Dale Barnett: May 10, 2016

‘Fix it, Don’t Nix it’ 



The leader of the nation’s largest veterans organization has been both a critic and champion

of the Department of Veterans Affairs.  American Legion National  Commander Dale Barnett explains why his organization believes VA is still a system worth saving.

Dale Barnett

National Commander of the 2.2 million member American Legion. National Commander Barnett, a West Point graduate from Douglasville, Ga., is a retired Army officer and veteran of Desert Storm.


The Veterans Health Care system still has major problems. Wait-times are excessive at many facilities and poor performing employees are rarely held accountable. Too many veterans wait too long to receive the benefits that they earned. The scandals of the last couple of years have eroded the trust of many veterans and VA must continue to prove that it is up to the task of serving those who have nobly served their nation.

The American Legion was instrumental in the creation of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans have  served their country and the U.S. government has an obligation to make them whole. When  veterans are able to access the VA system, most are impressed by the quality of care. From prosthetics to PTSD treatment, only the VA truly understands the post-military journey that veterans experience.

The VA can improve its performance by filling critical positions, instituting staff accountability by shifting senior executives from Title 5 to Title  38 status, expand its authority to remove inept employees, increased funding and full consultation with major VSOs on its operations. As the largest veterans organization in the country, The American Legion is eager to work with VA so the department can truly serve veterans as well as veterans have served our nation.


Dale Barnett was elected national commander of the 2.2 million-member American Legion on Sept. 3, 2015 in Baltimore, Md., during the 97th national convention of the nation’s largest veterans organization.

Barnett graduated from the U.S. Military Academy and served as an Army infantry officer from 1974 to 1996, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. A member of American Legion Post 105 in Fayetteville, Ga., he served The American Legion at every level, including Department (State) Commander of Georgia from 2007 to 2008. After leaving the military, Barnett taught high school social studies and coached basketball, baseball and cross country. He was the Creekside High School Teacher of the Year in 2005-2006 and a national board certified social studies teacher in 2003.

Raised in central Indiana, Barnett attended Whiteland Community High School, where he was student body president, captain of the track and basketball teams and president of the Whiteland United Methodist Youth Basketball Team. He credits his experience with Hoosier Boys Nation in 1969 with his decision to attend West Point.

Barnett served from 1990 to 1991 as the battalion executive officer of the 2nd Battalion, 18th Infantry in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. His decorations include The Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal (3rd Award), Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, Humanitarian Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (2 Awards), Kuwait Liberation Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge and Pathfinder Badge.

In addition to an International Relations / Public Affairs degree that Barnett earned at West Point, he holds a Masters of Business Administration from Boston University and graduated from Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Barnett served as The American Legion National Membership and Post Activities Chairman from 2008 to 2010 and National Economic Chairman from 2010 to 2013.

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