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Despite challenges posed by COVID-19, virtual town halls enabled CVA to engage lawmakers on crucial reforms

Capitol building with reflections at dusk

By Concerned Veterans for America

No in-person events in 2020? No problem.

Concerned Veterans for America adapted to the challenges of COVID-19 restrictions and regulations with more than 10 policy forums with lawmakers.

While we love getting together with our supporters and activists for town halls with their representatives in Congress, 2020 provided us with a unique opportunity to bring those conversations directly to constituents and viewers.

CVA hosted virtual policy forums with members of Congress focused on rethinking our nation’s foreign policy, reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs, and addressing federal spending.

Here’s a look back at some of our conversations with lawmakers about the biggest veterans’ issues.

Sen. Rand Paul

Sen. Rand Paul has always been an outspoken supporter of rethinking America’s foreign policy and endling endless wars.

In our discussion with him in September, Sen. Paul emphasized what Congress’ role should be in declaring war and deciding where our brave men and women are deployed.

“If people want to be at war in Syria, if they want to be at war in Iraq, if they want to be at war in any of these places, [Congress] should vote,” Sen. Paul said. “It’s incredibly unconstitutional, but also unfair to the troops, not to declare what the mission is.”

Sen. Paul also pointed out that those who think veterans are overwhelmingly in favor or more war and more deployments “haven’t talked to many veterans if they believe that. … If you talk to many who have been on several tours, they want to know what we’re fighting for, and they want Congress to vote on it. … It absolutely is owed to our soldiers to have a debate over when we go to war.”

Rep. Ro Khanna

Ending our nation’s endless wars transcends partisan divides, bringing together unlikely allies in Washington. Rep. Ro Khanna has spent his time in office working with members of both parties to shift our foreign policy away from endless conflicts.

“It’s been very important to work across the aisle to make sure we protect American security and not send our troops in harm’s way unless it’s absolutely necessary,” Rep. Khanna said in a CVA policy forum in October.

Much of that bipartisan work has been to withdraw troops from the 19-year war in Afghanistan. “Our mission in Afghanistan has totally morphed into something unrecognizable,” Rep. Khanna stated. “Obviously something had to be done [after 9/11]. Those terrorists had to be taken out, and we did that successfully. That was done over 15 years ago, I don’t understand why we’re still there.”

Rep. Chip Roy

This year has been difficult for everyone, especially those veterans who use the VA for health care. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the VA shut down many veterans’ access to routine care at their local VA facilities and community care established through the VA MISSION Act.

Rep. Chip Roy supports veterans having the option to choose where they access their health care, whether at the VA or from a facility in their own communities. “I think the MISSION Act is one of the great changes and great initiatives that we’re seeing carried out to expand options, expand choice, for veterans,” Rep. Roy said in a policy forum in April. “We’re all going to fight to make sure the future is choice and MISSION.”

This year, CVA was able to have great conversations about pressing issues with members of Congress and give our activists the opportunity to ask the tough questions. We’re looking forward to many more forums like these in 2021.

Did you miss any of CVA’s policy forums? Visit our YouTube channel for policy forums with Reps. Warren Davidson, Andy Biggs, Debbie Lesko and more.