WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 6, 2007) - The nation's largest veterans organization today signed an agreement with Walter Reed Army Medical Center that will significantly alleviate the long backlogs in out-processing wounded Soldiers.

In a Memorandum of Understanding signed today during the American Legion's 47th annual Washington Conference, the American Legion will establish an office with paid staff at the facility to assist in the transition of wounded servicemembers from the Deptartment of Defense to the Deptartment of Veterans Affairs.

"This is a natural extension of our Heroes to Hometown program," said National Commander Paul A. Morin." Our commitment is to these men and women who have fought valiantly, sustained life-changing injuries and need a helping hand in transitioning to life out of uniform."

The American Legion Heroes to Hometown program currently identifies returning servicemembers who need direct assistance when they return home. Legionnaires nationwide provide help in understanding the VA health care system as well as other day to day needs that they and their families may be dealing with in transitioning into life back home.

The agreement is a major step toward ending the problems brought to light at Walter Reed. The delays in timely out-processing of Soldiers caused backlogs that forced them to be housed in deplorable facilities, Morin said.

"The American Legion's presence at Walter Reed will assist servicemembers cut through the red tape that now hinders a truly seamless transition between DoD and VA," Morin said. "Our goal is to streamline the process to reduce or eliminate the need for housing recovering servicemembers in facilities not intended for long-term accommodation."

The agreement was signed on stage today during the organization's legislative rally at the Renaissance Washington Hotel before an audience of over a thousand veterans and their families.

"We as a nation have an obligation to not only give our wounded warriors the finest health care, but to ensure their recovery takes place in the best accommodations we can give them." Morin added. "Since 1919 The American Legion has battled to secure and protect the earned benefits of America's veterans and today's action strengthens that steadfast commitment."