2018-2019 National Legislative Ambassador
Education, Outreach and Advocacy
We have had an exciting start to our Legislative Program! Your Department Legislative Chairmen are highly motivated and are sharing wonderful promotions and “out of the box” ideas. There is plenty of opportunity for all members to get involved. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work!
VFW Priority Goals
COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS
To ensure veterans and their dependents have timely access to earned benefits, Congress and the VA must:
- Require treatment of presumptive conditions as a claim for disability compensation.
- Establish presumptive service connection for hearing loss, tinnitus, TBI, and exposure to certain toxic substances.
- Increase burial allowances to account for inflation and include spouses’ information on all headstones.
- Reform the Gulf War Illness Disability Benefits Questionnaire.
- Address veterans’ homelessness by increasing the availability of affordable housing.
- Adjust Grant and Per Diem Program rates for inflation.
- Prohibit VA compensation and non-service-connected pension from being considered countable income for homeless programs.
How You Can Help
Sign up for the VFW Action Corps Weekly! This excellent communication from the VFW raises awareness on important matters for our members and what you can do to encourage your congressional delegation to take action on critical veteran issues. You will receive a weekly update in your inbox which you can use as a guide for contacting your legislators.
Students are not the only ones who should be going back to school! To be a truly effective advocate for our organization, we all must educate ourselves and others on the primary issues facing our vets and then do our homework by reviewing the voting records of our legislators. Does your senator or representative get a passing grade when it comes to fighting for the benefits and services of those who sacrificed so much to serve this great nation? Hold them all accountable for “walking the talk!”
Student Education and Community Outreach
Many of you have creative ideas for promoting this vital program in your schools and communities. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Design an age-appropriate coloring or activity book that includes pictures and/or legislative related content and offer to speak to students at your local school. You could also pass these out at a Legislative table or booth at a Family Freedom Festival.
- Create a series of legislative-related game show style questions and provide them to teachers as a resource. Don’t forget the ANSWER KEY!
- Write a skit and perform it at a Family Freedom Festival or school assembly. Younger students particularly enjoy and grasp information presented as entertainment!
Important Advocacy Opportunity
The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act
H.R. 299, The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, passed unanimously out of the House on June 25, with a vote of 382-0. The legislation will extend disability benefits covering medical conditions associated with Agent Orange to Blue Water Navy veterans. It remains bogged down in committee in the Senate.
Veterans who served in Vietnam between 1962 and 1975 are presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange if diagnosed with a medical condition associated with the herbicide, according to the Agent Orange Act of 1991. However, this act applied only to veterans who served on land and in Vietnam’s inland waterways, excluding those who served on ships off the coast of Vietnam known as “Blue Water” Navy veterans. H.R. 299 will extend these benefits to the Blue Water Navy veterans.
Time is of the essence! If this legislation is not moved from committee to the Senate floor for a vote before the 2017-2018 session is adjourned, the bill is “dead” and may no longer be considered. That would require the legislation to be filed in the 2019-2020 session after the election and start from the beginning. Please contact your senators and ask if they are supportive of this legislation and if not, why not?
As the strongest veterans service organization (VSO) in the country, I know if we all do our part we can move mountains. I believe in YOU and I “Believe…We Can Do It!”