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Kaitlynne Hetrick | July 19, 2021

#AdvocacyUpdate: Special Immigrant Visa Update, Toxic Exposures Media, and More!

On Wednesday, the Biden Administration announced that they will be launching Operation Allies Refuge, which will offer evacuation flights to eligible Afghan citizens who aided the U.S. and its allies in the war at the end of the month. IAVA has been a strong supporter of the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program and it is encouraging to see progress in protecting those that served side-by-side with our troops in Afghanistan. IAVA encourages the Administration to release more details as soon as possible to allow humanitarian, veteran, and other assistance organizations to maximize their ability to support our allies throughout this process. Read more about Operation Allies Refuge HERE

On July 12, IAVA EVP of Government Affairs, Tom Porter, sat down with Jodie Fleischer, investigative reporter for NBC Washington, to discuss the current fight for benefits for veterans after toxic exposure. Marine veteran Kate Thomas shared her personal story of how her exposure to large burn pits on her base in Iraq has led to stage 4 breast cancer yet the VA has denied her health and disability benefits claim. Finally, Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman, Jon Tester (D-MT) discusses legislation aimed at helping veterans with toxic exposures. Watch the full interview HERE

The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) announced this week that they would be bringing the National Defense Authorization Act, the yearly comprehensive bill that allocates funds for our military, legislation to the committee for a vote this coming Monday. IAVA took this opportunity to reach out to the SASC leaders and reaffirm our support of the Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act (MJIIPA) (S. 1520/H.R. 4104) which has been refused a vote on the Senate floor over the past couple months despite having enough cosponsors for a filibuster-proof majority. It’s not too late to help! TAKE ACTION and tell your Members of Congress that we must pass the MJIIPA now and ensure our servicemembers receive equal justice for all. 

The House Veterans Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Health held a hearing on pending legislation this week, which included the IAVA-supported SERVE Act (H.R.2587) introduced by Reps. Conner Lamb (D-PA) and Jenniffer González-Colón (PR-At Large). This legislation will ensure that veterans’ service-connected medical qualifications and expertise are utilized by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and civilian health care facilities to meet the challenges of the coronavirus public health emergency.

We know that this time can be stressful and IAVA’s Quick Reaction Force (QRF) is here to help! This program provides 24/7 peer support, comprehensive care management, resource connections, and can help with accessing your VA benefits. To get connected to a Veteran Care Manager for immediate help anytime, day or night, please call 855-91RAPID (855-917-2743) or fill out our online form. Our services are remote, free, and confidential and QRF is here for all veterans, regardless of era, discharge status, or location. If you are a veteran or a veteran family member facing challenges or have questions, QRF is here to help you get back on your feet and meet your goals.

If you are currently experiencing a crisis please contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 1.800..273.8255, and press 1. Alternatively, use the Crisis Text Line by texting “RISING” to 7417

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