Now that we have Washington's attention
BY NATIONAL COMMANDER DAVID K. REHBEIN
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
During the first half of 2009, The American Legionís convictions were tested on the national stage. First, in March, there was a proposal for VA to start billing the insurance companies of service-disabled veterans for care theyíre supposed to receive at no personal cost. Itís possible the administration underestimated the level of outrage we would feel over this proposal. Within days, as national media cast a spotlight on our opposition, the White House withdrew its idea.
Soon afterward, a baseless Department of Homeland Security report appeared, associating the homecoming of U.S. war veterans with a risk for domestic terrorism and right-wing extremism. Again, our reaction was swift, clear and well reported in the national media. The result was an apology from DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and a better understanding by DHS about the nationís largest veterans organization and its commitment to homeland security and fair treatment of veterans alike.
In April, more than 250,000 veterans in Priority Group 8 Ė those who are slightly above the poverty line Ė were allowed to re-enter VAís health-care system; since 2003, their enrollment had been suspended. And while The American Legion is pleased that some Group 8s are allowed to return, the Veterans Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 1996 opened VA health care to all veterans. Our disagreement with the administrative reversal of that law still stands.
In May, VA began accepting applications for the new Post-9/11 GI Bill, which takes effect in August, one year after former VA Secretary James B. Peake argued the education benefit could not be handled without the services of an outside contractor. The American Legion disagreed and fought off the plan to outsource it. I believe our thinking will be proven right when the benefit takes effect next month.
A record-high $113 billion VA budget is on the table. In May, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee unanimously adopted legislation that mandates on-time budgets for VA health-care facilities, a move The American Legion strongly supports. For years, VA administrators have had to wait long past the beginning of any fiscal year before they knew the resources they had to work with Ė an unnecessary burden at a time of war and rapid demand growth.
Bills to protect the U.S. flag from physical desecration have been introduced both in the House and Senate. U.S. courts are considering the removal of religious symbols, including those that honor veterans who gave their lives for our country, from public sight.
Bottom line: The American Legionís legislative agenda is going full-throttle in Washington. Can the same be said in your local community?
If not, we are missing a great opportunity. Legionnaires can make real differences by personally contacting their locally elected delegations and the media. The Legionís National Legislative Council, which delivers our message in congressional districts nationwide, awaits new members with passion to help veterans, promote patriotism and make communities better. The opportunity is upon us now.
Contact your department headquarters today to see how you can help advance Legion positions where they matter most: in your hometown.
1. First couple of paragraphs were decent victories. Good job and this is why I support the AL as opposed to simply writing worthless emails. This group has way more power/influence than any one individual and in general I agree with them 100%. Sad part is, I think they lose nearly every battle against the ACLU, which sucks.
2. Yup, people actually related terrorism with our Vets. Insane.
3. First, I'm curious if it really should be 113B to run the VA. Even so, the VA should get their budget and know about for planning purposes. I'm sure not knowing costs taxpayers money in itself.
4. I find it stupid that we'll allow people to destroy the US Flag in protest/other manners. Personally, I think if it is freedom of speech to burn it. I think my freedom of speech should allow me to set them on fire. Sure seems like a double standard to me.
5. I can't believe they want to remove religious symbols from public view all the damned time. I promise you if this were racial or not "christian" based - there would be no issue.
Hell, I already have to fly my flag in the backyard. Granted, on specific days I'll put one out front and the HOA can suck it. Is it going to get to the point that I have to take down my backyard flag if a towel head neighbor can see it or something?
My '03 Sold.