Veterans Converge on Washington for “Storm The Hill” To End VA Backlog

Veterans Converge on Washington for “Storm The Hill” To End VA Backlog

CONTACT: Zack Baddorf (212) 982-9699 or press@iava.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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Veterans Converge on Washington for “Storm The Hill” To End VA Backlog
On 10th Anniversary of Iraq War IAVA Introduces 2013 Policy Priorities

WASHINGTON (March 18, 2013) – In Washington from March 18-22, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America’s membership will converge on Washington to introduce IAVA’s 2013 Policy Agenda and to challenge the President and Congress to finally end the disability benefits backlog as part of IAVA’s 7th annual “Storm the Hill” campaign.

The 45 veteran leaders participating in Storm The Hill come from 22 different states and represent IAVA’s nationwide membership. The top priority for 2013 is ending the absurd and growing VA disability benefits backlog. The leaders will also focus on military and veteran suicides, veteran unemployment and better care for women veterans. IAVA is calling on all Americans to sign a petition to call on President Obama to end the VA backlog. Leaders from the group will present the petition at a March 20 meeting at the White House.

One of the 2013 IAVA Stormers is Zach McIlwain, who served in the U.S. Army from 2005 to 2010 and deployed for two combat tours in Iraq. He filed several claims for VA disability benefits in 2009 and has been waiting over 900 days to resolve his claims. The process has been so arduous he’s tempted to give up and he feels like he can’t move forward with his life. He is in Washington this week to advocate for himself and for millions of veterans like him.

Meet the rest of the Stormers here.

The non-partisan 2013 Policy Agenda is a blueprint for how America can support Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans and their families. Created based of the annual membership survey, feedback at over 300 local events, with advice from non-profit and private partners, and leveraging IAVA’s extensive policy experience, the Policy Agenda has clear recommendations for Congress, the White House and also for private companies, local municipalities and the non-profit sector. You can download the full document here.

The veterans participating will be trained in both local and national advocacy, organizing principles and how to be spokespeople in the media. They will meet with dozens of lawmakers, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense. They will also tour all the major war memorials and meet with veteran leaders from Vietnam, World War II and Korea.

Visit IAVA.org to view the petition to end the backlog and learn more about IAVA, Storm the Hill and our 2013 class of veteran Stormers. All week, IAVA will be posting photos, videos and personal stories on social media and with the #EndtheVABacklog hash tag on Twitter. You can also visit our Storm the Hill Facebook page and view backlog stories from veterans and their families at our Tumblr page.

The IAVA veterans will also participate in the following public events throughout the week of “Storm the Hill” (please RSVP to Press@iava.org):


Aspen Institute Launch of Aspen Veterans Initiative

    
IAVA’s 2013 Policy Agenda Briefing on Capitol Hill

    
Rally to End the Backlog at Capitol Hill


Now in it’s seventh year, Storm the Hill has launched successful IAVA-led efforts to pass the Post-9/11 GI Bill and establish advanced funding at the VA. Following Storm the Hill, these 45 veterans will participate in a year-long leadership program that offers opportunities to organize local events, speak on behalf of the veterans community in the media and spearhead annual campaigns by activating their networks through social media platforms.

The veterans have experienced and overcome issues including waiting for their VA disability claims to be processed, unemployment, contemplation of committing suicide, military sexual trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries, late Post-9/11 GI Bill payments, and dealing with predatory for-profit schools. They are available to tell their stories to members of the media.   

IAVA’s founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff and Chief Policy Officer Tom Tarantino are available for interviews along with the 45 new veterans participating in Storm the Hill 2013.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the nation’s first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, has more than 200,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. IAVA recently received the highest rating – four-stars – from Charity Navigator, America’s largest charity evaluator.

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