Members of the Press, Thank you for attending the first Press Conference of our new 21st Century Veterans and Military Families for Progress Organization. We were formed in February of 2005 at a meeting of veterans and military family members from across the country who were concerned about public policy that has led to the erosion of veterans’ benefits. We decided to create an organization that is dedicated to ensuring that the rights and needs of veterans, active-duty service members, and their families are understood by the American public, endorsed by our elected officials, and protected by public policy initiatives, legislation and regulation.
To achieve this we decided to form a new 21st Century military service organization whose membership is broader than the existing Veteran Service Organizations. VMFP’s members include: Veterans, Military Family members, Active Duty Personnel, and Guard and Reserves. We established ourselves as a 501C4 tax-exempt, non-profit and non-partisan organization which allows us to lobby and advocate over 50% of the time on issues of policy impacting veterans, military personnel and their families. In addition, we can endorse, support and work on behalf of candidates for public office who embrace our Mission Statement and objectives and we are unique in that family members participate at all levels of our organization with full voting rights. Our focus is on electing and supporting national candidates of any party who actively support our mission and we are especially interested in electing veterans and military family members who decide to run for office. We are also a Community organization in that our VMFP State and local chapters work on issues that benefit veterans and military families in their communities and endorse and support candidates running for Mayor, City Council, County Council, State Legislatures and Governor.
As a former Vietnam-era veteran of the U.S. Army Reserves I am very concerned about current military policy as it relates to the deployment of Guard and Reserve Units to Iraq and the impact on Homeland Security. There has been a lack of leadership in the US Congress since the Vietnam war regarding the use of our military in regional conflicts and a reluctance to fulfill promises to care for them upon their return. Committing to a military career is built upon two facts. First, that you will face uncertain danger. And second, that if you survive the danger, damages will be covered. Successful recruitment of a military in the future will require us to speak honestly about what we promise. VMFP will work to oversee the promises made to our veterans. We should not expect those accepting ultimate risk on behalf of our nation to forsake needed care because of broken promises.
Veterans and Military Families for Progress is not about party lines but about fairness and expectations. As people, we are bigger than any party system or any one campaign season. VMFP looks to ensure a fair process for those who have served, are now serving and may want to serve in the future.
For that reason, a call to arms should not be a political rush to harm. Loss of limbs or life or a viable mental future must not happen because of shallow cries to battle. Those who yell ‘charge’ must later respond fairly to calls for help. By nature all humans are for peace. Military personnel and families, for obvious reasons even more so. But when the time comes, those serving put their lives, limbs and minds on the line for our nation without hesitation. We simply ask that those decisions never be made lightly.
VMFP requests that our elected officials and citizenry understand the full cost of warfare carnage well before the damage descends. Certain questions need to be addressed:
If a family suffers a death, separation or emotional trauma, should not adequate health care be assumed? If a soldier loses his or her limbs, what ongoing care is fair to expect?
If a soldier must endure lifelong mental health problems, should not that care be provided?
By honoring commitments to our veterans and their families we can ensure that citizens, now and in the future, will be pleased and proud to serve knowing that the needed services will be provided and promises will be honored. VMFP is prepared to fight for our veterans, military families and military personnel in the 21st Century and to educate and recruit the general citizenry to help us.