Advocacy Update: #VAReform & #SheWhoBorneTheBattle

Congress returned from their fall recess this week and went right to work on a few issues that IAVA has prioritized. We celebrated some victories in the House and attended meetings that focused on military caregivers, women veterans, and other veteran priorities.

On Tuesday, IAVA VP Tom Porter and Director of Government Affairs Travis Horr met with retired Vice Adm. Norb Ryan, former Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, to discuss his work on new technologies that would monitor blast impacts on service members that result in Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Retired US Navy Vice Adm. Norb Ryan with IAVA’s Tom Porter and Travis Horr

IAVA celebrated two victories this week with House passage of the IAVA-backed Homeless Veterans Families Act (H.R. 95), and House VA Committee passage of the Legal Services for Homeless Veterans Act (H.R 3749) which includes two provisions of the IAVA-led Deborah Sampson Act to increase legal and other services for women and their families. We are anticipating more Committee action soon on other Deborah Sampson Act House bills.

Thursday, Travis attended the Caring on the Homefront meeting hosted by Politico. A recent study suggested that there are approximately 5.5 military caregivers in this country. The estimated cost of these uncompensated caregivers, who are family members providing physical care and emotional support to veterans, reaches into the billions of dollars. Yet, they are often overlooked and have a tough time getting adequate support. With the passage of last year’s MISSION Act, the caregiver program was opened up to veterans across all generations.

The House Women Veterans Task Force held a roundtable Thursday to discuss research opportunities around women veterans. Tom Porter, Government Affairs Associate Kaitlynne Hetrick, and Intern Melanie Escobar attended. Members from several large VSOs as well as two researchers from the Los Angeles VA Health Services Research & Development Center led the discussion. This conversation centered on how women view their service and the divide between pre and post-9/11 women veterans and the Task Force sought input on what research they would like to see for Women Veterans going forward.

IAVA Intern Mel Escobar and Government Affairs Associate, Kaitlynne Hetrick following the HVAC Women Veterans Task Force Roundtable.

New Cosponsors on IAVA Backed Legislation

IAVA gained seven new cosponsors for a few of the House introduced Deborah Sampson Act bills. Thank you to Reps. Kendra Horn (D-OK), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Jared Golden (D-ME), Sean Casten (D-IL), Lauren Underwood (D-IL), Seth Moulton (D-MA), and Susan Brooks (R-IN) for your support! We would also like to thank Sens. Martha McSally (R-AZ) and John Cornyn (R-TX) for cosponsoring the Commander John Scott Hannon Mental Healthcare Improvement Act (S. 785).

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