IAVA Joins President as VA Reform Bill Signed Into Law
New York, NY (Aug 7, 2014) – Today leaders and members of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the nation’s first and largest nonpartisan organization representing the newest generation of American veterans, will join President Obama, Members of Congress and senior VA officials at Fort Belvoir as the President signs the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014.
This act authorizes up to $17B for the VA to make changes needed to serve veterans. It also includes provisions to allow many veterans to seek care from non-VA health care providers and empowers VA officials to more easily make personnel and other changes in the midst of the current VA crisis.
IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff applauded the signing and issued the following statement:
“IAVA is pleased to finally see action today from Washington. This new law will support countless veterans nationwide and is a good first step toward healing the VA after a disastrous last few years. IAVA members from across the country are pleased to see Democrats and Republicans finally working together to put serving our veterans before politics. IAVA is pleased that Chairman Miller and Chairman Sanders could find a way to reach an agreement to address the national emergency that has unfolded at the VA. This bill contains critical provisions IAVA has advocated for consistently through our 2014 Policy Agenda and 8 Step ‘Marshall Plan’ to Rebuild the VA. We are especially pleased to see in-state tuition challenges finally addressed. This element is something our members have demanded for years and will enable hundreds of thousands of young vets to pursue an education using the GI Bill.”
“This law however is not a silver bullet,” added Rieckhoff. “It is merely a band-aid and one that will soon fall off. American leaders must continue to focus on the VA and veterans issues more broadly. This is especially true of the suicide crisis in which it’s estimated that 22 veterans take their own lives every day. The next legislative challenge is for Congress to put partisanship aside and, before the year is out, to pass the Clay Hunt SAV Act to help reduce these tragic deaths.
We hope President Obama will seize the opportunity to keep the momentum around veterans’ issues and empower the new VA Secretary to make effective changes. We also hope President Obama will start visiting VA facilities and meeting with IAVA members nationwide, something he has not done since the VA scandal first came to light,” Rieckhoff continued. “In the coming months, IAVA will continue to press Congress and the White House to make even more lasting changes at the VA. We stand in full support of Secretary McDonald and strive to ensure that he, President Obama and Congress get veterans the care and support they earned.”