Grassroots initiative requires only Obama’s signature
WASHINGTON – Grassroots advocates hail the passage of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act by Congress on Thursday, which includes the critical reforms to the military discharge appeals process making up the “Fairness for Veterans Act” (HR4683/S1567), which would help veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury, or who experienced Military Sexual Trauma. The original legislation was introduced because of grassroots coalition-building by veterans who went on to form High Ground Veterans Advocacy.
According to Kristofer Goldsmith, President of High Ground Veterans Advocacy, “With this law, congress has ensured that all future generations of veterans will have PTSD and related illnesses recognized by Discharge Review Boards. Fairness for Vets isn’t just a bill — it’s a movement. We’re going to keep working with this bipartisan coalition to ensure that we do everything we can to get every veteran with PTSD the care that they deserve. The next step is demanding that the Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Committees hold joint hearings to get to the root of this issue.”
This strongly bipartisan reform was led in the Senate by Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Senator Steve Daines (R-MT), and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC). In the House of Representatives it was introduced by Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO-6), along with Rep. Timothy Walz (D-MN-1), and numerous other members of Congress on the Armed Services and Veterans Affairs committees, including many who are themselves veterans. The measure is backed by a broad coalition of more than 50 veteran service organizations.
With passage of the National Defense Authorization Act which includes the “Fairness for Veterans” bill, the reforms await President Barack Obama’s signature to become law and help the tens of thousands of veterans most at risk of homelessness, unemployment, and suicide.
According to Thomas Burke, co-founder of High Ground Veterans Advocacy, “We have laid a lasting foundation to continue to pursue justice for so many veterans. We have the moral responsibility to respond to the invisible injuries men and women have sustained while serving and protecting their nation.”
Follow the movement on Twitter with #Fairness4Vets