WASHINGTON—A bipartisan, bicameral bill led by U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) that would permanently establish the Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative (SVI) within the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) passed the Senate this week. The bill now heads to President Trump’s desk for his signature.
 
“As a combat veteran, caring for our servicemembers, veterans, and military families is one of my top priorities. That’s why I’ve helped lead this bipartisan effort to ensure the Department of Justice continues their work to protect the rights and legal interests of our nation’s heroes during and long after their military careers. I’m glad this important legislation passed the Senate this week, and is now one step closer to being signed into law,” said Senator Ernst.
 
“The Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative has provided critical support for servicemembers and veterans over the last five years. This bipartisan legislation makes sure that the Department of Justice has the tools and direction to remain focused on supporting servicemembers, veterans, and their families. As a Senate Armed Services Committee member, I am proud that the Senate passed this legislation, and urge that it be swiftly signed into law,” said Senator Hirono.
 
Background:
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.
 
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