IAVA Leaders Meet with Senator Kelly Ayotte
Washington DC (June 24, 2014) – Today, leaders of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) – CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff, Legislative Director Alex Nicholson and Legislative Associate Lauren Augustine – met with Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) about the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) scandal, combating veteran suicide, military retirement cuts and Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) among other priorities for veterans in 2014.
“IAVA thanks Senator Ayotte for meeting with our team today,” said Rieckhoff. “We applaud her support and strong leadership as more brave men and women in uniform return home this year. As a military spouse, Senator Ayotte has a unique perspective of our community and veterans issues. She has proven to have our back, especially on critical issues such as repealing cuts that would have reduced military retirement benefits and leading on CRPD. We look forward to working closely with Senator Ayotte and her staff to improve the lives of veterans and their families throughout New Hampshire and across the country.”
There are over 110,000 veterans in New Hampshire, including 11,500 who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan.
New Hampshire veterans face a number of critical challenges. More than 273,000 veterans are stuck in the VA backlog, including more than 660 who are waiting more than 125 days for a claim. The average wait time here is 130.4 days.
In New Hampshire, as well as across the country, suicide is a top concern for new veterans: at least 22 veterans die by suicide every day. Senator Ayotte and IAVA discussed effective measures to combat suicide among America’s troops and veterans, including the Suicide Prevention for America’s Veterans Act (SAV Act).
IAVA also conversed with Senator Kelly Ayotte about IAVA’s ‘Marshall Plan’ for veterans. In early June, IAVA unveiled eight steps the Obama Administration and Congress can take now to restore confidence in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Among the steps are recommendations from IAVA’s 2014 Policy Agenda. IAVA urged Congress and the President to enact all of the recommendations from the plan.