Our Caucuses

Welcome to the DA France National Caucus page. We have created this space to share news, events, and ideas within the caucus communities of our members in France.

 



  • Diversity Caucus

    Welcome to the DA France Diversity Caucus!

    Welcome to the DAFrance Diversity Caucus blog. We have created this space to share news, events, and ideas within the community of our members in France.  The Diversity Caucus is a forum to bring together people interested in issues concerning people of color. In France, the Diversity Caucus brings together the Global Black, Hispanic, and Asian American Pacific Islander caucuses.

    Our mission is to support, educate and enlighten our community with social, political and cultural events. We hope to engage, empower and motivate our members and the larger community of Americans in France to exercise their right to vote from abroad. 

    We encourage you to reach out to us to provide content and ideas for this blog in order to keep it as interactive as possible. You can contact the DAFrance Diversity Caucus co-chairs - Reed Kennedy and Veronica Pollard at  [email protected].

    We invite you to join our Facebook group to learn more about our activities. 

     

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    LGBTQ+ Caucus

    Welcome to the DA France LGBTQ+ Caucus!

    Welcome to the DAFrance LGBTQ+ Caucus blog. We have created this space to share news, events, and ideas within the community of our members in France. The Democrats Abroad LGBTQ+ Caucus is a forum for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex members and any Democrat abroad who supports them. 

    Our mission is to support, educate and enlighten our community with social, political and cultural events. We hope to engage, empower and motivate our members and the larger community of Americans in France to exercise their right to vote from abroad. 

    We encourage you to reach out to us to provide content and ideas for this blog in order to keep it as interactive as possible. You can contact the DAFrance LGBTQ+ Interim co-Chairs - Fred Hoffman and Juan Cerda at [email protected].

    We invite you to visit our Global LGBT+ Caucus webpage in order to learn more about our global initiatives and to join the LGBT Caucus (if you haven't already done so).

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    Youth Caucus

    Young Democrats in France! Welcome!

    Welcome to the DA France Youth Caucus blog (aka Young Dems in France). We have created this space to share news, events, and ideas within the community of our members in France. We aim to build political engagement among young Dems living abroad, including voter registration and voting from abroad as well as issue education, advocacy and activism, especially youth-led and youth-related.

    Our mission is to support, educate and enlighten our community with social, political and cultural events. We hope to engage, empower, and motivate our members and the larger community of Americans in France to exercise their right to vote from abroad. 

    We encourage you to reach out to us to provide content and ideas for this blog in order to keep it as interactive as possible. You can contact the DA France Youth Caucus co-chairs - Chloe Olsen and Ricky Marc at [email protected].

    We invite you to visit our Global Youth Caucus webpage in order to learn more about our global initiatives and to join the Youth Caucus (if you haven't already done so). We also have a Young Democrats in France Facebook group. Please visit us!

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    Womens Caucus

    Gender Equality: Unleashing Women's Full Potential

    On April 13, our Global Women’s Caucus had a brilliant Zoom call with Linda Scott.  Scott is the author of The Double X Economy: The Epic Potential of Empowering Women. It’s a terrific summary about where women stand today - enlightening and sobering statistics that will tell you the whole story. PLUS, Linda Scott is a compelling speaker. Here is the link to watch the full video.
    • Wherever you are active on social media, please follow our Global Women's Caucus. We're now on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
      • Join in on the local discussion by becoming a member of the *NEW* DA France Women's Caucus Facebook group!
      • Not yet a member of the DA Women's Caucus? Join here.
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    Women in the Military and Sexual Violence Injustice

    On April 6, “Sexual Assault Awareness Day,”  the Democrats Abroad Global Women’s Caucus along with the Global Veterans and Military Families Caucus presented an eye-opening report about sexual abuse in the military and the inability of women to get their stories heard and tried.  You can watch the interview here. Facebook Watch event
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    Veterans and Military Families Caucus

    Welcome to the DAF Veterans and Military Families Caucus!

    Welcome to the DA France Veteran & Military Families Caucus blog. We have created this space to share news, events, and ideas within the community of our members in France. We advocate on issues important to the veterans and their families within the United States of America and those living abroad. 

    Our mission is to support, educate and enlighten our community with social, political and cultural events. In particular, we organize participation in Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies at U.S. landmarks abroad such as military cemeteries, battle sites, and places of historical U.S. military significance. We hope to engage, empower and motivate our members and the larger community of Americans in France to exercise their right to vote from abroad. 

    We encourage you to reach out to us to provide content and ideas for this blog in order to keep it as interactive as possible. You can contact the DAFrance Veterans & Military Families Caucus co-Chairs - Anna Marie Mattson and Marie Louise Ferguson at [email protected].

    We invite you to visit our Global Veterans & Military Families webpage in order to learn more about our global initiatives and to join the caucus (if you haven't already done so). We also have an active Global Veterans & Military Families Caucus Facebook page as well as a DAFrance group. Please visit us!

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    Letter to Senators and Representatives of the 117th Congress

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    December 7, 2021

    Dear Senators and Representatives of the 117th Congress,

    For 77 years, America’s veterans have been able to use GI Bill education benefits to further their education after leaving the Armed Forces. Veterans have used this vital benefit to learn how to open and run businesses, to become doctors and lawyers, to learn important trade skills, and much more. For the entire history of this benefit, veterans have been able to freely use their benefits at whatever legitimate institution of higher learning they wanted—until now.

    Recently, the Dept. of Veterans Affairs has made changes to the program approval process for universities to be able to participate in the GI Bill program. Some of these changes were required by law, but others were the result of overzealous interpretations of the law or the VA’s aging technical infrastructure. Regardless of the causes, these changes have hit overseas veteran students the hardest. Records show that between 1,500 and 3,000 veterans1 typically utilize their GI Bill benefits at overseas universities each year, but those students’ ability to utilize their earned benefits is now in danger. These new rules imposed on universities create three giant hurdles for student veterans to cross.

    First, overseas veterans have reported problems with communication between the VA, their university, and the veteran. Schools are required to submit an application for approval prior to a student veteran being cleared to use their GI Bill benefits, and the VA’s response time is unacceptably slow. In one case, it took the VA several months to respond to the university. That veteran was stuck between his university claiming that it has sent multiple follow-up requests to the VA and the VA claiming that it had responded in a timely fashion to the university—but that veteran has no way of verifying either claim, nor do they have a way to make this process move along faster. That veteran has been fighting for at least six months just to get basic information about where his school's application is in the approvals process. This problem was exacerbated by the closure of VA’s Foreign Schools Approval Office.

    Then the VA sends a list of about 40 additional, onerous requirements that were not previously required.2 Among these requirements are whether or not universities are complying with various local laws that the VA cannot reasonably verify, a copy of the university’s entire academic catalog translated into English, personal information about the university’s staff and faculty, and much more. Another requirement, created by the January 2021 Isakson-Roe bill,3 cited by multiple overseas universities as a primary problem is a new reporting requirement about enrollment at the university. Universities located in the United Kingdom, Australia, the European Union, and other countries with similar privacy laws cannot legally furnish personal information about students, faculty, or staff, so they are not legally able to comply with the VA’s new requirements.

    If a veteran and their university can get past the first two hurdles, there is still another issue they must face. In order for a university to receive tuition payments from the VA, the university must open a bank account with a U.S. financial institution and apply for a U.S. Employer Identification Number through the IRS. This extra burden on overseas universities is unnecessary, and after questioning the VA admitted that the requirement is solely due to their legacy electronic payment system that cannot process payments to foreign financial institutions. We maintain that this is an unacceptable reason to deny veterans their earned education benefits.

    The 117th Congress must fix this problem. Veterans earned their education benefits by sacrificing years of their lives, and oftentimes their health, to serve in the United States Armed Forces. We cannot abide by veterans losing access to their earned benefits simply because of where they reside or where they would like to receive an education. Many overseas veterans have been unable to utilize their benefits because of these changes, and some have seen their GI Bill benefits expire while they have waited for the VA to approve their academic programs. Congress and the VA must address this issue by, at a minimum, accomplishing the following:

    • Re-establishing the Foreign Schools Approval Office to improve communication between overseas universities and the VA;

    • Providing a legislative carve-out of reporting requirements for overseas universities that violate privacy laws;

    • Updating the VA’s legacy electronic payment system to be able to process payments to foreign financial institutions;

    • Requiring that, when the VA reports to Congress about its education benefits, the VA have specific reporting requirements about veterans utilizing their benefits overseas; and

    • Extending the education benefits eligibility window of veterans adversely affected by these changes who are not covered by the “Forever GI Bill” by two years at a minimum.

    Very Respectfully,

    Candice Kerestan
    Democrats Abroad International Chair

    Anthony Nitz
    Democrats Abroad Global Veterans and Military Families Caucus Chair

    Office of the International Chair of Democrats Abroad
    [email protected]


    1. According to VA statistics released in Annual Benefits Reports. Data was taken from fiscal years 2014-2020. Historical reports are available here.
    2. The VA claims that many of these were previously required, but the VA did not start enforcing them until this year. See the list of requirements here.
    3. H.R. 7105, often referred to as the Isakson-Roe Bill, of the 116th Congress was passed on January 5th, 2021. Read more about the bill here.
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