Global Veterans and Military Families Caucus Steering Committee, GOTV Military Coordinator; Chair, DA UK Political Book Club

  • rsvped for DAUK Annual General Meeting 2022-06-22 00:27:02 -0400

    DAUK Annual General Meeting

     

    Join us on June 26 to celebrate our volunteer heroes, work on some strategies to get Democrats elected, and look forward to our future! You can join us online or in person. All are welcome!

    Please RSVP and we will inform you of the Zoom and In-Person details once they are available.

    WHEN
    June 26, 2022 at 10:00am
    WHERE
    Hybrid Event: Online and In-Person
    In Person: University Women's Club
    2 Audley Square
    London, England W1K 1DB
    United Kingdom
    Google map and directions
    149 rsvps

  • published May Quiz in Brain Zone Quiz 2022-05-26 13:14:33 -0400

    Which of these 7 Veteran Celebrities
    Received a Dishonorable Discharge?

    1.  Willie Nelson
    2.  Jimi Hendrix
    3.  Steve McQueen
    4.  Ice-T
    5.  Jerry Garcia
    6.  George Carlin
    7.  Don Rickles

    Click here for the answers.


  • published VMF Film- Book June 2022 in Film and Book Recommendations 2022-05-23 12:00:40 -0400

    VMF Film- Book June 2022

    Film recommendations

    VIETNAM: West Virginians Remember Per capita, West Virginians served the most and died the most in Vietnam. These young men spent their young lives hunting and tracking - skills that were prized in this jungle war. Dave Evans, the late husband of Kee Evans, our VMF Caucus Acting Chair, is one of 5 Vietnam veterans who tell their stories in this film. Here 

    Greyhound: Tom Hanks stars in a sequel to the WWII movie. He also is the executive producer of an upcoming American war drama miniseries “Masters of the Air''. Here and here. (Apple TV+)

     


     

    Book recommendations

    When I finished reading Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns, I was amazed. As the subtitle “The epic story of America’s Great Migration” suggests, this is an epic book in every sense of the word. Describing the Great Migration in personal, vivid detail, it is well-researched, a gripping story describing the journeys and the families of three Black Americans. The book often reads like a novel. 




  • published VMF Film- Book May 2022 in Film and Book Recommendations 2022-05-23 11:57:39 -0400

    Film reccomendations

    Are you interested in streaming documentaries to gain a deeper understanding of the history of the former Soviet Union and its republics? Here are our tips:

    Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom This documentary is the story of Ukraine’s fight for freedom from the frontlines of the 2014 uprising, which started as peaceful student demonstrations and after 93 days became a violent revolution with the corrupt president ousted. A visceral feel for who Ukrainians are up against and their indomitable spirit. (Netflix)

     Crimea, As It Was This documentary focuses on the highest human values: honor, loyalty to oath and courage as the Russian forces were moving into Crimea in 2014. This 2016 documentary shows the methods Russia used to occupy territories of independent states while focusing on the soldiers and seamen who stayed true to their oath to the citizens of Ukraine. (UkrStream.tv)

     The Guide This grim but gorgeously shot Ukrainian drama is set during 1932 and 1933 when millions of Ukrainians were killed during a man-made famine engineered by the Soviet government of Joseph Stalin. It follows an American boy who, after witnessing his father’s assassination, travels the Ukrainian countryside with a blind itinerant bard. (EasternEuropeanMovies.com)

    Atlantis Science fiction doesn’t get more prescient than this drama, which imagines Ukraine in 2025 as a frozen wasteland littered with corpses and battered machines. Just when it appears things can’t get bleaker for a PTSD-scarred soldier who is trucking precious potable water, hope arrives. ($5 on demand)

     Ukrainer: The Movie An impressionistic portrait of Ukraine finds the spirit of the country in a lighthouse keeper, a honey farmer, and other unique citizens of a beautiful land. (YouTube)

    Chernobyl (2019) This acclaimed 2019 miniseries excels at conveying the dread that spread after a 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear plant. (HBO Max)

    Greyhound Tom Hanks will star in a sequel to the World War II movie "Greyhound" (Apple TV+)


    BOOK RECOMMENDATION

     

     

    Sunday Times bestseller | A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
    Named a best book of the year by The Economist Financial Times | New Statesman | The Telegraph

    "[Putin's People] will surely now become the definitive account
    of the rise of Putin and Putinism."
    ―Anne Applebaum, The Atlantic

    "This riveting, immaculately researched book is arguably the best
    single volume written about Putin, the people around him
    and perhaps even about contemporary Russia itself in the past three decades."
    ―Peter Frankopan, Financial Times


  • published May 2022 Newsletter in News 2022-04-30 11:53:38 -0400

    May 2022 Newsletter

    Masthead

    May 2022

    Newsletter

    Vol. 2, No. 2

    To view in pdf, click here

    Letter from the Editor


    These days it seems like there are more than enough worries to wake us up in the middle of the night. Autocratic regimes around the world are growing and democratic institutions in America are being threatened. Many anxieties are interfering with our restorative cleansing from deep sleep.

    One worry is that overturning Roe v Wade would be the culmination of a half-century-long legal campaign by the GOP singularly focussed on that outcome. However, although 19 states have proposed or passed abortion restriction bills, there are clear signs that overturning Roe and restricting abortions is far from being an end in itself for the GOP. If (when?) the Supreme Court overturns Roe, the GOP would launch even more ambitious agendas, namely getting fundamental moral issues out of the realm of federal constitutional rights and under the control of the states.

    A common argument for overturning Roe is that it should be states who resolve the issue of abortion for themselves, rather than by having a federal resolution imposed on them.

    If Roe is overturned, what other more ambitious agendas might the Republicans launch? There are a series of federal decisions currently held that prohibit states from banning contraceptives, from criminalizing gay sex, and from recognizing same-sex marriage. These cases are now controlled by federal laws, not under the control of states. The more impactful effect of Roe being overturned is that it would grant power to the states to make laws that affect some of the most intimate aspects of people’s lives, and not be controlled by Federal laws passed by the Supreme Court.

    In recent weeks, in anticipation of a Mississippi decision banning abortions, various Republican senators have questioned a law which struck down a state ban on contraceptives, a law which required states to recognize same-sex marriage, and a law which invalidated a state law which banned bi-racial marriages.

    So beyond the GOP goal of overturning Roe is the goal of weakening the federal government’s power and shifting the power to the states.

    If Democrats acknowledge the long-term ambitions of the GOP, and the current 6-3 conservative Supreme Court, and are armed with the fact that 80% of Americans think that abortion should be legal in all or some circumstances (here), then Democrats should be able to motivate their base to get out and vote in the upcoming midterms. The GOP aggressive attack on Roe and their plan to grant states the power to rule on personal behaviors could backfire for the GOP, if we reach out and engage our base. This is how Democrats can maintain the House and the Senate in November.

    Let’s do everything we can to educate our family and friends on the GOP’s long-term ambitions, and support and motivate Democrats and the politically non-aligned Independents to vote. Our sleep will depend on it.

     

    Yours Democratically, Bob Gould (Editor, DA-UK)

    Read more

  • published VMF May 2022 Spotlight in Spotlight 2022-04-29 03:06:56 -0400

    VMF May 2022 Spotlight

    DA-VMF Caucus Member Participates in French National Deportation Remembrance Day

    Spot1.pngOn April 21 the DA France-VMF Caucus was invited to participate in France's National Deportation Remembrance Day in Paris. The invitation was in recognition of the Americans who were deported from France, in many cases because of their involvement with the French Resistance during WWII. About 150,000 people were deported from France during WWII. Over 100,000 never came back.

    Spot2.pngThe first part of the ceremony took place at the Shoah Memorial, a WWII Holocaust Museum opened in 2005 with survivors’ testimonies in videos, explanatory documents, archives, a teaching center and the marble walls with all the victims’ names inscribed.

    After this, an army band led the attendées through the streets of Paris to an emotionally moving ceremony at the Deportation Martyrs Memorialbehind Notre Dame Cathedral, which included poems, speeches including one by a 97-year old deportée who wo
    re a jacket from his concentration camp, an army chorale, and the lighting of the flame, all in beautiful pomp and ceremony.

    The third ceremony took place at the Arc de Triomphe where the DA France-VMF Caucus was represented by Karen Kenny and Tilly Gaillard, who participated in the wreath-laying ceremony.

    For more information and photos, please visit our DA VMF France website by clicking here.

     May 2022 Memorial Day Commemoration Events: Please join us!

    • The DA-Germany VMF Caucus and DA-Luxembourg will lay wreaths at the Luxembourg American Cemetery on May 28th at the Memorial Day Commemoration Event. Send an email here to request details.
    • Spot3.pngDA-France will lay wreaths at the different American cemeteries in France on Sunday, May 29th at the Memorial Day Commemoration ceremonies. This is a tradition that began in 2009 with our Normandy Chapter and then expanded to the other ABMC cemeteries throughout France. It is natural for us to want to honor the service, memory, and sacrifice. Here we are today, carrying on the legacy with Democrats who are laying wreaths, honoring the memory and sacrifice, and showing the rest of the world that DA-France deeply cares, and will never forget. Send an email here to request details.
    • DA-UK will lay wreaths at the Cambridge American Cemetery on Saturday May 28th. Send an email here to request details.

    Ghost Army Congressional Gold Medal Act: Last year the DA-Germany VMF Caucus and DA-Luxembourg honored SSgt. George Peddle from the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, aka Ghost Army, buried at the Luxembourg American Cemetery. Efforts have been underway to convince Congress to award a Congressional Gold Medal to SSgt. Peddle and the other soldiers of The Ghost Army. We are happy to announce that the bill finally passed in the Senate and President Biden signed S.1404, the Ghost Army Congressional Gold Medal Act, into law on February 1, 2022. To watch Biden sign the Ghost Army Congressional Gold Medal Act into law, click here and here. Click here for a short video about SSgt. Peddle. For a website dedicated to the Ghost Army, click here. Click here to watch Ghost Army: How American Troops Fooled The Nazis During WWII.


  • May 2022 Recommendations

    American Radical is a 5-part pod-series about Roseanne Boyland who died at the US Capitol on January 6. NBC and MSNBC reporter and host, Ahmyn Mohyeldin narrates an in-depth look at what happened to the 30-some year old woman who had never before been political. Many hypotheses are examined for how and why she was there at the Capitol and died on that day. It is a sad and intense story, without a happy ending, and leaves one with many questions and emotions. You can access it here.

    Rumble with Michael Moore: Some of us owe Michael Moore for helping us wake up from a politically lethargic or Republican upbringing. He has been pretty much “holed up” during the pandemic, but his weekly substack and podcast continue to impress and engage. You can sign up for free here.

    American Veteran: Unforgettable Stories: A Special Presentation from American Experience PBS. Each episode tells the story of a single veteran, in their own words. The YouTube link to Episode 1 is here. 

    Listen wherever you get your podcasts.


  • TRANSITIONING TO CIVILIAN LIFE and JOBS!

    Jobboard: Transitioning Out of the Military and Looking For a Job? Click here for listings from companies looking for vets.

    Want to Advance Your Career, Start a Business or Further Your Education? Transitioning from military to civilian life is a unique and uncertain time for military members and their families. It is a time when figuring out what you want to do is just as difficult as figuring out how to do it. Here is one way for veterans and spouses to do both. For a free Find-a-Future program developed by Walmart to serve the veteran community, click here

    Employment of Veterans in the Federal Government In 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13518, Employment of Veterans in the Federal Government, which establishes the Veterans Employment Initiative. The Initiative is a strategic approach to helping the men and women who have served our country in the military find employment in the Federal Government. The Executive Order states the Federal Government will help lead by example in promoting veterans’ employment,and  “creating advocates for veterans’ employment within each federal agency.” All 24 agencies have established a Veterans Employment Program. You can contact the U.S. Department of State Veterans Employment Program Manager at [email protected].

    To further support the Veterans Employment Initiative, the U.S. Department of State launched the Veterans Innovation Partnership (VIP) Fellows Program, a public-private alliance platform that serves America’s veterans and separating service members by preparing them for diplomacy and development careers through a one-year fellowship experience. For more information, please visit www.vipfellowship.org.

    All federal jobs are posted on USAJOBS and linked here. You may search quickly for job postings — by skill, Department component, or state. Use the advanced search options on USAJOBS to further expand or refine your search for Department careers. To view all jobs open preferably to eligible veterans, select “Yes” under “Applicant Eligibility.”

    VA Education Program Started During Pandemic To Retrain Unemployed Veterans Goes Mostly Unused A nearly $400 million program to retrain veterans who were forced into unemployment during the pandemic has gone mostly unused, lawmakers said Wednesday. Congress created the Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program last year as part of the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion relief package that sought to bolster the economy as the country struggled with pandemic-related closures and layoffs. The program, known as VRRAP, offers education and training for veterans who became unemployed during the pandemic and have already used their GI Bill entitlement. Here

    inTransition Program The inTransition Program is a free confidential program that provides specialized coaching and assistance for service members, National Guard members, reservists, veterans and military retirees who need access to mental health care when moving, being reassigned, returning from deployment, transitioning between active duty and reserve status, preparing to leave military service, or any other time they need a mental health provider. Click here or call 1-800-424-7877.


  • published April Poem in Poetry Corner 2022-03-17 10:16:34 -0400

    April Poem

    This month’s poem was sent in by a reader.
    written in 1958 it was one of the first poetic responses 
    to the first ever use of an atomic bomb, 
    when the author first read it at New College in Oxford the crowd threw shoes at him. 
    If it looks too long an audio version is linked at the end. 

     

    BOMB 

    by Gregory Corso 

     

    Budger of history   Brake of time   You   Bomb

          Toy of universe   Grandest of all snatched sky   I cannot hate you

            Do I hate the mischievous thunderbolt   the jawbone of an ass

         The bumpy club of One Million B.C.   the mace   the flail    the axe

       Catapult Da Vinci   tomahawk Cochise   flintlock Kidd   dagger Rathbone

        Ah and the sad desperate gun of Verlaine   Pushkin   Dillinger   Bogart

     And hath not St. Michael a burning sword   St. George a lance   David a sling

     Bomb   you are as cruel as man makes you   and you're no crueller than cancer

      All Man hates you   they'd rather die by car-crash   lightning   drowning

    Falling off a roof   electric-chair  heart-attack   old age   old age   O Bomb

         They'd rather die by anything but you   Death's finger is free-lance

      Not up to man whether you boom or not   Death has long since distributed its

      categorical blue   I sing thee Bomb   Death's extravagance   Death's jubilee

       Gem of Death's supremest blue   The flyer will crash   his death will differ

        with the climbor who'll fall   to die by cobra is not to die by bad pork

    Some die by swamp   some by sea  and some by the bushy-haired man in the night

       O there are deaths like witches of Arc   Scarey deaths like Boris Karloff

        No-feeling deaths like birth-death   sadless deaths like old pain Bowery

      Abandoned deaths   like Capital Punishment   stately deaths like senators

       And unthinkable deaths like Harpo Marx   girls on Vogue covers   my own

         I do not know just how horrible Bombdeath is   I can only imagine

          Yet no other death I know has so laughable a preview   I scope

          a city   New York City   streaming   starkeyed   subway shelter 

            Scores and scores   A fumble of humanity   High heels bend

                Hats whelming away   Youth forgetting their combs

              Ladies not knowing what to do   with their shopping bags

                Unperturbed gum machines   Yet dangerous 3rd rail

              Ritz Brothers   from the Bronx   caught in the A train

                    The smiling Schenley poster will always smile

                       Impish death   Satyr Bomb   Bombdeath

                         Turtles exploding over Istanbul

                             The jaguar's flying foot

                            soon to sink in arctic snow

                         Penguins plunged against the Sphinx

                            The top of the Empire state

                        arrowed in a broccoli field in Sicily

                     Eiffel shaped like a C in Magnolia Gardens

                           St. Sophia peeling over Sudan

                         O athletic Death   Sportive Bomb

                           the temples of ancient times

                             their grand ruin ceased

                          Electrons   Protons   Neutrons 

                             gathering Hersperean hair

                        walking the dolorous gulf of Arcady

                              joining marble helmsmen

                           entering the final amphitheatre

                         with a hymnody feeling of all Troys

                            heralding cypressean torches

                             racing plumes and banners

                     and yet knowing Homer with a step of grace

                           Lo the visiting team of Present

                               the home team of Past

                           Lyre and tube together joined

                         Hark the hotdog soda olive grape

                          gala galaxy robed and uniformed 

                          commissary   O the happy stands

                          Ethereal root and cheer and boo

                         The billioned all-time attendance

                              The Zeusian pandemonium

                                Hermes racing Owens

                              The Spitball of Buddha

                                Christ striking out

                               Luther stealing third

                          Planeterium Death   Hosannah Bomb

                         Gush the final rose   O Spring Bomb

                         Come with thy gown of dynamite green

                           unmenace Nature's inviolate eye

                             Before you the wimpled Past

                       behind you the hallooing Future   O Bomb

                            Bound in the grassy clarion air

                             like the fox of the tally-ho

                      thy field the universe thy hedge the geo

                     Leap Bomb   bound Bomb   frolic zig and zag

                    The stars a swarm of bees in thy binging bag

                          Stick angels on your jubilee feet

                        wheels of rainlight on your bunky seat

                         You are due and behold you are due

                           and the heavens are with you

                       hosanna incalescent glorious liaison

                     BOMB O havoc antiphony molten cleft BOOM

                        Bomb mark infinity a sudden furnace

                     spread thy multitudinous encompassed Sweep

                             set forth awful agenda

                  Carrion stars   charnel planets   carcass elements

                 Corpse the universe   tee-hee finger-in-the-mouth hop

                           over its long long dead Nor

                        From thy nimbled matted spastic eye

                        exhaust deluges of celestial ghouls

                          From thy appellational womb

                       spew birth-gusts of of great worms

                            Rip open your belly Bomb

                   from your belly outflock vulturic salutations

                   Battle forth your spangled hyena finger stumps

                           along the brink of Paradise

                             O Bomb   O final Pied Piper

                    both sun and firefly behind your shock waltz

                              God abandoned mock-nude

                     beneath His thin false-talc's apocalypse

                            He cannot hear thy flute's

                            happy-the-day profanations

                   He is spilled deaf into the Silencer's warty ear

                        His Kingdom an eternity of crude wax

                          Clogged clarions untrumpet Him

                            Sealed angels unsing Him

                          A thunderless God   A dead God

                           O Bomb   thy BOOM His tomb

                     That I lean forward on a desk of science

                      an astrologer dabbling in dragon prose

                   half-smart about wars   bombs   especially bombs

                  That I am unable to hate what is necessary to love 

                    That I can't exist in a world that consents

                a child in a park   a man dying in an electric-chair

                        That I am able to laugh at all things

              all that I know and do not know   thus to conceal my pain

                  That I say I am a poet and therefore love all man

               knowing my words to be the acquainted prophecy of all men

                    and my unwords no less an acquaintanceship

                               That I am manifold

                         a man pursuing the big lies of gold

                          or a poet roaming in bright ashes

                        or that which I imagine myself to be 

                    a shark-toothed sleep   a man-eater of dreams

                       I need not then be all-smart about bombs

                  Happily so   for if I felt bombs were caterpillars

                       I'd doubt not they'd become butterflies

                             There is a hell for bombs

                          They're there   I see them there

                           They sit in bits and sing songs

                        mostly German songs

                          And two very long American songs

                        and they wish there were more songs

                       especially Russian and Chinese songs

                      and some more very long American songs

                        Poor little Bomb that'll never be 

                           an Eskimo song   I love thee 

                            I want to put a lollipop

                                in thy furcal mouth

                         A wig of Goldilocks on thy baldy bean

                      and have you skip with me Hansel and Gretel

                            along the Hollywoodian screen

                          O Bomb in which all lovely things

                       moral and physical anxiously participate

                    O fairylike plucked from the 

                              grandest universe tree 

                          O piece of heaven which gives

                         both mountain and anthill a sun

                    I am standing before your fantastic lily door

                    I bring you Midgardian roses   Arcadian musk

                     Reputed cosmetics from the girls of heaven

                       Welcome me   fear not thy opened door

                         nor thy cold ghost's grey memory

                       nor the pimps of indefinite weather

                           their cruel terrestrial thaw

                              Oppenheimer is seated

                           in the dark pocket of Light

                        Fermi is dry in Death's Mozambique

                             Einstein his mythmouth

                     a barnacled wreath on the moon-squid's head

                 Let me in   Bomb   rise from that pregnant-rat corner

                    nor fear the raised-broom nations of the world

                               O Bomb I love you

                     I want to kiss your clank   eat your boom

                        You are a paean   an acme of scream

                          a lyric hat of Mister Thunder

                            O resound thy tanky knees

                         BOOM   BOOM   BOOM   BOOM   BOOM

                          BOOM ye skies and BOOM ye suns

                        BOOM BOOM ye moons   ye stars BOOM

                         nights ye BOOM   ye days ye BOOM

                     BOOM BOOM ye winds   ye clouds ye rains

                        go BANG ye lakes   ye oceans BING

                         Barracuda BOOM and cougar BOOM

                           Ubangi BOOM   orangutang 

                     BING BANG BONG BOOM   bee bear baboon

                            ye BANG ye BONG ye BING

                           the tail the fin the wing

                     Yes   Yes   into our midst a bomb will fall

                     Flowers will leap in joy their roots aching

              Fields will kneel proud beneath the halleluyahs of the wind

                Pinkbombs will blossom   Elkbombs will perk their ears

               Ah many a bomb that day will awe the bird a gentle look

                     Yet   not enough to say a bomb will fall

                      or even contend celestial fire goes out

                    Know that the earth will madonna the Bomb

             that in the hearts of men to come more bombs will be born

                magisterial bombs wrapped in ermine   all beautiful

                   and they'll sit plunk on earth's grumpy empires

                         fierce with moustaches of gold

    For audio link Click here

    Please send poetry submissions for the May issue to:
    [email protected]




  • published April 2022 Recommendations in Postcasts & Social Media 2022-03-17 08:48:55 -0400

    April 2022 Recommendations

    • American Radical is a 5-part pod-series about Roseanne Boyland who died at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. NBC and MSNBC reporter and host, Ahmyn Mohyeldin narrates a very in-depth look at what happened to a 30-some year old woman who had never before been political. They propose many hypotheses for how and why she was there at the Capitol and died on that day. We do not recommend listening to the 6-part series in one day. It is a sad and intense story, without a happy ending, and leaves one with many questions and emotions. You can find it here

    • Some of us happen to actually OWE Michael Moore for helping us wake up from a lethargic or Republican upbringing. He has pretty much “holed up” during the COVID 19 months, but his weekly message, substack, and podcast continue.  You can sign up free for the substack, or contribute, and if you only want the podcast click here

    Listen wherever you get your podcasts. Enjoy!


  • published April Brain Zone Quiz in Brain Zone Quiz 2022-03-17 08:46:29 -0400

    Veteran General Knowledge Quiz

    QUESTIONS

    1. What is the correct spelling? Veterans Day, Veteran’s Day or Veterans’ Day.
    2. Of all the living veterans (24 million veterans living today), what percent have served in the Vietnam War?
    3. Before it was called Veterans’ Day, it was known as _______________.
    4. Which country, along with the U.S., stood beside South Korea in the Korean War against communism?
    5. What is the motto of the Department of Veterans Affairs?
    6. Out of the 46 presidents that the U. S. has had, how many have been a veteran?
    7.  Which  famous actor attained the highest military rank in U.S. history for an entertainer, and what was his rank?
    8. Who is the famous U.S. military leader who was denied admission to West Point twice?
    Read more

  • published VMF February 2022 Newsletter in News 2022-01-28 09:48:08 -0500

    VMF February 2022 Newsletter

    Masthead

    February 2022

    Newsletter

    Vol. 1, No. 12

        To view in pdf, click here

    Hello and Warm Greetings, Veterans and Military Families!

    Since our beginning, the Veterans and Military Families Caucus has been focused on advocating for overseas military families, and we have made significant progress recently with reforming the GI Bill. Soon veterans and military families overseas will be able to more easily receive their GI benefits.

    We want to build upon these successes and apply the lessons we have learned to improve the Veterans Administration for overseas veterans and military families. Would you be willing to help us? If the VMF Caucus had a magic wand and the power to bring about significant change to the VA, what three (or more) improvements would you suggest? How could the VA be reformed to make life better/easier for you as a vet overseas?

    Email your suggestions here: [email protected]

    With much appreciation, and democratically yours, 

    Bob Gould (Co-Editor, DA-VMF United Kingdom)

     

    Read more

  • published VMF December 2021 Newsletter in News 2021-12-01 00:05:29 -0500

    VMF December 2021 Newsletter

    Masthead

    December 2021

    Newsletter

    Vol. 1, No. 10

        To view in browser, click here
        To view in pdf, click here

    Greetings from a leader of the VMF Steering Committee, Erin Watson

    Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome!

    The seasons are changing, the 2021 elections have finished, and we learn to take the good with the disappointing. In the Northern Hemisphere, we’re getting ready for cold winters and the holiday season. In the Southern Hemisphere, we’re preparing for the fire season and summer vacations. In Democrats Abroad, we’re celebrating our victories as we prepare for the 2022 midterms.

    While losses are always easier to see, we did have important wins. Congratulations to Representative Shontel Brown (OH-15), Governor Phill Murphy (NJ), Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver (NJ), Mayor Eric Adams (NYC), Mayor Ed Gainey (Pittsburgh), Mayor Michelle Wu (Boston), and Mayor Tim Keller (Albuquerque). Our votes count, and our vote matters. Next year it will be time to put our money where our mouths are and get more Democrats elected to protect our country and the planet.

    But for now, in December, we’re taking small actions, and you can join us.

    1. Join our Commander-in-Chief Cup fundraiser! A small donation goes a long way to reaching and registering overseas voters. To access, click here.
    2. Talk about our GI Bill advocacy with your families and friends. Family gatherings are a chance to find out if someone isn’t getting the support they earned.
    3. Talk about our Veteran Deportation advocacy. No family deserves to be separated, especially during the holidays.
    4. Rest and stay healthy. The 2022 midterms are critically important, and we want all our volunteers to be healthy, stay healthy, and be fighting fit for our democracy.
    5. After January arrives, register to vote here: votefromabroad.org. The best holiday present is being assured of receiving a ballot for the November 8th elections.

    We thank you for all of your support throughout 2021. It means the world to us as we keep up the good fight. From all of us at DA-VMF to you, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

    Erin Watson, Global Military GOTV Coordinator

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  • published VMF Ninth Newsletter in News 2021-11-01 15:04:05 -0400

    VMF Ninth Newsletter

    Masthead

    November 2021

    Newsletter

    Vol. 1, No. 9

        To view in pdf, click here

    Greetings from VMF Co-editor

     

    “The Democrats don't matter.”--- Steve Bannon

    Hello and welcome members and friends,

              I am amazed that it is already November! It is tempting to head into the holiday season wanting to put issues of government and politics behind us. Please understand that when you personally need a break, it is important to take one. No one's psyche can handle the current political whirlpool endlessly. There is a podcast I listen to, The Daily Beans, (more below in the new PODCASTS section) where the host often says, “Pass the baton.” She also finishes every episode with “Take care of your mental health.”

              The thing about passing the baton is it only works if enough of us are in the relay race. I invite you to find a podcast that speaks to you (Please share links of your favorites with us at [email protected].) and take some action. Small, medium or large--- find a way to get involved with an issue that particularly matters to you.

              We all live outside the States, at present, and I for one am most grateful to begin my 16th year living in my olive grove on the Greek island of Lesvos. But we all CARE. And things are not going well in our country of citizenship. In fact, alarming, disgraceful and dangerous things are happening in the US.

              I titled this missive with words from Steve Bannon, from an interview he did with Michael Lewis, the author of many great books: Moneyball, The Big Short, The Fifth Risk, etc. I throw these words out there at the head of our precious newsletter because I think they are a wake up call. Influential people, like Bannon (as much as you might dislike him you ignore him at our democracy’s risk), believe that they can discount Democrats and get away with it.

              In fact the whole quote is even more alarming: “The Democrats don't matter. The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with sh*t.” This is the tactic being used all across America right now, a simple and simpleton's tactic but one that is sadly powerful. And let me tell you the sh*t is flying in the news these days. We as Democrats (and Independents who join in our fight) have to make ourselves matter.

              If you need any convincing, I encourage you to listen to a 6-episode podcast series (approx 30-minutes each) called Southlake. I warn you people behave badly, and the students of the Carroll Independent School district suffer. Then,  just yesterday my son called me from Wisconsin and said the local paper had a headline of similar school board issues in our home state.

              One final podcast I will mention is called Gaslit Nation. It is a bit harder to listen to than some, it doesn't have great sound quality, and the topics are uncomfortable, but the two women are experts on the subject of rising autocracies and dictators around the world. They know a thing or two! Andrea Chalupa produced a film about Stalin's imposed famine in the Ukraine. Just last week there was a showing of the film in Moscow. The police came, locked the doors from the outside, and interrogated everyone present.

              I truly don't know what Republicans are thinking. The path they seem determined to follow – just yesterday all 50 Republican Senators voted against even debating the Freedom To Vote Act – leads directly to such perilous outcomes. And in their attempts to control school boards America’s youth will be deprived. When perspective disappears only the sh*t remains.

              I apologize for starting the month off with such a mood of doom and gloom, but if even one of us is motivated to take action, it has to be worth it. Thank you for your attention.

              Be well,

              Robin H Rafaelidys

              Lesvos, Greece

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  • published VMF Eight Newsletter in News 2021-10-01 09:21:04 -0400

    VMF Eight Newsletter

    Masthead

    October 2021

    Newsletter

    Vol. 1, No. 8

        To view this in pdf, click here

    Greetings from a VMF Caucus Guest Contributor

    At ease…

    One of the proudest decisions of my post-active and -reserve military life is committing to volunteering for Democrats Abroad (DA). As I'm sure you're aware, there are many non-profit organizations and political groups that aim to support veterans and military families (VMF), but DA's Veterans and Military Families Caucus is unique. We are comprised of not ​only VMF Americans living abroad but also strong allies of our causes who live abroad and understand the overseas perspective. In my involvement with the VMF Caucus, I've created templates for our members to contact their Members of Congress, edited podcast discussions with issue-expert guests, brainstormed ideas ​on how ​to ​take advocacy action, and ​much more. Why am I dedicated to volunteering with the VMF Caucus​ and urging you to do the same?

    Since last year's General Election, Democrats across the board have made significant progress in taking care of America's veterans and military families. Six months ago, President Biden signed into law legislation to provide COVID-19 vaccinations, whenever available, to all veterans, veteran spouses, caregivers, and VA Civilian Health and Medical Program recipients. The Democratic-led Senate has taken legislative steps forward on tackling the serious issue of eliminating sexual assault within the military, while the Democratic-led House of Representatives has tackled other important issues such as allowing VA employees to organize into labor unions, researching ways to halt veteran suicides, and repatriating deported veterans. In addition, Secretary McDonough has committed to making meaningful reforms to the oft-plagued Dept. of Veterans' Affairs while Democratic governors throughout the states have been enacting pro-veterans laws supported by millions of Americans. We need to not only keep these Democratic incumbents in office but expand this group by booting out anti-compromise, do-nothing Republican politicians holding back meaningful pro-VMF policies.

    However, despite the above ​Democratic-led ​accomplishments, I'm not yet fully satisfied with the state of things and I suspect you aren't either. If you’re anything like the fellow Marines and Sailors I served with, you know that legislative victories that support veterans and military families don't come easily. The current system of VA health care is far from covering all of our nation's veterans from the physical injuries and mental scars sustained from their time in service, especially those veterans ​needing care ​who live abroad. An estimated millions of veterans harmed from toxic smoke and particulate matter stemming from so-called “burn pits” over the past few decades have yet to receive the earned VA-provided care needed to address their health. Moreover, with mold, lead-based paint, asbestos, poor water quality and exposure to sewage, base housing is still not completely safe for military families, especially for those military families residing abroad. When it comes to veterans and military families, "taking care of our own" goes without saying. But it also is an all-of-the-above strategy that the DA VMF Caucus strives to achieve.

    Maybe you've thought about becoming more active with our caucus but aren't quite sure what we do. Let's discuss. We register U.S. citizens living abroad to vote. We provide assistance to those needing to request their ballot from their home state voting jurisdiction. We spread our messaging via social media and encourage others to share. We strive to have diversity and inclusion among our steering committee and full caucus membership. In short, we want what you want: to improve the federal government's response to supporting and taking care of our nation's veterans and military families; to hold our elected officials accountable; to always seek to improve our Party and our Caucus; and to increase voter turnout from Americans overseas.

    So what can we as VMF Caucus members do? As it turns out, there are plenty of action items we can and must do to move our country forward. Whether it be:

    • making a generous contribution to getting out the critical military overseas vote,
    • spearheading an issue advocacy campaign,
    • sharing with us your personal veteran or military family experience that you believe should be brought to our attention,
    • researching ways federal issues affect the American veterans and/or military families abroad population,
    • recommending notable guests for VMF webinar discussions and roundtables,
    • drafting an op-ed, letter-to-the-editor, or convincing language to reform our Party and stances on VMF issues,
    • participating in a commemorative or remembrance occasion,
    • being an extra pair of hands during in-person VMF events,
    • attending monthly online VMF meetings and sharing new information with fellow Democrats Abroad members in your country committee and personal network,
    • raising awareness of a political issue,
    • assisting with I.T.-related projects,
    • mentoring, engaging, or empowering other VMF members, or
    • following us on social media to learn of events and activities, it is easy:
    Connect with us on    fb.png twit.png Insta.svg  

    There are countless ways you can help the VMF Caucus!

    We take great pride in the fact that since our caucus' founding four years ago, we have been 100% volunteer-run and operated with an overall clear goal of supporting American citizens abroad exercising their right to vote, and we invite you to help with our missions as our vital work continues to grow. Thank you for being a valued member of our caucus. And if you've received this newsletter from someone else, consider joining us, then let us know your skills and level of motivation, and we'll make sure your volunteering contributions won't be wasted.

    Semper fi, Michael Ramos (DA Australia, IL voter, former enlisted USMC)

    ** IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT **

    You might be surprised to hear that there are over 20 states having elections right now. All states allow absentee ballots to be returned by mail, but with supply chains slowed down by COVID, mail may not be the fastest or best option for you. Many states allow ballots to be faxed, so please check your state's guidelines at Votefromabroad.org. (If you don’t have access to a fax machine, there are several online fax services that will send your ballot quickly and safely, or perhaps a copy store near you.)

     

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  • published VMF Seventh Newsletter in News 2021-08-31 05:03:53 -0400

    VMF Seventh Newsletter

    Masthead

    September

    Newsletter

    Vol. 1, No. 7

    Greetings from the Co-Editor

    Although we Democrats have big challenges ahead, most notably the evacuation in Afghanistan, the Covid-19 spikes hitting mainly the unvaccinated, the GOP’s coordinated efforts to suppress voting, and the global environmental crises, there are plenty of very real and tangible reasons for optimism. The 7-month-old Biden-Harris administration has executed a robust agenda, and significant accomplishments have been made. Here are the more salient reasons for optimism.

    To start, in March Congress and Biden passed the very popular $1.9 trillion Covid Relief Bill, clearing the way for stimulus checks and vaccine aid. Then the Senate passed a massive bipartisan infrastructure bill. Fifty Democrats and 19 Republicans voted for this bill, which will be devoted to rebuilding the nation’s roads, transit networks, water-supply pipes, and sewer systems. Then comes the budget resolution, which Senate Democrats hope to pass by this fall. It would allow social policy legislation, paid for by raising taxes on the wealthy, large inheritances, and corporations. Should all 50 Democratic Senators close ranks, the measure could pass the Senate without any Republican votes, thereby avoiding a filibuster threat.

    Together, these 2 bills could secure all of President Biden’s $3.5 trillion economic agenda: to rebuild the nation’s roads, bridges, rail lines, water systems and electricity grid, while upgrading public education, social welfare, health care, addressing climate change, and revamping the federal tax code. This is further explained in WHAT’S CONGRESS UP TO? Go to page 11 and check it out, or click here.

    The Biden administration already participated in an important victory when 130 countries signed on to a plan for a global minimum corporate tax, supporting Biden’s belief that countries need to prevent corporations from taking advantage of weak tax rules.

    Let’s not forget the August job report released by the Department of Labor showing better results than economists had predicted, and the administration had hoped for. The report also validates the Democrats’ approach to growing the economy. Since Reagan in 1981, Republican lawmakers have opposed government intervention to stimulate the economy, insisting that low taxes and private investment will drive the economy more efficiently. This recent job report confirms the exact opposite approach works more efficiently.

    In another vein we heard the shocking revelations from former acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen about former president Trump’s direct efforts to use the Department of Justice to overturn the 2020 election. With Trump loyalist Jeffrey Clark from the DoJ and Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, soon testifying to Congress about their messaging that “the election had been stolen”, we can expect more damning revelations.

    Sadly 25% of Republicans say they support the January 6 Insurrection as repackaged by allies of former president Trump to sway the public’s understanding of what happened that day. However, 535 insurrectionists have been arrested and await their sentences, some with jail time. There are reports that the Insurrection has convinced some moderate Republicans to shift their party identity to Independent, and to be noted, some even joined us, the Democrats.

    Let’s also remember that in July, New York prosecutors charged the Trump Organization with a 15-year “scheme to defraud” the government and charged its Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg with grand larceny and tax fraud. Since Weisselberg, who has pandered to Trump for decades wants to avoid spending the rest of his life in prison, many suspect he will flip and cooperate with authorities despite the hold Trump has over so many facets of his life.

    There is good and bad news coming from a report by James Hohmann in the Washington Post related to voter protection efforts. "Twenty-eight states have passed 71 laws since last November’s election to make voting easier, which will benefit 63 million eligible voters, while 18 states have passed 31 laws during that same time to erect barriers, affecting only 36 million eligible voters.” Speaking on the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, Merrick Garland endorsed moral courage when he said, “We must say again that it is not right to erect barriers that make it harder for millions of eligible Americans to vote. And it is time for Congress to act again to protect that fundamental right.”

    Further, Jennifer Rubin made an encouraging analysis at the Washington Post by pointing to the Republican assumption that restrictions on early or mail-in voting would hurt Democrats, but since many Republican voters are older or live in rural areas and cannot get to the voting stations easily, the Republicans may be shooting themselves in the foot, and their efforts to undermine democracy may boomerang and reduce their chances for 2022 victories. Here

    Although the road is bumpy, there are reasons to be optimistic about our country’s and our party’s future. The Biden-Harris administration is moving forward and I hope you will join me in admiring all the accomplishments described above.

    Democratically yours, Bob Gould

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  • published VMF Sixth Newsletter in News 2021-08-01 07:42:40 -0400

    VMF Sixth Newsletter

    Masthead

    August

    Newsletter

    Vol. 1, No. 6

    Greetings from the Co-Editor

    Let My People Vote

    Hello All Members and Friends,

    As your newest Read, White, and Blue co-editor let me introduce myself and then dive, briefly, into what – despite all other news – I think is MOST serious. I was born in the 1950's in Madison, WI a middle-class town, in a middle-class world. I walked to school and had weekly $5 piano lessons. I went to Michigan State University and married at age 21. I have NO idea who, or where I'd be now if that man hadn't walked out of my life one day 3 years later. There I was at 24 with the rug pulled out from under me and I re-calibrated. As you can imagine I have stories for days but I will skip ahead to what matters: YOU.

    In the 2018 election my vote – mailed from Greece to Milwaukee – was returned months later. With the “former guy” destroying democracy right and left I sought out support and found Democrats Abroad. However you got here, wherever you are WELCOME! And thank you. I deeply believe every grain of energy and intention contributed to fighting back at those attempting to damage democracy makes a difference.
    And the most serious issue today – amidst all the challenges at present? The VOTE. Without it we are literally powerless. With the vote we are successful only in great numbers. If we can't amass those numbers because of disenfranchisement, harassment, challenging regulations, redistricting and state legislatures that get the authority to throw out results ----- we are defeated. End of story.


    There are brave, dedicated serious groups working to fight back in many states. Lawyers for multiple organizations are taking anti-democratic regulations to court. (Even the ex-president MAY face the law – we can only hope.) I want to highlight what Texans and some other “good trouble” (Thank you, John Lewis!) people are doing right now. A brief rundown:


    May 31: The Texas Democratic lawmakers walked out of session denying a quorum so no vote could be taken on the voting restrictions bill.

    July 8: Texas legislators were called back for a special session.

    July 12: 51 Democratic Texas legislators left Texas and went to DC, again stalling the Texas legislature from passing a major voter restriction bill.

    July 15: Congresswoman Joyce Beatty of Ohio lead a group of women in a peaceful protest in the Hart Senate building (DC). They sang protest songs and chanted: Free the vote! End the filibuster! Fight for justice! They were arrested (in under one hour!).

    July 19: Over 400 people assembled in Austin, TX for a LET MY PEOPLE VOTE rally held by Texas Impact, an interfaith organization.

    Planned for July 27- 31: a “Selma to Montgomery'' march for voting rights. Marchers will walk from Georgetown, TX to Austin (27 miles) to demand that Texas legislators listen! It will be led by The Poor People's Campaign (founded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and led now by Reverends William Barber II and Liz Theoharis), Powered by People (founded by Beto O'Rourke) and more civil rights/voting rights organizations.

    This IS what democracy looks like. I know this letter will come out when these things have all happened. But that does not mean they are over or done. I urge all of you to support any voting rights efforts you can in your home state or with any group you feel connected to. Various groups like Indivisible are planning events in every congressional district during the August recess period. If you have been active all along, good for you! If not, this is a great time to start! This debate is not yet decided. Congress does not go on recess for a couple weeks yet. If I had my say, they don't deserve vacation till they've done their job and defended all Americans' rights to vote.

    Be well,

                Democratically yours, Robin H Rafaelidys (DA Greece)

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  • published VMF Fifth Newsletter in News 2021-07-01 02:37:40 -0400

    VMF Fifth Newsletter

    Masthead

    July 2021

    Newsletter

    Vol. 1, No. 5

    Greetings from the Co-Editor

    We have been hard at work these last several months building a newsletter for our community: veterans, service members, military families, and allies. A whirlwind of news and legislation has impacted our community so far this year. Between COVID vaccinations for veterans and military families, burn pit and toxic exposure legislation, veteran deportation legislation, and more, we have been very busy. That is why we created a new section of our newsletter: “How We Are Fighting for Veterans and Military Families.” We want to tell you all about what we’re working on, and we want you to continue to tell us what you want. We receive emails every month from our readers about VMF issues.  You can write us at our newsletter email address [email protected].

    Please continue to tell us what you want to see, what you’ve enjoyed or would like to see change about our newsletter, and keep bringing new issues to us so we can continue to advocate for our community. We have had amazing results so far from our analytics team. Almost 40% of our members are reading the newsletter! We want to continue improving this publication for those who read it now and those who may read it in the future. Our next goal is to better integrate our newsletter with the Democrats Abroad website where we can create more detailed versions of particular sections of our newsletter. For instance, we intend to move much of the legislation we are tracking onto the website. We understand that these bills moving through Congress are important, but we also realize that two pages of legislation in the newsletter may be too much.

    Remember, this newsletter is for you. Contact us any time you have VMF concerns that you believe we should address and never hesitate to ask us questions about voting, registering to vote, utilizing the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), or Vote From Abroad!

    Democratically yours,

     

    Anthony “Mike” Nitz, Navy Veteran

     

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  • published VMF Fourth Newsletter in News 2021-06-05 05:52:17 -0400

    VMF Fourth Newsletter

    MARGRATEN ON MEMORIAL DAY AND EVERY DAY

    By Roberta Enschede, DA The Netherlands

    Margraten

    “If ever proof were needed that we fought for a cause and not for conquest,

    it could be found in these cemeteries. Here was our only conquest: 

    all we asked ....was enough.....soil in which to bury our gallant dead.”

    Lt. Gen. Mark W. Clark

    Sadly, this year like last, there can be no public ceremony at Margraten on Memorial Day.   The thousands of people - grandparents, parents, children, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, veterans who come year after year will not be there to put a flower or a bouquet on the grave of “their soldier” or a handful of pebbles on a white marble Star of David. 

    Yet, even though they can’t be there, their memories and thoughts, like mine, will be in the rolling land of Limburg where we “buried our gallant dead.” Perhaps they’ll tell friends a story about “their soldier,” the young hero the family adopted. Perhaps they’ll say a prayer or look at a book of old photos.  Maybe they’ll think about how they felt when they had the privilege to lay a wreath during the Memorial Day Ceremony.  Maybe they’ll remember when they were Scouts and walked around and placed a Dutch and American flag in front of each grave.

    The more you go to Margraten, the more meaningful it becomes. When I’m there, I always stop at the grave of Robert van Klinken. He was a young soldier whose parents were Dutch immigrants and who died in the land of their birth. I visit the grave of Willie James, an African-American soldier who posthumously was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President  Barack Obama. I walk over to the grave of Major General Maurice Rose, the highest ranking soldier buried in Margraten and the most decorated. 

    Before I leave, I find some of the graves of the Timberwolves -  the 104th Infantry.  I was fortunate enough to get to know some of their comrades who made it out of the war and made a point of returning to Margraten for as long as they were able to travel. My Timberwolf  friends are all gone now - those funny, feisty, smart, wise, courageous men. I could always feel how they cared for each other. Sometimes, they acted like teenagers who won a ballgame, slapping and laughing. Sometimes, I could feel their sadness and I knew they were asking themselves: why was I lucky? Why is he here and not me?  One fellow, a jeweler from LA, would say, “Margraten, that’s my church.” Another tall lanky gentleman, an architect from Kansas, would amble over to the graves of his comrades and come back with tears filling his eyes. He’d tell his soldier buddies, “I said hello.”

    I would stand to the side and just watch and listen. They were in a world only another soldier could understand.

    The ancient words of Pericles are carved in the white marble of Margraten. They are especially fitting this year when we are only able to be there in our thoughts and memories.

    "EACH FOR HIS OWN MEMORIAL EARNED

    PRAISE THAT WILL NEVER DIE AND WITH

    IT THE GRANDEST OF ALL SEPULCHRES

    NOT THAT IN WHICH HIS MORTAL BONES

    ARE LAID BUT A HOME IN THE MINDS OF MEN."

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  • published Third Newsletter in News 2021-05-11 07:52:39 -0400

    May Newsletter

    Masthead

    May 2021

    Newsletter

    Vol. 1, No. 3

    Greetings from the Co-Editor

    Nearly 15% of the attempted insurrectionists on January 6 were veterans. Research is consistently indicating that the primary driver for those insurrectionists was fear of the “great replacement,” the belief that the rights of minorities will “overtake” that of Whites. One study by Chicago’s Project on Security and Threats found that for every 1% decline in a county’s White non-Hispanic population over a 5-year period, the county was 6 times more likely to send at least one insurrectionist.

    For example, the Proud Boys, a far-right neo-fascist organization, actively reaches out to and recruits military-trained and police-trained individuals. Evidence indicates they were the predominant leaders of the insurrection, carefully coordinating with other “far-right extremist groups” prior to January 6. Thus far four Proud Boys have flipped and are assisting the FBI, by providing information, for instance, on how they delivered security for Trump advisor Roger Stone in the days around the insurrection.
     
    In surveys the Proud Boys deny being White supremacists and stress that there is no systemic racism in America, and that Black Lives Matter (BLM) supporters and Antifa are the violent forces in the country.
     
    So, where do we go from here? I see four important conclusions:
    • The ingredients currently exist for future political violence.
    • We need a thorough bipartisan investigation into the insurrection, including how it was possible that there was a 58 to 1 ratio of rioters to Capitol Police officers, and why 78 requests for backup were denied or ignored.
    • FBI, National Guard, mayors, law enforcement, the CIA, etc. need better intelligence, communications, and sounder risk analysis of right-wing extremist groups in America.
    • Research is needed to assess the extent radicalization occurs before, during, or after military service and police training.
    I suspect this letter may generate a dialog, and as this newsletter is for you, please send your comments, questions, and thoughts about the letter from the co-editor and VMF-related issues to our Suggestion Box. Send us an article and tell us what you’d like us to write about in future issues, and tell us what you want us to address in our semi-monthly Caucus meetings.  

    Democratically yours, Bob Gould

    Sources:

    Washington Post 4/6/21 What an analysis of Capitol insurrections tells us Here

    Chicago’s Project on Security and Threats (CPOST) Here

    Washington Post 4/15/21 Police at the Capitol Severely Disadvantaged Here

    The Nation 4/7/21 The US Military Is an Extremism Incubator Here

     

     

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Co-Chair of Global Veterans and Military Families Caucus & GOTV Military Coordinator, and DAUK Political Book Club leader
$65.00 raised
GOAL: $200.00