Veterans Blast Budget Agreement

Veterans Blast Budget Agreement

CONTACT: Carlisle Williams (212) 982-9699 or press@iava.org

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Veterans Blast Budget Agreement 

Broken Washington Continues to Negatively Impact Vets and Military Families

WASHINGTON, DC (December 11, 2013) – Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) today blasted a key component of the Congressional budget agreement that would reduce the annual cost-of-living adjustment for military retirees and survivors, leading to a 20 percent cut to retirement benefits over the course of their lives. The budget proposal is the latest instance of veterans being affected by Washington dysfunction. Sequestration and the government shutdown already affected many services that support veterans and their families. This change to military retiree pensions would have a devastating long-term impact on the benefits already earned by those who have sacrificed the most for this country.

This week, IAVA members are converging in Washington for the inaugural IAVA Winter Storm. IAVA is urging Congress to renew focus on the VA disability claims backlog and to demand Congress stay in session until it brings up four bills that are ready for a vote.

“The budget agreement balances the budget on the backs of military retirees. It’s the latest example of how Washington is broken, forcing those who have sacrificed the most over the last ten years to choose between this deal, sequestration, or government shutdown,” said IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff. “Veterans are tired of the government dysfunction.  Members of Congress can help rectify a devastating year by acting on priorities that would provide meaningful support to our community.”

In addition to urging Congress to reject the changes to military pensions, throughout the week, IAVA is urging Congress to address the following top priorities before adjourning:

1. Fully fund the VA in advance – HR 813 and S 932, cosponsored by Congressman Miller (R-FL), Rep Michaud (D-ME), Senator Begich (D-AK) and Senator Boozman (R-AK). These bills would fully fund the entire VA one year in advance. This means that when Congress is late with the budget (or shuts down the government) the VA already has its next year’s budget on the books. The bill also allows the VA to plan ahead for the modernization efforts currently underway. 

2. Combat sexual assault in the military by passing The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2014 (cosponsored by Congressman Buck McKeon (R-CA), Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA), and Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and James Inhofe (R-OK)) and the Military Justice Improvement Act (sponsored by Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)). The NDAA has a robust package of reforms that would combat Military Sexual Assault. The MJIA is a bill that will improve the military justice system. The bills will now be voted on separately.

3. Charge in-state tuition for all veterans using GI Bill – HR 357 and S 944, cosponsored by Congressman Jeff Miller (R-FL), Congressman Mike Michaud (D-ME), Senator John Boozman (R-AK), Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL). These bills would require all schools that accept GI Bill dollars to charge the in-state tuition rate for veterans using the GI Bill. This closes a loophole where vets who – due to their military service – aren’t legal residents of any state, get stuck with a bill for the education that the GI Bill was supposed to cover.

4. Ratify The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This is a treaty that would establish international standards based on the Americans with Disabilities Act. Based on America’s leadership in establishing these standards, it will ensure that Americans with disabilities will encounter better accessibility when traveling abroad. This treaty is supported by former Senator Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-KS) and Foreign Relations Committee chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ).

On social media IAVA is urging supporters to show their support by using the hashtag #FinishThe4.  This hashtag urges Congress not to go home until it finishes the top four priorities for troops and vets that are ready for a floor vote.

Note to media: Veterans will address the budget agreement impact on the veteran community and discuss the Winter Storm at a reporter roundtable Thursday at 1 p.m. at IAVA’s Washington office. Please email press@iava.org to RSVP. 

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the nation’s first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has more than 270,000 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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