March Newsletter

March 2021

Vol. 1, No. 1

   

UPCOMING EVENTSACTIVISMFILM RECOMMENDATIONSTAFF ARTICLE

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 Editor

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Upcoming Events


Upcoming VMF Meetings

The Global VMF Caucus Steering Committee meets every other week. Caucus members are welcome to attend as observers. The next VMF meeting will be Sunday March 21 as per Rotation A. Here is the login info for the Zoom Meetings:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4414855431
Meeting ID: 441 485 5431

March – The Month of the Military Caregiver and Women’s History Month


EVERYONE NEEDS THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT!

For those of us in the Veterans and Military Families Caucus, we have watched the role of women in our nation's military grow ever closer to equal standing with men.

1917 - Loretta Walsh became the first woman to join the military outside of the Nurse Corps.
1920 - Women finally had their own voice in elections when the 14th Amendment was ratified.
1947 - General Dwight D. Eisenhower commissioned Colonel Florence Blanchfield into the US Army as a Lieutenant Colonel making her the first woman to ever hold permanent rank.
1948 - Congress passed the Women's Armed Services Integration Act that made women a permanent part of the US military.
1970 - Colonel Anne May Haes became the first woman to ever hold a flag rank when she was promoted to Brigadier General.
1976 - The first women were admitted to the US Service Academies.
1978 - In Owens v. Brown, courts declared the ban on women serving onboard ships unconstitutional. Soon after, Congress approved change to policy allowing the Navy to assign women to fill sea duty billets onboard support and non-combatant ships.
1990 - Commander Darlene Iskra became the first woman to command a US Naval vessel.
1994 - Women start serving on combatant ships.
1993 - Major General Jeannie Leavitt (then a Lieutenant) became the first female fighter pilot. 2002 - Command Sergeant Major of the US Army Reserve Michele S Jones became the first woman to become the enlisted head of a branch of the US military.
2008 - General Ann Dunwoody became first woman to achieve four-star rank.
2010 - Department of the Navy authorized women to serve onboard submarines.
2015 - Secretary of Defense Ash Carter lifted the ban on women serving in ground combat roles, so the first groups of women enter into the infantry.
2021 - The year to adopt the Equal Rights Amendment thereby ensuring gender equality...at last.

Even though the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) has, after decades, been ratified by 38 states, the problem is the deadline imposed by Congress was 1982, a long time ago. As of right now, courts have ruled the ERA cannot be included in our Constitution because that deadline has passed. This ruling will move up to the Supreme Court. We cannot change what the Supreme Court may decide, but what we can do is talk to Congress. If we, through our activism, convince enough members of Congress to change or remove the deadline, the ERA may yet become ratified as the 28th Amendment. This would be a momentous victory for women and men in all walks of life.

Here is how you can help. #1 Go Here and write your story on why ERA is important to you. Login to Democrats Abroad before you post your story. Post before March 24. These will be included in hand-delivered packets to all Congress members, helping influence Senators to vote yes. #2 Call your senators. Say equal rights must be anchored in our Constitution or else all could be undone by executive order. More info and scripts can be found here.VV.jpg

March 21 - Rosie The Riveter Day Here

March 25 - Medal of Honor DayMarine Corps Pfc. Daniel D. Bruce  Here

March 29 - Vietnam Veterans Day -  A day set aside to show honor and respect to our Vietnam Veterans. Here

APRIL- Month of the Military Child
An opportunity to recognize military children and youth for  their heroism, character, courage, sacrifices and continued resilience. Here

April 5 - Gold Star Spouses Day - A day to recognize the sacrifices of Gold Star spouses. Here

April 6 - Sexual Assault Awareness Day Here

Join us as we discuss issues of military justice with the Founder & Chair, President, and Treasurer of Protect Our Defenders (POD), the pre-eminent national human rights organization dedicated to ending sexual violence, victim retaliation, misogyny, sexual prejudice, and racism in the military and combating a culture that has allowed it to persist. We will focus on the ways in which the military has led social change throughout history, POD’s study on racial disparities in military justice and current legislation which could radically improve the delivery of justice. After their comments, all of the speakers will be available to answer questions. This event is co-sponsored by The Global Women’s Caucus & The Global Veterans and Military Families Caucus. Here

April 9 - National Former POW Recognition Day Here

April 11 - Legislative Pulse, a webinar on Billtrack50

Karen Suhaka of DAUK will present Legislative Pulse, a webinar on Billtrack50, a powerful search engine for democracy and taking action on political issues you care about most. Karen will show the steps as a bill becomes law, explain how bills are numbered so y ou’ll know who to call and when to call, and help you figure out what’s the best action to take. Karen, the founder and catalyst of Billtrack50, has been most generous in giving DA a free subscription to research our key policy areas and develop plans to reach legislators and make policy become a reality. Sign up here.

April 14 - Air Force Reserve Birthday Here

April 15 - Purple Up! Day On this day Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) communities wear purple to show support and thank military children for their strength and sacrifices. Purple is chosen because all colors of the branches combine together as one color, purple. Here

April 16 - First Colors Ceremony, 10am EDT Inaugural raising of the flag over the National WWI Memorial in Washington, D.C., featuring award-winning actor Gary Sinise. Here

April 23 - Army Reserve Birthday Here

MB.jpgApril 30 - National Military Brats Day A day set aside to honor the children of military personnel. A book from 1921 attributes the origins of the term “brat” at least in part due to a British military acronym that stood for “British Regiment Attached Traveler” (BRAT). This designation was given to families who were approved to accompany the service-member to an overseas duty location. The story goes that eventually “BRAT” became synonymous with military children.  Here

ACTIVISM


SUPPORT H.R. 1, the FOR THE PEOPLE ACT

H.R. 1 passed the House March 3rd so now is the time to contact your Senators! Please call your Senators immediately and let them know that you support H.R. 1.

H.R. 1 protects voters from state voting list purges, expands and standardizes early voting, provides for automatic voter registration, ends gerrymandering, removes dark and foreign money from politics, and provides many other protections that will transform our voting landscape. It will, in many cases, reverse the Republican attacks on voting happening now at the state level across the United States.

Sample Script: Hi, I'm {Name} and I am a constituent of {insert person's name}. I support HR1 and hope you will do everything you can to pass the strongest possible bill to support voting rights. 

More information and call tips:  

Due to the pandemic, many Congressional staff members are working remotely, and you may need to leave a message. Before you make your call, be prepared with your voting address in the United States, including your zip code, and your phone number overseas beginning with 011. For more details about the bill, here is the text: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/1/text

 
GOTV:

Time to request your Absentee Ballot! Register to vote/request your absentee ballot at www.votefromabroad.org. Americans overseas must request their absentee ballots every calendar year. Best to do this now so you are ready for all 2021 elections! Some people missed out on voting in the November election because they had not requested their absentee ballots before the deadline! We recommend you check the box to have your    blank ballot sent to you by “Email/Online” or “Fax.” After you’ve filled out the form, Email, Fax, or Mail your signed form to your Local Election Office.

Texas's 6th Congressional District Special Election May 1 Texas's 6th congressional district's congressman Ron Wright (R-TX) died February 7, 2021 of COVID-19. When congressional seats in Texas become vacant, the Governor calls a special election to fill the vacancy. The special election is expected to be competitive, due to the district trending Democratic in recent years (from 17 points for Romney in 2012 to only 3 points for Trump in 2020), and its suburban nature. A jungle primary will be used, where all candidates will be listed on the same ballot. If no candidate receives over 50 percent of the vote, the race will proceed to a runoff between the two candidates with the two highest vote shares. If a runoff is required, it will take place no earlier than May 24, 2021. (Wikipedia)

Important Details: Election date: May 1.   Registration deadline: April 1.
Online registration: No.   Same-day registration: No.    Early voting starts: April 19. #
Absentee voting deadline: April 27.    Voter ID: Photo ID.    Poll times: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Join the DA Phonebanking Team Democrats Abroad uses CallHub, an online system that is free for the caller. It requires a computer or similar device. Using a headset   makes the sound clearer. You choose your hours; since calls are made worldwide, there is always somewhere to call. After a short training session, off you go…. provided with a description of the person you call and a script. A couple of survey questions, a click and the machine sends you to the next call. Here

The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) provides online training    modules that allow for you to complete training at your own pace for doing voter   registration on any military installation around the world. Go HERE, click "Get Started" and select the module that applies to your mission. Once you have completed your VAO certification, email us at HERE and please state whether you have an ID card granting you access onto military bases. 

DA Global Elections The DA Global Annual Meeting will be online May 14 – 16, with Democratic Party Committee Abroad (DPCA) elections for International Chair, International Vice Chair, International Treasurer, International Secretary and International Counsel. Details will be forthcoming from DA Global. (Nominations due by March 23). Here

Film RecommendationFilm1.jpg

With the BAFTA Ceremony Sunday April 11 and Academy Awards on Monday April 26, we decided to recommend one of the veterans and military films that has been nominated for awards: Da 5 Bloods (Netflix). This is a very powerful,  well-acted film with typical Spike Lee punch and subplots.  Lee’s blending of the Vietnam War, PTSD, racism, interracial  families, classism, and social inequity provides the intensity and  expansive reach that keeps the audience processing and appreciating Lee’s skilful story telling. Delroy Lindo gives a  sensational performance.

More Film Recommendations for VMF

Military Wives (2019) a sad/happy, warm movie for appreciating the stresses, boredom, worry, and pain of spouses and children on-base when their loved ones are called up to active duty. Somehow the group comes together and produces something wonderful and significant for all. (True story, British) Here

Film2.jpgMegan Leavey (2017) Based on a true story about a Marine who bonds with her combat dog in Iraq. Here

Hurt Locker A 2009 American war thriller Here

Winter Soldier: This landmark documentary chronicles a 1971 meeting when more than 100 American veterans spoke publicly at a Detroit motel about the inhumanity and brutality of the Vietnam War. At   its best, it is the eloquent, unforgettable tale of profound moral reckoning. The most chilling aspect is that, 50 years down the road, it feels fresh. Attempting to add context to the recently uncovered My Lai Massacre of 1968, the soldiers recall witnessing atrocities committed against Vietnamese soldiers, unarmed civilians, children and prisoners of war. Here is a documentary that will provide you with the courage you need to act morally and with confidence and courage, and to continue to question and force accountability. Here

Was the Vietnam War Unconstitutional? Here

Top Ten Military Movies of 2020 Here SB.jpg

Suggestion Box

We welcome your input. What's important to you? What are we missing? Any VMF issues experts you’d want us to interview in a live webinar event? Email us at: [email protected]

Editorial Staff Article

Worth A Try
by Robin Hathaway Rafaelidys 
Mytilini Island, Greece; Steering Committee, Editorial StaffKY.png(The Counties of Kentucky)

Kentucky, to my surprise, boasts one hundred twenty (120) counties. California, which is almost 4 times as large in size and has 8 times the population, has only 58. It's not the first thing one thinks about when contemplating the states UNLESS one is going to a chosen state one month before what one considers a life-and-death presidential election. Because for election purposes counties are king. And I wanted to depose a king, one self-proclaimed “Grim Reaper”.

It was last September and while I knew that of the 35 senate seats up for re-election defeating Mitch McConnell was the most unlikely of all upsets, it was the one that stirred my blood. I simply cannot tolerate the unethical behavior and anti-American positions that Senator McConnell has taken and continues to take. Why does he do what he does? It seems like pure evil. And as a member of Democrats Abroad Greece and the Global Veterans and Military Families Caucus I felt a powerful need to replace the polio survivor who rejects universal healthcare, the lawyer who rejects honesty, and the Senator of ZERO integrity, with the 34-year-younger woman, mother, and former Marine Corps fighter jet pilot, Amy McGrath. 

Pandemic be damned, I got my COVID-19 test in Athens and flew to Chicago where my daughter and son-in-law lent me their 2009 Ford Explorer. (A lucky make I thought to drive around a “red” state.) Loaded with sleeping bags and a case of beer (I wasn't sure how many Kentucky counties were still dry), I drove the length of Indiana, crossed the Ohio River on I275 below Cincinnati and spent my first night in a rest area in Boone County, KY on October 9th.

Over the next twenty-one days I drove some 2,500 miles experiencing 83 of the 120 Kentucky pocket-sized counties,and I can say without hesitation they are all beautiful! Being an old state (Estb.1792) most of the county seats haveoriginal courthouses in a town square. Most of them had flags and VOTE HERE signage. The early voting started onOctober 13th and often I saw lines outside. Sometimes I ventured in the door and inquired how things were going. The poll workers were generally friendly and proud to say that turn-out was good.

The median age of a Kentuckian is 36 years, exactly as long as Mitch McConnell has been a senator. I got the feeling, when I was able to interact, that people kind of thought, 'the devil you know, is better than the devil you don't yet know'. I got to cross the Green River more than a dozen times, sleep beside The Ohio River in Paducah, Henderson, and Carrollton, learn what a 'holler' is, visit the Audubon park and museum all while wearing a mask and a pink hat with VOTE written in gold. I left crossing the Ohio River again, high over Louisville. I received much. I wish I could have done more for Kentucky.

 Poetry Corner: Please send submissions to: [email protected]

 

winter

haibun by Isa Kocher
NY Swiss-American Veteran




We hope you enjoyed this inaugural newsletter and hope you found some information useful. Our next newsletter will tentatively be distributed April 25.

Editor:

Bob Gould (VMF Co-Chair, UK) 

Editorial Staff:

Jessie Darrett (Germany)
Kathy Davidson (France)
Kee Evans (Guatemala)                                                            
Madeleine Savit (Spain)
Mike Nitz (Vietnam)
Robin Rafaelidys (Greece)
Terese Sarno (Germany)
Tilly Gaillard (France)

Contact us by email at

[email protected]

 

 

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