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IAVA | November 24, 2021

IAVA Monthly SITREP

As the leading voice for the post-9/11 veteran community, IAVA continues to advocate on behalf of all veterans and create awareness about issues and topics impacting our community. Below are important articles and news sources from the past month:

(CBS) IAVA Joined CBS to Talk About the Issues Affecting the Veteran Community: “Mental health is an ongoing major issue for not just IAVA members but really the entire veteran community and frankly the entire country,” said Jeremy Butler, CEO of IAVAWatch here.

IAVA Joins CBS to Talk About the Issues Affecting the Veteran Community

(ABC) IAVA Discussed the Impact of COVID on the Military and Veteran Communities: “A lot of what we were and are still focused on is making sure we continue to connect veterans with each other because of the sense of isolation,” said Jeremy Butler, CEO of IAVA…Watch here.

IAVA Joins ABC to Discuss the Impact of COVID on the Military and Veteran Communities

(MSNBC) IAVA Discussed Our Commitment to Support Our Afghan Allies: “There’s about 185,000 people who have been left behind. The reality is that most of them don’t have the means of getting out so what we are desperately trying to do is bring awareness to our government,” said Matt Zeller, Senior Advisor for IAVA…Watch here.

IAVA Joins MSNBC to Discuss Our Afghan Allies

(IAVA Press Release) IAVA Has Partnered with Leidos to Provide Employment Opportunities for the Veteran Community: “Trusted partners like Leidos and their steadfast commitment to the veteran community make a huge difference for IAVA’s membership in gaining access to relevant and exciting employment opportunities,” said Jeremy Butler, CEO of IAVARead more.

(Discharge Upgrades) Navy Has Agreed to Review Thousands of Discharges for Marine Corps and Navy Veterans Affected by PTSD, TBI and MST: All interested parties, including veterans who may benefit from the settlement should visit www.mankersettlement.comRead more.

Insider NJ: Reps. Kim, Meijer Introduce Bill to Create An Independent, 9/11-Style Afghanistan War Commission

Today, Congressman Andy Kim (NJ-03) and Congressman Peter Meijer (MI-03) introduced the Afghanistan War Commission Act of 2021, to create a non-partisan, independent commission that would conduct a comprehensive examination of the War in Afghanistan. The commission would be required to produce a public and unclassified report with actionable recommendations so the United States learns from our experience in Afghanistan and is prepared for future conflicts. The bill is endorsed by Concerned Veterans for America, VoteVets, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

NNY360: Defense, veterans groups press for new appropriations

By John M. Donnelly

Representatives of America’s defense industry and its veterans warned congressional leaders this month of the dire effects of lawmakers’ continuing failure to enact fiscal 2022 appropriations.

The three letters from associations and advocacy groups to leading lawmakers, obtained by CQ Roll Call, are the latest sign of deep concern in national security circles about Congress’ repeated reliance on continuing resolutions (CR), which have funded government operations for parts of 12 of the last 13 fiscal years. The letter was signed by leaders of Disabled Veterans of America, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the American Legion, the Military Officers Association of America, and more.

WBUR: How one former marine who served in Afghanistan feels this Veterans Day

Many of those who served in Afghanistan are wrestling with the legacy on Veterans Day this year. The Taliban are in power once again — right where the U.S.-led invasion began 20 years ago. We check in with Travis Horr, senior director of government affairs for the nonprofit Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. From 2010 to 2011, he served one tour with the marines in Helmand, Afghanistan.

Boston 25 News: Afghanistan War veterans cope with ‘anger, frustration’ over troop withdrawal

By Samantha Manning

Armendariz has testified on Capitol Hill about the mental health struggles after coming home. Veterans groups said the pandemic has only made things even harder for vets and in recent months there has been a whole new obstacle: the chaotic fallout of the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. That despair is widely felt within the veteran community, according to the nonprofit group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). “I think it’s one of these rare times where there’s a pretty strong general consensus across the veteran community which is a lot of anger, frustration, sadness, confusion all around the withdrawal,” said Jeremy Butler, Chief Executive Officer of IAVA. IAVA said it saw a 75% increase in calls to their crisis hotline in late August directly connected to the troop withdrawal.

MSNBC: Troops to receive Purple Hearts from attack Trump downplayed

By Steve Benen

It was early last year when the United States launched a drone attack that killed a powerful Iranian general, Quasem Soleimani. Days later, Iran retaliated, launching a massive ballistic missile attack on U.S. troops stationed at the Al Asad Air Base in Iraq. In fact, Donald Trump, starting his final year as president, also assured the public at the time that “no Americans” had been “harmed” in the attack. As regular readers know, a week later, the administration clarified that 11 U.S. service members had been transported to two hospitals for treatment for brain injuries. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America soon followed with a similar message of its own. The then-president ignored them.

Prescott News: Thank a veteran? Good luck finding one in Congress, as numbers dwindle

By Diannie Chavez

The number of veterans serving in Congress is at its lowest point since the start of World War II, with vets making up only about 17% of the current Congress, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service. “So many members of Congress had seen military service and appreciated other representatives – regardless of party – because they had a common experience of patriotism, duty and sacrifice,” Galston said. “I believe that allowed American politics to operate within certain boundaries of civility, which have disappeared.” That was echoed by Tom Porter, executive vice president of government affairs for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, who said it is important to have veteran voices in Congress.

WSILTV: ‘You are the very spine of America’: Biden honors those who served on Veterans Day in Arlington

By Maegan Vazquez

President Joe Biden honored Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday, paying homage to Americans who have served and laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. And earlier Thursday, the Biden administration announced a series of new support options for veterans who had been exposed to “contaminants and environmental hazards,” such as burn pits, while serving. Burn pits were used to incinerate all sorts of waste, hazardous material and chemical compounds at military sites throughout Iraq and Afghanistan. Eighty-six percent of post-9/11 veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan say they were exposed to burn pits, according to a 2020 survey by the nonprofit Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

CNN: Veterans exposed to burn pits will get expanded health care support, White House says

By Paul LeBlanc

The Biden administration on Veterans Day announced a series of new support options for veterans who had been exposed to “contaminants and environmental hazards,” such as burn pits, while serving. The steps, which the White House detailed in a fact sheet, seek to “improve our understanding of the health effects of military-related exposures, educate providers and veterans about these exposures, and provide timelier access to health services and benefits for individuals who were exposed.” Burn pits were used to incinerate all sorts of waste, hazardous material and chemical compounds at military sites throughout Iraq and Afghanistan. Eighty-six percent of post-9/11 veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan say they were exposed to burn pits, according to a 2020 survey by the nonprofit Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution: As more veterans suffer from disabilities, more nonprofits offering help

By Christopher Quinn

Many in the public want to give back to veterans. But Jeremy Butler, CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said donors need to carefully evaluate the organizations they give financial support to. He has a list of steps donors could take — volunteer with the group, talk to staff members and ask veterans which organizations they have used or believe in.

Cory Booker: On Eve of Veterans Day, Booker, Klobuchar Announce Legislation to Improve Access to Mental Health Services for Veterans

Today, U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) announced the Vet CENTERS for Mental Health Act, legislation that would expand access to mental health services for veterans and their families. The bicameral bill would allow 10 additional states, including New Jersey and Minnesota, to be eligible for at least one additional Vet Center which would provide mental health counseling to veterans, survivors of military sexual assault, and Gold Star families. This legislation has been endorsed by The American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the Service Women’s Action Network, and New Jersey SOS Veteran Stakeholder Group.  

Marijauna Moment: This Veterans Day, Think About Cannabis And Veterans Healthcare (Op-Ed)

By Amy Rising and Justin Strekal

Millions of American veterans are consuming cannabis. In fact, the American Legion recently polled veterans and found that nearly one in four reported that they use cannabis specifically “to treat a mental or physical condition.” Medical cannabis use would likely be even more prevalent among veterans if not for the oppositional stance that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has taken. According to national survey data compiled by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, 75 percent of respondents “would be interested in using cannabis or cannabinoid products as a treatment option if it were available.” 

News4SA: SA Proud: Local Army veteran still serving others after switching careers

By Zach Hedrick

We are military proud here in San Antonio, but after spending some time serving our country, it can sometimes be difficult for servicemembers to find a civilian job. According to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, more than one in four can end up job-searching for more than a year. 

CBS New York: IAVA On How To Get Involved This Veterans Day

By CBSNewYork Team

This week, CBS2 is taking time to remember veterans both past and present. Besides saying, “thank you for your service,” what’s the best way to honor their sacrifice and dedication to our country? Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) CEO Jeremy Butler joined CBSN New York on Monday. Butler spent six years in the Navy and then transitioned to the reserves, where he still serves today. He has been with IAVA since 2015. He spoke about the organization’s most pressing issues and how people can get involved.

Valley News: Vermont veteran exposed to burn pits dies of cancer

By Claire Potter

Wesley Black, the 36-year-old Hartford firefighter who was battling colon cancer after being exposed to open burn bits while serving with the Vermont National Guard in Afghanistan and Iraq, died on Sunday.  In its 2020 survey, the nonprofit Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America found that 86% of its members were exposed to “burn pits and/or airborne toxic materials.”

Air Force Times: Veterans vote, volunteer more than their civilian peers: survey

By Leo Shane III

Veterans are more likely than non-military civilians to volunteer in their communities and interact with neighbors but often aren’t recognized for that involvement, according to a new civic health survey of veterans unveiled last week. But the report — compiled with research from the National Conference on Citizenship and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America — also notes that “the civilian population has not always recognized the veterans population at large as an asset to communities and too often focus on the challenges that some veterans face.”

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