#AdvocacyUpdate: Burn Pits Campaign with Jon Stewart, Cannabis for Vets, and… Join Us for Storm the Hill in March!

As many can see from watching the news, a lot has been happening on Capitol Hill recently. While the atmosphere has been tense, that has not stopped the IAVA DC team from advocating for our nation’s veterans.

IAVA is a member of the 20-VSO Toxic Exposures in the American Military (TEAM) coalition, and has been developing ambitious legislation to help veterans who have been exposed to burn pits and other toxic exposures. Following December’s successful passage into law of the IAVA-led Burn Pits Accountability Act, we are continuing this fight. IAVA’s Tom Porter and TEAM members were joined by Jon Stewart and John Feal on Jan. 17 on Capitol Hill to chart the path forward. We are so grateful for their powerful advocacy!

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IAVA’s Tom Porter and representatives from the TEAM coalition with Jon Stewart following a Jan. 17 meeting with House and Senate members and staff. (Photo Courtesy of Joe Plenzler, TEAM Coalition).

A big focus of our DC team right now is planning our fast-approaching March 2-5 Storm the Hill (STH), IAVA’s signature leadership development and advocacy program. Over the years, it has grown from a handful of veterans walking the halls of Congress into an annual event placing Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in more than 100 meetings with our nation’s leaders. Stormers have successfully fought for accountability at the VA, critical legislation to help veterans exposed to burn pits, and improvements to the Post-9/11 GI Bill. This STH will directly coincide with IAVA’s joint testimony before both House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees as well as our Member Survey Release Congressional reception. If you are interested in participating in the Spring Storm the Hill and advocating on behalf of IAVA, applications open up next week. More information about STH can be found here. Keep an eye on your email inboxes and IAVA social media for the application link.

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IAVA CEO Jeremy Butler testifies in front of a Joint Session of the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committee during the Spring 2019 Storm the Hill

There is exciting news on the #CannabisForVets front, as Government Affairs Director Travis Horr attended a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Wednesday about the future of federal cannabis regulation. It was great to see that the IAVA-supported Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act (S. 445/H.R. 1151) was included in the hearing. The bill would allow VA doctors to openly talk to their patients about medicinal cannabis in states where it is already legal, which would be a great step in ensuring that veterans can have the same health options as their civilian counterparts. Additionally, representatives from across the aisle both agreed that there needs to be more research in order to have effective cannabis legislation in the future. IAVA agrees, and it’s why we back the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act (S. 179/H.R. 712) which has six new cosponsors this week. Thank you to Reps. Robin Kelly (D-IL), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Lori Trahan (D-MA), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), and Joseph Morelle (D-NY) for supporting veterans’ right to know about potential alternative treatment options.

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