach and things like that,” Jessica Marinaccio, of Independence Fund, said.

    It’s a gift that the Liscomb’s are excited to receive and one they are grateful is being presented in this fashion.

    "I`m really shocked, I didn`t think we would be here but I think it`ll hit more tonight when you see all the people sitting there in the stands and he walks out there,” Desiree said.

    "I just want to enjoy every minute, I`m taking in every minute while I`m here and who knows if this will ever happen again so I`m trying to take in every minute and every seconds and cherish it so. I feel blessed just to even be considered for this,” Michael said.

    The wheelchair runs upwards of $16,000 and it will not cost Michael and his family a single dollar.

    The Salute to Service game is part of the Chiefs' ongoing effort to support the military, along with scholarships for Gold Star families, the annual Pros vs. GI Joes event, and participating in efforts for the Marine Corps' Toys for Tots collection -- the longest continuous relationship between Toys for Tots and any NFL team.

    One special touch for this year's Salute to Service game, the Chiefs are wearing pregame warm-ups that feature the patches of various military units. Those warm-ups will later be delivered to those respective troops over the next few weeks.

    The ceremonial "First Pass" was thrown by Olathe native Keara Torkelson, who was wounded in the Fort Hood, Texas shooting in 2009 and received a Purple Heart.

    The game also included a number of other gestures, such as featuring military members deployed in Kuwait on the stadium's ArrowVision. Monday night's 50/50 Raffle with benefit Warrior's Ascent.

    It's a time-honored tradition of which the Chiefs, and the fans, can be very proud.

    http://fox4kc.com/2017/10/30/wounded-veteran-gets-special-chair-at-chiefs-salute-to-service-game/

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