Since the 2014 Phoenix scandal exposed many VA problems across the country, IAVA has been a leader in the fight to drive accountability. We supported empowering the VA Secretary with the tools to expedite the removal of employees who harm veterans, and following advocacy by IAVA and our VSO partners, the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act was finally signed into law in 2017. IAVA also worked with our VSO partners to finally reform and streamline the VA’s disability appeals process with passage of the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act. The VA “Choice” Program still lingers, and IAVA banded together with our VSO partners to defeat on the House floor an extension that would have ignored critical VA needs by pulling money away from other core services to fund this controversial, unproven public policy experiment. In the wake of the defeat of that proposal, IAVA succeeded in helping to pass a Choice funding extension that did not compromise investment in VA foundational services and hiring.
But the fight for government reform and the defense of the core VA services we count on is even more pressing in 2018. The last “Choice” extension granted in December 2017 will run out of money in late spring/early summer 2018, and bipartisan legislation IAVA and VSOs support to permanently reform and consolidate the VA’s community care programs, including the “Choice” program has stalled. Additionally, the Department of Defense (DoD) FY18 budget has been particularly hamstrung by multiple continuing resolutions – which only continue funding at the last year’s levels in the absence of a year-long bill – since the beginning of FY17, greatly harming military readiness and national security. At the very least, funding and key structures at the VA and DoD must be protected from short-sighted cuts and political posturing.
In 2018 IAVA will:
- Continue to press for accountable VA leadership.
- Press to end political stalemates and government shutdowns that disparately impact our military and veteran community.
- Advocate to end sequester and ensure the Department of Defense and VA have the resources they need in a timely, predictable fashion.
- Fight any efforts to destroy, undermine or privatize the Department of Veterans Affairs by political groups that seek to squash the grassroots voices of IAVA members and the members of other leading VSOs.
- Continue to connect, unite and empower post-9/11 veterans facing challenges with the VA, Department of Defense and other government agencies through our digital resources, our local VetTogether events and our nationally-recognized Rapid Response Referral Program (RRRP).
Learn more about IAVA’s recommendations here.