Carmelita M. Jones
2020-2021 National Legislative Ambassador
Be An Effective Advocate
Now that the elections are over, the political parties will be meeting soon to elect chairmen of the various committees prior to the beginning of the next legislature.
Consequently, we need to prepare to be ready to advocate for our veterans both at home and on Capitol Hill. We must reach out to our legislators (new and incumbent) in an effort to gain their support for legislation that affects our veterans, service members and their families. Let us all work together to help educate them on our legislative issues.
Your advocacy is very important to ensure that our new and incumbent lawmakers do right by our veterans. Our veterans and their families need our help to preserve and protect the benefits they were promised when they enlisted to protect our country. We must hold our elected lawmakers’ feet to the fire to ensure they keep their campaign promises to support our veterans and their families. This challenge is on the county, city, state and national levels.
Know the Legislative Issues:
- Familiarize yourself with the 2020 VFW Priority Goals and where we, as an organization, stand on legislative issues affecting veterans.
- Be clear and consistent with the legislative issues you present, the solution you propose and the “call to action” you are asking them to do by using the VFW and Auxiliary resources and tools.
Contact your Legislators: Establishing a good rapport with your current and new legislator(s) is a very important part of effective advocacy.
- Introduce yourself to your newly elected legislator(s) and their staff members.
- Congratulate your re-elected lawmaker(s) and tell them that you look forward to working with them again as they continue to support our veterans.
- Remember to thank them for their support of our veterans and their families. It is important that we let them know that they may hear from, us even when we do not have an issue for them to work. We need to give credit where credit is due.
How to Find Elected Officials and Contact Info in Your State: https://votervoice.net/VFW/Address
Educate your Legislators:
- Invite your legislators and their staff members to join the VFW Action Corps so they can keep abreast of legislation affecting veterans.
- Provide your legislators with the VFW Priority Goals Brochure to help educate them in understanding the legislative issues we are advocating for them to support.
- Convey your message in a clear and concise manner so your legislator can gain a thorough understanding of what you are asking them to support.
- Let your personal stories and understanding of why you support, or do not support a particular legislative initiative shine through.
- Make it known how invested you are in what you are advocating for.
Effective Advocacy Works!
I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for the incredible work that you are doing. We have had a lot of success these past two months in getting several veterans-centered legislative bills passed. These bills will ensure our veterans and their families receive the support, care and services they need to live full and healthy lives after their service to our country.
- Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019 (S. 785): This law supports VA as it continues to make improvements to veterans’ mental health care by covering a strategic plan for veterans transitioning from active duty and pilot programs integrating alternative therapies.
- National Suicide Hotline Bill Act of 2020 (S. 2661): This law designates 9-8-8 as the telephone number for the national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline.
- Vet Center Eligibility Expansion Act (H.R. 1812): This law expands Vet Center counseling and related mental health services for veterans and service members of the National Guard, Reserve, or Coast Guard, who took part in drug interdictions or responded to national disasters or emergencies.
- Veterans’ Care Quality Transparency Act (H.R. 2372): This law requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to assess suicide prevention and mental health services of non-VA entities who have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the VA.
- Veterans COMPACT Act of 2020 (H.R. 8247): The Senate just passed this VFW-supported legislation which was passed by the House in September, and now heads to the President for signature. This legislation seeks to enhance a wide variety of services related to improving transition, suicide prevention, and care and services for women veterans.
EVERY Auxiliary Member is a veteran’s advocate!
Grow our veterans’ advocacy network by growing our VFW Auxiliary membership!
“HONORING OUR MISSION TO SERVE VETERANS”
In this season of giving, we should all express our gratitude for the opportunity we have to be an important part of something much bigger than ourselves. There is no greater gift that we can give than our time, talents and our service to those who faithfully protect and defend those wonderful freedoms and liberties that we enjoy each day.
My best wishes to you and your family this holiday season and the coming new year!