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Veterans Rally in Washington to Call for End to Harmful Government Shutdown

Tomorrow, January 15th, on the 25th day of the longest shutdown in U.S. history, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the leading non-partisan Post-9/11 veterans empowerment organization, will again call on President Trump and Congress to end the shutdown. Joining with our Veterans Service Organization (VSO) and Military Service Organization (MSO) partners and other allies, we will stand together in Washington at a unity press event to demand that President Trump and Congress reach an agreement and reopen the government immediately. This activation event will happen on the same day that over 43,000 Coast Guard servicemembers miss their first paycheck–wreaking havoc on their lives and undermining our national security in a time of war.

For 25 days, many federal employees have been either furloughed or working without pay. That’s two paychecks, monthly bills due, and financial disruptions to families across America. And this shutdown disproportionately affects veterans and their families. One third of federal workers are veterans even though just 10% of the U.S. adult population are federal employees. Based on Office of Personnel Management data, about 155,000 veterans work at the agencies affected by the shutdown. And of those veterans, nearly 50,000 have VA disability ratings. Veterans are already a vulnerable population, and this partial government shutdown can cause severe financial hardship for veterans–which sadly, often means mental health woes and potential for mental health crisis in our community, where we struggle with alarming suicide rates.

IAVA and leading non-partisan veterans groups fought the shutdown back in 2013 and worked to ensure that VA had systems in place to protect veterans in the event of a future shutdown. Today, because of that advocacy nearly six years ago, VA benefits and healthcare are much less affected.

However, veterans who work in the other agencies, as well as uniformed services such as the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Public Health Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have already been deeply impacted. Tomorrow, IAVA will stand with our VSO colleagues in a joint press conference urging Congress and President Trump to end this standoff and to restore funding to all of the federal government immediately so that it can fully serve our nation’s uniformed and veteran population and maintain our national security strength.

Melissa Bryant, Iraq War Veterans and Chief Policy Officer of IAVA, who will participate in tomorrow’s press conference stated, “The impact of this shutdown on our veterans and their families is tremendous. There is a also a serious negative impact on our national security, our economic health and morale, recruiting and retention for the Coast Guard and all other agencies impacted. Many veterans choose to continue their service to this nation after they take off the uniform. I know, I was one of those veteran civil servants for several years. I know firsthand the hardship our federal workers face when their livelihood is imperiled by a government shutdown. We are now in the midst of the longest shutdown in our government’s history and it is wholly unacceptable. We’re placing our national security at risk without a fully funded and functioning government. Americans are being harmed, veterans are being impacted, and families across America deserve better. This shutdown must end now.”

IAVA will continue to pressure the President and Congress to fix this mess until it’s resolved. Grassroots members nationwide have been mobilized on the ground and online to take action – and to support their fellow veterans if our government will not.

IAVA has also activated our dynamic Rapid Response Referral Program (RRRP) to help those veterans impacted by the shutdown. IAVA’s innovative social workers are trained to help veterans and military family members navigate all types of transition issues. If the government shutdown affects veterans’ livelihood or well being and they need support, our highly-skilled RRRP team will do their best to help.

WHAT: A joint press conference with VSOs to urge Congress and the Administration to end the government shutdown
WHEN: January 15, 2018 at 2 PM
WHERE: Veterans of Foreign Wars Headquarters, 200 Maryland Ave., NE, Washington, DC 20002
MEDIA AVAILABILITY:

Press conference on location beginning at 1:45 PM. Press availability throughout the morning and immediately following the press conference. Please contact press@iava.org to coordinate.

Note to media: Email press@iava.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with 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 15th anniversary, IAVA has connected more than 1.2 million veterans with resources and community, and provided more than 8,000 veterans with personalized support from IAVA’s Master’s level social workers.