Defend Our Defenders

IAVA's Policy Agenda for the 117th Congress

Current Policy Priorities

IAVA has recommended specific policy priorities to address the issues that matter most to post-9/11 veterans.


Defend Our Defenders





Defend Our Defenders

There is no higher priority than defending those who defend us. Politicization of our military, cuts to benefits, government shutdowns, and failure to stand by our wartime allies all present threats to our national security, and by extension, our servicemembers and war and peacetime alliances.

The protection of our military and veterans from being used for others’ personal or independent political gain has been something IAVA has regularly spoken about publically. Both parties have used our service members as political pawns, which risks dividing our community. IAVA has consistently sought to raise our members’ voices on multiple related topics. A prime example is our Annual Survey and flash polls.

IAVA has also fought hard at every turn to turn back cuts to our pay and/or benefits, including multiple attempts to cut the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Cutting pay and benefits could have disastrous effects on our nation’s ability to recruit tomorrow’s warriors and risks successful military transitions. IAVA sent a petition to DoD with nearly 60,000 IAVA members signatures calling for the Secretary of Defense to rescind his directive to curtail GI Bill transfers to family members in 2018. Further, we must guard against the increasing trend of government shutdowns. These politically motivated stunts – which have come as a result of poor decision making on both sides of the aisle – have a disproportionate effect on veterans and can have major impacts on our ability to defend ourselves if the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security go without funds. Finally, we must always protect our allies who have stood with us at war and ensure that promises made to them during conflict are also kept after we return home.

In 2016 IAVA worked with allies to enact a four-year reauthorization and expansion of the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program for those who performed sensitive activities for the U.S. Having partnered with these brave men and women for years, we must signal that we appreciate their sacrifices as much as we appreciate those of our own service members and veterans. IAVA will continue to fight to ensure that the SIV program continues to be used to its fullest potential to ensure that we keep our promises to our allies overseas.

Reaching back into 2016 and 2017 IAVA has led the successful fight to better the lives and access to benefits for military and veteran communities. In 2016, IAVA led the successful fight to block passage of a bipartisan, bicameral effort to make major cuts in the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

2017 IAVA was successful in blocking a proposed $2,400 fee that all new service members would be charged to gain access to their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. And the same year IAVA rose to the occasion to push the DoD to waive repayment requirements – or repay – more than 17,000 California National Guard members whose re-enlistment bonuses were being clawed back.

IAVA's Recommendations

  • Continue to warn of the impacts of government shutdown on national security and the veteran community
  • Continue to urge Congress to strengthen, and to never cut or enable abuse, of military and veteran pay and benefits
  • Authorize an adequate number of SIVs necessary to ensure that all Afghans and Iraqis who are eligible receive one and ensure adequate support from VA, HUD, government agencies, and nonprofits once SIV eligible recipients enter the U.S.
  • Ensure that the Department of State is fully staffed and resourced to process all pending SIV applications
  • Ensure that VA funding levels match the annual Independent Budget blueprint, produced by leading VSOs
  • Provide aggressive oversight to ensure that VA funds are spent efficiently and effectively
  • Invest in and partner with innovative community nonprofits serving the needs of service members, veterans, their families and survivors
  • Ensure DoD is fully funded during the annual appropriations process to ensure continual, uninterrupted funding for the U.S. military
  • Maintain competitive pay for troops by keeping pace with the civilian sector
  • Repeal the 2013 cut to military retirement that reduces the cost of living adjustment for working age retirees
  • Restore the 100% BAH rate for those military members who are now scheduled to pay 5% of their housing costs out of pocket
  • Oppose increases in TRICARE fees and cuts to military retirement benefits
  • Secure legislation allowing service members, retirees and survivors to pay on a pre-tax basis health insurance premiums and enrollment fees for TRICARE, TRICARE supplements, and DoD sponsored TRICARE dental plans
  • Seek legislative change to the new blended retirement system to extend the period of government matching funds beyond 26 years to actual retirement
  • Campaign against symbolic use of veterans without meaningful support for veterans issues
  • Support initiatives to understand and address climate change to military facilities and personnel, such as DoD’s work on Climate-Related Risk to DoD Infrastructure Initial Vulnerability Assessment Survey (SLVAS) Report, and ensure appropriate mitigation is conducted

IAVA's Policy Priorities

Select a topic from the list below to learn about IAVA’s policy recommendations for the 117th Congress.