Vol. 1, No. 10
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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.
- Join our Commander-in-Chief Cup fundraiser! A small donation goes a long way to reaching and registering overseas voters. To access, click here.
- 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.
- Talk about our Veteran Deportation advocacy. No family deserves to be separated, especially during the holidays.
- 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.
- 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 CoordinatorRead more
Vol. 1, No. 9
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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.
Robin H Rafaelidys
Lesvos, GreeceRead more
Vol. 1, No. 8
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Greetings from a VMF Caucus Guest Contributor
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:
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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.)
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 GouldRead more
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.
Democratically yours, Robin H Rafaelidys (DA Greece)
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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!
Anthony “Mike” Nitz, Navy Veteran
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MARGRATEN ON MEMORIAL DAY AND EVERY DAY
By Roberta Enschede, DA The Netherlands
“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."Read more
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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:
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.
- 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.
Democratically yours, Bob Gould
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
Vol. 1, No. 2
Greetings from the EditorThis newsletter is for you. With this in mind, please use our Suggestion Box to provide us with your questions, comments, and thoughts on Caucus business or VMF-related issues. Feel free to let us know what you’d like to see us write about in future issues, send us articles, and tell us what you want us to address in our twice-a-month Caucus meetings.Georgia's New Voting Laws and How They Affect Everyone:Before I talk about Georgia’s laws, I would first like to recommend that all overseas voters utilize electronic delivery of their voting materials. Federal law requires that states allow this for elections with federal offices on the ballot and doing so will significantly cut down on the chance that your ballot won’t arrive in time to be counted. Some states, like my state of North Carolina, even allow you to submit your ballot electronically. I recommend looking up your state’s specific rules using votefromabroad.org.There are bills being considered in state legislatures all around the country that attempt to mirror many of the changes made in Georgia’s election law. We should expect to see similar restrictions on election officials, overseas and military voting, and ballot access pass in many states before the 2022 elections. Here are the most impactful amendments to Georgia’s election laws for military and overseas voters:
• There will now be two separate requirements to prove your identity when voting absentee. First, officials will compare your name, date of birth, and one of your Georgia Driver’s License number, Georgia State-issued ID number, or the last four digits of your Social Security Number written on an outer “oath envelope” (instructions will be provided to accomplish this when voting using an electronically submitted ballot). Second, you must place a copy of one of the following ID cards in your outer envelope: Georgia Driver’s License, Georgia State-issued photo ID, a valid US passport, a valid Government employee photo ID, a valid US military photo ID, or a valid tribal photo ID. More information on valid IDs can be found here.
• Signature verification is no longer a part of registering for your absentee ballot. Instead, the registrar or absentee ballot clerk will compare your name, date of birth, and either your Georgia Driver’s License or State-issued ID number to what they have on file. If you do not have one of those two forms of ID, they “shall verify that the identification provided with the application identifies the applicant.” To be safe, I recommend following the provisions linked above.
• When you complete your registration to receive an absentee ballot, election officials are no longer required to send you your ballot. You must now request your ballot for each primary or election you wish to vote in. However, filling out and submitting the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) will still allow you to request an absentee ballot for every federal election in that calendar year. This is federal law for overseas and military voters (and their families!), so Georgia’s laws cannot circumvent this. Here’s an extra link to the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) guidelines for Georgia.
• The dates to request absentee ballots have changed in Georgia. Instead of up to 180 days prior to an election, you must now request your absentee ballot between 11 and 78 days prior to the election. Again, using the FPCA will allow you to register in any state at the beginning of the year as normal.
• Because overseas and military voters are covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizen Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), the changes made to when absentee ballots are sent out do not apply if you use the FPCA to request your absentee ballots. All states are required to send out these absentee ballots to overseas/military voters at least 45 days prior to the election if there are federal candidates on the ballot. For other absentee voters, Georgia will send out most absentee ballots between 25 and 29 days before the election.
• Run-offs in GA will now be held 28 days after the election instead of 9 weeks after. This means that there will be a significant time crunch in returning absentee run-off ballots. A blank run-off ballot will be provided with your election materials, but this may not always be useful if there are a lot of candidates from both parties like we saw in Senator Warnock's election. Unfortunately, I don’t have a solution for this problem -- many of us may not be able to return ballots in time for run-offs. Use express mail if it's available to you. I don’t know if this part of the law will be successfully challenged in court, but I do strongly believe that it goes against the spirit of the provisions laid out in the UOCAVA.
Don’t let these changes dishearten you. Keep engaged, keep voting, and make sure your friends and family are voting too. We won 2020 fair and square, and we will do it again. Your voice matters. Your vote matters. Persevere.
For those who are interested in reading the full text of the bill, here is a link to Georgia SB202. And remember, use the FPCA!
Mike Nitz, Co-Editor, Global VMF Caucus Secretary, and Veteran
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Vol. 1, No. 1
Letter from the Editor
This March, the Global VMF Caucus is pleased to share the launching of its first newsletter with the celebration of the personal stories embodied in two themes: Military and Veteran Heroines and Military Caregivers. We welcome you to this first edition and encourage you to join the conversation as we remember, learn about, and celebrate the Women’s History Month with famous females in the military and the history of famous women caregivers who provided care to military service members, personal stories from before the Civil War up to the present.
First, we celebrate with a passage about Florence Nightingale, who rebelled against her wealthy British parents, and instead of becoming a “proper” high society lady, travelled to Scutari in the Ottoman Empire with 38 volunteer nurses who she had trained to treat the wounded soldiers of the Crimean War. Her greatest contribution was combating disease and death. And although she was not an U.S. citizen, the vivid graphs she made to back her public health campaigns convinced the powerful that deaths due to filth and poor sanitation could be averted - saving countless lives of U.S. allies.
We also celebrate Mary Edwards Walker, the only woman to ever be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. She was best known as a feminist, abolitionist, and the first female doctor who during the Civil War quickly volunteered to provide medical care for the Union army. She frequently crossed battle lines to assist the wounded, and regularly treated civilians.
This newsletter is dedicated to serving you, and with this in mind, we ask you to use our Suggestion Box to provide us with ideas for future issues. Please let us know what issues you want us to write about as well as items you would like us to address in our twice-a-month VMF caucus meetings.
We hope you enjoy this first edition!
Bob Gould, Global VMF Caucus Co-Chair and EditorRead more
Bob Gould published This inequality makes me feel ashamed to be an American. in ERA Stories 2021-03-14 06:10:45 -0400
During the past 100 years American women have been trying to gain assurance that the Constitution assures them the same rights as men. The fear of American men to legalize equality for women has been blocking this amendment from being passed. The fact that this inequality still exists in the richest Democratic country in the world, and not in 88% of the countries, makes me feel ashamed to be an American. Women and men would gain significantly from passing the ERA. We all must dedicate ourselves to this fight until equality is enshrined in our Constitution. Bob Gould - UK resident, voting in CA
Bob Gould published Upcoming Biden-Harris Events for Veterans and Military Families in News 2020-10-29 06:32:10 -0400
Letter from Leo Cruz, Biden Campaign Veterans and Military Families Engagement Director
6 days to take our democracy back.
Yesterday, Vice President Biden visited Warm Springs, Georgia and delivered remarks focused on unity and healing with one week left before the general election. He later spoke at a second rally in Atlanta, where he urged Georgians to vote for Democrats up and down the ticket. You can watch his full remarks in Warm Springs and Atlanta.
Today, Joe Biden will receive a briefing from public health experts. After, Vice President Biden will deliver remarks on his plans to beat COVID-19, lower health care costs, and protect Americans with pre-existing conditions. You can watchHERE.
Also today, Kamala Harris will travel to Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona to urge Arizonans to make a plan to vote early. In the morning, Senator Harris will meet with a group of Latina business owners in Tucson. After, Senator Harris will participate in an early vote mobilization event. In the afternoon, Senator Harris will travel to Phoenix to meet with a group of Black leaders. Later, Senator Harris will participate in an early vote mobilization event with Grammy Award-winning singer and philanthropist Alicia Keys.
Yesterday, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris released a statement on the shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. In his statement Joe Biden stated that “Walter Wallace’s life, like too many others’, was a Black life that mattered — to his mother, to his family, to his community, to all of us.”
Get Involved -- Upcoming Biden Veterans and Military Families Events
Wednesday, October 28, 6:00 PM ET: NH Veterans & Military Families Caucus Get Out The Vote: Join the New Hampshire Veterans and Military Families Caucus for a virtual Get Out The Vote Rally! Featured Guest Speakers: The Hon. Ray Mabus, the 75th U.S. Secretary of the Navy, and former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia; the Hon. Patrick J. Murphy, the first Iraq War veteran elected to Congress and former U.S. Undersecretary of the Army; The Hon. Maura Sullivan, former Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and a Marine Corps Veteran; Tam Siekmann, Chair of the Londonderry Democrats, Blue Star Family Member & Marine Corps Spouse.
Wednesday, October 28, 6:30 PM ET: Michigan GOTV Roundtable on Civil Rights and Military Communities: Join us for a virtual discussion with General Lloyd Newton, USAF, Ret., Professor Gertrude Croom, Dr. Turnera Croom, and Damien Butler, USA and USAF, 2004 - 2018, and Ms. Tracy Pakulniewicz, former Director of Policy Integration, Department of Defense, focusing on the importance of electing Joe Biden for servicemembers and military families of color.
Wednesday, October 28, 6:00 PM CT: GOTV in The Quad Cities and Southeast Iowa with Admiral Michael Franken (Ret.): We’re so excited you’re interested in making calls to elect Joe Biden for President, Theresa Greenfield for Senate and Democrats up and down the ballot in Iowa this November. 🇺🇸 From the comfort of your home, you can help us Get Out the Vote to help elect Democrats all while staying socially distant.
Wednesday, October 28, 8:00 PM ET: Midwest Conservative Veterans for Biden Roundtable: Join former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Dr. Joseph Collins; Air Force veteran; Pennsylvania-residents and Ohio-natives RADM Janice Hamby (USN, Ret.) and her husband and U.S. Army veteran Dale Hamby; Illinois-native BG Steven Anderson (USA, Ret.); and Pennsylvania-native and Ohio-resident MG Dennis Laich, (USAR, Ret.) for a Midwest Conservative Veterans for Biden Roundtable moderated by former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force and Illinois-native Robert Goodwin on Wednesday, October 28th at 8:00PM ET.
Wednesday, October 28th, 8:00 pm ET GOTV with Oprah: Oprah Winfrey is hosting an event with voters from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, and across the country.
Thursday, October 29, 7:00 PM ET: Michigan National Security GOTV Roundtable: Join us for a virtual discussion with General Lloyd Newton, USAF, Ret., The Honorable Duane Woerth, Brigadier General Don Schenk, USA, Ret., Brigadier General Mark Montjar, USA, Ret., and Ms. Tracy Pakulniewicz, former Director of Policy Integration, Department of Defense, via Zoom focusing on the national security imperative to elect Joe Biden.
Connect With Your Fellow Americans
During this time of social distancing, the most impactful thing you can do is reach out to your fellow Americans and ensure they have a plan to vote as soon as possible. Please join a weekly phone bank in critical states across the nation:MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdaySaturdayAgain, here’s what you can do to help us restore the soul of America:Thank you,Leo CruzVeterans and Military Families Engagement Director
Bob Gould published Congressional candidates who we have endorsed: in News 2020-10-23 09:31:23 -0400
State and District # Endorsed Candidate AL-1 James Averhart (Marine) AL-4 Rick Neighbors (Army) AR-4 William Hanson (Army) AZ-7 Ruben Gallego (Marine) CA Gil Cisneros CA-5 Mike Thompson (Army) CA-20 Jimmy Panetta (Navy Reserves) CA-23 Kim Mangone (Air Force) CA-24 Salud Caebajal (Marine) CA-33 Ted W. Lieu (Air Force; JAG) CA Mark Takano, Chairman Veterans Affairs CO Jason Crow, veteran CO-4 Isaac McCorkle (Marine) FL-1 Phil Ehr (Navy) FL-8 Jim Kennedy (Navy) FL-12 Kimberly Walker (Army) FL-18 Pam Keith (Navy) GA-1 Joyce Marie Griggs (Army) GA-2 Sanford Bishop Jr. (Army) GA-3 Val Almonord (Army) GA-9 Devin Pandy (Army) HI Tulsi Gabbard (National Guard) HI-2 Kaiali'i Kahele (Air National Guard) ID-1 Rudy Soto (Army) IL-1 Bobby L. Rush (Army) IL Gregorio K.C. Sablan IN-3 Chip Coldiron (Army) KY-1 James Rhodes (Army) KY-6 Josh Hicks (Marine) MA-4 Jake Auchincloss (Marine) MA-6 Seth Moulton (Marine) MD-1 Mia Mason (Army) MD-4 Anthony Brown (Army reserve, Colonel) ME Jared Golden (Marine) MN-1 Dan Feehan (Army) MN-7 Collin Peterson (Army) NC-1 G. K. Butterfield (Army) NC-11 Morris Davis (Air Force) (JAG) NC-13 Scott Huffman (Navy) NJ-9 Bill Pascrell Jr. (Army) NJ Mikie Sherrill (Navy) NY-2 Jackie Gordon (Air Reserves) NY-11 Max Rose (Army) NY José E. Serrano OH-14 Hillary O'Connor Mueri (Navy) OK-2 Danyell Lanier (Navy) OR Peter DeFazio PA-7 Chrissy Houlahan (Air Force) PA-14 Bill Marx (Marine) PA-17 Conor Lamb (Marine) SC-7 Melissa Watson (Army) TN-1 Blair Walsingham (Air Force) TX-19 Tom Watson (Army) TX-23 Gina Ortiz Jones (Air Force) VA-2 Elaine Luria (Navy) VA-3 Robert Scott (Army Reserves) WI-5 Tom Palzewicz (Navy)
Bob Gould published Remembering the prisoners of wars and the missing in action: a representative wreath laid at the Suresnes American Military Cemetery in France in News 2020-09-30 10:59:44 -0400
Remembering the prisoners of wars and the missing in action: a representative wreath laid at the Suresnes American Military Cemetery in FranceTo commemorate National POW/MIA Recognition Day, September 18, four representatives of the DAF Veterans and Military Families Caucus laid a wreath on the alter in the chapel at the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial at Mont Valerien, near Paris. It is a most captivating chapel, where the names of the 974 Missing in Action, men buried or lost at sea during WWI, are shown on four plaques.Anna Marie Mattson, (Interim Chair of the DAF Veterans and Military Families Caucus), Beth Herwood, Tilly Gaillard and Claire Baker were escorted on an instructive, moving guided tour of the cemetery by Sandrine Debote, Assistant Director, Guide and Associate of the cemetery.World War I soldiers, seamen, and members of the Air Force, all comrades in arms from across the United States lie at rest in this cemetery where tombs are marked with Latin crosses (1542) and Stars of David (22). The tombstones show the name, home state, branch of the military, date of death. The cemetery is beautifully tended to respect the right to peace and tranquility of the fallen. There are 24 unknown soldiers from WWII; correction 23 ‘unknown’ since now 1 ‘known’ soldier thanks to a recent DNA test. The family had the choice to either bring their loved one home or leave him with the other soldiers. Their decision was to leave him in France.The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) was established by Congress in 1921 to honor the U.S. Armed Forces who fought abroad so that “Time will not dim the glory of their deeds” (General John Pershing). The cemeteries are open to the public. The land is made available to the United States in perpetuity but remains the property of the Republic of France.Check out the pictures here.Tilly Gaillard
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