Table of Contents: Preface


After nearly two decades of war, the commitment of a grateful nation to its veterans who have borne the battle and their families and survivors remains strong. Passage of Public Law 115-182— the VA MISSION Act of 2018— resulted in the development of a Veterans Community Care Network, created an urgent care benefit, and expanded the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers to severely injured and ill veterans of all eras. During the 116th Congress, the Independent Budget veterans service organizations (IBVSOs)—DAV (Disabled American Veterans), Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)—devoted considerable resources to overseeing the implementation of this important legislation aimed at modernizing VA’s system of care and benefits.

The 117th Congress will be responsible for continued oversight and support to complete the modernization efforts associated with implementation of the VA MISSION Act—in addition to confronting the challenges associated with the global health and economic crises caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Just as it has for every other health care system, COVID-19 has upended customary health care practices, putting additional demands on medical staff, and causing a reassessment of health care delivery and business practices, including critical purchasing and supply practices in VA. Thus far, the VA has cared for thousands of veterans who have contracted COVID-19. It has also assisted state and community nursing homes with obtaining essential personal protective equipment, as well as developing appropriate care delivery and safety protocols to better protect veterans and manage this highly infectious disease.

The IBVSOs remain committed to advocating and overseeing a unique system upon which so many of our nation’s veterans rely to recover and rehabilitate from the wounds of war and health consequences of military service. Our decades of experience make us uniquely qualified to make recommendations for the issues this Congress and a new Administration will confront in meeting the specialized health care and benefits needs of those who have served.

Critical Issues Introduction

We are pleased to present The Independent Budget (IB) Critical Issues for the 117th Congress. With the release of our last policy agenda at the start of the 116th Congress in January 2019, we focused significant attention on the implementation of the VA MISSION Act, which was the sole critical issue identified for that Congress by the IBVSOs.

Although we fully support the policy recommendations we put forth in our previous agenda and will continue to closely follow the implementation of the VA MISSION Act, our focus for the 117th Congress will be on 11 critical issues. The IBVSOs have determined that each issue must be addressed to ensure veterans, their families, and survivors have access to the care and benefits they earned. Our critical issues span areas ranging from VA health care and benefits to employment and education.

In addition to these critical issues, each IBVSO has a robust policy agenda covering a wide range of issues. We invite members of Congress and Administration leaders to consult our respective agendas for additional information regarding our policy priorities.


For more than 30 years, The Independent Budget veterans service organizations (IBVSOs)—DAV (Disabled American Veterans), Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), and the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW)—have worked to develop and present concrete recommendations to ensure that the Department of Veterans Affairs remains fully funded and capable of carrying out its mission to serve veterans and their families, both now and in the future. Throughout the year, the IBVSOs work together to promote their shared recommendations, while each organization also works independently to identify and address legislative and policy issues that affect the organizations’ members and the broader veterans’ community.

Disabled American Veterans (DAV)

DAV (Disabled American Veterans) empowers veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. It is dedicated to a single purpose: keeping our promises to America’s veterans. DAV does this by ensuring that veterans and their families can access the full range of benefits available to them; fighting for the interests of America’s injured heroes on Capitol Hill; linking veterans and their families to employment resources; and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life. DAV, a non-profit organization with more than one million members, was founded in 1920 and chartered by the U. S. Congress in 1932. Learn more at .

Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA)

Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), founded in 1946, is the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans with spinal cord injury or disease. For 75 years, the organization has ensured that veterans receive the benefits earned through their service to our nation; monitored their care in VA spinal cord injury centers; and funded research and education in the search for a cure and improved care for individuals with paralysis. As a life-long partner and advocate for veterans and all people with disabilities, PVA also develops training and career services, works to ensure accessibility in public buildings and spaces, and provides health and rehabilitation opportunities through sports and recreation. With more than 70 offices and 33 chapters, PVA serves veterans, their families, and their caregivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Learn more at .

Veterans of Foreign Wars of The United States (VFW)

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW) is the nation’s largest and oldest major war veterans’ organization. Founded in 1899, the congressionally-chartered VFW is comprised entirely of eligible veterans and military service members from the active, Guard and Reserve forces. With more than 1.6 million VFW and Auxiliary members located in 6,200 Posts worldwide, the nonprofit veterans’ service organization is proud to proclaim “NO ONE DOES MORE FOR VETERANS” than the VFW, which is dedicated to veterans’ service, legislative advocacy, and military and community service programs. For more information or to join, visit our website at .

Sections of this year’s Independent Budget written by:

Heather Ansley, PVA
Marquis Barefield, DAV
Tammy Barlet, VFW
Morgan Brown, PVA
Roscoe Butler, PVA
Peter Dickinson, DAV
Matthew Doyle, VFW
Susan Edgerton, DAV
Maureen Elias, PVA
Joy Ilem, DAV
Kyle Kalman, VFW
Kristina Keenan, VFW
Shane Liermann, DAV
Lauren Lobrano, PVA
Patrick Murray, VFW
Jeremy Villanueva, DAV

Special Thanks to:

Lisa Bogle, DAV, for editorial assistance
Liz Deakin, PVA, for editorial management
Onamé Thompson, PVA, for editorial assistance
Kevin Johnson, PVA, for design