2018-2019 National Legislative Ambassador
I am writing this blog from our nation’s capital while attending the VFW Legislative Conference! We, as an organization, are here from all across the country to accompany our VFW members in an effort to lobby our legislators on behalf of veterans and active-duty military everywhere.
This is what the Legislative Program is all about. The weather is cold and dreary, but our spirits are high! We have educated ourselves! We are prepared! Now, we will go into action for our cause! This is what a representative republic looks like! We make our concerns known to those who we elect to serve us!
Thank you for your efforts on behalf of our veterans!
I believe…you are doing it!
VFW Priority Goals
MILITARY QUALITY OF LIFE
To maintain a quality, comprehensive beneﬁts and retirement package that is the backbone for an all-volunteer force, Congress and DOD must:
- Increase military base pay comparability with private sector wages.
- Protect and improve on-base quality of life programs.
- Ensure that military housing is safe and free of toxic substances.
- End the military retirement pay and VA disability compensation offset.
- Eliminate the Survivor Beneﬁt Plan/Dependency and Indemnity Compensation offset.
- Increase the government’s Thrift Savings Plan contribution.
- Eliminate sexual assaults in the military.
- Establish the Armed Forces University. Improve stability and support for military families.
NATIONAL SECURITY, FOREIGN AFFAIRS & POW/MIA
To fully support U.S. troops and their mission to ﬁght the war on terrorism and protect our nation’s citizens and interests around the world, Congress, DOD and DHS must:
- Expand partnerships with host nations and private/public organizations to achieve the fullest possible accounting of U.S. military personnel missing from all wars.
- Secure America’s borders.
- Preserve the all-volunteer force.
- Maintain a substantial military presence in the Republic of Korea.
Educate yourselves on the following and contact your legislators to show your support!
Secretary Wilkie Testifies Before House Committee: On Wednesday, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held its first hearing of this Congress to address the future of VA. The name of the hearing was “VA 2030: A Vision for the Future of VA” because Chairman Takano is seeking to look ahead to make improvements within the VA over the next decade. At the hearing, VA Secretary Wilkie spoke about the improvements VA has made since his tenure began and how proud he is of his workforce. The topics discussed at the hearing included homelessness, Blue Water Navy veterans, VA infrastructure, women veterans, and many others. The VFW applauds Chairman Takano and Ranking Member Roe for looking for innovative ways to continue to improve VA and seek to avoid future pitfalls. Watch the hearing.
- Congressional Hearing on Access to VA for Women Veterans:The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies held a hearing on Thursday regarding women veterans’ access to VA. Those who testified included Chief Consultant VA Women’s Health Services Dr. Patricia Hayes and VA National Mental Health Director for Family Services, Women’s Mental Health and Military Sexual Trauma Dr. Susan McCutcheon. VA focused on the rapid increase of 500,000 women who use VA and how it is enhancing its services. VA has worked to expand gender-specific training, advocacy and program managers, and increased access in rural communities. VA stated the top problem it repeatedly encounters is the ability to maintain providers with gender-specific expertise. Further details were given on gender-specific primary care, gynecology, maternity care, infertility and adoption reimbursement services, mental health services, military sexual trauma services, and child care. VA also discussed efforts to expand the Women Veteran Call Center and mammogram sites, and to improve their quality of care while eliminating barriers. Dr. Hayes concluded her testimony with, “VA continues to make significant strides in enhancing the language, practice, and culture of the Department to be more inclusive of women veterans. These gains would not have been possible without consistent congressional commitment in the form of both attention and financial resources. It is critical that we continue to move forward with the current momentum and preserve the gains made thus far.” Read the testimonyor watch the hearing.
In closing, this “BILL” has been up on Capitol Hill! You can come here, too, but you don’t have to take a plane, train or bus! Keep those phone calls, letters and local visits coming! Your advocacy work matters and I, along with many others, carry you with us!