As we celebrated our nation’s veterans this week in New York, DC, and across the country, the IAVA team is also excited about a number of legislative victories concerning a number of our #Big6 campaigns. We have major news about the #SheWhoBorneTheBattle campaign, attended a number of legislative hearings, attended numerous Veterans Day celebrations, and added an additional 5 cosponsors across IAVA-backed legislation!
While Monday was Veterans’ Day, the big news this week is that the IAVA-led Deborah Sampson Act (S. 514/H.R. 3224) overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday night! The final vote count of 399-11 shows that this bill is extremely popular and common sense. It is long overdue that women veterans receive equal treatment to their male peers and IAVA applauds the House for its passage. We now call upon the Senate to take this up and make it law! Be sure to check out our press release here, and help us continue our #SheWhoBorneTheBattle campaign by contacting your Senators here.
On Veterans Day, IAVA gathered in New York City for the annual Veterans Day Parade. The parade was extra special this year as it marked the centennial observation of Veterans Day (changed from Armistice Day in 1954). President Trump was present to deliver remarks and to lay a wreath before the opening of the parade. The weather was great and it was one of our best turnouts ever with over 200 members and staff present.
The DC team was also happy to celebrate Veterans Day all week long. On Wednesday night, Tom Porter attended a reception to honor veterans working on Capitol Hill hosted by Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair and Ranking Member, Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Jon Tester (D-MT). On Thursday, Tom and Travis attended an event at the Afghanistan Embassy to honor all veterans. The event was hosted by the Afghan Ambassador to the United States, Roya Rahmani, and attended by the First Lady of Afghanistan, Rula Ghani. It was a great night and IAVA is thankful to the Embassy for hosting us and all veterans in attendance.
Also on Thursday this week, Tom attended a Congressional roundtable hosted by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). This is a quarterly event where VSOs can directly tell the Speaker their upcoming priorities, as well as hear from Congressional leadership on what they are working on. It was a great discussion and an opportunity for IAVA to advocate for all of our #Big6 priorities IAVA thanks the Speaker for her continued engagement on veterans issues and we look forward to continuing to work with her in the future.
On Tuesday, IAVA Government Affairs Associate, Ryan Britch, attended the House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing “Hijacking our Heroes: Exploiting Veterans through Disinformation on Social Media.” The committee heard from Vietnam Veterans of America’s Chief Investigator, Kristofer Goldsmith, who recently wrote a report on foreign entities who misrepresent themselves as veterans and veterans organizations on social media. These malicious actors’ targeted veterans — and specifically targeted IAVA — with harmful disinformation, political propaganda, and fake news. The Committee also heard from Facebook and Twitter who emphasized their efforts in combating the growing problem of foreign actors deceiving veterans on their networks.
New Cosponsors on IAVA-Backed Legislation:
As the Deborah Sampson Act (S. 514/H.R. 3224) crossed the finish line in the House, across the Hill it gained an additional cosponsor! Huge thanks to Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) and all of our 43 Senate cosponsors for their support of women veterans and IAVA’s #SheWhoBorneTheBattle campaign.
This week the IAVA-led Burn Pits Accountability Act (S. 179/H.R. 663) also gained additional Senate cosponsors this week, as Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Doug Jones (D-AL) both signed on to this critically important legislation. Thank you both for your support of veterans that were exposed to #BurnPits.
Lastly, the #CannabisForVets campaign in favor of the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act continues to gain momentum as it gained an additional cosponsor this week. Thank you to Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) for your support on this important piece for bipartisan legislation.