Jan 05 2021
WASHINGTON—A bipartisan, bicameral effort to protect the rights and legal interests of servicemembers and their families led by U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) was signed into law today by President Trump. The bill, now law, permanently establishes the Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative (SVI) within the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“We owe it to our servicemembers, veterans, and military families to do all we can to protect their rights and legal interests, during and long after their service. I was proud to help lead this bipartisan effort to ensure the Department of Justice continues their work to do just that, and I’m grateful to the president for signing this important legislation into law,” said Senator Ernst, a combat veteran.
“This new law will allow the Department of Justice to further its important work on behalf of our servicemembers, veterans, and military families across the nation by making the Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative a permanent part of the Department’s efforts. Bipartisan, bicameral partnership with Senator Ernst and Representatives Escobar and Taylor helped make this bill law, and demonstrates the success that can be had when we work together to support communities across our country,” Senator Hirono said.
The SVI was created by the DOJ in 2015 to expand the Department’s efforts to enforce the statutes created to protect the rights and legal interests of the men and women serving in the armed forces and their families.
The Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative Act of 2020 supports the critical work of the existing SVI by updating and formalizing the SVI’s mandate. The bill specifies that the SVI:
- Serves as a legal and policy advisor to the Attorney General on enforcing federal laws that protect servicemembers and veterans
- Serves as the liaison between DOJ and the military departments
- Serves as a liaison with the Criminal Division to coordinate the prosecution of fraud that targets servicemembers and their families
This bill has been endorsed by the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Veterans Education Success, and Student Veterans of America.