IAVA | October 28, 2021
IAVA Monthly SITREP
As the leading voice for the post-9/11 community, IAVA continues to create awareness on issues and topics impacting our community. Below are articles and news sources from the past month:
(News Nation) IAVA Joins Dan Abrams to Discuss the Vaccine Mandate in the US Military: “You raise your right hand to support and defend the constitution of the United States and part of that means following the orders you are given,” said Jeremy Butler, CEO of IAVA…Watch here.
(Independent Americans) Jeremy Butler, CEO of IAVA joins IAVA Founder Paul Rieckhoff for a discussion on race, mental health, Veterans Day and other veteran related topics…Listen Here.
(The Experiment) Look For The Helpers: “You raise your right hand to support and defend the constitution of the United States and part of that means following the orders you are given,” said Matt Zeller, Senior Advisor for IAVA…Read more.
Through Operation Allies Welcome, the Biden Administration is marshaling a whole-of-America approach to safely, securely and effectively welcoming our Afghan allies and Afghans at-risk. In concert with Welcome.US, private sector leaders are playing a crucial role in this effort, stepping up in meaningful ways to welcome individuals who supported the United States over the past 20 years in Afghanistan and equip them for success as they rebuild their lives. Companies can get involved and learn more at Welcome.US. JPMorgan Chase has announced a $1 million commitment in funding to the International Rescue Committee, which will regrant funding through Blue Star Families, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and the UK-based Combat Stress to assist with resettlement of Afghans and provide mental health care and other services for those in military and veterans communities who have been impacted by the conflict.
In addition to Sens. Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Booker (D-N.J.), Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Hirono (D-Hawaii), and Menendez (D-N.J.), the Veterans Dental Care Eligibility Expansion and Enhancement Act of 2021 has the support of a wide array of veteran and health care organizations, including: The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), The American Heart Association, The American Legion, AMVETS, The Coalition of Veteran Organizations (CVO), Common Defense, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Justice in Aging, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Modern Military Association of America (MMAA), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and VoteVets.
By Cynthia Miller-Idriss
The House Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC) in a Wednesday hearing called on the federal government to do more to protect veterans from manipulation by extremist groups. Although they represent only about 6 percent of the American population, veterans are responsible for 10 percent of all domestic terrorist attacks and plots since 2015. Veterans are demonstrably more vulnerable to recruitment and engagement in the extremist fringe, compared to the civilian population, and they are disproportionately involved in violence. Preliminary data from a new survey underway by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) shows that 30 percent of respondents have personally witnessed extremism in the military.
By Evan Lambert, Nexstar Media Wire, Taylor Delandro, Aleksandra Bush, Joe Khalil Lawmakers are working to figure out how and why extremists groups are targeting more veterans after it was revealed that roughly 10% of the individuals facing charges in connection with the Jan. 6 Capital attack are somehow affiliated with the U.S. military. “Unfortunately, a lot of veterans, a lot of military that are transitioning, get lost in the cracks and I think they start reaching out,” Jeremy Butler, CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said at a House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing Wednesday. “They start looking for that sense of camaraderie that they missed. They start looking for that sense of mission.”
Independent Americans With Paul Reickhoff [Podcast]: Episode 136. Jeremy Butler. Extremism in the Military and Veterans Community. Testifying Before Congress via Zoom. Race and the Military.
It’s been 10 months since domestic terrorists tried to overthrow our government, and now is still a time to stay vigilant. Because while the world was focused on William Shatner and his trip to space, and on Jon Gruden’s inexcusable words that got him fired as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, or on Dave Chappelle’s new Netflix special, or on the major league baseball playoffs, there was a critical hearing happening in Washington about some of the most dangerous threats to that line that keeps America safe. It was a hearing that some didn’t want to happen. They didn’t think it was important. They didn’t think it was urgent. They didn’t think it was necessary. But it was. It’s up to all of us to stay vigilant. Because vigilance is the price of democracy. And one man paying that price is our guest in this episode. Navy Veteran, Navy Reserve Commander, and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and one of the most important voices in America: Jeremy Butler.
By Evan Lambert, Nexstar Media Wire, Taylor Delandro, Aleksandra Bush, Joe Khalil
Lawmakers are working to figure out how and why extremists groups are targeting more veterans after it was revealed that roughly 10% of the individuals facing charges in connection with the Jan. 6 Capital attack are somehow affiliated with the U.S. military. “Unfortunately, a lot of veterans, a lot of military that are transitioning, get lost in the cracks and I think they start reaching out,” Jeremy Butler, CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said at a House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing Wednesday. “They start looking for that sense of camaraderie that they missed. They start looking for that sense of mission.”
By Rebecca Kheel
In a hearing rife with partisan bickering, House lawmakers battled over how to help veterans being targeted for recruitment by domestic extremist groups, an issue that got a surge of attention after dozens of veterans were arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection. “Mr. Chairman, I think this hearing is offensive and the fact that you’re going to save our veterans from becoming political terrorists is offensive to every veteran in America,” said Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., a Navy reservist who chairs a conservative House bloc called the Republican Study Committee. Jeremy Butler, who leads Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and was testifying Wednesday, shot back at Banks, arguing he was contributing to the problem by trying to score political points rather than engaging with the substance of the issue. In an ongoing member survey that has so far elicited about 3,500 responses, IAVA has found that a third of respondents believe there’s a serious problem with extremism in the military and the post-9/11 veterans community, and have personally witnessed extremism, Butler said.
Bloomberg Government: Violent Extremists’ Recruiting of Veterans Spurs Lawmaker Review
By Ellen M. Gilmer
The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee heard Wednesday from a slate of domestic extremism scholars and veterans’ advocates concerned about a rise in former and current service members’ involvement in violent extremism incidents. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America CEO Jeremy Butler, a witness invited by the panel’s Republicans, said extremism among veterans wasn’t pervasive but was still a “serious threat.” He criticized a line of questioning from Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), who complained that the federal counterterrorism strategy doesn’t focus on Black Lives Matter and the left-wing political movement antifa. “The types of questions that you’re asking are part of the problem here,” Butler said, adding that people are “using lies, using obfuscation, misinformation to avoid addressing the real issues that the country is facing.”
Stars and Stripes: Military family groups press Biden to help low-income troops
By John Donnelly
Two dozen groups representing military families urged President Joe Biden this week to address a growing problem of hunger among lower-ranking U.S. military personnel and their families The groups, in a Tuesday letter to Biden obtained by CQ Roll Call, recommended that the president support a fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act that provides a “basic needs allowance” to help lower-income military families make ends meet. The letter’s signatories include MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger and other influential groups, such as the Military Officers Association of America, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, National Military Families Association, Blue Star Families and Vote Vets.
By Daniel Uria
House lawmakers will hold a hearing Wednesday to examine concerns about a rising number of military veterans joining dangerous and potentially violent domestic extremist groups, like the far-right Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. Scheduled to testify at the hearing are several threat and security experts, retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Joe Plenzler, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America CEO Jeremy Butler, photojournalist Joel Beeson and Anti-Defamation League Vice President Oren Segal. Butler notes in his remarks that his organization is “extremely concerned” with the number of veterans who participated in the Capitol riots. He says it’s critical for the Pentagon to properly screen all recruits.
Lawfare: The Week That Will Be
By Emily Dai
The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee will hold a full committee hearing on violent domestic extremist groups and the recruitment of veterans. The committee will hear testimony from Ltc. Joe Plenzler, veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps; Jeremy Butler, chief executive officer of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America; Dr. Seth Jones, senior vice president and director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Dr. Cynthia Miller-Idriss, director at American University; Dr. Sam Jackson, professor at the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity at State University of New York at Albany; Dr. Amy Cooper, senior lecturer in sociology at Vanderbilt University; Oren Segal, vice president at the Anti-Defamation League; and Dr. Heidi Beirich, co-founder and chief strategy officer at the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism.
North Country Public Radio: As military suicides continue, Gillibrand calls for new mental health services for soldiers
By Celia Clarke
In a 72-hour period in September, 3 soldiers at Ft. Drum died by suicide. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand referred to the recent deaths as she called for better mental health services for active-duty soldiers and their families. Gillibrand said the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) reported that calls to their mental health hotline went up 80 percent between August 16-31 compared to last year. In testimony to the House Armed Services Committee a week ago, an IAVA representative also reported that post-9/11 veterans between 18-34 have the highest rate of suicide compared to other veterans. They said the lingering COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated veterans’ mental health issues.
By Abram Flores
This month marks the 10 year anniversary of the official repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” As a veteran and North Carolinian, I’m proud that Senator Richard Burr was among the eight Republicans who voted to end the military’s notorious policy that barred LGBTQ Americans from serving openly. It was a historic moment that exemplifies how lawmakers can work together to address our nation’s problems. When my friend and veteran recently came out to me as a gay man, he asked, “How will you treat me?” I propelled myself into action and joined the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and over 500 veterans in calling on Congress to stand up for people like my friend by supporting a federal nondiscrimination law to protect all those who have defended our nation’s freedom and the more than 13 million LGBTQ people across the country. Our elected leaders should do the same.
A survey commissioned by Cohen Veterans Network found most Americans greatly overestimate how many veterans have PTSD. Two-thirds of respondents believe it’s more than half. According to experts, the real number is fewer than one in five. “There’s still a massive and extreme stigma” associated with veterans and mental health, said Hannah Sinoway, a professional counselor and executive vice president with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
By Desiree D’Iorio
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York renewed her call to pass a bill that would create a confidential way for military service members to get mental health care. This comes as a recent study found military personnel have died by suicide four times more than in combat since 9/11. The withdrawal from Afghanistan in August did lead to a spike in calls to a mental health hotline run by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
By Dan Abrams and Aleksandra BushShould members of the military who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine risk being dishonorably discharged? Some people think it’s fair, while others are working to prevent it. Dan Abrams is a big supporter of vaccines but believes a dishonorable discharge goes too far. He brought in attorney Greg Rinckey and Jeremy Butler, CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Vets of America, to debate the topic. “Don’t think about it as a punishment for refusing a specific vaccine, think about it as a refusal to follow a lawfully provided order,” Butler said on Dan Abrams Live. “You raise your right hand to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and part of that means following the orders that you’re given. It doesn’t matter if it’s in your view is a small order or a big order. If it’s a lawful order, you follow it.”
IAVA is the voice for the post-9/11 veteran generation. With over 400,000 veterans and allies nationwide, IAVA is the leader in non-partisan veteran advocacy and public awareness. We drive historic impacts for veterans and IAVA’s programs are second to none. Any veteran or family member in need can reach out to IAVA’s Quick Reaction Force at quickreactionforce.org or 855-91RAPID (855-917-2743) to be connected promptly with a veteran care manager who will assist. IAVA’s The Vote Hub is a free tool to register to vote and find polling information. IAVA’s membership is always growing. Join the movement at iava.org/membership.