Wounded Warrior Project Government and Community Relations Team Reflects on 2018
WASHINGTON (Jan. 8, 2019)
Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) had a busy year advocating for veterans’ rights and benefits. In 2018, we expanded our government and community relations team, and worked alongside our nation’s leaders in the executive and legislative branches to improve physical and mental health care and economic opportunities for veterans. We also partnered with policy advocates at veterans service organizations (VSO) to improve access to VA resources, and facilitated collaboration within the military service organization (MSO) and VSO communities to supplement WWP efforts and fill critical gaps.
In raising awareness for the needs of wounded veterans, we:
- Provided positions on over 70 bills in the 115th Congress.
- Provided written statements for 14 congressional hearings and delivered four oral testimonies.
- Joined or drafted over 30 advocacy letters to Congress, VA, and DoD.
As we worked alongside our leaders in the halls of Congress or the White House, we:
- Assisted in passage of the $50 billion community care bill to expand non-VA care options for approximately 1.1 million post-9/11 veterans.
- Fought to preserve caregiver benefits for post-9/11 veterans, including expanded caregiver benefits for all generations.
- Advocated to exempt combat-injured servicemembers from new GI Bill transferability policy, which would restrict wounded, ill, and injured service members from transferring their GI Bill to family members.
- Ensured all Purple Heart recipients will be able to transfer their benefits without restriction.
- Led the effort to expand access for Purple Heart recipients, any service-connected disabled veterans, and their caregivers to use commissaries, exchanges, and MWR benefits, impacting more than 3 million veterans and over 26,000 post-9/11 caregivers.
- Alongside our academic medical center partners through Warrior Care Network®, WWP helped secure new authorization for DoD to partner with external organizations to provide intensive outpatient treatment for those who have experienced military sexual trauma with PTSD.
- Assembled a VSO/MSO coalition in support of an exception to ensure families of the fallen receive $100,000 death gratuity payments, even during a government shutdown.
- Continued to see approved authorizations for in-vitro fertilization (IVF); since 2016, more than 400 have been approved, and the FY19 budget preserves IVF and adoption benefits through September 2020.
- Worked with Congress to help introduce the FAIR Heroes Act, the first bill of its kind to offer severely wounded military retirees a choice between traditional TRICARE or Medicare to best suit their health and financial needs.
- Released our ninth annual Warrior Survey, which is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive survey of veterans of this generation who have sustained physical and hidden injuries of the war on terror. This year, over 33,000 warriors participated, and it was the first time five-year trends were released.
In support of and in partnership with more than 20 veterans service and military organizations, WWP proudly:
- Executed 38 grants, totaling $13,656,934 supporting America’s military families, veterans, and servicemembers.
- Hosted our first WWP Partners Convening, where 24 partner organizations met for two days in Washington, DC to discuss innovative ideas on serving warriors through collective action, community awareness, and efforts to expand the network of support available to serve and empower this generation of warriors.
- Orchestrated the annual DC Soldier Ride® tradition at the White House and invited more than 40 organizations to join the occasion, along with the president and vice president and their spouses.
“2018 was an exciting and productive year for Wounded Warrior Project in the government policy and community partnership space,” said René Bardorf, WWP senior vice president of government and community affairs. “We’re looking forward to engaging the 116th Congress and continuing to work with the White House and the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure the needs of America’s wounded, injured, and ill service members and veterans are met.”
"2018 was a monumental year for the organization and the increasing impact we make in our nation's capital," said WWP CEO Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Mike Linnington. "As we begin 2019, we remain committed to advocating and leading the charge on asking Congress to provide the necessary resources and care for post-9/11 veterans. However, more work remains to be done. The need is great and growing for this generation of warriors, and we look forward to bringing together our partners and our nation's leaders in 2019 to honor and empower America’s wounded, ill, and injured warriors.”
To learn more about the work WWP is doing in the government and community space, and how we work alongside veterans service and military organizations and our nation's leaders in Washington to improve the lives of America’s injured veterans and military families, visit https://wwp.news/Newsroom.