AMVETS National Commander Greg Heun delivered testimony March 2, 2022, before the House and Senate Veterans committees with a large focus on mental health care, overall wellness, and suicide prevention efforts.
Full testimony can be found here.
During the hearing, AMVETS National Third Vice Commander Paul Shipley and Nimitz Group CEO Justin Brown provided pre and post-testimony hearing on how the hearing was going and how well-received Commander Heun’s testimony was by the committee. The full commentary livestream can be viewed below.
AMVETS Priorities for the 117th Congress:
AMVETS strongly urges Congress to provide prioritization of vaccines to the many high risk veterans across the Nation. VA is amply positioned to distribute the vaccine and as their 4th mission can help address the many challenges facing distribution of the vaccine. However, it is unacceptable that so many high risk veterans have still yet to receive a vaccination while many low-risk Americans across the Nation are gaining access to the various vaccines.
AMVETS has prioritized suicide and mental health for the past three years. In that time meaningful legislation has been passed, but it is not enough to ensure we continue to move the needle on the most important issue facing our Nation’s veterans. The VA’s mental health budget has increased tremendously over the years and the veteran suicide rate has only increased or remained stagnant. This Congress, we will be working with Congress on the rollout of the legislation we advocated for last Congress, encouraging Congress to continue to look for meaningful data regarding existing Mental Health expenditures, and working to introduce and pass legislation that continues helping veterans to live lives worth living.
The Internal Revenue Code non-profit designation specifically for veterans’ organizations is 501(c)(19). The key benefits are tax-exemption and the ability to accept tax-deductible donations. The current regulation requires 501(c)(19) organizations to maintain a membership of at least 90% wartime veterans to accept tax-deductible donations. AMVETS is the only one of the “Big 6” Congressionally-chartered veterans service organizations open to all non-wartime veterans. About 38% of AMVETS members are not wartime veterans, leaving the 70-year-old organization unable to accept tax-deductible donations.
AMVETS led the way in defending women veterans in the 116th Congress. VA, Congress, and all advocates need to work together to eliminate barriers to care and services that many women veterans face. We will work to increase the number of gender-specific providers in VA facilities to enhance privacy and improve the environment of care for women veterans. We will do everything in our power to ensure women veterans feel at home and welcome at their VA’s.
VA facilities are facing record shortfalls in major and minor construction funding. The bottom-line is many VA facilities are energy inefficient dilapidated old buildings. AMVETS will fight to ensure that funding for any COVID 19 infrastructure stimulus plans, as well as any efforts to increase funding to make our nation more environmentally sustainable, include the many VA facilities across the nation. Additionally, veterans are two times more likely to be unemployed then they were one year ago. As such, AMVETS will be fighting to ensure that veteran specific employment components are included for any large scale government COVID or environmentally focused stimulus plans.
Draft Bill: the Fair Care for Vietnam Vets Act of 2021 to be introduced by Chairman Jon Tester, which would add Hypertension to the VA’s presumptive list moving forward
Draft Bill: No Coronavirus Copays for Veterans Act to be introduced by Representative Lauren Underwood
Draft bill: Protecting Moms Who Served Act to be introduced by Representative Lauren Underwood
Fiscal Year 2021 Congressional Budget Resolution—which includes COVID-19 relief funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)