Over 13,000 letters sent to Congress in response to attacks on promised veteran benefit
Washington, D.C. (March 31, 2016) — Today Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) issued a direct call to members of Congress and candidates running for office to stand with veterans and pledge to defend the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The challenge comes after a week of grassroots advocacy in which IAVA members sent more than 13,000 letters to Congress asking representatives to oppose any cuts to the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The imminent threat to veteran’s benefits was made clear following the House passage of an omnibus veterans bill (H.R. 3016) that includes significant cuts to the Post-9/11 Bill. As a similar bill (S.425) makes its way to the Senate floor, IAVA will oppose the omnibus as a whole and call on the President to veto it if it is passed.
“Congress is breaking its sacred promise to our veterans. All Americans should be outraged, particularly as troops continue to fight and die overseas,” said Anthony Pike, IAVA Chief Programs Officer, who used the GI Bill to study aviation after serving in Iraq. “The GI Bill is central to the promise made to them by every member of Congress. I transitioned to a civilian career using the Post-9/11 GI Bill and know first-hand the opportunities that await other service members when they use their benefit. The promise of the GI Bill is a powerful one to those considering joining and those who are putting lives on the line.”
H.R. 3016 includes a 50 percent cut in the monthly housing allowance provided to children who will have the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit transferred to them by a veteran parent. In areas with high veteran populations, such as New York City and San Diego, this would equal a monthly reduction of $1,818 and $1,154, respectively.
Earlier this month, IAVA Founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff urged Congress to defend the promise to the nation’s veterans during his March 16 testimony in front of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees.
“We call on Congress to oppose these cuts — and any future cuts — to this vital education program,” added Pike. “It’s important that we end this now and close the door to future threats to the Post-9/11 GI Bill. We call on every member of Congress to pledge to preserve the benefits promised to all veterans and their families.”
IAVA led the passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill in 2008 and in championing upgrades in 2010 and 2014. These upgrades simplified and improved tuition benefits, expanded eligibility to the National Guard, included vocational programs, and made nationwide in-state tuition rates a possibility for new veterans beginning this year.
IAVA members and supporters and can contact their representatives here. The letters to members of Congress can be viewed here. The “Pledge to Defend the Promise to America’s Next Greatest Generation” is as follows:
The cornerstone of the relationship between Americans and those who serve our country in uniform is a promise. The service member puts themselves in harm’s way to protect and defend us and we guarantee them and their families their earned benefits which honors their service and sacrifice. To do anything less is a breach of trust.
Nearly 1 million veterans have used the Post-9/11 GI Bill to prepare themselves and their families for future success. The original GI Bill lifted up America’s Greatest Generation by giving them the opportunity of an education, and the Post-9/11 GI Bill is doing the same for America’s New Greatest Generation.
I stand with America’s newest veterans and pledge to preserve the benefits promised to all new veterans and their families and oppose all attempts to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill as a piggy bank to fund other government programs.
Note to media: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. As a non-profit founded in 2004, IAVA’s mission is to connect, unite and empower post-9/11 veterans. Celebrating its 12th year anniversary, IAVA has connected more than 1.2 million veterans with resources and community, and provided more than 7,300 veterans with personalized support from IAVA’s Master’s level social workers.