IAVA Advocacy Update: Wins for Suicide Prevention, Burn Pits, & More!

It was another busy week for the DC team as we continued to build up advocacy victories across our Big Six priorities. We met with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to discuss mental health and suicide prevention and added another four cosponsors to IAVA backed legislation!


On Tuesday of this week IAVA’s Legislative Director Tom Porter attended a Pentagon roundtable discussion with Air Force leaders to discuss force readiness and global challenges. Here’s some amazing news to report on the impact Hurricane Michael had on Tyndall Force Air Base on the Florida panhandle: the base was in the direct path of the eye of the storm, and the resulting damage was that 95% of the base is now uninhabitable – but due to the decision by the commander to evacuate all 11,000 personnel in advance of the storm, there were no fatalities or serious injuries. Surely an expensive storm hit, but we are happy our military families are safe.


Also on Tuesday, Research Director Steph Mullen met with the VA’s Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention to discuss their latest efforts in that area. They outlined their implementation of the Clay Hunt SAV Act as well as other programs with VA mental health and to combat suicide among troops and veterans. This meeting comes on the heels of a very impactful Storm the Hill, during which, IAVA members from around the country highlighted the veteran suicide crisis by planting 5,520 American Flags on the National Mall to represent each veteran that has died by suicide this year. Be sure to check out Steph’s video recap here.


Speaking of Storm the Hill, IAVA’s former intern, and all-star Stormer, Julie Howell, wrote a blog about her experience here in DC, both as an intern and as a Stormer. She highlights the impact that one veteran can have by communicating our top priorities to their Member of Congress. Be sure to apply for our December Storm the Hill here!


And on Thursday, Steph attended a Pain Roundtable hosted by Pfizer and Lilly to discuss the next generation of pain treatment therapies and policies. Chronic pain is a huge concern for IAVA members, with 38 percent reporting it as a service-related injury in our last Member Survey. Opioids are often used to treat chronic pain, but they are addictive and unsustainable. It was interesting to see what therapies are on the horizon for pain management.


As many of you know IAVA supports the use of medicinal cannabis for veterans in order to potentially treat both chronic pain and PTSD. It’s one of IAVA’s Big Six priorities. This week, our neighbors to the North, Canada, legalized cannabis in all forms, including recreationally. They are only the second country in the world to do so and the first major economy. Julie Howell wrote another amazing blog for us this week on why this matters to American veterans and how the federal government has a responsibility to get with the times. Check it out here.  


New Cosponsors on IAVA-Backed Legislation:


The #BurnPits Accountability Act (S.3181/H.R. 5671) picked up an additional four cosponsors this week as Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Joe Crowley (D-NY), Rob Wittman (R-VA), and Hank Johnson (D-GA) signed on to support this historic piece of legislation. As Julie points out in her blog above, our Fall Stormers met with many of these offices in order to make this happen and build momentum as we push through to the end of the year. Thank you to all of our cosponsors on this important bill!


Ensure that your Member of Congress supports all of IAVA’s Big Six priorities and your voice is heard by going through our Take Action page here.


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