NEW YORK, NY (May 9, 2017) — IAVA and its allies have successfully stopped a newly proposed plan to impose huge new fees on users of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. After leading a nationwide and coordinated grassroots, social media and press campaign anchored by the hashtag #DefendTheGIBill, IAVA members have succeeded in defending their earned benefits from a ridiculous proposal to nickel and dime our brothers and sisters in a time of war. Recently, Congressional leaders circulated a draft proposal for a bill that would absurdly require new military enlistees to pay $2,400, at $100 a month over two years, to gain their GI Bill benefit.
IAVA, along with the VFW and thousands of veterans and civilian allies across the country, stood up to strongly oppose the proposal. Thousands called their members of Congress, contacted local media, signed petitions, and expressed outrage on social media. IAVA also circulated a petition that called on Congress to find funding elsewhere, not in the wallets of young enlistees who make less than $20,000 a year. Congress swiftly felt the pressure from IAVA’s members, the media, and their constituents, and have not moved forward on the proposal.
On Friday, IAVA Legislative Director and Afghanistan Veteran Tom Porter hand-delivered more than 24,000 signatures from petitions hosted on IAVA.org and causes.com directly to the House Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC). He thanked them on behalf of supporters for hearing the voices of veterans and withdrawing the draft from consideration.
“IAVA members and thousands of Americans nationwide have spoken loud and clear. And Congress is now listening. We are thankful that HVAC leaders are no longer planning to move this bill forward. However, this fight is not over–and attacks are likely again in the years to come as Congress looks to save or raise money. But we’ve sent a clear message: the American people are not having it. Veterans’ GI Bill is off-limits. We made a clear statement with this latest victory to politicians of both parties, as we did when we killed $4 billion in damaging cuts last year,” said Paul Rieckhoff, CEO and Founder of IAVA . “As long as there are men and women putting their lives on the line abroad, we will fight to #DefendTheGIBill. We look forward to working with leaders in Congress to improve the Post-9/11 GI Bill, as laid out in our Annual Policy Agenda. There are definitely changes that need to be made, but not at the expense of our troops and veterans. The GI Bill is a cost of war. Congress found the money to send us to war and they should find the money to transition us when we leave the service.”
IAVA led the passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill in 2008 and in championing upgrades in 2010 and 2014. These upgrades simplified and improved tuition benefits, expanded eligibility to the National Guard, included vocational programs, and made nationwide in-state tuition rates a possibility for new veterans.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill has been used at least 1.5 million veterans and their family members to accomplish educational goals and chart new career paths. In 2016, IAVA’s year-long campaign to #DefendTheGIBill effectively killed over $4 billion in attempted cuts to the Post-9/11 GI Bill by the 114th Congress.
IAVA member service programs have also served hundreds of thousands of veterans with one-on-one GI Bill support.
IAVA is the leading voice of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in Washington and communities nationwide. Led by veterans, our non-partisan advocacy work ensures that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families are supported, protected and never forgotten. Since 2004, IAVA has been a juggernaut in Washington, creating and driving the national conversation on issues ranging from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) to women veteran issues to veteran unemployment. IAVA’s dedicated staff in Washington, D.C. leads this work, advocating on behalf of our members daily. We also train our member veterans to be powerful advocates for their community.
IAVA is focused on results and has delivered historic impacts. Every year since 2007, in an increasingly gridlocked political environment and with an extremely limited operating budget, IAVA has passed at least one major piece of groundbreaking legislation for our community ranging from the Post-9/11 GI Bill (2008), to the VOW to Hire Heroes Act (2011), to The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act (2015).
See IAVA’s Advocacy Program Digital Hub the full list of victories and to learn more about how you can help.
Note to media: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. As a non-profit founded in 2004, IAVA’s mission is to connect, unite and empower post-9/11 veterans. Celebrating its 12th year anniversary, IAVA has connected more than 1.2 million veterans with resources and community, and provided more than 7,300 veterans with personalized support from IAVA’s Master’s level social workers.