Big Week of Policy Engagements at Got Your 6

Posted March 9, 2017 by Bill Rausch and Lauren Augustine

Got Your 6 Meets With White House Officials
By Bill Rausch

On Tuesday, Got Your 6 had the opportunity to take our veteran empowerment message all the way to the White House in a meeting with VA Sec. David Shulkin and senior White House officials who closely advise the President.

We were joined by our friends and partners at Student Veterans of America, Travis Manion Foundation, and Wounded Warrior Project, along with many traditional groups. Although we’ve met with, and even interviewed Sec. Shulkin, this was the first meeting with West Wing staff focused on veterans, and Got Your 6 was proud to contribute to the conversation.

Through the Veteran Civic Health Index and our Nonprofit Coalition, we know that veterans vote more, volunteer more, and are generally more active in our communities than our civilian counterparts. We are civic assets, and no matter the challenges facing veterans and military families, we know that when empowered we strengthen our communities.

That was the message we took to the White House while representing our 34 non-profit partners who are dedicated to veteran empowerment in communities across the nation. After listening to the administration’s commitment to veterans we asked that the President help with:

  • Changing the narrative: 80 percent of Americans see veterans as broken, which negatively impacts our ability to transition out of the military and lead in our communities. We need to focus on shifting public perceptions so that veterans’ leadership and skills are recognized by everyone — the public, policymakers, and veterans themselves — and nobody has a bigger pulpit to help change our national narrative than the President. When he speaks and tweets, people listen. We’re asking he use his voice to speak about veterans in the same positive manner we’ve heard him speak about those still in uniform.
  • Establishing White House office focused on empowering all veterans: Veterans’ issues are not limited to the VA. We want to elevate veterans’ issues beyond the walls of VA to ensure all 21.8 million veterans, including the 13 million veterans who do not use the VA, are empowered to lead a resurgence of community across the country.
  • Promoting policies and legislative actions that empower veterans: Veterans are an integrated across all facets of society and should be included in efforts to rebuild America’s infrastructure and promote economic growth through sustained employment and small business ownership programs.

Although time will tell how well the Trump Administration keeps its promises to veterans, based on this meeting I believe they are clearly committed to our community and the veteran empowerment movement. Stay tuned for future engagements between veterans and the new administration!

 

House Hearing on VA Care in the Community
By Lauren Augustine

As I’m sliding into Week 3 as the director of government relations for Got Your 6, Tuesday night’s House Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing again reminded me that there is so much potential for policies and programs that focus on veteran empowerment, to include VA health care, in Washington and beyond. The hearing, which focused on care in the community at the VA, started to answer many questions veterans have on the future of both the Choice program and care in the community in general, and how we, as a community, can learn from past mistakes and build a program that works better for veterans, the VA and the American taxpayer.

The Choice program, a community care program created out of the Phoenix wait time scandal in 2014, is set to expire early this August. The VA, the veteran community, and several members of Congress have called for an answer to “what comes next?” for many months now. Based on Secretary Sulkin’s testimony and answers during the hearing, the VA is working on a two-phased approach to addressing this issue: Phase I will address an immediate extension of Choice, and Phase II will examine ways to simplify and streamline care in the community options.

Legislation addressing the Choice extension (that phase I mentioned above) cleared the House Veterans Affairs Committee yesterday, meaning the next step for the bill is a vote by the full House of Representatives, which could happen as early as next week. After that it will head to the Senate’s side of Capitol Hill.

Got Your 6 supports ensuring we have a strong VA that adequately meets the needs of veterans both inside and outside the walls of VA. There are still many questions to be asked and answered concerning care in the community and I’m looking forward to working collaboratively with Sec. Shulkin, our community partners, and Congress to provide those answers!

Bill Rausch is an Iraq War veteran and the Executive Director of Got Your 6.  Lauren Augustine is an Iraq War veteran and the Director of Government Relations at Got Your 6.