Kerry Receives "A" from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) has given Senator John Kerry a grade of "A" on the 2008 Congressional Report Card. The Report Card grades every Senator and Congressman on his or her leadership and voting record on key Iraq and Afghanistan veterans' issues, including the GI Bill, VA funding and mental health care.
"I have spent a lifetime fighting for issues that are important to our veterans - whether it's better health care, pay increases passed over George Bush's objections, safer body armor or improved benefits for our military and their families. I am immensely proud to have received an A from the IAVA and promise to continue fighting for issues that are so critical to our nation's veterans," said Senator Kerry. "We have nearly a half a million veterans throughout Massachusetts and millions more nationwide. Each of them earned benefits through their service to country, and we must fulfill the nation's commitment to them by providing the highest quality services possible."
Senator Kerry has long been an advocate for our nation's veterans. Among his many veterans' related accomplishments:
Kerry authored legislation to amend the Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA) by extending the period a lender must wait before starting disclosure procedures from 90 days to nine months after a service member has returned from active duty. It also caps interest on mortgages at 6 percent for one year after a serviceperson completes his/her services. This legislation was part of the Housing Bill signed into law by the President this past summer.
In 2007 Kerry asked President Bush to back off his plan to cut a proposed military pay raise, and was pleased when the White House reversed course and fully funded the 3.5% increase in basic pay for all service members that he has been fighting for. Also in 2007, Senator Kerry obtained $18 million for the VA Vet Centers program to provide readjustment counseling and outreach services to veterans who served in combat zones.
Kerry is also the author of the Military Family Bill of Rights. This bill would increase Army and Marine Corps end strength to reduce the strain on our military; increase the payment to families who have a service member killed in the line of duty from $12,000 to $250,000; provide additional funding for post-traumatic stress disorder treatment; increase veterans health benefits; and extend health insurance to National Guard and reserve members whether they are mobilized or not.
Kerry, along with Senator John McCain chaired the country's most thorough investigation into the fate of POW/MIAs in Southeast Asia. Kerry personally pressed Vietnamese officials to cooperate with ongoing efforts to get answers for families. He also fought tirelessly for comprehensive research to understand the effects of Agent Orange and to ensure that veterans suffering from Agent Orange-related illnesses received disability pay they were due. He was also a supporter of the Gulf War veterans in their effort to find the causes of illnesses contracted during the first Gulf War.
Kerry was also the first U.S. Senator to propose a deadline for bringing our troops home from Iraq. At the time he received the support of only 13 of his colleagues. Today, that position is the position of Senator Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, the position of a majority of his colleagues in the Senate, the position of the Iraqi government and even the position of the Bush Administration.