Legislative Dispatch: NDAA Day 4
Posted by Tom Tarantino on December 3
When we left work on Friday, the NDAA was in good shape. The Senate was working together at a record pace and was set to make major progress for service members, veterans and military families. They had already passed an amendment from Sen. Murray that would improve mental health care and were poised to pass four more that IAVA was asking for. Unfortunately, that cooperation didn’t last long and the following amendments for veterans are being held up just because of politics:
- Amendment 2946 by Senator Pryor (D-AR) and Senator Johanns (R-NE) that would help vets get jobs by promoting the translation of military certifications in to their civilian counterparts.
- Amendment 3216 by Senator Brown (D-OH) that would protect veterans jobs and financial security by strengthening USERRA and the SCRA.
- Amendment 3221 by Senator Boozman (R-AR) that would allow veterans to retake TAP off post.
- Amendment 2957 by Senator Webb (D-VA) that would protect the future of the GI Bill by establishing better accountability for all schools accepting GI Bill funds.
At the core of this fight is Amendment 3209 the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act. This amendment would make it impossible for veterans to have their 2nd Amendment rights denied just because they are seeking treatment for PTSD or TBI. It would require that any suspension of constitutional rights come as a result of judicial process, an order from a judge and not the VA. IAVA has supported this bill for years. While not a widespread problem, IAVA feels that the current process feeds into the worst stigmas about seeking mental health care. Veterans should be free to seek care without the fear of losing basic rights. Blockage of this amendment has prompted a cascade of political fighting that has brought us down to the wire.
It's unfortunate that unemployed and student veterans are in the position of falling victim to reactionary politics. We need our leaders to step up and show that they are working for us and not against each other. We’re hopeful that the Senate can still work out their differences and include the above amendments to the NDAA. Stay tuned to IAVA.org and @IAVA for the latest developments.
Tom Tarantino is IAVA's Chief Policy Officer and heads up our Washington, DC office. Check out their work here.
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