Kaitlynne Hetrick | April 1, 2021
#AdvocacyUpdate: Virtual Member Fly-In, Congressional Testimony, and More!
It has been a busy March for the IAVA staff. Last week IAVA held its #AllStarAdvocacy virtual member fly-in. Each year, IAVA’s Member Advocates meet with Congress to tell their stories and discuss the issues that matter most to post-9/11 veterans. For the first time, the event was held virtually, safely connecting IAVA members from across the country to Congress through Zoom, Facebook Live, and other digital platforms. While this fly-in was virtual, it did not stop IAVA from making a large impact on the Hill, meeting with 23 offices. IAVA CEO Jeremy Butler and two IAVA Member Advocates also met over Facebook Live with House Veteran Affairs Committee (HVAC) Ranking Member Mike Bost (R-IL) to discuss issues facing women veterans and how burn pits and other toxins have affected many post 9/11 veterans. Watch the full video HERE.
IAVA Members meeting with Board Member, GEN. David Petraeus during virtual fly-in training
IAVA’s EVP of Government Affairs, Tom Porter, also had the opportunity to testify before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on veterans’ mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic and implementation of the Commander John Scott Hannon Mental Healthcare Improvement Act. It was his first time back on Capitol Hill in more than a year as IAVA has conducted meetings and testified virtually during the pandemic. Tom testified alongside representatives from VA, VFW, DoD, and America’s Warrior Partnership. Watch the hearing HERE and read Tom’s full written statement HERE.
A lot of movement on the #BurnPits campaign. Two IAVA-backed bills were reintroduced this week. On Tuesday, Tom Porter joined Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) for a press conference to reintroduce the Toxic Exposures in the American Military (TEAM) Act (S. 927/ H.R. 2127). The legislation will expand VA health care for veterans exposed to toxic substances, require VA to respond to new scientific evidence regarding diseases associated with toxic exposure, and much more. Watch the full press conference HERE and read more about this legislation HERE. Congressman Bost introduced the TEAM Act House companion last week.
Also, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced another top priority for IAVA, the Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins (Warfighters) Act (S.952) to establish a presumptive service connection for veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxins. Reps. Raul Ruiz (D-CA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) plan to introduce the House version. On April 13th, IAVA will participate with bill sponsors, comedian Jon Stewart, 9/11 first responders, and veteran service organizations at a live Capitol press conference highlighting the Warfighters Act. Read more HERE.
IAVA’s Quick Reaction Force
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