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Idaho State University graduate student Joseph Sacco selected for veterans legislative fellow program

December 19, 2017
By Kirsten Cooper, MarCom CPI

POCATELLO – Joseph Sacco, an Idaho Falls native working toward a Master of Public Administration at Idaho State University, has been selected for the 2018 Veterans of Foreign Wars – Student Veterans of America (VFW-SVA) Legislative Fellowship. He is one of 10 nationally selected candidates for this fellowship.

Headshot of Joe Sacco

He will be participating in the 2018 VFW Legislative Conference for his proposal that addresses veterans and the availability of mental health services.

He will also complete a Community Action Plan in Southeast Idaho to help encourage further community involvement and interest in the veteran community.

"I have been searching for a way to help as many of my fellow veterans as possible,” Sacco said. “The VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship provides me an avenue to enacting real change at a federal level to help veterans not only in Idaho but also throughout the country."

Fellows will be flown to Washington, D.C. to participate in the VFW National Legislative Conference, with the opportunity to advocate alongside VFW staff and represent their states.

This provide an opportunity to share issues facing student veterans alongside mentors from the VFW National Legislative Committee.

Fellows meet with policy-makers from federal agencies responsible for implementing veterans’ policy and reporters covering military and veterans’ affairs.

After the VFW National Legislative Committee, fellows will execute their advocacy plan in their home district and submit a comprehensive report on their experience to their VFW state convention, as well as VFW and SVA national offices.

To better serve veterans seeking mental health services, Sacco proposed a new type of internship and certification program funded through Veterans’ Affairs for future and current mental health professionals.

 "I am looking forward to diving into the background behind my proposal,” Sacco said. “I believe in arming myself with the best and most in-depth information regarding the veteran community so that I am confident in both my ideas and helping other veterans.”

Veterans, especially those in rural areas, may not live within a reasonable distance to a VA clinic. While it is possible to obtain treatment for physical problems, the lack of access to mental health care professionals provided by the VA concerns Sacco.

His proposal aims to close the gap as well as establish trust between veterans and mental health providers.

Serving in the armed forces is a unique experience, one that those who have not served might not fully understand, Sacco said. By having providers intern with the VA, they can obtain valuable experience working with veterans.

Sacco will also submit a congressional white paper delegation from Idaho. After the conference, he will put the community action plan that was developed with the VFW-SVA into action to advocate in support of veterans who are affected by policy proposal.

For more information, contact Todd Johnson at or (208) 282-4298.