VFW.org

National Legislative Service

The location of our Washington, D.C. office allows us to monitor all legislation affecting veterans, alert VFW membership to key legislation under consideration and to actively lobby Congress and the administration on veterans' issues. 

Everything we do on Capitol Hill is with the VFW’s priority goals and veterans' well-being in mind. With the strength of the more than 1.7 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliaries, our voice on “the Hill” cannot be ignored!

 

WHAT WE DO:

The VFW's National Legislative Service advocates on veterans' behalves. By testifying at congressional committee hearings and interacting with congressional members, the VFW has played an instrumental role in nearly every piece of veterans' legislation passed since the beginning of the 20th Century.

The VFW's most successful and important legislative push was to make college education affordable for military service members with the signing of the 1944 GI Bill of Rights, the Montgomery GI Bill in 1984, and the new Post-9/11 GI Bill in 2008. 

Learn more about all of the VFW's major legislative victories by clicking here.

 

 

VFW's NATIONAL LEGISLATIVE PROGRAMS INCLUDE:

The VFW’s legislative initiatives center on quality of life and health initiatives for all the nation's veterans, past and present. The list below details the VFW’s 2016 legislative priority goals. You can also access our Priority Goals brochure here.

BUDGET

 

  • End budget sequestration.
  • Adjust budget caps to reflect the growing demand on DOD and VA services.
  • Provide sufficient funding for all VA budget accounts. 

 

ACCOUNTABILITY

 

  • Pass meaningful accountability legislation.
  • Develop standardized staffing models and hiring practices throughout VA.
  • Design Performance Measures that capture VA employees’ quality of work not just quantity. 

 

HEALTH CARE

  • Expand timely access to direct VA health care through appropriate staffing models for each health care specialty, patient density thresholds for each VA medical facility, and a modular capital infrastructure that enables VA to adjust to changes in the veteran population.
  • Reform and improve VA’s Care in the Community process to ensure veterans have the choice to receive timely and seamless access to high-quality care in their communities when VA health care is not readily available. However, VA must remain the guarantor and coordinator of health care for all enrolled veterans.
  • Consolidate all current non-VA care models into a single model.
  • Modernize VA’s scheduling system to ensure VA’s scheduling process is seamless, veteran centric, and not susceptible to data manipulation.
  • Expand the current caregiver benefits to those who care for severely injured, ill, and wounded veterans of all eras.
  • Strengthen VA and DOD mental health programs to ensure service members and veterans who suffer from mental health conditions have access to robust mental health care services.
  • Expand women’s health care services to all VA medical centers to ensure the growing number of women veterans have access to gender-specific services.
  • Authorize VA to receive reimbursement for non-service connected health care provided to Medicare beneficiaries.
  • Ensure veterans who were exposed to toxic substances receive care and benefits for all associated health conditions.
  • Properly fund homeless veterans programs to ensure the Administration is able to meet its goal of ending veterans’ homelessness.
  • Increase funding for VA research on the effects of Traumatic Brain Injury, how combat related injuries affect men and women veterans, and whether descendants of veterans who were exposed to toxic substances suffer from adverse health conditions associated with such exposures. 

COMPENSATION & BENEFITS

 

  • Fully fund the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) so that they can sustain the necessary workforce and IT systems to ensure claims are completed in an accurate and timely manner.
  • Hold VBA accountable for the backlog of all claims and appeals, not just the compensation and pension claims that they define as their “workload.” 
  • Ensure that VA exercise its authority to accept private medical evidence when processing disability compensation claims.
  • Provide veterans the option to receive more timely appeal decisions by instituting the Fully Developed Appeals initiative.
  • Demand that VA reverse its current policy that prevents veterans from submitting informal claims for benefits.
  • Insist that VA improve its notification letter so veterans can understand the evidence used in making their rating decision. 

 

TRANSITION ASSISTANCE

 

  • Conduct discharge reviews for veterans who suffer from PTSD/TBI and who were discharged under Other Than Honorable conditions.
  • Congress must properly fund homeless veterans programs to ensure VA can reach its goal of ending veteran homelessness.
  • Improve Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment by removing the 12-year delimiting period and tracking veterans’ employment placement for at least 12 months post job placement.
  • Ensure the Transition Assistance Program curricula meets the needs of service members and all veterans at all phases of the transition process. 

 

EDUCATION & EMPLOYMENT

 

  • Protect the integrity and future sustainability of veterans’ education benefits.
  • Invest in developing small business opportunities for veterans.
  • Ensure service members receive civilian credentials or academic credit for the professional training they receive during service.
  • Insist that the federal government meets its veteran hiring and contracting obligation.

 

DEFENSE & HOMELAND SECURITY

 

  • Fully support U.S. troops and their mission to fight the war on terrorism, as well as to protect our nation’s citizens and interests around the world.
  • Halt the development and/or proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
  • Fully fund and deploy a U.S. missile defense system.
  • Secure America’s borders. 

 

MILITARY QUALITY OF LIFE

 

  • Ensure DOD maintains a quality and comprehensive benefits and retirement package that is the backbone to a quality all-volunteer force.
  • Preserve the integrity of TRICARE to ensure service members and their families have timely access to high-quality health care.
  • Protect service members’ and their family members’ on-base quality of life programs.
  • Pass full concurrent receipt of military retirement pay and VA disability compensation.
  • Eliminate the SBP/DIC offset for surviving military retiree spouses. 

 

POW/MIA

 

  • Achieve the fullest possible accounting of U.S. military personnel missing from all wars.
  • Ensure Congress fully funds the POW/MIA Accounting mission.
  • Insist the U.S. government keeps POW/MIA recovery a national priority.  

 

 The VFW has played an instrumental role in nearly every piece of veterans legislation dating back to 1900. Below are a few highlights.

  • 1980 — The VFW calls for an investigation into Agent Orange exposure with connection to Vietnam service, leading to the passage of the Agent Orange Act in 1991
  • 2007 — The VFW calls for VA/military health care system review after Walter Reed outpatient debacle
  • 2008 — Post 9/11 G.I. Bill for the 21st Century becomes law
  • 2011 — VOW to Hire Heroes Act signed which expanded education and training programs, improved transition assistance for service members, and encouraged employers to hire veterans through new tax credits 
  • 2013 — New Stolen Valor Act signed in to law 
  • 2014 — Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014

View a complete list of VFW’s legislative victories (pdf).

VFW's Action Corps Weekly

Want to know what’s happening with national security, veterans' issues and Capitol Hill? Sign up for the VFW's free Action Corps Weekly newsletter. Read the current issue.