Last week IAVA invited our members to complete our 8th annual member survey. The member survey is one of the primary ways we can hear from our members collectively so we can best represent you in Washington DC. It’s vital in developing our policy priorities, advocacy campaigns and programs.
Over 4000 members completed the survey, the largest number to date. Thanks to you all for taking the time to tell us how we can better represent you. We’re currently working with our partners at George Mason University to analyze the data and pull the toplines over the next week or so. So definitely be on the lookout for more on that.
In DC, the policy team has been pretty much everywhere making sure IAVA member priorities are addressed. We met with Rep. Sean Maloney’s (D-NY) office on Tuesday, and continued into Wednesday with IAVA’s interim Chief Policy Officer, Dr. Jackie Maffucci, attending the first Veteran Service Organization (VSO) breakfast with new VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin. The same day IAVA Legislative Associate Edgar Rodriguez attended a meeting on safeguarding the GI Bill at the Veterans Benefits Administration.
Later that night we attended an IAVA co-sponsored book launch on USA Today reporter Gregg Zoroya’s new book “The Chosen Few.” The book outlines the heroic actions of the 173 Brigade Combat Team’s Chosen Company, one of the most decorated U.S. units to have fought in Afghanistan. They suffered significant casualties and two thirds of the unit received Purple Hearts for their service in the Battle of Wanat. IAVA Legislative Director Tom Porter gave the closing remarks of the event outlining IAVA’s mission of fighting for veterans benefits and assistance that soldiers like the “The Chosen Few” have earned through their military service.
Yesterday, Porter attended a discussion by Joint Chiefs Chairman, Gen. Joe Dunford, of the status of threats to the U.S. around the world. IAVA pays close attention to these developments, especially when it means additional boots on ground in overseas conflicts, to press our government to take care of troops when they return.
Today IAVA Political and Intergovernmental Affairs Director Melissa Bryant is attending a VSO meeting at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to discuss veteran employment issues. While the unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans have improved the past few years, the unemployment rate for young veterans is still high, and in January 2017 the number jumped to 6.3%. We’re watching closely to make sure this increase doesn’t turn into a long-term trend.This month’s meeting will focus on opportunities for VSOs to partner and collaborate with DOL on communications strategies to better reach veterans, transitioning service-members, spouses and employers looking to hire them.
All in all, another great week for IAVA’s Washington DC based policy team. Onward!