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Legislative Sitrep: Bringing our Advocacy to Capitol Hill and Beyond

It’s been a productive week for the IAVA DC team filled with meetings, hearings, and media events.On Wednesday we attended a House Armed Services Committee (HASC) hearing hearing on national security threats and challenges headlined by IAVA Board Member Gen. David Petraeus. It’s a testimony to his enormous contributions to our country that every member of the committee was uncharacteristically focused on his analysis and recommendations. We are incredibly proud of his leadership and his contributions to IAVA.

Also Wednesday, Legislative Director Tom Porter presented IAVA’s mental health and suicide prevention priorities to new House Veterans Committee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) and Ranking Member Tim Walz (D-MN), and Health Subcommittee Chairman Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) and Ranking Member Julia Brownley (D-CA). They were particularly interested in Porter’s call for Congress to help veterans with other than honorable (bad paper) discharges get help with their service connected injuries.

IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff gave an interview for National Public Radio’s (NPR) “Here and Now” on President Trump’s pick to lead the VA, Dr. David Shulkin. Shortly thereafter we hosted a VetTogether with IAVA members at our DC office and made our way to Capitol Hill to ensure the voices of post-9/11 veterans were heard. While we know and appreciate Dr. Shulkin’s leadership, we won’t give anyone a free pass, especially after so many years of disappointment and scandal. Our strong showing at the hearing was a reminder to everyone there that IAVA members worldwide are watching to see how Dr. Shulkin plans to tackle deficiencies and capitalize on strengths within the massive agency. We expect him to be approved by the full Senate next week.

Our advocacy continued Thursday with Paul and Tom Porter meeting with new Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (SVAC) Ranking Member Jon Tester (D-MT) to push for our members’ priorities this Congress. It was very encouraging to see so much energy from the Senator and his senior staff.

The same day, we held a Capitol Hill press event with other veterans calling for the Administration to protect our trusted interpreters and other allies who have served, and continue to serve, alongside U.S. troops in combat zones. Veterans shared personal stories and communicated the damaging impact of the recent Executive Order temporarily halting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.

We’re now busily preparing for next week. Check back for more updates!

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