One of the newest Veterans Organization serving our Veterans is the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America or IAVA. The organization was founded in June of 2004 and dedicated to the Veterans who had served (and those troops currently serving) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq.
In this capacity, IAVA is America's first and largest group serving our newest Veterans. One interesting thing about IAVA is that it costs NOTHING to join, and even civilian supporters who have never served in the military can join IAVA to support Veterans issues.
IAVA's Executive Director, Paul Rieckhoff, founded the organization to educate the public about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, advocate on behalf of those who have served, and to foster a community for troops, veterans, and their families.
Paul is no stranger to harsh realities of war and the immediate needs of Veterans and their families. Paul himself served in Iraq during OIF-1.
He is unafraid to tackle Veterans issues on national television, telling "it" like it is, without rhetoric or political shenanigans. Feel free to check Mr. Rieckoff out on youtube on both on the PBS Tavis Smiley Show and on the CBS Early Show among others.
IAVA and its founder and staff have taken it upon themselves to tackle the big issues facing returning Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.
-Mental Health Problems and PTSD
-Traumatic Brain Injury from IED exposure
-Our Challenged Military
-The Long Wait for VA Care and Benefits
-Education Benefits that fit today
The most recent IAVA success was lobbying for the new Post 9/11, Chapter 33, GI Bill. IAVA teamed up with the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) and Senators Jim Webb and Chuck Hagel to take a non-partisan approach to giving Veterans exactly what they need in their post war lives; a GI Bill that actually pays for their schooling and spearheads their integration into today's society, ready to lead fruitful and productive lives with the right education and training.... without being tens of thousands of dollars in the hole.
It was the right thing to do.
(Thanks to IAVA, the VFW, Mr. Paul Rieckoff and his hardworking staff. Thanks also to Senator Webb and Senator Hagel for doing the right thing for our Veterans.)
After the Post 9/11 GI Bill success, IAVA is tackling the following legislative priorities:
-Ensure thorough, professional, and confidential mental health screening
-Overhaul military and Veterans' disability system
-Make VA health care funding sufficient and mandatory
-Combat the shortage of mental health professionals
-Protect service members from unfair contracts
If IAVA's tenacity with securing a new GI Bill for Vets is any indication, the five legislative priorities outlined by IAVA will see improvement sooner rather than later.
Is the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America relevant?
You be it is. Go out and support them now. It's free to join, and I'm sure they'll put any donation to good use if you choose to do so.
This article is OVER but not OUT...head on over to the VETERANS forum to continue the conversation and/or make a comment.