DAV Legislative Goals:
Greeting the New Congress
By Thom Wilborn
Funding for polytrauma units at VA medical centers help veterans regain independence and quality of life to better integrate into family and community life.
When the 113th Congress convenes in January, DAV will be prepared to advocate for our legislative priorities. They include providing comprehensive support services for caregivers of severely wounded, injured and ill veterans from all eras. The current law covers only comprehensive support for caregivers of veterans who served after Sept. 11, 2001.
The legislative priorities are based on resolutions approved at our 91st National Convention in August and will be presented to lawmakers to initiate legislation intended to fulfill our nation’s promises to the men and women who served.
In addition to the caregivers initiative are resolutions to support sufficient funding for VA health care and equal medical services and benefits for women veterans. DAV also calls for a comprehensive program for traumatic brain injury rehabilitation and stiff opposition to any effort to privatize VA health care services and programs.
“Our members and their grassroots support for our legislative initiatives are a powerful force urging members of Congress to do the right thing,” said Washington Headquarters Executive Director Barry Jesinoski. “DAV’s Commander’s Action Network (DAV CAN) is a crucial tool for our members to tell lawmakers of our positions on veterans’ legislation, and we urge all of our members to sign up at http://capwiz.com/dav/mlm/signup
“The legislative resolutions are conceived, developed and voted on by our membership,” said National Legislative Director Joseph Violante. “With the strength of 1.2 million members behind us, we represent the voices of ill and injured veterans before Congress in advocating for much-needed services.”
“Everyone has a role to play in the fight for the interests of America’s injured heroes on Capitol Hill. We encourage veterans and concerned citizens to visit our site to learn more about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans,” he said.
Among the priority health care legislative goals are:
- Full funding and resources for polytrauma units at VA medical centers;
- Sufficient resources for VA health care for veterans living in rural and remote areas;
- Sufficient funding to improve services for homeless veterans;
- Improved programs to prevent and treat substance abuse disorders in veterans; and
- Programs to provide psychological support and mental health counseling services for family members of veterans suffering from post-deployment mental health challenges or other service-connected conditions.
Resolutions covering benefits include legislation to remove the prohibition against concurrent receipt of the survivor benefit plan and dependency and indemnity compensation. A similar resolution seeks removal of the prohibition against concurrent receipt of military longevity retirement pay and service-connected disability compensation.
DAV will ask Congress to support legislation to provide realistic cost-of-living allowances for veterans and survivors’ benefits. Another priority is to change the federal requirement that veterans must have received compensation for 10 years at the time of death before survivors would be eligible to receive dependency and indemnity compensation.
Among the other legislative priorities affecting benefits are:
- Increasing VA compensation to address the loss of quality of life;
- Full funding for all VA programs;
- Opposing any attempts to change the basis of the VA rating schedule from the “average impairment of earnings capacity” standard; and
- Establishing service connection for the residual effects of military sexual trauma.
Veterans’ employment and business ownership also are priority issues for DAV, calling for legislation to provide a reasonable transition period for all service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses after the veteran’s death.
DAV is also supporting the transfer of the Veterans Employment and Training Service from the Department of Labor to the VA.
“We want our injured and ill veterans to know that they are not alone in the legislative arena,” Jesinoski said. “DAV is dedicated to the service of our nation’s men and women who live with illnesses and injuries related to their military service. They are acutely aware of their needs and the gaps in existing services, and they can best tell their elected representatives what veterans need.”
“DAV has earned the reputation in Congress as a strong and influential advocate for veterans’ rights,” said Violante. “We understand the needs of today’s veterans, because we are an organization of veterans helping veterans.”