Woefully inadequate funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs and budget gimmicks by multiple Congresses and administrations has put our veterans at risk. The scandal involving delays for accessing care at the VA is inexcusable, but what’s at the root of the problem has been the habitual failure to provide the VA with sufficient, timely and predictable funding.
We made significant progress working in partnership with the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) – an advocacy organization representing over 1.2 million disabled veterans – to generate awareness and advance legislation to reform the VA budget process and expand VA health care services. Ultimately, DAV’s top legislative priority, an end to VA health care funding delays, was signed into law by President Obama in 2009. Our campaign efforts at the time were also recognized with numerous PR awards, including a Silver Anvil and PRSA Thoth Award. However, our work was not over.
To help further expose the VA’s budget inadequacies and need for systemic reform, DAV engaged us to direct a multi-pronged public campaign that put the organization and its policy proposals at the forefront. Together, we built Operation: Keep the Promise to put disabled veteran’s issues in the national spotlight and solidify DAV as the leading voice to improve care.
Highlights of the campaign included numerous profiles in national outlets, strategic op-ed placements by DAV representatives and other leading allies, a national day of action and rally at the Capitol, grassroots mobilization online, and issue advertisements targeted at key policy makers. All of these efforts were carefully timed around calendar dates and news hooks. We were successful in making funding more predictable, but there is still work to be done to ensure our veterans have all the resources and support they deserve.