April Newsletter

Masthead

April/May 2021

Newsletter

Vol. 1, No. 2

 

UPCOMING VMF CAUCUS MEETINGSACTIVISMFILM RECOMMENDATIONARTICLE
Greetings from the Editor
This 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

Connect with us on  fb.png twit.png Insta.svg  

 

UPCOMING VMF CAUCUS MEETINGS

The Global VMF Caucus Steering Committee meets every second week. All VMF Caucus members are encouraged to attend and participate, and all Democrats Abroad members are welcome to attend and observe. The next two VMF meetings will be Sunday May 2 as per Rotation A (12:00 PM CEST), and May 23 as per Rotation B (9:00 AM CEST). Here is the login info for the Zoom Meetings:

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

Meeting Time Table

 

APRIL

Month of the Military Child and Democrats Abroad Voter Advocacy Month

April Is Voting Rights Month

An opportunity to recognize military children and youth for their heroism, character, courage, sacrifices and continued resilience. According to the Army official site, “military children will be able to tell their story on what it means to be a military child through drawings or words for a chance to win great prizes.” Read more

April 23 - The Army Reserve’s 113th Birthday will be on Friday, April 23rd, 2021. Famous Army Reservists include actor Leonard Nimoy, John Fogerty of musical artists Creedence Clearwater Revival, actor Alan Alda of MASH fame (yes, he did serve a six-month tour in Korea as part of his military duty), film director Mel Brooks and former Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI). Read more

Military Family Hug 

April 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, 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, although unflattering, became synonymous with military children.

MAY

National Military Appreciation Month

A month to recognize and show appreciation to the
Armed Forces of the United States of America.

May 1 - Loyalty Day: A day set aside for American citizens to reaffirm their loyalty to the United States and to recognize the heritage of American freedom.  Learn more...

May 1Silver Star Service Banner Day: A day set aside to honor our wounded, ill, and dying military personnel by participating in flying a Silver Star Banner.  Learn more...

May 6The National Day of Prayer: An annual observance held on the first Thursday of May.

The observance invites people of all faiths to pray for the nation. Learn more...

How can you pray for the military community? Learn more...

May 7 - Military Spouse Appreciation Day: A day set aside to acknowledge the contributions and sacrifices of the spouses of the U.S. Armed Forces. Learn more... 

LINK - Practical insights in caring for a military home front family

May 8 - Victory in Europe (VE) Day (Celebrated on May 7 in Commonwealth countries): A day to commemorate the anniversary of the Allies' victory in Europe during World War II on May 8, 1945. Learn more...

Volunteers Honoring Veterans in Washington, D.C.
with Helen Belletti, Volunteer Coordinator

May 8, 2021, VE-DAY, at 9:00 a.m. (EST)

The DA Global Veterans and Military Families (VMF) Caucus invites you to a Zoom Webinar to learn how volunteers in Washington, D.C. honor our veterans by keeping the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in pristine condition, by greeting the World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War Veterans when they arrive in Washington, D.C. to visit their respective war memorials, and by participating in the winter holidays wreath laying at Arlington National Cemetery. Co-sponsored by DA-VMF France and DA-VMF Germany, you can RSVP for the Zoom Webinar here: [email protected]

May 9 - Mother's Day in the USA

LINK - Organizations that support deployed military personnel on Mother's Day

LINK - Coloring page for military children

May 13 - Children of Fallen Patriots Day: A day to honor the families our fallen heroes have left behind – especially their children. It is a reminder to the community that we have an obligation to support the families of our Fallen Patriots. Learn more...

May 15 - Armed Forces Day: A day set aside to pay tribute to men and women who serve in the United States’ Armed Forces. Learn more...

May 31 - Memorial Day (Decoration Day): A day set aside to commemorate all who have died in military service for the United States. Typically recognized by parades, and visits to memorials and cemeteries. Learn more... Link to coloring page for military children: Here

Where can veterans get the COVID-19 vaccine? DoD is currently delivering vaccine to more than 340 sites around the globe in an effort to vaccinate all eligible DoD beneficiaries. Not all locations have reached the same phase. To find out when you can get the vaccine, contact your local U.S. military hospital or clinic. Here If your local U.S. military hospital or clinic can’t schedule a vaccine appointment for you now, leave your name and contact information, and request to be contacted when the vaccine is available for you. Continue to follow your military hospital's or clinic's website, news media, or social media to stay informed about vaccine availability and updates.

ACTIVISM

Filibuster:

Is there no other way of protecting voting rights and passing the two-voter protection bills before Congress than the modification or abolishment of the filibuster? Should the supermajority-required (>60%) filibuster be replaced with a simple 50%+ 1 majority. With the “McConnell Graveyard” a legitimate threat to our democracy  year after year, VMF stands with our Democratic allies in calling for immediate filibuster reform. For podcast explanations of this issue, see here, here, and here.

On March 25th Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) said, “Folks keep asking what are we going to do about the filibuster? I think they ought to ask my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, ‘what are they going to do about voting rights?’ The question really is not ‘where do you stand on the filibuster?’ That's a Senate rule. The most fundamental question is ‘where do you stand on voting rights?’ We wouldn't have to have this debate about the filibuster, at least on this issue, if the folks on the other side would do the right thing and stand for voting rights.... I am a member of the Senate. I respect its traditions. I'm honored to be there to represent the people of Georgia. But the issue of voting rights is about democracy itself. It's much bigger than any Senate rule.”

Join the DA Phonebanking Team   Anyone interested can sign up here.

The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) provides an online training module that allows you to complete training at your own pace for doing voter registration on any military installation around the world. To learn more, go here.

LEGISLATION TO KNOW ABOUT:

Recently Passed Bills

H.R. 1276, the "SAVE LIVES Act".

This legislation expands the Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) authority to provide vaccines to: 1) Veterans who are not eligible for enrollment in VA’s health care system, including veterans without compensable service-connected disabilities and veterans who have incomes above a certain threshold; 2) Caregivers of veterans who are enrolled in various VA home-based and long-term care programs; 3) Spouses of veterans; and 4) CHAMPVA recipients (spouses and children of permanently and totally disabled veterans or of veterans who have died from service-connected disabilities). (Status: Signed into law(!) by President Biden on 3/24/21)

Bills We Are Watching Closely

"Equal Rights Amendment"

The ERA Task Force needs your help NOW. Call your Senators. Tell them equal rights must be anchored in our Constitution or else all could be undone by executive order. More info and scripts here.

“For the People Act

Support the House-passed H.R.1, the “For the People Act” (S.1 in the Senate).

This landmark legislation 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 protective measures 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 U.S.

To view the slide-deck, go here

Never Resided Voter Issues

Now is the time for us to contact our Senators! Call or write your Senators immediately and let them know that you support S.1. Links for contacting your Senators are here.

Sample Script: “Hi, I'm {_______ } and I am a constituent of Senator {____________}.

I support both H.R.1 and S.1, the “For the People Act”, and I hope the Senator will do everything

he/she can to pass the strongest possible bill to support voting rights.”

Support Senator Kaine in introducing an amendment to S.1 DA is working with Senator Kaine (VA-D) to introduce an amendment to S.1 to help further expand voting rights specifically for Americans abroad. The amendment would expand the ability for the children of military and civilian families born abroad and never resided in the US to be able to vote in states that currently do not provide that right. Unlike the majority of states, there are still 14 states that do not allow children of military families to vote where their parent(s) last resided in the US, and 15 that don't allow children of civilian families to vote. We are asking that S.1 clarify that states must allow all US citizens, regardless of their residency, to vote where either they last resided, or where their parent(s) last resided in the US. For more information on the issue, here is a slide deck on the subject.

The United States has become a battleground in the fight to prove that democracy still works. Republicans in Georgia—and 46 other states—are proposing 350+ bills to make voting harder and shift the power to oversee election administration to more partisan bodies and institutions. 
 
What’s in the Georgia voter suppression law?

• Last four digits of SS#, GA driver’s license #, or GA state ID # are required for vote-by-mail
• Limits time to request an absentee ballot
• Absentee ballots must be requested every primary and election
• Drop box access greatly reduced from 2020 election
• Makes it a crime to give food and water to voters waiting in line
• Shortens timeframe for runoffs from 9 weeks to 28 days
• Removes authority from Secretary of State and gives power to legislature

BUT 76% of GA voters oppose this bill and only 18% support it. It seems the Republicans consistently care only about maintaining their power, at all costs, even though the vast majority of Americans are opposed to their actions. Everywhere we turn there are challenges to fair voting rules. Conservative lawyers and judges have been eroding the constitutional protections afforded to voting rights for years. 
 
Yes, now it is a crime in Georgia to provide water or food to people waiting in line to vote.
 
Is the January 6 coup continuing right in front of our eyes, but instead of the right-wing hate groups Oath Keepers and Proud Boys coordinating the attempted coup, it is the politicians and lawmakers within the Republican Party? Here

With the January 6 attempted coup, instead of right-wing media and hate groups spreading fake news like wildfire, we see Republican politicians and lawmakers undermining our democracy every step of the way.

Other Congressional Bills We Are Keeping a Close Eye On

H.R. 1491: the “Fair Debt Collection for Servicemembers Act”. This bill prohibits a debt collector from telling service members that failure to cooperate with a debt collector will result in a reduction of rank, a revocation of security clearance, or military prosecution. (Status: Passed the House on April 20; currently pending in the Senate)

S. Res. 110: a resolution designating April 5, 2021 as “Gold Star Wives Day,” to recognize the contributions of the members of the Gold Star Wives of America, Inc., and their dedication to the members and veterans of the Armed Forces. (Status: Unanimously passed the Senate on 3/21/21)

S. Res. 111: a resolution designating March 29, 2021 as the “Vietnam Veterans Day”, to recognize the contributions of veterans who served in Vietnam during war and peace. (Status: Introduced in the Senate on 3/15/21.) Here

S. 771 / H.R. 1948: The “VA Employee Fairness Act”. This bill would ensure that the VA’s Title 38 healthcare professionals—including nurses, physicians, dentists, and physician assistants who serve our veterans— have the same workplace rights currently granted to other VA clinicians and federal employees. (Status: Senate - 03/16/2021 referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.)

H.R.163: The “Protect Patriot Spouses Act”. This bill includes new language to allow eligible veteran spouses who have been removed or left the United States to apply for an immigrant visa and return home. (Status: Currently pending in a House committee)

H.R. 234: The "Korean American VALOR Act". This bill seeks to amend the existing laws to treat individuals who served as allies to the U.S. in the Vietnam War as members of the Republic of Korea Armed Forces as a full-fledged veteran of the United States Armed Forces for the purposes of granting them access to healthcare by the Department of Veterans Affairs. (Status: Currently pending in a House committee)

H.R. 1182: The "Veteran Deportation Prevention and Reform Act". This bill: 

1) requires the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) to maintain data on potentially removable noncitizen veterans. The DHS Secretary would be directed to establish an annual training program for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel on handling noncitizen veterans;

2) directs DHS to establish a Military Family Immigration Advisory Committee that would make recommendations on whether an individual should be granted a stay of removal, deferred action, parole, or be removed from the country;

3) provides a pathway of citizenship for spouses and children of members of the Armed Services through a joint DOD/DHS program; and

4) requires DHS to establish a program and application procedure that allows eligible veterans to be admitted as noncitizens lawfully admitted for permanent residence. It also directs the Attorney General to reopen any removal proceedings of each non-citizen veteran issued and, where appropriate, rescind any orders of removal already issued. (Status: Currently pending in 3 House committees)

H.R. 2358: The “Voter Empowerment Act This bill takes a comprehensive approach to closing the gaps in voting access and ensuring that every American can participate in the electoral process. Specifically, it would ensure ballots are counted from Americans serving in the military or overseas, among several other important features. (Status: Currently pending in 6 House committees.)

GOTV:

Our VMF Drill Sergeant wants to ask you:

Drill Sergeant

“If your vote didn’t matter, they wouldn’t be trying to stop it."

-- Stacey Abrams

 

Remember to request your Overseas Absentee Ballot

Senators_who_voted_withtext.jpg

Americans overseas are required by law to 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 their state’s deadline! We recommend you check the box to have your 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. Register to vote/request your absentee ballot here.

UPCOMING SPECIAL ELECTIONS

Here is a good link for election dates and information: Here

Texas's 6th Congressional District Special Election May 1

Important Details: Election date: May 1. Registration deadline: April 1.

Online registration: No.           Same-day registration: No. 

Early voting: Happening now.   Absentee voting deadline: April 27. 

Information about Voter ID Required for Voting-in-Person: Here

Poll times: 7 AM to 7 PM    For more information, go here.

For general information on voting in Texas from overseas, click on this slide-deck:

TexasVotingFromAbroadrev.jpg

Pennsylvania’s State Legislative Special Election May 18

Important Details: Primary is May 18 (General Election is November 2)

Last day to register to vote: May 3

Last day to request a mail-in or absentee ballot: May 11

Polls are open on election day from 7 AM - 8 PM

Last day for County Board of Elections to receive voted military and overseas absentee ballots is May 25. (Must be submitted for delivery no later than 11:59 PM on May 17). Here and here.

New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District Special Election June 1

Important Details: Deadline to register: May 4 [Email, fax, or mail]

Request ballot: 

May 18 to get a ballot sent by mail [Email, fax, or mail]

May 25 to get a ballot sent by email or fax [Email, fax, or mail]

Return ballot: Received by June 1, 7pm [Email, fax, or mail]

Florida’s 20th Congressional District Special Election

Date will be set by Governor DeSantis (expect July – September) Important details will appear in next edition.

Ohio’s 11th Congressional District Special Election August 3

Important Details: Registration Deadline: July 6 (primary) & Oct. 4 (general)

Absentee Voting Deadline: Nov. 1 (postmarked) & Nov. 12 (received)

Primary Elections: August 3 (General Election is November 2)

Polling place hours: 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

DEMOCRATS ABROAD NEWS

The DA Global Annual Meeting will be online on May 14 – 16, with Democratic Party Committee Abroad (DPCA) elections for International Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, Secretary and International Counsel. A tentative agenda is available here. To read the candidate list and candidate statements, go here.

SPOTLIGHT

Captain Suze Marie Moss (née Saintis)

Veteran U.S. Air Force Nurse Corps

By Jim Moss

Nurse Suze Marie Saintis

Nurse Suze Marie Saintis in 1978 married tennis professional James Moss (U.S. Army Captain and Vietnam Era veteran) in her hometown of Jacmel, Haiti. James' father, retired Army Chaplain (COL) Albert R. Moss, performed the ceremony. Shortly thereafter she moved to James' hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico never having been off her native island nor speaking a word of English.

Already a registered nurse in Haiti, she had to set about learning English sufficiently to pass her New Mexico Nursing Board exams. In short order, she did so and went beyond to earn a BSN and obtained her U.S. citizenship. In 1992 at the age of 40, the Air Force recruited her.

In September 1994 Captain Moss was suddenly pulled off her regular nursing duty at Scott AFB in Illinois and deployed to Haiti as part of Operation Uphold Democracy because of her trilingual fluency in Creole, English, and French. She was among the 400 or so Creole linguists in the U.S. Military at that time who were pulled from all services. She had the privilege to be selected as the personal interpreter for Major General David C. Meade, commander of the fabled 10th Mountain Division. Having left her native island as a 26-year-old bride, she returned 16 years later in full battle dress uniform and armed with an M9!

Captain Moss returned to New Mexico in March 1995 and served a tour at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque. In the interim, she had earned an MBA with the G.I. Bill. After military separation, she became the Chief Executive Administrator of a Presbyterian medical clinic in Albuquerque supervising about 40 doctors and 40 nurses as well as ancillary staff for many years. She is presently retired in Southern California but is active in church and veterans affairs and continues to do lots of volunteer work for her community.


FILM RECOMMENDATIONS ABOUT VOTER ADVOCACY

Gerrymandering “End Gerrymandering or democracy dies.”

Slay the Dragon (2019) A documentary about gerrymandering (101 minutes)

The Surprising History of Gerrymandering (2018) NYTimes, (11 minutes)

Battleground (2020) Conversations between a Tea Party organizer & a Sanders candidate during a Democratic primary in PA. 2018 (56 minutes)

Voter Suppression

Suppressed 2020: The Fight to Vote (2020) A powerful documentary on the growing threat of voter suppression featuring Stacy Abrams (40 min.)

All in: The Fight for Democracy (2020) A deep examination of voter suppression, interweaving personal experiences with current activism and historical insight, a problem corrupting our democracy from the very beginning. (Netflix, Amazon Prime) (102 minutes)

Whose Vote Counts, Explained Netflix (2020) Untangles fears about the voting process being rigged by powerful donors & corps, gerrymandering, the Electoral College, voter suppression, fraud at the ballot box, and the ways votes are counted. “Voting is a right, not a privilege.” (Netflix, 25 minutes)

Voter Misinformation and Disinformation

The Social Dilemma (2020) This documentary-drama explores the  dangerous human impact of social networking, with tech experts sounding  the alarm on their own creations. (Netflix, 94 minutes) “The dark side of Networking is using our psychological profiles to control us.”

The Brainwashing of My Dad (2016) Got a family member who has fallen under the influence of the right-wing media? Then this movie is for you. It demonstrates why the power and influence of the right-wing media has become so strong in the U.S. and why so many fellow Americans have been seduced by the false information and the rage and hatred the right-wing media promotes. (90 minutes) “By asking what had happened to her Dad, it was really like asking what happened to our media, it was really like asking what had happened to our country.”

Film Recommendations about Veterans and Military Families

SB.jpg

Thank You for Your Service (2017): Three U.S. Army soldiers return home from serving in Iraq and face all-too-familiar, everyday struggles as they transition from active duty to civilian life. (Netflix, 109 minutes)

The Mauritanian (2020) Famous 9/11 prisoner at Gitmo

Top Ten Military Movies of 2020 Here

SUGGESTION BOX

We welcome your input. What's important to you? What are we missing? Any VMF experts you would like us to interview in a live webinar event? Please send us articles.
Email us at: [email protected]

POETRY CORNER

This month's poem is a little ditty written and performed for you by Robin Rafaelidys, one of our editorial staff. (You can even hear Robin sing it on the April 19th broadcast of Pod Save America! (49:40)) We encourage you to send your Senators an email and add this link to her song, or maybe you can call your Senators and sing it to them yourself. If you don’t know their phone number, call 202-224-3121 and ask.

Here is a link to the song: “Filibuster Buster” here.

And please send poetry submissions to: [email protected]

 

BRAIN-ZONE

Find the names of the famous Army Brats that are listed down the right-hand column. Search for them hidden in the puzzle, and when you find one, circle it. Look for the names horizontally from left to right or right to left, vertically going down or up, and diagonally going down to the right or up to the left and down to the left or up to the right. Answer key can be found on the last page.

 

Brain Zone Puzzle

 

 

 

Answer to Brain-Zone Puzzle:

Answer to the Crossword puzzle

 

Co-Editors:

Bob Gould (VMF Co-Chair, UK, Military Family)

Mike Nitz (VMF Global Secretary, S.E. Asia, Veteran)

Editorial Staff:

Jessie Darrett (Germany, Veteran)
Kathy Davidson (France, Military Family)
Kee Evans (Guatemala, Military Family)
Madeleine Savit (Spain, Military Family)
Robin Rafaelidys (Greece, Military Family)
Terese Sarno (Germany)
Tilly Gaillard (France, Military Family)

Contact us by email at

[email protected]

 

 

vmf5.jpg

The fundamental power of democracy lies in the right to vote, and if you 

protect that right, you create possibilities for everything else.”

— STACEY ABRAMS

 

voteflag.jpg