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Sec of Defense Mattis Welcomes IAVA at Pentagon

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 20, 2018) –  Today, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) Chief Policy Officer and Iraq war veteran, Melissa Bryant, participated in a roundtable for Veteran and Military Service Organizations held by Secretary of Defense James Mattis and senior Defense officials at the Pentagon. The roundtable comes on the fifteenth anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq. Following the roundtable meeting IAVA issued the following statement:

“IAVA appreciates the opportunity to meet with Secretary Mattis today. Our members worldwide are grateful that he made time today to meet with IAVA and other leading groups serving our troops and veterans. We are thankful for the opportunity to share our ‘Big 6’ priorities, shaped by our members’ voices, with the Secretary and his senior team,” said IAVA Chief Policy Officer, Melissa Bryant, “We are pleased to underscore our focus on our ongoing efforts to defend the GI Bill, combating suicide and reforming government as well as two new groundbreaking initiatives to understand the effects of burn pits on servicemembers and veterans and how medical marijuana can be used to treat the wounds of war. We are now fifteen years into the war in Iraq and hundreds of thousands of IAVA members are serving worldwide in active duty, National Guard and Reserve, and these issues need immediate attention and action. We look forward to working with Secretary Mattis and his team to increase support for all veterans at this critical time. We thank the Secretary for engaging us in this important conversation.”

At a time of unprecedented politicization of veterans and military by political leaders across the aisle, and tremendous controversy inside the VA, the landmark “Big 6” initiative is IAVA’s biggest and boldest advocacy campaign ever, centering veterans voices and empowering them to lead the nation forward. The Big 6 is an urgent call to Congress, the White House, and all Americans to stand with IAVA now to tackle veteran suicide, support women veterans, defend the GI Bill, invest in and protect VA and DoD reform, sound the alarm on burn pits and empower veterans to utilize medical cannabis.

For more information on IAVA’s detailed recommendations for the President, the administration, and Congress, see our Policy Agenda

Note to media: Email press@iava.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.