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IAVA | April 15, 2021


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 week:

Thursday, April 15


WPTV: Navy veteran reacts to President Biden’s decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan

By Todd Wilson

President Biden has made clear it is time for American troops to leave Afghanistan starting May 1. “This is a country that has seen war after war,” Veteran Tom Porter said. He would know he did a tour in Afghanistan from 2010-2011 with the Navy. “I worked with a lot of the media, I worked with some of the government agencies and mentoring and partnering with my Afghan counterparts,” he said.

Reuters: QUOTES-Officials react as Biden moves to pull troops from Afghanistan by September 11

By Trevor Hunnicutt and Raju Gopalakrishnan

President Joe Biden said on Wednesday he will begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan to end America’s longest war, rejecting calls to keep forces in place to help resolve that nation’s grinding internal conflict. In a White House speech, Biden set a deadline for withdrawing all 2,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan by Sept. 11, exactly 20 years after the al Qaeda attacks on the United States that triggered the war. “We went to war with clear goals,” Biden said. “We achieved those objectives.” Below is a compiled list of quotes from veterans. TOM PORTER, OFFICER IN U.S. NAVY RESERVES, AND EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT FOR GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS FOR THE IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETERANS ASSOCIATION “So much of our treasure and lives have been sacrificed over there and so many veterans have, have come back with, with various wounds of war. So, I just naturally, like a lot of folks, envisioned some greater level of success before we, we withdrew. “There’s a common term that we use…The term is “Forgot-astan” because the American public has largely forgotten that we’ve been over there. So, it’s hard to keep engaged in a war when the American public don’t even realize what our mission is, what our goals are and what we’re doing over there.”

Odessa American: New Partnership to FightCybercrime Launching Program to Support the Military and Veteran Community

Prominent military and veteran service organizations, non-governmental organizations, corporations, foundations, and federal agencies are banding together in the Partnership to FightCybercrime to launch a national program that supports America’s service members, veterans, spouses, survivors, and their families. The Partnership to FightCybercrime Military & Veteran partner organizations are: 22Kill, Army Emergency Relief, DAV (Disabled American Veterans), Gold Star Wives – Arlington Chapter, Got Your Back Network, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Links to Freedom, National Association of Black Veterans, National Organization for Victim Assistance, Patriot Boot Camp, Racing for Heroes, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, Travis Manion Foundation, and VetSec.


News Nation: ‘It’s time to end America’s longest war’: Biden details timeline to pull troops from Afghanistan

By Char’Nese Turner and Sydney Kalich

President Joe Biden said Wednesday he will withdraw the remaining U.S. troops from Afghanistan, declaring that the Sept. 11 attacks “cannot explain” why American forces should still be there 20 years later. “We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal, expecting a different result,” Biden said. “I am now the fourth American president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth.”

The New York Times: Biden Says It Is ‘Time for America’s Troops to Come Home’ From Afghanistan

President Biden formally announced his decision to end the 20-year, largely unsuccessful American effort to remake Afghanistan, declaring on Wednesday that he would withdraw the remaining few thousand United States troops in the country by Sept. 11. “It is time to end the forever war,” Mr. Biden said. Speaking from the Treaty Room in the White House, the president made the case that the United States had only one real task in the country: ousting Al Qaeda and making sure that the country would never again be the launching pad for a terror attack on the United States, as it was on Sept. 11, 2001.

*Also reported in NPR, CNN, The Washington Post, Voice of America, Reuters, Bloomberg, USA Today, ABC, Associated Press, CNBC, The Hill

The New York Times: ‘No Victory Dance’: Veterans of Afghan War Feel Torn Over Pullout

By Dave Philipps and John Ismay

Across the country, when the news broke that President Biden planned to withdraw virtually all United States troops from the country by Sept. 11 and end the longest war in American history, messages flashed on phones and veterans called old squadmates, some relieved and some on the edge of tears. Many veterans feel betrayed that a war they poured so much effort into had still been lost.

The Washington Post: For Afghanistan veterans, old feelings of frustration and loss surface as the U.S. prepares to end its longest war

By  Dan Lamothe and Alex Horton

Peter Lucier, a former Marine in Marine Lance Cpl. Ramon Kaipat’s unit recalled Kaipat’s death as he heard the news that President Biden intends to remove all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of terrorist attacks that launched the United States into combat in that country. Lucier, now a law student in St. Louis, has long advocated for withdrawal, but the decision left him with no sense of satisfaction. Nearly 800,000 people served in Afghanistan in the U.S. military, and many of them are reflecting on what the war achieved and the meaning of their individual parts in it.

NPR: VA Faces Complications As It Opens Vaccinations To All Veterans

By Jay Price

When it comes to getting shots into arms, the VA’s health care system is ahead of many civilian providers. But the VA faces a challenge: vaccine outreach for all vets, their families and caregivers.

Des Moines Register: Iowa veteran Brandon Ketchum, who died by suicide, honored with bill to improve VA mental health care

By Tony Leys

Brandon Ketchum’s family is grateful to Iowa’s members of Congress, who have not forgotten the tragic way he died almost five years ago. All four of Iowa’s U.S. House members are supporting the “Sgt. Ketchum Rural Veterans’ Mental Health Act,” which is scheduled for a hearing in Congress Thursday. The bill’s title honors Ketchum, a Davenport veteran who died by suicide in 2016 after being denied inpatient psychiatric care at the Iowa City Veterans Administration Medical Center. 

The North State Journal: ‘No Veteran Left Behind’ bill addresses crisis interventions, mental health and substance abuse

A bill introduced in the House by Majority Leader John Bell (R-Wayne) would seek to improve services related to mental health and substance abuse for military veterans. House Bill 370, titled “No Veteran Left Behind,” would establish a pilot program expanding the Veterans Justice Intervention (VJI) program in Brunswick, Craven, Cumberland, Onslow, Union and Wayne counties. The money for the program included in the bill calls for half a million to be appropriated from the N.C. General Fund.

Pensacola News Journal: After decade of work, Monument to Women Veterans to break ground on Pensacola museum

By Madison Arnold

More than 10 years after the idea was first conceived, the Monument to Women Veterans nonprofit will finally break ground this month on a museum, monument and construction training facility in Pensacola. The groundbreaking will also give the public its first peak inside Pensacola’s old Amtrak station after it fell out of use following Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Since getting its lease with the city for the former Amtrak station approved late last year, staff with the museum and monument nonprofit have been working to clean out the dilapidated space and soon will begin work on an expansion that will be home to a construction career training facility for veterans.

CNBC: This new batch of $1,400 stimulus checks includes payments to veterans

By Lorie Konish

The U.S. government has issued a new set of $1,400 stimulus checks, and this time Veterans Affairs beneficiaries were included. The latest round marks the fifth batch of direct payments sent since the $1,400 checks were first authorized by Congress through the American Rescue Plan Act in March. This time, the checks include Veterans Affairs beneficiaries who receive Compensation and Pension benefits who do not normally file tax returns and who did not use the IRS non-filer tool last year.

Wednesday, April 14


The Fayetteville Observer: Why servicemembers need Vanita Gupta confirmed as associate attorney general

By Jeremy Butler

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on many communities, including those who serve in the armed forces and among veterans. Since the onset of the pandemic, servicemembers and veterans have been targeted by fraudsters, and military families have had to adapt to Pentagon stop movement orders that froze the ability of many of the 3 million active-duty, reservist and civilian defense personnel from traveling. While these steps are admirable, to further protect servicemembers, members of Congress should unite across partisan lines to unanimously vote to confirm Vanita Gupta, the Justice Department nominee who has long prioritized protecting the rights of servicemembers and their families. Advocates for Veterans Sickened by Burn Pits Are Taking Their Biggest Stand Yet on Capitol Hill

By Steve Beynon

Rosie Torres has been advocating for health care for veterans sickened by burn pits for years. This could be the year a major bill passes through Congress or the effort could suffer a crushing and demoralizing defeat. Torres and other advocates, including former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, have been lobbying heavily for The Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Marco Rubio R-Fla. The bill also has the backing of key veterans groups, including the American Legion and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, or IAVA. A House version was introduced by Reps. Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa.

Business Insider: Veterans of color say video of police pepper-spraying a Black Army officer shows that not even a military uniform is protection from police violence

By Ryan Pickrell

For some veterans of color, a video of police officers holding a uniformed Black US Army soldier at gunpoint and pepper-spraying him during a traffic stop in Windsor, Virginia, was a reminder that sometimes not even a military uniform is protection enough for Black Americans against threats of police brutality. “One of the things that probably stuck out the most to me was the fear in Lt. Nazario’s face and actions and voice because he’s realizing right from the get-go that even though he’s in uniform and he’s an active-duty service member, he is still at risk of suffering the same fate that many Black people have suffered at the hands of the police,” Jeremy Butler, a Navy veteran who serves as the CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, told Insider. New Partnership Battles Cybercrime Targeting Military and Veterans

By Jim Absher

Did you know that military members, veterans, military spouses, survivors and their families are targeted disproportionately for online scams, or cybercrime? To help fight that astounding amount of fraud, several veterans’ service organizations, federal agencies, corporations, non-governmental organizations and foundations have joined forces to educate military members, veterans and their families on how to avoid being duped by these scammers. Partners in the nationwide cybercrime prevention initiative includes veterans organizations, such as 22Kill, Army Emergency Relief, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Gold Star Wives-Arlington Chapter, Got Your Back Network, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Links to Freedom, National Association for Black Veterans, National Organization for Victim Assistance, Patriot Boot Camp, Racing for Heroes, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, Travis Manion Foundation and VetSec.

NNY 360: Mother of Army sergeant who died from burn pit exposure finds comfort in legislation streamlining benefits for veterans

By Ben Muir

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sen. Marco Rubio, comedian Jon Stewart and many others have now been advocating for new legislation called Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act. They say it will streamline the process for veterans obtaining benefits after having been exposed to burn pits. The act would remove the “burden of proof” the veteran has to provide to establish a direct service connection between their health condition and exposure. The veteran, under the bill, would only need to submit documentation that they received a campaign medal associated with the Global War on Terror or the Gulf War. The senators and former late-night TV host held a press conference touting the legislation on Tuesday. They were joined by John Feal, an advocate for first responders to the 9/11 attacks; U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz, M.D.; U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick; Tom Porter, executive vice president at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America; Le Roy Torres, CPT (Ret.), U.S. Army, co-founder of Burn Pits 360, and many more. 


ABC News: Jon Stewart, lawmakers announce legislation to help veterans impacted by burn pits

By Adia Robinson

Comedian Jon Stewart joined lawmakers on Tuesday to announce legislation that would make it easier for veterans with diseases linked to burn pits to access Veterans Affairs benefits.

The Hill: Jon Stewart accuses VA of being ‘an obstacle’ to burn pits medical care

By Celine Castronuovo

Former “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart on Tuesday accused the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) of being “an obstacle” to providing medical coverage and care to service members who have developed illnesses from burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

We Are the Mighty: VA medical, pharmacy copayments cancelled through Sept. 30, 2021

In March 2021, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and President Joe Biden signed it into law. As a result, all copayments for medical care and pharmacy services provided during the period of April 6, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2021, are canceled, along with any fees or interest.

The Texas Tribune: Rick Perry returns to the Texas Capitol to pitch study of psychedelic drugs for PTSD in veterans

By Patrick Svitek

Rick Perry, in a rare return to policy debates in Austin, is teaming up with a Democratic state lawmaker to push for psychedelic drug therapy for veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. Perry said he has “historically been a very anti-drug person” and still firmly opposes legalization for recreational uses. However, he said he has seen through his longtime advocacy for veterans how psychedelic drugs can provide relief to former service members who have exhausted other options — and are traveling to other countries, like Mexico, to receive treatment.

*Also published in Marijuana Moment

Tuesday, April 13


The Washington Post: Police encounter with Black Army officer is a hurtful reminder that ‘service is not going to save you,’ veterans say Body-camera video shows Virginia officers hold Army officer at gunpoint 

By Alex Horton

Isiah Jones is aware that the first thing law enforcement would assess in any encounter is his race, and this lesson was clear to him after watching a viral video of a traffic stop showing a Black National Guard officer being pepper-sprayed, threatened, struck and handcuffed by Virginia police late last year. “Your service is not going to save you in this country,” Jones said. The incident, now the subject of a federal lawsuit, has become a painful reminder for many Black troops and veterans that their military service has not insulated them from discrimination and violence. The Virginia incident encapsulates larger worries among communities of color, said Jeremy Butler, a former Navy officer and chief executive of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, an advocacy group.


NBC 6: Walk to Honor | Veteran looking to end stigma of suicide

By Bary Roy

Veteran Greg C. Washington is looking to make a difference and raise awareness of veteran suicide. He said at one point, he was close to being one of the statistics. “The alarming rate of suicide is increasing in America, especially among veterans,” Washington said. “There are more veterans that have died from suicide than were killed in Vietnam.” Washington said in his darkest moment, one small check-in changed the course of his life forever.


The violent traffic stop of Army Lieutenant Caron Nazario has Black veterans demanding changes from law enforcement — reform to ensure Black soldiers aren’t treated like crap. Several state commanders for the National Association for Black Veterans tell TMZ … “something’s gotta change among police departments to avoid a repeat of the treatment Lt. Nazario got in Virginia … getting pepper-sprayed 4 times by cops barking orders.” The commanders, who all saw the incident as blatant racism, suggested different approaches — increasing racial sensitivity training, improving police department hiring practices, shifting police funding and more criminal prosecution of bad cops.

NBC News: Veterans face uphill battle to receive treatment for ‘burn pit’ exposure

By Kenzi Abou-Sabe and Didi Martinez

During Marine veteran Scott Evans’ two tours in Afghanistan, his work on a specialized team that used dogs to sniff out explosives led him to spend large chunks of time around open-air pits where trash was burned. In August, Evans, 33, of North Carolina, received devastating news: he had terminal pancreatic cancer. The diagnosis placed him among a growing number of military veterans who say they have developed serious and sometimes fatal diseases after facing prolonged exposure to burn pits at overseas bases. The Department of Defense estimates that roughly 3.5 million service members could have been exposed to burn pits.

TODAY: Jon Stewart speaks out on veterans suffering from burn pit exposure

Comedian Jon Stewart was a tireless advocate for first responders who became ill after working at Ground Zero following the 9/11 attacks. Now Steward is going before Congress again to fight for veterans who believe they were sickened by burn pits. NBC’s Lester Holt spoke with Stewart.

Defense News: White House nominates first woman secretary of the Army; CAPE, personnel nominees named

By Jen Judson and Aaron Mehta 

Christine Wormuth has been nominated to serve as the first female secretary of the Army, part of a trio of defense nominees announced Monday by the Biden administration. Defense News reported the Wormuth news ahead of the formal announcement. Wormuth previously served as the undersecretary of defense for policy during the Obama administration, and was part of the Biden landing team at the Pentagon after the election.

Stars and Stripes: ‘They’re trying to deny us until we die’: Veterans hope new toxic exposure bill will spur change at VA

By Karen Zeitvogel

The Department of Veterans Affairs has denied many of the sick veterans care and disability benefits, often arguing that data does not conclusively show a connection between their illnesses and their service. “I ask the VA to please listen to veterans and get this done for all of us,” Air Force Maj. Brian Liebenow told Stars and Stripes in a phone interview. “Listen and learn before it’s too late. A lot of these people are dying right now.” In recent months, lawmakers and advocacy groups have been pressuring the VA to provide benefits for K2 and other veterans sickened by exposure to toxins.

KPBS: The VA Has Vaccinated Millions Of People. Congress Is Asking It To Inoculate Many More

By Jay Price

When it comes to getting its patients vaccinated, the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system has in many ways been out ahead of its counterparts responsible for inoculating the general population. In several regions, the VA already has opened vaccinations to all its enrollees, regardless of age or health status. But now Congress has given it a bigger vaccination challenge. A new law called the Save Lives Act says the VA can now vaccinate all veterans and their spouses and caregivers – not just those enrolled in its health care system.

Monday, April 12 


MLive: Slotkin, Meijer introduce bill to aid veterans exposed to toxic burn pits

By Garrett Ellison

Lawmakers from Michigan have introduced a bill in Congress to help veterans who breathed toxic smoke while serving overseas receive health care benefits without having to jump through hoops to prove exposure. U.S. Reps. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly, and Peter Meijer, R-Grand Rapids, introduced the Veterans Burn Pits Exposure Recognition Act of 2021 in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday, April 8, according to their offices.

Stars and Stripes: Biden proposes $8.5 billion increase for VA in 2022 budget

By Nikki Wentling

President Joe Biden is proposing an $8.5 billion boost for the Department of Veterans Affairs under his 2022 budget plan released Friday. Biden’s plan would increase domestic spending by 16% overall, including an 8.2% increase for the VA, bringing its total discretionary spending for 2022 to $113.1 billion. According to the budget summary, Biden prioritized veteran homelessness, suicide prevention and caregiver support.  

Military Times: VA to see another big spending boost under Biden’s first budget plan

By Leo Shane III

The Department of Veterans Affairs would see another big funding increase under the fiscal 2022 budget plan outlined by the White House on Friday, with more money for suicide prevention, homelessness assistance programs and toxic exposure research.

Yale News: For veterans, a hidden side effect of COVID: feelings of personal growth

By Bill Hathaway

The U.S. military veteran population is known to have abnormally high rates of suicide, so health officials have been concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic might elevate risk of psychiatric disorders, particularly among those suffering from post-traumatic stress and related disorders. A recent national study of more than 3,000 veterans participating in the National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study did find that 12.8% reported post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms related to COVID-19 and 8% said they had contemplated suicide during the pandemic.

Stars and Stripes: ‘Sense of urgency’: Lawmakers introduce several bills to aid vets exposed to toxic fumes

By Sarah Cammarata 

Michigan Reps. Elissa Slotkin, a Democrat, and Peter Meijer, a Republican, introduced a bill Thursday that removes a key barrier to health benefits for veterans exposed to toxic fumes while serving overseas. It is the seventh piece of legislation introduced in Congress in recent weeks designed to help veterans who were exposed to fumes from burn pits while serving on military installations. ‘Fighting on All Fronts’: Deported US Veterans Cautiously Optimistic Biden Will Bring Them Home

By Karli Goldenberg

Navy veteran Alex Murillo is one of hundreds of deported veterans, many of them from Mexico, who are living in legal limbo after serving the U.S. in uniform. They’re hoping that, after pleas for return found little traction during the Trump administration, President Joe Biden will be the one to bring them back to the country they consider home. Many of those living in exile view Biden favorably and hope that his commitment to service members, coupled with his late son Beau’s military service, may lead him to repatriate deported veterans.

Marijuana Moment: Texas Lawmakers Unanimously Approve Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill In Committee

By Kyle Jaeger

A Texas House committee on Wednesday approved a bill to significantly expand the state’s medical marijuana program. Sponsored by Chairwoman Stephanie Klick (R), the bill would add cancer, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (for veterans only) as conditions that could qualify people for the state’s limited medical cannabis program.

VAntage Point: How VA supports Veterans experiencing IPV during Sexual Assault Awareness Month and beyond

During Sexual Assault Awareness Month, VA is emphasizing its ongoing work to ensure that Veterans and their partners who are experiencing or engaging in IPV are provided with the necessary resources and services, including VA’s Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program (IPVAP) and other programs. Women Veterans who report experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) are three times more likely than other women Veterans to experience housing instability or homelessness. IPV is considered a public health epidemic and may include physical or sexual violence, stalking and psychological aggression by a current or former intimate partner. These episodes, which do not have to be sexual in nature to be considered IPV, may occur frequently or infrequently, and may take place over a period of years.

Friday, April 9


Science Blog: Is Combat-Induced Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Unique To Industrialized Warfare?

Thirty years ago, clinical psychiatrist Jonathan Shay drew attention to similarities between the trauma experienced by Greek warriors, as documented in the epic poem “The Iliad,” and Vietnam veterans in America. Could the experience of war impact people in similar ways in vastly different cultural milieus?

News Medical: COVID-19 pandemic increases risk of suicides in veterans wtih post-traumatic stress disorder

The U.S. military veteran population is known to have abnormally high rates of suicide, so health officials have been concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic might elevate risk of psychiatric disorders, particularly among those suffering from post-traumatic stress and related disorders. A recent national study of more than 3,000 veterans participating in the National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study did find that 12.8% reported post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms related to COVID-19 and 8% said they had contemplated suicide during the pandemic.

Bloomberg Government: What to Know in Washington: Biden Eyes $715 Billion for Pentagon

By Giuseppe Macri and Brandon Lee

President Joe Biden plans to request $715 billion for his first Pentagon budget, a decrease from Trump-era spending trends, three people familiar with the plans said. The White House plans to release an outline today of Biden’s spending priorities, including defense. The plan had been widely expected last week, but its unveiling was delayed in part because of disagreements over defense spending. The three people asked not to be named because the budget isn’t yet public. Fort Detrick Assesses Emergency Response After Shootings

By Mary Grace Keller

In the wake of this week’s deadly shooting, Fort Detrick personnel are extending support services and assessing how to better prepare for the future, should another crisis occur.

Defense News: Biden’s defense budget will meet ‘traffic jam’ in Congress

By Joe Gould

 President Joe Biden will launch the annual budget and appropriations process Friday when he sends Congress his discretionary spending top line requests for fiscal 2022 ― but Pentagon spending, policy and nominations will be jostling for attention in a busy Congress.

Stars and Stripes: Study: Many veterans say their outlook has improved during COVID-19 pandemic

By Karen Zeitvogel

A surprising number of U.S. military veterans say they feel more positive about life, relationships and themselves since the coronavirus pandemic began, bucking predictions of a dire mental health crisis caused by the outbreak, a study published Thursday said.

Military Times: Memorial Day veterans’ motorcycle ride set to return in May, if Pentagon approves

By Leo Shane III

Thousands of veterans advocates are set to renew their annual Memorial Day motorcycle ride around the National Mall next month, but they’re still waiting on Pentagon planners to respond to requests for help making the event safe amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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 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


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