Legislative Priorities

Updated April 7, 2024

This list of legislative priorities will strengthen our nation's commitment to care for veterans by providing a supportive and equitable disability benefits program.

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#1 Treat All MST-related Mental Disorders Equally

Do not limit MST claims to PTSD. Many military sexual trauma (MST) survivors suffer from other mental disorders. 

While PTSD is one of the most common, many veterans' symptoms do not meet the full diagnostic criteria for PTSD.

However, these veterans often suffer from other psychiatric disorders caused or exacerbated by military sexual trauma(s). Such disorders include: 

  • subsyndromal posttraumatic stress 
  • depression 
  • anxiety disorders 
  • alcohol and other drug dependence secondary to a service-related mental disorder
  • somatoform disorders
  • sexual problems

VA disability claims for any mental disorder that was caused or exacerbated by sexual assault should be evaluated and adjudicated in an identical manner as current MST-PTSD claims.

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U.S. Congress unofficial seal

#2 Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act

Passed! New Law as of 9 March 2024

The new law reads:

Sec. 413. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs under section 5502 of title 38, United States Code, in any case arising out of the administration by the Secretary of laws and benefits under such title, to report a person who is deemed mentally incapacitated, mentally incompetent, or to be experiencing an extended loss of consciousness as a person who has been adjudicated as a mental defective under subsection (d)(4) or (g)(4) of section 922 of title 18, United States Code, without the order or finding of a judge, magistrate, or other judicial authority of competent jurisdiction that such person is a danger to himself or herself or others.1

The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) recently updated their M21-1 Adjudication Procedures Manual to comport with this new law.2

VBA changed the relevant M21-1 section "to clarify that only those determined by a court to be unable to manage affairs and a danger to self or others are to be reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System."

I have voiced support for this change for a long time because the capacity to manage one's financial affairs and the capacity to safely own firearms are different psychological capacities.

Yes, there is some overlap, i.e., "mentally incompetent" veterans pose a higher risk for suicide using a gun, but there are many high-risk populations who do not automatically have their gun rights removed, including people found incompetent to manage their financial affairs by a court in the civilian sector.

And if a court does find that an individual poses a danger to self or others, the judge (or magistrate or clerk of court) reached that conclusion only after a hearing where the individual could present evidence against such a decision and could cross-examine any witnesses testifying in favor of a finding of dangerousness.

The VA does not afford veterans similar due process rights before making a decision. 

Do you agree? Disagree? Voice your opinioncomment below

See also (on this website):

Closely Related Readings - Research and Congressional testimony.

Federal Government Steals Veterans' 2nd Amendment Rights with Zero Due Process - Comment on an excellent law review article by Stacey-Rae Simcox, attorney and veterans law scholar.

Opposing viewpoints:

Clayton Henkel, VA reporting requirement draws conservative backlash - Despite worrisome veteran suicide numbers, Republicans push to preserve gun rights, NC Nᴇᴡsʟɪɴᴇ (July 20, 2023).

Caitlin Reilly, House Democrats urge VA to find gun rider workaround - New spending law provision caused uproar among gun safety advocates, Rᴏʟʟ Cᴀʟʟ (March 13, 2024).


1. Key Changes, M21-1, Part X, Subpart ii (Mar. 29, 2024), 

2. Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2024, Pub. L. No. 118-42, div. A, tit. II, § 413 (Mar. 9, 2024). 

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