The past week was another busy one on Capitol Hill for IAVA’s Washington staff, as we monitored the House and Senate Armed Services Committees final work on the annual defense bill, which funds our military forces and contains many key provisions impacting future changes to compensation and benefits.
Each week is different as we prioritize our work based on the congressional agenda and events as they surface around the country. IAVA’s commitment is to engage with and stop legislation that reduces the military’s hard-earned benefits and, contrarily, to support and advance changes in laws that provide supports for our community.
Throughout the year IAVA has been at the forefront in fighting to stop cuts to the GI Bill and making sure service members do not have to serve longer to earn the right to transfer their benefits to a spouse or dependent. This includes a major push to enhance retirement options for 83% of the current force by allowing all service members to receiving government matching funds in Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) accounts. We have been successful on each of these goals during 2015 and happy to report there have not been cuts to the GI Bill (as proposed by the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission in January). Indications from the Hill are that our hard fought goal of providing these additional retirement plans is going to become law.
As the week closes we have seen the House of Representatives pass the Veterans ID Card Act. This bill, if it passes the Senate, could be an avenue for veterans to purchase an ID card in the event they do not currently possess a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare card. The benefit of having a veterans ID card can assist veterans in receiving employment benefits and preferred consumer buying power in certain industries. We are pleased to see Congress moving this legislation along but remain engaged to make sure that benefits do not come with unforeseen costs to the veteran.
We hope you will contact our D.C. team with any concerns or recommendations about pending legislation in Congress. At IAVA, we have your back and remain committed to bringing your voice to our nation’s leaders.