David W. Riley, National Commander

The first 100 days

Like you, I believe our government should be accountable for creating policies that enhance the well-being of veterans and their families, who have, through service and sacrifice, earned nothing less. As we approach the new administration’s first 100 days in office, DAV has identified several key priorities for President Donald J. Trump and Congress:

First is the establishment of laws that ensure we take care of the spouses and family members who shoulder the fulltime job of caring for disabled veterans. This includes changing the current, unfair laws that deny veterans of past service eras access to needed caregiver benefits. In 2010, Congress passed legislation to create the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus
Health Services Act, but the program was limited to caregivers of veterans injured on or after Sept. 11, 2001, leaving out tens of thousands of veteran caregivers from earlier eras and conflicts. The new administration must work to provide new
funding and legislative authority to allow caregivers of veterans from all eras to fully participate in the comprehensive caregiver program.

Second, policymakers must focus on establishing equitable services for women veterans. Today, there are more women than ever serving in the military in all occupational specialties, including combat arms. Yet there are gaps in services for them when they return home, including health care services, benefits,
housing, education, employment and assistance for those who are homeless or at risk. The new administration must direct the department to review every
health care program to eliminate access barriers for women, ensuring the programs also adequately address women’s unique health care needs.

Third, promoting meaningful employment for veterans, especially disabled veterans, must be another key priority for those in office. The convening power
of the White House should be used to educate employers about the value of hiring veterans, particularly those with disabilities. It’s critical we work together to ensure veterans are able to find fulfilling employment opportunities.

Finally, our elected policymakers should make timely and effective mental health services available to veterans—especially those who have experienced trauma. This priority is essential for effective veteran suicide prevention efforts. Timely access to mental health services in primary care is vital to addressing
and overcoming the stigma frequently associated with seeking mental health care.

I encourage you to use the DAV CAN (Commander’s Action Network) and join me in telling our elected officials how we expect them to govern. We cannot let
off the gas when our veterans and caregivers need a voice in Washington.

 

If you want to find out more about the National Commander, you can find his biography here.