2018-2019 National Legislative Ambassador
A Passion for Advocacy!
You are reading this blog near the end of our Program reporting year. I would challenge you to push one more time before your reports are due! Legislative advocacy does not run on a schedule. My sincere hope is that you have gained a passion for the Legislative Program this year that will become a way of life as you serve the VFW Auxiliary as a champion for our veterans! What you are doing is vitally important for the health and well-being of our veterans and their families. I believe…you can do it!
Over the past several months I have highlighted each of the VFW Priority Goals for 2019. You can find these goals at https://www.vfw.org/advocacy/national-legislative-service. I know you have seen these goals many times. I am asking you to re-read them and think of your veteran, that special veteran that prompted you to join our organization! Our wonderful Membership Ambassador, Nicole Koutz, challenged us this year to discover our “WHY.” As you read these goals, remember your “WHY.” Why did you join and what are your goals? Do you want to be a champion for veterans by holding our legislators accountable? I do. I believe you do, too!
Educate yourselves on the following and contact your legislators to show your support!
VFW Testifies on Budget Request: This week, VFW National Legislative Service Deputy Director Patrick Murray testified before the House Committee on Appropriations and House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, VA, and Related Agencies. Alongside Mr. Murray were representatives from DAV and PVA who co-authored the Independent Budget. Together, they advocated for increased funding for veteran health care and benefits. Specifically, the IB questioned whether VA has requested the funds it needs to properly implement the VFW-championed VA MISSION Act and sufficient funding to update VA’s aging infrastructure. The VFW also urged Congress to fix the unacceptable housing conditions at privatized military housing facilities throughout the country and repair military installations that were damaged by recent natural disasters. Read the Independent Budget. Watch the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing. Watch the House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing.
Air Force and Marine Corps Still Recovering from Hurricanes: In multiple congressional hearings this week, the Air Force and Marine Corps expressed the critical need for additional supplemental funding from Congress to rebuild base infrastructures and family housing after the devastation of Hurricanes Florence and Michael. Hundreds of service members and their families remain displaced after Hurricane Florence caused $3.6 billion in damages at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Similar devastation occurred at Tyndall Air Force Base in October 2019 after Hurricane Michael caused $3 billion in damages. Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson stated that the Air Force “had to stop 61 facility projects in 18 states because we don’t have a supplemental [appropriations] to recover from this devastating storm.” If additional funds are not made available in the coming months, the Air Force will have to cut 18,000 training and flying hours to fund reconstruction efforts. The VFW has called on Congress to prioritize disaster relief efforts for the affected military installations.
In closing, thank you on behalf of soldiers past and present for your advocacy efforts! They are counting on you to fight for their earned benefits and to ensure, promises made are promises kept. You are making a difference!