Hundreds of veterans joined DAV in a powerful rally on Capitol Hill Feb. 25 as part of the daylong Operation: Keep the Promise. At the same time, supporters from around the nation made more than 3,000 calls to their U.S. senators and representatives and reached well over 2 million people online, all urging Congress to pass advance funding for all veterans benefits, programs and services.
The goal of the national day of action was to pressure Congress to pass the Putting Veterans Funding First Act (H.R. 813, S. 932), which would shield the Department of Veterans Affairs from Washington’s near perpetual budget gridlock.
During last October’s government shutdown, critical services for veterans were delayed, disrupted and, in some instances, suspended, creating hardship and needless worry to America’s wounded heroes and their families..
Work stopped on more than 250,000 veterans disability claims awaiting appeals, burials at national cemeteries were scaled back and vital medical and prosthetic research projects were suspended.
Had the shutdown continued for even a few more days, even mandatory obligations of the government, including disability compensation and pension payments to veterans and their survivors, would have stopped. More than four million wounded, injured, ill or poor veterans rely on these payments – for some, their primary or only source of income.
“Imagine trying to run a large business or organization without knowing what level of funding you will receive each year or when it will arrive,” said DAV National Commander Joseph W. Johnston. “This is the unfortunate challenge VA officials have faced 22 out of the past 25 years when Congress has failed to pass a budget on time.”
DAV National Adjutant Marc Burgess explained passage of this legislation would enable the VA to plan for key investments in information technology, claims processing and construction projects, and give Congress greater oversight on multi-year funding proposals, with one year building off of the next.
To join DAV’s grassroots campaign to urge Congress to take the appropriate action to keep the promise to those who served, visit http://capwiz.com/dav/mlm/signup and become a member of the DAV Commander’s Action Network.