A history of winning




Signed into law on November 5, 2007

This was a critical step forward in addressing the veteran and service member suicide epidemic. It helped establish the Veterans’ Crisis Line that has served more than half a million veterans, instituted better suicide prevention training for VA staff, and launched a campaign to reduce the stigma of seeking mental health care.


POST-9/11 “NEW” GI BILL (2008)

Signed into law on June 30, 2008

We played a lead role in fighting for and passing the Post-9/11 GI Bill, arguably the most important veterans’ benefit for our generation. To date, this landmark legislation has sent more than one million veterans to college.


NEW GI BILL 2.0 (2010)

Signed into law on December 16, 2010

In December 2010, we worked with Congress to pass the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act, also known as the New GI Bill 2.0. The legislation expanded the Post-9/11 GI Bill to include veterans studying at vocational schools, granted National Guardsmen and Reservists responding to national disasters full benefits, and simplified the Yellow Ribbon Program. This key step forward benefitted almost 400,000 veterans in its first year.



Signed into law on November 21, 2011

We were instrumental in passing this legislation, which addresses challenges veterans face when transitioning from combat to career. It requires every separating service member to take the Transition Assistance Program that provides key job search resources like resume and career counseling. The act also establishes tax credits of up to $9,600 for every veteran hired and begins the work of translating military skills and training into their civilian equivalents.



Signed into law on December 26, 2013

We have been a leader in advocating for reforms to the military justice system that will protect victims of military sexual assault—and prevent future assaults. In 2013, we successfully fought to include thirteen amendments in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that will improve victims’ rights, strengthen prevention efforts, and protect whistleblowers. With much more to do, we are continuing this fight in the current Congress.



We created a successful movement to reduce the massive backlog of VA disability claims. In March 2013, when the backlog reached a peak of 600,000 waiting veterans, we launched a broad campaign to End the VA Backlog. With the help of allied organizations, we prompted the VA to implement long-languishing reforms to its claims processing system. Thanks to these reforms, the number of veterans waiting over 125 days to receive compensation for service-connected disabilities has decreased by over 60 percent.


SAV ACT (2014-2015)

Signed into law on February 12, 2015

Seeking to combat the alarming trend of veteran suicide, we devised The Suicide Prevention for America’s Veterans (SAV) Act. Addressing the fact that 20 veterans a day die by suicide, the legislation inconceivably was held hostage by the whims of a lone Senator thus not becoming law in 2014. However, building on the momentum created for passage of the SAV Act in the 113th Congress, we ensured that this vital legislation was one of the first pieces of legislation debated and passed by both Houses of Congress during the initial month of the 114th Congress. Following passage, the Clay Hunt SAV Act was signed into law by President Obama on February 12, 2015. Among its provisions, the Clay Hunt SAV Act would: expand access to mental health care for troops and veterans; strengthen oversight of military mental health care programs; and improve suicide prevention training for VA and DoD care providers.



Signed into law on December 18, 2015

We joined forces with the Feal Good Foundation and 9/11 first responders and survivors to secure a fully-funded, effectively permanent 75-year extension of the World Trade Center Health Program Fund and five-year, $4.6 billion Victim Compensation Fund extension, both of which are critical to supporting the medical and financial burden facing many 9/11 first responders. Read the timeline of our efforts on this important issue.



Ruling on June 16, 2016

We were a key player in this Supreme Court ruling, advocating in favor of veteran entrepreneurs and small business owners in its 2014 Policy Agenda and submitted an amicus brief in the case. The ruling requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to consider setting aside all procurements for veteran and service-disable owned small businesses, and that they cannot exempt federal supply schedule procurements (FSS)


#PAYTHEMBACK (2016-2017)

In October 2016, media reported that thousands of California Army National Guardsmen were being forced by the Pentagon to repay with interest reenlistment bonuses paid as much as ten years prior. These forced repayments were in response to a 2010 federal investigation that found that the bonuses were improperly awarded. When news of this scandal broke, we waged a campaign to #PayThemBack, working with others VSOs and Congress to ensure that the Pentagon was held accountable. After launching the campaign, Congress passed legislation that forced the Pentagon to repay the servicemembers. The ensuing review of 17,485 cases, which concluded July 30, 2017, showed that nearly all of them had been resolved in favor of the soldier. Only 393 Soldiers whose cases were entered into the appeals process remained and had not yet exhausted their appellate opportunities. By September 30, 2017, DoD will provide Congress with the final results of the appellate process.



In 2016, the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees introduced veterans omnibus bills that included the first cuts to the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The Senate legislation included $3.4 billion in cuts over the next five years to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, robbing veterans and their families of benefits that they were promised. The Senate developments followed the passage of a similar House legislative package, which included a 50 percent cut to the housing allowance provided to children who would have their parent’s Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits transferred to them. Through relentless advocacy on Capitol Hill and nationwide efforts by our members, we were successful in stopping these bills from being passed into law.



Signed into law on June 12, 2016

Building on the passage of the SAV Act, we advocated for the Female Veteran Suicide Prevention Act (S. 2487/H.R. 2915), legislation that specifically addresses suicide issues for women veterans. A 2015 study found that women who have served in the military die by suicide at nearly six times the rate of those in the civilian population. Following passage, the bill was signed into law by President Obama on June 12, 2016. Among it provisions, the legislation will: require the VA to include metrics on women veterans in its annual evaluation of mental health and suicide prevention programs, identify the programs that are most effective and carry the highest satisfaction rates among female veterans.



September 7, 2016

Rieckhoff created, produced and led this historic, first-ever, nationally-televised meeting of the two presidential candidates. It took place on the Intrepid Aircraft Carrier in New York City the week before 9/11 and just before the first of three debates between Clinton and Trump. This was the first and only time Clinton and Trump were on the same stage before the debates. Rieckhoff and his team envisioned the concept, secured NBC as a media partner, aligned sponsors and supporters, guided the program, audience selection and branding, and appeared on-air to co-host the post-forum television coverage alongside Rachel Maddow of MSNBC.




Signed into law on August 16, 2017

Following the success of defeating a proposed $2,500 GI Bill tax on new servicemembers, we threw our support and advocacy behind the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act(S. 1598/H.R. 3218), bipartisan legislation that strengthens and expands the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Standing with the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and other VSOs, we were successful in pushing for the passage of this historic legislation. This bill removes the 15-year time limit on using the benefit, extends the Yellow Ribbon Program to recipients of the Fry Scholarships, awards Purple Heart recipients GI Bill eligibility regardless of active duty time served, ensures National Guard and Reserve Members get the same benefits as those they served on active duty with, restores the GI Bill entitlement of individuals who were forced to discontinue their studies due to the permanent closure of their school, among other improvements.



In early 2017, we fought alongside our allies and successfully stopped a proposed plan to impose a large registration tax on new military enlistees to gain their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit. After learning of this short-sighted proposal, we led a nationwide and coordinated grassroots, social media, and press campaign, to defend the Post-9/11 GI Bill yet again. 



Signed into law June 23, 2017

In June 2017, the President signed into law the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act (S. 1094), landmark legislation that gives the VA Secretary additional tools needed to expedite the removal of bad-acting VA employees. We have been relentlessly pushing Congress to pass VA accountability legislation since the 2014 Phoenix VA scandal exposed the outrageous state of the VA health care system.



Signed into law on August 12, 2017

In August 2017, with funding for the VA’s Choice program expiring in days, we worked with IAVA and partner VSOs and were successful in advocating for the quick passage of legislation (S. 114) that provided $2.1 billion to continue the program through February 2018 while Congress develops a permanent integrated network of public and private healthcare led by VA primary care providers managing veterans’ care, while also making critically-needed investments in the VA health care system. The law implements a bipartisan agreement that leaders of the House and Senate Veterans’ committees reached following the defeat by VSOs of an earlier, problematic VA Choice extension bill opposed by the nation’s leading veterans organizations.



Signed into law on August 18, 2017

We partnered with the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation in support of legislation that begins the process to create a national memorial in Washington, D.C. to honor our fallen warriors, servicemembers, and their families who have supported the Global War on Terrorism. Through our combined efforts, the Global War on Terrorism War Memorial Act (S. 926/H.R. 873) was signed into law on August 18, 2017.



Signed into law on August 23, 2017

Building on our successful Ending the VA Backlog campaign in 2013-14, we pushed for the passage of legislation that would further work towards ending the VA appeals backlog. Our 2013 VA Backlog campaign resulted in a number of reforms that helped streamline the appeals process. Yet even with the claims backlog down, over 300,000 appeals still plague the system. To further address the appeals backlog, we worked with IAVA and other VSOs to successfully advocate for the passage of the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 (S. 1024/H.R. 2288) which was signed into law on August 23, 2017. This legislation further streamlines the appeals process and creates three separate pathways for veterans to appeal their claims, an innovative approach that will significantly reduce the VA backlog.



Signed into law on June 6, 2018

We worked for years with VSO partners to consolidate the myriad VA community care programs while protecting the integrity of the VA from efforts to drive even more patients into the private sector with less accountability by the VA. The MISSION Act will streamline care in the community so that veterans that have to access care outside their local VA facility will have an easier time being able to do so. The bill was finally signed into law in June.



Signed into law on September 21, 2018

We saw more #SheWhoBorneTheBattle victories with FY2019 funding (P.L. 115-244) added for increased health access for women vets, including prosthetics, gender-specific healthcare, mental health services, and services for low income veterans to address homelessness. VA was also required to ensure its facilities can meet needs of female vets and create a master plan to address those facilities that are below standard. Further, two omnibus pieces of legislation (H.R. 6 and S. 2372) were passed with provisions to establish and expand access to peer to peer counseling for women veterans.



We launched our #CannabisForVets campaign focused on changing antiquated federal policies that prohibit wounded veterans from having access to medical cannabis. At the center of the campaign is our efforts to pass the bipartisan VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act (H.R.5520/S.2796), which authorizes the VA to conduct research on the efficacy and safety of medicinal cannabis to treat veterans. On March 12th 2020, this legislation passed unanimously out of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.



In 2018, we introduced legislation with Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Brian Mast (R-FL), and Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) to require the Department of Defense to track and report to the VA exposures of servicemembers to burn pits and other airborne toxins reported during each periodic health assessment. In 2019, we reintroduced the bill with our Congressional allies and passed the bill as part of the annual National Defense Authorization Act at the end of 2019.



Signed into law on August 10, 2022

The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins (PACT) Act was signed into law by President Biden after its passage by Congress. The law will provide new VA healthcare and disability benefits for America’s veterans who have suffered toxic exposures, including from burn pits. 




Ongoing now.

Just days ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and the launch of Operation Allies Welcome, both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives have now introduced bipartisan legislation, the Afghan Adjustment Act (HR TBD/S.4787).


More than 70,000 Afghans were admitted to the U.S. as “humanitarian parolees” following the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan – a temporary status that does not confer lasting protection or a pathway to permanent U.S. residence. The Afghan Adjustment Act would allow eligible Afghans to apply for permanent status after one year or two years of U.S. residence, respectively, and after clearing additional background checks.


The legislation was introduced in the Senate by both Democrats and Republicans, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). The bill was also introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3), Rep.  Peter Meijer (R-MI-3), Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO-6), Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL-16), Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY-10), Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA-2), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19), Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI-6), and Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA-52).



Other Legislative Wins

Mental Health and Suicide Prevention:


VA & Government Reform:


Support for Injuries from Burn Pits and Other Toxic Exposures:


Defend the GI Bill:


Improve Services for Women Veterans:


Passed by the House:

VA & Government Reform:

Defend the GI Bill:

Improve Services for Women Veterans:

Establish Support for Alternative Therapies:


Passed by HVAC:

Improve Services for Women Veterans:

Establish Support for Alternative Therapies: