Ryan Britch | April 15, 2020
Read: How IAVA Turns Survey Data to Legislative Victories
IAVA’s Annual Member Survey is a cornerstone to our advocacy work in DC. While many members are aware of our survey, they might not be aware of how it drives our work day-to-day. The Government Affairs team references our survey data daily in order to promote our members’ priorities throughout all levels of government. It not only drives our #Big6 priorities, but our entire policy agenda and supported legislation.
The first way that the Annual Survey turns into legislative victories is via IAVA’s Policy Agenda, which is released at the start of each new Congress, or every two years. We use the survey data to determine the most pressing issues facing the post-9/11 generation of veterans. IAVA also works closely with our VSO allies to create recommendations on how the president, Congress, and state and local governments can better help our generation of veterans.
One example of this is IAVA’s campaign to support veterans who were exposed to burn pits and other airborne toxins. Our survey data showed a shocking number of members were not only exposed to burn pits due to their service, but also an overwhelming number of them say they have symptoms from that exposure. This drove IAVA to work with a bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives to create the Burn Pits Accountability Act, first introduced in 2018. The IAVA Government Affairs team referenced the high number of veterans with symptoms caused by their exposure in every meeting that we had on Capitol Hill and beyond to drive support for this important issue. It was due to that effort, which started with our annual survey, that we were able to pass the Burn Pits Accountability Act into law in 2019.
This was not IAVA’s first foray into this issue. In the last few years, we were successful in working to pass into law legislation that established the VA’s Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, which required the VA DoD to document and share servicemembers’ exposures with the VA. We then worked successfully to pass legislation to establish a VA Center of Excellence tasked with studying the data from the aforementioned Registry to create clinical treatments among other things.
IAVA has also taken the next step forward and allied with more than 20 VSOs in early 2019 to form the Toxic Exposures in the American Military (TEAM) coalition, working to pass ambitious new legislation to gain groundbreaking VA benefits for those suffering exposures.
In addition to driving the passage of legislation, the IAVA annual survey and policy agenda also determines what legislation IAVA will support. Congressional offices routinely reach out to IAVA for feedback and support of veterans and military personnel for legislation they are working on. When this happens, the Government Affairs team will review and weigh the legislation against what our members tell us is important in the membership survey in order to make a decision to support.
As you can see, the IAVA Annual Membership Survey is an integral part of our work. In order to complete the survey, you must be an IAVA member. Be sure to join here for free and stay tuned to IAVA’s Twitter, Facebook, and emails to complete this important survey every year.