2018-2019 National Legislative Ambassador
Advocacy and Education
Let me officially welcome you to an exciting New Year of legislative advocacy and education. Let’s begin with a quiz!
- Did you vote in the mid-term election in November?
- Have you reached out to a school to provide legislative education materials or programming?
- Did your Auxiliary host a candidate forum or promote our program at a Family Freedom Festival?
- How many of the tools provided on the website has your Auxiliary utilized to educate your members and community on the legislative process?
- Have you reported your activity so our Washington office will have the “muscle” of our Auxiliary members to help them push Congress in the right direction?
I hope you have affirmative answers to at least two of these quiz questions. I believe that a large majority of you have and I thank you! The good news is that you still have the second half of our program year to accomplish all of your goals. Call or email your program chair if you need help. As always, I am available with ideas and additional tools should you need assistance or encouragement. Please reach out and let me know what you are doing and send photos of your great activities and successes! I love hearing from you and am always looking for the next S.W.A.P. idea!
I believe…you can do it!
VFW Priority Goals
DISABILITY ASSISTANCE & MEMORIAL AFFAIRS
To ensure veterans and their dependents have timely access to earned beneﬁts, Congress and VA must:
- Properly implement the modernized appeals process.
- Consider treatment of presumptive conditions as a claim for disability compensation.
- Establish presumptive disability compensation beneﬁts for hearing loss, tinnitus, TBI and for health conditions associated with toxic exposures.
- Increase burial allowances to account for inﬂation and include spouses’ information on all headstones.
- Authorize more than one adaptive automotive grant for disabled veterans.
- Reform the Gulf War Illness Disability Beneﬁts Questionnaire.
- Transfer control of the Mare Island Naval Cemetery to the NCA.
- Update regulations and laws governing claims to account for digital claims processing.
- Expand VA wartime beneﬁts to early Vietnam veterans.
Please note the new 2019 VFW Priority Goals are online! You can find the newly released brochure for 2019 at https://vfwauxiliary.org/what-we-do/legislative
Student Education and Community Outreach
Many of you have shared wonderful promotions you have used in your communities and schools. Here are a few more that may spark your creativity!
- Sponsor an art contest in lower grade levels where the students design legislative themed postcards. Get permission to use the postcard designs so your members can write notes to their legislators! Hand out certificates or R.A.P. cards or coins to those who participate, and award a monetary gift or gift card for the winner and his/her classroom or art teacher.
- Set up a display at a Family Freedom Festival or other public event that will allow your members and the community at large to sign up for the VFW Action Corps! Anyone who cares about veterans can sign on as an advocate. They do NOT need to be a member.
- Organize a petition that supports legislation as outlined in the VFW Action Corps. Follow the guidelines provided in the Guide to Contacting Your Legislators.
Educate yourselves on the following and contact your legislators to show your support!
- Concurrent Receipt Legislation Reintroduced: This month, Congressman Gus Bilirakis and Senator Jon Tester reintroduced the VFW-supported Retired Pay Restoration Act, to ensure full concurrent receipt of military retirement pay and VA disability compensation. Presently, concurrent receipt of these benefits applies only to those with a 50 percent VA disability rating or higher. The VFW continues to advocate for the end of this offset for all military retirees regardless of their VA disability rating. Learn more.
- Repeal of SBP/DIC Offset Reintroduced: The VFW-supported H.R. 553, Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act, which would repeal the requirement for surviving spouses to offset Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) benefits with Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) was reintroduced this past week. SBP and DIC are different benefits, which are earned for different reasons. The full repeal of this unjust offset remains a top legislative priority for the VFW. Learn more about H.R. 553.
Our grassroots membership can and will move mountains! Please continue to be a voice for our veterans. Let’s get LOUD! They need us now, more than ever!