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VMFP endorsed bills October, 2015

The following House and Senate bills were endorsed by Veterans and Military Families for Progress in October, 2015

H.R. 1313: Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Relief Act
Sponsor: Rep. Jerry McNerney [D-CA9]
H.R. 1338: Dignified Interment of Our Veterans Act of 2015
   (Rep. Shuster – PA 9th – R) Priority
H.R. 1560: Protecting Cyber Networks Act
Sponsor: Rep. Devin Nunes [R-CA22]
H.R. 1607: Ruth Moore Act of 2015
   Sponsor: Rep. Chellie Pingree [D-ME1] previously endorsed Changed to Priority
H.R. 216: Department of Veterans Affairs Budget Planning Reform Act of 2015
Sponsor: Rep. Corrine Brown [D-FL5]
H.R. 2256: Veterans Information Modernization Act
Sponsor: Rep. Dan Benishek [R-MI1]
H.R. 251: Homes for Heroes Act of 2015
Sponsor: Rep. Al Green [D-TX9]
H.R. 2691: Veterans’ Survivors Claims Processing Automation Act of 2015
   (Rep. Ruiz – CA 36th – D).Priority
H.R. 294: Long-Term Care Veterans Choice Act
Sponsor: Rep. Jeff Miller [R-FL1]
H.R. 303: Retired Pay Restoration Act (Rep. Bilirakis – FL 12th – R)
H.R. 3510: Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity Strategy Act of 2015
Sponsor: Rep. Cedric Richmond [D-LA2]
H.R. 3849: To amend title 10, United States Code, to ensure access to qualified acupuncturist services for military members and military dependents, to amend title 38, United States Code, to ensure access to acupuncturist services through the Department.
Sponsor: Rep. Judy Chu [D-CA27]
• S.1203: 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act – Reported by Committee on Jul 22, 2015
waiting consideration from the House and floor vote by Senate.
Sponsor: Sen. Dean Heller
• S.1493: Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2015 –
   Passed Senate on Oct 22, 2015. Is waiting House consideration.
   Sponsor: Sen. Isakson Priority
• S. 2210: Veteran Partners’ Efforts to Enhance Reintegration Act.
Assigned to Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. No action taken.
Sponsor: Sen. Richard Blumenthal

VMFP announces endorsement of HR 1603 and HR 501

VMFP announces endorsement of HR 1603 and HR 501

In April 2015, Veterans and Military Families Board of Directors voted to endorse two bills:

HR 1603 Military Sexual Assault Victims Empowerment Act or the Military SAVE Act

This bill amends the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 to make a a veteran who was the victim of a sexual trauma which occurred while the veteran was serving on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training eligible for treatment in a non-Department of Veterans Affairs entity.

Introduced in March 2015, the bill has now been referred to Subcommittee on Health.

H.R.501Veterans and Servicemembers Employment Rights and Housing Act of 2015

Prohibits employment practices that discriminate based on an individual’s military service and amends the Fair Housing Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1968 to prohibit housing discrimination against members of the uniformed services.

Introduced in January 2015.  On April 29, 2015 the bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections

Click the links above for more details on these bills and stay tuned for updates.

Follow through on commitment to prevent Veteran Suicides

Follow through on commitment to prevent Veteran Suicides

Joshua Omvig served an 11-month tour in Iraq. The 22-year-old returned home to Grundy Center, Iowa with no visible injuries, yet he died on Dec. 22, 2005, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. His parents, Ellen and Randy Omvig, dedicated a significant part of their lives to get national action so that their experience would not happen in other American military families.
A law named after their son, The Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act, became law on November 5, 2007 (Public Law 110-110). However, the bill was never fully implemented. At the time Public Law 110-110 was signed, there were 18 veteran suicides daily.
Yesterday (Feb. 12, 2015) in Washington, DC, President Obama signed into law another bill, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act. An unfunded law, it intends to do what the Omvig Act had been intended to do. In the interim between the passage of the two laws, the average daily number of suicides climbed to 22 veterans plus one active-duty service member.
The new Clay Hunt law, named for a Marine combat-veteran sniper who committed suicide in 2011, directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to require annual mental-health evaluations and suicide prevention programs. It also requires a loan repayment program for psychiatrists who agree to serve in the Veterans Health Administration.
Hunt, a Marine from Texas who served in Anbar Province in 2007 and 2008, was treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at various Veterans Administration hospitals, but he was frustrated by delays, the lack of effective treatment, and difficulty with his disability compensation. Even so, before ending his life, he worked with other fellow veterans who were having difficulty fitting back into civilian life because of PTSD issues.
At issue now is monitoring of the Omvig-Hunt laws. Who will inform America of actual efforts to reduce or to eliminate suicide in military families? Who will report on the lack of real or effective effort to deal with suicide of those who serve in America’s military?
Veterans and Military Families for Progress, a national nonprofit group, followed the Omvig family’s lead and helped monitor the bill through Congress. Tom Howe, an Iowa VMFP member, was privileged to visit with and learn from Ellen and Randy Omvig in their living room.
Now, Howe asks, why, more than seven years after passage of the bill, is America experiencing an increased rate of suicide among its veterans? Why is Congress passing another law to deal with veteran suicides? How many Americans even know the Omvig law’s story of failure? How many know of a lack of follow-up by Congress, the Department of Defense, the Veterans Administration, and the Media? How many Americans assume appropriate care for Americas’ veterans is the existing reality?

The Joshua Omvig and Clay Hunt stories of suicide represent so many other veteran suicide stories. All of those stories deserve more respect, Howe believes.

America is in this place, Howe contends, because of the “disconnect” between the reality of the lives of average Americans and the lives of America’s military families. Who will help educate the reality of the “disconnect”? Who will help eliminate the “disconnect” and begin to educate about and advocate for the necessary, real, bottom-up solutions which military families need and have earned by their service to America?

For further information or follow up:

Tom Howe, (563.451.9919 cell)
Chair, Media/Public Relations Committee
Veterans and Military Families for Progress

Ronald Scott (414-559-8040)
President
Veterans and Military Families for Progress

Matthew Cary (202-841-1687)
Executive Director
Veterans and Military Families for Progress

2014 Endorsed Candidates

2014 Endorsed Candidates

CANDIDATE ENDORSEMENT PROCESS

Candidates for national office – from any party – that are identified as veterans, military family members, or veterans’-advocates are sent an inquiry as to their interest in endorsement by VMFP. We make every possible effort to contact all candidates for national office so that, if they respond, we can consider their responses. If they respond affirmatively, they are sent copies of our campaign and issues questionnaires. Upon return of the questionnaires, completed according to the instructions contained therein, the questionnaires are considered by the Government Affairs Committee to determine whether the candidate’s answers are satisfactorily in alignment with VMFP policy goals. When the committee determines that a candidate’s responses meet our criteria, a recommendation is made to the VMFP board to endorse that candidate. When the board approves, an endorsement letter and press release are sent to the candidate’s campaign.

In the 2014 Congressional Election, VMFP endorsed 5 candidates, 4 of whom won their election.

The candidates VMFP endorsed who were victorious were:

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D) was reelected in New Hampshire.  She is a vet Family Member. Her husband Bill is a Vietnam Era Vet

Senator Mark Warner (D) was reelected in Virginia. He is a vet Family Member.  His Father was WWII Marine Veteran of Pacific Theater.

Cheri Bustos (D) Illinois 17th CD.  She is a vet Family Member. Her Father was a WWII vet.

Seth Moulton (D) Massachusetts 6th CD.  Seth is n Iraq War Marine Veteran.

Endorsed but unsuccessful:

Fred Kundrata (D) 1st Ohio.  He is an Air Force Veteran who lost to incumbent Congressman Steve Chabot

Endorsed Legislation during 113th Congress

The following bills from the 113th Congress have been endorsed by VMFP:

 

  • HR 4276 Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Act of 2014
  • HR 3593 VA Construction Assistance Act of 2014
  • HR 5404 Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2014
  • HR 4399 Comprehensive Department of Veterans Affairs Performance Management and Accountability Reform Act of 2014
  • (HR 5059), (S 2930) Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act (Clay Hunt SAV Act)

U.S. Representatives announce bipartisan Veterans Congressional Caucus Fellowship Program

April 10, 2014

U.S. Representatives announce bipartisan Veterans Congressional Caucus Fellowship Program

Veterans and Military Families for Progress fully supports the Veterans Fellowship Program established by the House of Representatives Veterans Congressional Fellowship Caucus this week.  The mission of the Caucus is to increase the number of veterans working on Capitol Hill.

Mike Michaud (D-ME-2) said “I joined my colleagues Reps. Mike Thompson (D-CA-5), Don Young (R-AK), and Bill Enyart (D-IL-12) a little while ago to announce the formation of the Veterans Congressional Fellowship Caucus. This new program will help more veterans find work on Capitol Hill. We’ll benefit from having more veterans in the halls of Congress, and I know this program will ensure more of the honorable men and women who have given much to our country can continue public service.

Michaud states, “Our veterans make incredible sacrifices for our country, and we have a responsibility to do everything we can to help these honorable men and women transition into the civilian workforce,”

As U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA-5) put it “Our veterans are some of the most skilled workers our country has to offer.  They are leaders who have been tested under pressure and will be tremendous assets to Congressional offices.”

Based on a recent survey Hillvets projected that, out of 6,060 staff jobs in Congressional offices, only 178 are veterans.  Congressman Young said “When I first took the oath of office in 1973, nearly three-fourths of Congress—both House and Senate—was made up of veterans; now it’s barely 20%…I am proud to help found this new veteran fellowship program…and hope it encourages our nation’s veterans to become more actively involved in our political system.”

VMFP is working with the House and Senate to draft legislation qualifying this program under the GI Bill for the 21st Century and allowing participants to earn scholastic credit and collect a stipend during the course of this program.  We will also be working with Student Veterans of America to help promote this cause and lead the way for veterans to get good paying jobs in government.

VMFP vigorously endorses the Veterans Fellowship Program and enthusiastically encourages veterans to participate. Veterans accepted for this program will be hands on participants in the legislative process, gaining valuable experience for a future in government and private sector employment. This program is win – win – win for veterans, military families, and the country.

Below is the link to begin the application process.  We want to encourage all veterans or active duty servicepersons interested in being a part of the government process to apply as soon as possible. The program will accept participants this summer.

http://mikethompson.house.gov/constituent-services/veterans-fellowship-program

VMFP Active in Washington State Through State Chapter

John Lee (left), director of Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs, confers with Bob Rudolph and Mike Gregoire, husband of the Washington State governor.

VMFP works for veterans and military families on the state level as well as national.  A prime example is VMFP member Bob Rudolph, who is a president of the Washington State Chapter of VMFP and a member of the Washington State Veterans’ Legislative Coalition (VLC).

So far this year, Rudolph has testified on three bills being considered at the Statehouse, helped sponsor a luncheon for Washington legislators, and spoke at a Forum on Disability Issues.

One bill, HB 1080, would allow the Washington State National Guard and Reserve troops to be able to vote electronically by mail.  “That would ensure that more of our military members will get an opportunity to vote, especially those in more isolated areas,” Rudolph explained.

Another, HB 1615, would help the national guard, reserves, and their families by extending financial obligations and legal matters if they are suddenly called to active duty.

The third, SB 5806, authorizes a statewide raffle to benefit veterans and their families. Part of the Veterans Innovations Program (VIP), it would help with funding for a Defenders’ Fund Program and the Competitive Grant Program. The Defenders’ Fund Program allows recent veterans to receive a one-time financial hardship grant related to employment, education, housing, and health care. The Competitive Grant Program provides crisis and emergency relief and education, training, and employment assistance.

“This Senate bill is something that we at the VLC are very proud to have been a major factor in along with the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs,” Rudolph said.

The Forum on Disability Issues, a breakfast meeting, was put on jointly by the Veterans & Military Families Caucus and the Disabilities Issues Caucus of the Washington State Democrats. “It’s important to remember that [VMFP] support of veterans and their families is non-partisan,” Rudolph said. “It’s more important to work on the things that unite us, like veteran and family issues, and not the things that can divide us.”

Rudolph fielded questions about disabled veterans and about VMFP-Washington State Chapter. He said the conversation started off talking about our newest disabled veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and the horrendous physical and mental injuries they received and continued with a discussion about the care Vietnam veterans receive from the Veterans Administration. “It was an interesting conversation and we all learned a lot from each other,” Rudolph added.

Finally, Rudolph enjoys getting to “meet and greet” state legislators. “We work hard to get legislation passed,” and that includes getting to know what matters to each legislator. He said he and others on the VLC held their annual luncheon for the lawmakers on Jan. 7 in the State Capitol Legislative Bldg.

2011 VMFP Conference

Details coming soon.