June 22, 2021
Over the last several months, TREA has been involved in many great legislative and ceremonial efforts in Washington, both virtually and in-person for the first time in over a year due to the COVID19 pandemic. This included an in-person press conference celebrating TREA’s efforts to pass the PAWS Act out of the U.S. House, the National Memorial Day Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, and a Ceremony at the Women’s Veterans Memorial in honor of the 73rd anniversary of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act.
2021 Memorial Day Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery
On May 31st, TREA’s National President, Justin Jump represented TREA before President Biden, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and members of the Veteran and Military Service Organization community at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, 2021.
2021 Women’s AppreSHEation Day
On June 12th, TREA’s National President, Justin Jump was proud to participate in a ceremony commemorating the 73rd Anniversary of the Women’s Armed Service Integration Act. He joined President CW5 Phyllis Wilson, OptumServe CEO and 43rd United States Army Surgeon General LTG Patricia Horoho, Acting Assistant Under Secretary for Health for Support with the Veterans Health Administration Ms. Deborah Kramer, and Congresswoman Julia Brownley.
Over the last several months, Washington has begun to settle in, to include many official appointments in the Biden Administration and new leadership in the U.S. Congress. Most notably, TREA has welcomed Mr. Denis McDonough as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Senators Jon Tester and Jerry Moran as Chairman and Ranking Members of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, and Congressmen Mark Takano and Mike Bost as Chairman and Ranking Members of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. In addition, TREA was pleased to welcome retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as Secretary of Defense.
TREA has maintained strong relationships within VA, DoD, as well as both Committees on the Hill and has secured several legislative accomplishments we are proud to report to you.
Toxic Exposures, Burn Pits, and Agent Orange
TREA continues to be a leading advocate on Toxic Exposures related legislation and was at the forefront during the historic introduction of two consequential healthcare bills in both the House and Senate. In the Senate, The Cost of War Act was introduced, with TREA shown as a lead advocate on the bill by Chairman Jon Tester’s office (pictured below). In addition, TREA has supported the introduction of The PACT Act in the U.S. House, which incorporates similar provisions as its Senate counterpart that TREA has worked on with the Toxic Exposures in the American Military (TEAM) Coalition for nearly two years. More on the bill below.
Concurrent Receipt (Fixing VA Disability Pay + DOD Retirement Pay Offset)
H.R. 1282 / S. 344, The Major Richard Star Act: TREA is proud to report that both H.R. 1282 and S. 344 were successfully re-introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate. Since then, TREA has been hard at work securing cosponsors in both chambers to ensure successful passage this year, with now 50 cosponsors in the Senate, and 105 cosponsors in the House! As you may know, this bipartisan legislation would finally provide combat-injured veterans that were forced to medically retire with less than 20 years of military service their full benefits, meaning they would receive both their earned DoD Retirement Pay, and their earned VA Disability Pay, with no offset. This legislation is a very positive step in correcting the larger concurrent receipt issue.
Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
H.R. 1448 / S. 613, The PAWS For Veterans Therapy Act: On May 13th (pictured below) TREA’s Director of Legislative Affairs and Communications Bill McCabe stood with Congressman Steve Stivers, Senator Thom Tillis, Congresswoman Kathleen Rice, Congressman Mike Waltz, Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, Congressman John Rutherford, Semper K9 Assistance Dogs (pictured center at the podium), K9s For Warriors, and others in celebration of H.R. 1448, “the PAWS Act” passing the U.S. House. Passage of this bill is a big win for veterans who are suffering from the invisible wounds of war who wish to seek scientifically proven alternatives of treatments, such as for PTSD, at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
S. 1467, The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2021: TREA has officially supported research to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a series of clinical trials on the effects of cannabis on certain health outcomes of veterans with chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder. TREA strongly supports alternative treatment options to augment traditional methods, giving veterans every option possible when confronting the debilitating effects of PTSD and injuries from their military service.
S. 781, The Elaine M. Checketts Military Families Act: On April 21st, TREA sent an official letter of support and press release endorsement to Chairmen Jack Reed and Adam Smith, and Ranking Members Jim Inhofe and Mike Rogers of the U.S. House and Senate Armed Services Committees requesting that S. 781 be included in the FY22 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). As quoted by TREA’s National President, Justin Jump: “No servicemember should have to return to work the day after losing their child. The Elaine M. Checketts Military Families Act would rightfully provide commanders the necessary authority to support military families who are grieving tragic loss. TREA applauds this bipartisan effort and firmly believes that family readiness is essential to the overall readiness of the total force.” To read our letter of support and learn more about the bill from our press release, you may view it on our website under the legislative tab, in our e-newsletter, or on our social media platforms.
Call to Action Emails
We would like to thank you all for your willingness to participate in our Call to Action requests. These efforts are critically important to ensure Congress feels the pressure and hears directly from you. When you see these alerts in your inbox, please consider following the prompts to write to your representatives in support of the highlighted legislative effort. The platform called “VoterVoice” will automatically send it to your respective Senators and Congressman based on the zip code you provide when filling out your contact information. We also include a sample message that you may edit accordingly based on your personal opinions and experience with the issues.
TREA has several social media platforms we use in order to keep in touch with our members and highlight our legislative efforts. If you are on Facebook, Linkedin, or Twitter, make sure you are following along via the handles below!