Seeing so many of our members in Atlantic City, New Jersey, for the 2023 DAV and Auxiliary National Convention was a clear reminder of why DAV remains a leader in veterans advocacy. Make no mistake, we would not be what we are today without you.
That commitment shines brightly when advocating on behalf of our fellow veterans. DAV members have already sent more than 445,000 emails to members of Congress this year urging them to pass life-changing legislation for those who raised their right hands to defend our nation. Taking such decisive action ensures we keep our promise to America’s ill and injured veterans.
These selfless efforts and abiding dedication are why DAV has already seen legislation advance on several of our six critical policy goals this year.
Take the issue of unequal compensation benefits. When service members retire, they are entitled to every benefit they qualify for, including retirement pay and Department of Veterans Affairs disability compensation. However, to receive both fully earned benefits, retirees must complete 20 years of service and have a VA rating of at least 50%. This issue of concurrent receipt unjustly affects droves of veterans who retire early due to injury or illness, which is why passage of the Major Richard Star Act (S. 344/H.R. 1282) is so urgent.
We’ve also seen legislation introduced (H.R. 3489) that would repeal the required offset of separation pay from VA disability compensation, a long-standing goal for DAV. The Caring for Survivors Act (S. 414/H.R. 1083) would improve Dependency and Indemnity Compensation benefits for survivors. And the Servicemembers and Veterans Empowerment and Support Act (S. 1028) would improve the claims process and help ensure that survivors of military sexual trauma receive the benefits they deserve.
We have also called on the VA to keep up with the evolving needs of service-disabled and aging veterans. The Elizabeth Dole Home Care Act (S. 141) would expand access to home and community-based long-term care options when deciding how best these veterans can receive care.
And S. 326, updated legislation that contains the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act, requires the VA to study the medical benefits of marijuana for veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or chronic pain. This potential alternative therapy could improve the symptoms associated with these debilitating conditions, and we owe it to veterans to examine every promising treatment possible.
There’s still time to ensure your voice is heard, and it’s as simple as a few clicks. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to sign up for DAV CAN (Commander’s Action Network), where you can message your members of Congress and throw your support behind these bills and other key legislation aimed at improving veterans benefits and health care services.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in Washington, it’s that our thoughtful and devoted members can impart powerful change. And it’s never too late to start.