DAV legislation: Priorities and victories

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Joy J. Ilem | National Legislative Director

We’re coming off yet another momentous national convention. The robust turnout of our engaged and thoughtful members shows that DAV is stronger than ever as we continue to advocate for the nation’s ill and injured veterans. Such strength has provided DAV with an influential voice and earned us an authoritative seat at the table in Washington for more than 100 years.

And we’ve seen several legislative victories this year because of your grassroots advocacy.

Two imperative DAV-supported bills—signed into law by the president this summer—will expand breast cancer screening to more women veterans. Women who served in known areas harboring materials that cause toxic exposures and those who live in more rural parts of the country will benefit from increased access to mammogram services. We’ve long known that detecting breast cancer earlier will save lives, which is why DAV was passionate about getting the Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options for Veterans (MAMMO) and Dr. Kate Thomas Supporting Expanded Review for Veterans In Combat Environments (SERVICE) Acts to the president’s desk.

Another top legislative priority is improving military sexual trauma (MST) claims. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ national screening program, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 50 men report having been sexually assaulted during their service. With such stark numbers, the VA must make the process of filing these claims easier. It is past time to lift the additional burdens for veterans of such trauma.

The Servicemembers and Veterans Empowerment and Support Act of 2021, which is being considered by Congress, would ease the onerous evidentiary requirements to submit MST claims. It would also expand the type of documents accepted to include nonmilitary records, such as civilian medical records and opinions.

We’re also laser-focused on advancing other vital bills related to DAV’s critical policy goals before the end of the 117th Congress. Improving and expanding mental health services, helping to stem the tragedy of veteran suicide, giving more homeless veterans a much-needed hand up, and strengthening the VA to ensure we provide world-class care to those who served us all are still within the grasp of this Congress.

We know veterans, particularly DAV members, are not content with standing on the sidelines. Your advocacy matters and is embedded in your actions. And acting has never been more effortless with DAV’s Commander’s Action Network. By going to DAVCAN.org, you can see all of the pivotal pieces of veterans legislation that will substantially affect our brothers- and sisters-in-arms.

The 117th Congress may be in its home stretch, but we must stay focused to ensure we accomplish our legislative goals for our fellow veterans.