IAVA Successfully Shepherds New GI Bill Victory
IAVA "spearheaded efforts to pass the [Post-9/11 GI] bill..." - New York Times
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America played a lead role in shepherding the new Post-9/11 GI Bill to victory. Working closely with Senators Jim Webb (D-VA), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), John Warner (R-VA) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), IAVA helped build a united front among veterans' organizations (VFW, Legion, MOAA, SVA and The Military Coalition) and a bipartisan consensus in Congress to make the new GI Bill a reality.
Over the course of 18 months, IAVA's widespread presence in the media made the GI Bill a prominent national issue. In the six months before the GI Bill was signed into law, IAVA representatives advocated for the GI Bill in 200 separate media appearances on the major broadcast networks including CNN, NBC and CBS as well in The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Newsweek. IAVA also ran successful media print campaigns in key states across the country and in Washington, D.C., reaching 3.4 million readers.
In addition, IAVA Member Veterans worked locally to thank Congressional cosponsors and solidify their support for a new GI Bill. To create a hub for online activism, IAVA developed the website GIBill2008.org. At its peak, the website educated 10,000 visitors per day on the need for a new GI Bill and what they could do to help.
IAVA was also at the forefront of GI Bill research. IAVA produced a compelling issue report, "A New GI Bill: Rewarding Our Troops, Rebuilding Our Military." Read by over 2,000 journalists, Congressional staffers, and members of the public, the report is a thorough and convincing explanation of the need for and value of a new GI Bill. IAVA also provided the first reliable analysis of the recruiting boost a new GI Bill would provide, and cast doubt on the Bush Administration's false arguments about the GI Bill as a threat to manpower.
But the most influential aspect of our GI Bill campaign was our lobbying effort on Capitol Hill. IAVA's legislative advocates participated in thousands of meetings with Congressional staffers and members, promoting the GI Bill and answering questions regarding the legislation's many complicated facets. IAVA also brought dozens of IAVA Member Veterans from across the country to Washington to lobby their representatives on behalf of the new GI Bill. Our 2006 and 2007 "Storm the Hill" legislative advocacy weeks resulted in over 120 meetings between Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their representatives in Washington.
In total, IAVA's year-long effort resulted in the passage of a bill that will dedicate over $60 billion dollars to the education of our newest generation of veterans. Like the World War II GI Bill, this new law will allows the men and women of our Armed Forces to dream bigger dreams, and to become the new Greatest Generation. The passage of this GI Bill is indeed an historic event, and a proud moment in the history of America's support for our troops and veterans.
IAVA played a lead role in fighting for and passing the Post 9-11 GI Bill, arguably the most generous veterans' benefit for our generation. To date, this landmark legislation has sent more than one million veterans to college.