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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.