Take the time, it's worth it
While each targets certain veterans groups and offers its own advantages, they share one common importance - helping to shape important veteran policy.
The GAR and VFW were instrumental in the fight for VA disability, VA healthcare, VA National Cemeteries and the original GI Bill. Each organization assisted and continues to assist veterans in obtaining critical earned benefits often necessary because of the challenges of serving. The fight to secure Agent Orange benefits to Vietnam Veterans certainly comes to mind and more recently, the technologically driven IAVA fought with other service organizations to shape and implement a GI Bill for the 21st Century. The current fight is with the VA Backlog, a policy problem leaving thousands of veterans waiting more than a year to receive a decision on disability claims.
While I recommend that every veteran join a veteran services organization that matches their interests, this is not a call for membership. It's a call to let people know what matters to you as a veteran.
Pictured above is the 2014 IAVA Member Survey introduction page. The IAVA uses the information gleaned from its powerful annual survey to shape its policy agenda. Armed with survey data and stories from Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, the IAVA testifies monthly before Congress, helping to shape the policy that will empower my generation of veterans for generations to come.
It took time to complete the survey, but it was worth the investment. As a veteran, I have an interest in VA Disability, the GI Bill, Guaranteed Home Loans, Life Insurance and VA Healthcare. I am a consumer of each benefit and I work with MWS district personnel to secure these benefits for hundreds of veterans every year.
Take the time to lend your voice to veteran policy.
The American Community Survey, the U.S. Census, Department of Veteran Affairs Surveys, and town hall meetings with candidates for elected office all offer veterans and their supporters a chance to voice their opinions. While many argue that one voice is not important in the political process, voices are heard nonetheless and those who speak play a large role in the policies that result.
The IAVA survey is open right now to members.
If you are an OIF/OEF veteran, take the time to be heard. It's worth it.