It was a busy week on Capitol Hill as a number of veterans bills were passed in the House, albeit with mixed results given passage of a controversial bill (H.R. 3016) backed by House Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC) Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL).
H.R. 3016 includes many provisions favored by veterans, but pays for them with a 50 percent cut in the monthly housing allowance provided to children who will have the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefit transferred to them by a veteran parent.
IAVA saw this as a breach of trust with military members who were promised the full benefit when they entered service, so we voiced our significant concerns to Chairman Miller and contacted every Congressional office in advance of the vote. However, in the end House Members passed the bill in an unrecorded voice vote.
IAVA will remain fully engaged in this fight to defend the GI Bill from cuts and to ensure Congress keeps promises made to military and veterans as the Senate prepares to take action in the coming days and weeks. Take Action NOW and contact Congress.
Some very good news came the same day with the House’s near-unanimous passage of the 9/11 Memorial Act (H.R. 3036) to officially recognize the 9/11 Memorial in New York City as a National Memorial and provide annual funding to help operate and secure the site. The overwhelming vote by 387 members is simply the right thing to do. America must commit to ensuring that the world never forgets!
Prior to the House vote, our legislative team met with House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) office and with top Committee staff to voice strong support for approving the bill, and we will be working with the Senate to push for quick action.
Finally, at the forefront of our minds today is the one-year anniversary of the Feb. 12, 2015 enactment of the Clay Hunt SAV Act, which IAVA led the fight to pass. We’ve seen a lot of improvements, but far too many of our brothers and sisters are still taking their own lives, and we’re calling on the House and Senate Veterans Committees to hold a hearing to ensure successful implementation of the SAV Act.
With VA statistics showing that women veterans die by suicide at nearly six times the rate of civilian women, we can’t let up on this fight. This week we applauded House passage of an IAVA priority, the Female Veteran Suicide Prevention Act (H.R. 2915) to expand the VA’s annual evaluation of mental health and suicide-prevention programs to include data specific to female veterans, and require the VA to determine which programs are the most effective for female veterans. The bill would also improve treatment procedures for veterans with classified mission experience. IAVA is working for Senate passage this year.
You can count on the IAVA team to be your voice on issues that impact veterans lives and their future. For more information on our priorities, go to our Policy Agenda here.