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Kaitlynne Hetrick | June 1, 2020

Read: #AdvocacyUpdate: Memorial Day, House VA Virtual Forum, and more!

Last week began with Memorial Day, a day for us to honor fallen servicemembers. This Memorial Day looked much different from years past. Typically, IAVA is invited to lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknowns, but due to COVID-19, the wreath-laying ceremony was closed to the public. Instead, IAVA staff members chose to pay respects by visiting other memorials in New York City and Washington, DC. 

IAVA CEO Jeremy Butler visited a beautiful, tree-laden, WWII Memorial in NYC that was dedicated 73 years ago to the day.

EVP of Government Affairs, Tom Porter, laid flowers at the Vietnam War memorial.

Government Affairs Director Travis Horr and Government Affairs Associate Ryan Britch decided to pay their respects to the fallen by visiting various veteran memorials in DC 

IAVA CEO Jeremy Butler Presents a Wreath at Arlington’s Tomb of the Unknowns in 2019

Last week, a House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee held a hearing discussing veterans’ disability exams during COVID-19. The Wounded Warrior Project, VFW, American Federation of Government Employees and the Government Accountability Office testified on how the pandemic is affecting veterans and the problems that could come from the growing backlog. Watch the full event HERE. Two days following the hearing, VA opened 20 of its facilities for disability exams. Read more about that HERE. 

On May 28, Secretary Wilkie testified before the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds the VA. Among many topics, the Secretary was asked about VA’s use of the controversial drug, hydroxychloroquine, to treat veterans. Wilkie stated that they have drastically reduced the use of the drug as more treatments are brought in, saying “We’re learning as we go.” IAVA has called on VA for more transparency and communication when it comes to their prescribing hydroxychloroquine to veterans. Despite the secretary’s recent testimony, many questions regarding the use of the drug, and its oversight of state-run veteran homes which have been hotspots for COVID deaths. Read more about the hearing and what IAVA has to say about the secretary’s testimony HERE

On Friday, President Trump vetoed a bipartisan IAVA-supported resolution that would protect veterans from predatory colleges. The new regulations, created by current Education Secretary Betsy Devos, toughen standards for student loan borrowers that seek to prove their colleges defrauded them and to have their federal loans erased. These new regulations place a high burden on military-connected students that have been defrauded by predatory schools. IAVA and many other VSOs strongly supported the resolution. Many veterans, active duty, and military families are targeted due to G.I Bill and tuition assistance benefits. Read more about it HERE.

On Wednesday, June 3rd at 5:30 PM EST, Senate Veteran Affairs Committee Ranking Member Jon Tester (D-MN)  and IAVA CEO Jeremy Butler will hold a Facebook Live event to discuss what IAVA is doing to help the veteran community during this time and hear about Congress’ efforts. Click HERE to submit a question and HERE read IAVA’s press release on the Facebook Live event.

QRF
We know that this time can be stressful and IAVA’s Quick Reaction Force (QRF) is here to help! This program provides confidential 24/7 peer-to-peer support, comprehensive care management, and resource connections. To get connected to a Veteran Care Manager for immediate help anytime, day or night, please call 1-855-91RAPID or fill out our online form HERE. If you are a veteran or a veteran family member facing challenges or have questions, QRF can help by providing 24/7 peer support and providing connections to quality resources so you can 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 741741.

Here are some helpful links if you or someone you know is seeking more information

The VA launched its new public health website HERE.
The DoD coronavirus response page is HERE.
If you are a TRICARE beneficiary, see guidance HERE.
Centers for Disease Control guidance HERE.

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