Global Veterans & Military Families Caucus



  • The Veterans and Military Families Caucus is made up of DA members from around the world who are willing and able to advocate on issues important to the veterans and their families within the United States of America and those living abroad. The Caucus will accept any DA member.

    Democrats Abroad (DA) honors the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces; their service deserves our deepest gratitude and respect. Government policies must reflect the interests of those who are serving and those who have served, including their families. This caucus will work within DA to achieve this endeavor. 

    We share and adhere to the principles and demands expressed in the platforms of both the Democratic Party and DA regarding veterans, active military and their families abroad.

    We recognize and appreciate that all of the various groups, ethnicities, persuasions, identities, and beliefs that make up American society are present in our military; we share issues and concerns in common with the other DA caucuses. Discrimination has no place in the military and its ancillary organizations, nor the Veterans and Military Families Caucus.

    GOALS

    ∙ Reach out to veterans, active duty and reserve military members as well as their dependents living abroad to encourage them to register to vote and to engage them in advocacy for our policy positions;

    ∙ Provide a forum for DA members to understand better the issues and concerns affecting our military forces, veterans, and their families outside of the United States;

    ACTIONS

    ∙ Provide support for visits to wounded/recovering warriors and caregivers at overseas U.S. military hospitals in conjunction with like-minded external organizations;

    ∙ Exchange information and concerns with other DA caucuses and interest groups regarding relevant issues and shared concerns to ensure that as they impact veterans and military families, they are communicated among the broader DA community for a successful joint response;

    ∙ 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;

    ∙ Facilitate get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts for veterans and military families; also develop sensible and sensitive strategies for encouraging active service members at U.S. overseas military bases to vote;

    ∙ Establish and maintain contact with other American political organizations to find areas of joint concern regarding U.S. veterans and military dependents;

    ∙ Always strive to improve the DA Platform and organize advocacy efforts towards U.S. law and policymakers for issues pertinent to veterans, active military, and their families living abroad;

    RESPONSIBILITIES

    ORGANIZATION

    Email:  VeteransCaucus@democratsabroad.org 

     

    DA Global Veterans & Military Families Caucus Leadership:

    Bob Gould
    | Co-Chair, Global Veteran and Military Families Caucus; Chair, Book and Current Event Club
    Michael Lee
    | Co-Chair, Global Veterans and Military Families Caucus
    See all Leaders

    News

    Commemoration of National POW/MIA Recognition Day

    Friday, September 18th at 11am

    Suresnes American Military Cemetery


    National League of Families’ POW/MIA flag being displayed with the US flag. 
    ©iStockphoto.com/Joseph C. Justice Jr.

    As a member of the DA France Veterans and Military Families Caucus, you are invited to an outdoor guided tour of the Suresnes Military Cemetery by the ABMC Staff this Friday, September 18th at 11am followed by a wreath laying on the tomb of the unknown soldier in commemoration of National POW/MIA Recognition Day. There are 974 MIA buried at the Suresnes Cemetery.

    Directions: Trains depart from Gare St. Lazare to the Suresnes Mont Valerien station. From the Suresnes station it is a 10-minute walk to the cemetery. Address: 123 Boulevard Washington, 92150 Suresnes.

    Many Americans across the United States pause to remember the sacrifices and service of those who were prisoners of war (POW), as well as those who are missing in action (MIA), and their families. All military installations fly the National League of Families’ POW/MIA flag, which symbolizes the nation’s remembrance of those who were imprisoned while serving in conflicts and those who remain missing.

    National League of Families’ POW/MIA flag being displayed with the US flag. 

    Background

    There are 1,741 American personnel listed by the Defense Department's POW/MIA Office as missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War, as of April 2009. About 90 percent of the 1,741 people still missing were lost in Vietnam or areas of Laos and Cambodia under Vietnam's wartime control, (Source: National League of Families website and cited on the US Army website).

    National POW/MIA Recognition Day has been observed since 1979 upon the passing of a United States Congress resolution. As of 1986 onwards, the date was fixed on the third Friday of September. 

    History of the POW/MIA Flag

    The National League of Families’ POW/MIA flag symbolizes the United States’ resolve to never forget POWs or those who served their country in conflicts and are still missing. Newt Heisley designed the flag. The flag’s design features a silhouette of a young man, which is based on Mr Heisley’s son, who was medically discharged from the military. As Mr Heisley looked at his returning son’s gaunt features, he imagined what life was for those behind barbed wire fences on foreign shores. He then sketched the profile of his son as the new flag's design was created in his mind.

    The flag features a white disk bearing in black silhouette a man’s bust, a watch tower with a guard on patrol, and a strand of barbed wire. White letters “POW” and “MIA”, with a white five-pointed star in between, are typed above the disk. Below the disk is a black and white wreath above the motto “You Are Not Forgotten” written in white, capital letters.

    National POW/MIA Recognition Day is not a federal public holiday in the United States but it is a national observance.

    Source: https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/pow-mia-recognition-day

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    News from DC - May 31, 2020

    CONGRESS

    Sen. Duckworth (D-IL) introduced S. 3791, the National Guard COVID-19 Response Stability Act. The bill is currently pending in the Senate Armed Services Committee. The bill would empower governors to extend federal deployments of their Guard units through the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. [Bill text not yet publicly available.]

    • The House version of this bill is H.R. 6980, introduced by Rep. Kuster (D-NH-2), and is currently pending in the House Armed Services Committee. [Bill text not yet publicly available.]

    On June 3rd, the following hearings will take place:

    • Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on: “Fiscal Year 2021 Budget and 2022 Advance Appropriations Requests, and Fiscal Year 2020 Enacted CARES Act Supplemental Appropriations for the Department of Veterans Affairs”
    • House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health will hold a virtual hearing: “Mission Readiness: VA’s Preparedness for Natural Disasters During a Pandemic”

    Video: Last week, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction & Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing on: “Department of Veterans Affairs - Response to COVID-19” (video begins at 3 minutes, 54 seconds)

    Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the following three bills by simple voice vote:

    1. H.R. 6168 – the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act, introduced by Rep. Luria (D-VA-2). This bill would direct the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to increase, as of December 1, 2020, the rates of veterans’ disability compensation, additional compensation for dependents, the clothing allowance for certain disabled veterans, and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children. The percentage increase in benefits would be the same as the cost-of-living increase for Social Security recipients. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.
    2. S. 3414 – the Major Medical Facility Authorization Act, introduced by Sen. Moran (R-KS). This bill would authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs’ to carry out specified major medical facility projects during FY2020. There are seven projects: West LA, CA; San Diego, CA; Livermore, CA; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Manhattan, NY; Alameda, CA; Louisville, KY. The bill now moves to the White House for Trump’s signature into law.
    3. S. 3084 – A bill to modify the limitation on pay for certain high-level employees and officers of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, introduced by Sen. Moran (R-KS). This bill amends title 38 of the U.S. Code to modify the limitation on pay for certain employees and officers of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The bill now moves to the White House for Trump’s signature into law.

    Details: Upcoming webinar with IAVA’s Jeremy Butler and U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) to discuss veterans’ access to health care and programs to assist veterans in need

    RECENT ISSUE:

    • Video: Trump administration cuts National Guard deployment a day short of benefits accrual
    • House Letter Calling on Trump to Extend National Guard Activation to Combat COVID-19

    RESPONSE:

    • Bipartisan, bicameral letter from members of Congress to Trump regarding National Guard benefits for COVID-19 response
    • American Legion press release
    • Letter to DoD regarding states and the National Guard

    House Armed Services Committee press release: Statement in response to the Navy granting its first waiver to allow a transgender service member to remain in uniform

    Article: Sam Johnson, Vietnam POW who became a Texas congressman, dies at 89

    Article: New Mexico senator presents veterans' histories to Library of Congress

    Article: Sen. Booker renews effort to get 74 sailors' names added to Vietnam Veterans Memorial

    Article: Veterans Affairs budget hearing represents first steps toward normal operations for Congress

    Video: Congressman Lieu (D-CA-33) speaks to Democrats Abroad

    Article: Lawmakers call on VA to provide more data on minority veterans affected by COVID-19

    Video: Last week, the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs held a virtual forum on: “Virtual Forum: Veterans' Disability Examinations in the Time of COVID-19: A Way Forward” (video begins at 8 minutes, 16 seconds)

    Video: the Women Veterans Task Force held a virtual roundtable on: “Resilience and Coping: Mental Health of Women Veterans” (video begins at 3 minutes, 47 seconds)

    Video: Two weeks ago, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman spoke with Jose Ramos, Wounded Warrior Project’s (WWP) Vice President of Government and Community Relations, to discuss the unique challenges faced by women veterans during the pandemic and veterans’ ability to access healthcare while unemployed

    Tweet: For Memorial Day, Rep. Lamb (D-PA-17) paid respect at a memorial service

    Tweet: For Memorial Day, Rep. Pappas (D-NH-1) attended local observances

    Tweet: For Memorial Day, Rep. Levin (D-CA-49) attended a local event

    Instagram: For Memorial Day, Rep. Underwood (D-IL-14) paid respect at a military cemetery

    Letter from the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Secretary urging VA to fully and fairly implement paid sick leave and telework policies and procedures after hearing that some VA employees had been unfairly denied these key benefits that keep them safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic

    Two weeks ago, the leaders of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees sent a joint letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the use and management of the emergency relief funds that were appropriated to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs following passage of the CARES Act.

    Statement from Sen. Tester (D-MT) on Memorial Day

    Statement from the Speaker on Memorial Day

    Sens. Tester (D-MT), Rounds (R-SD), Reed (D-RI), and Hoeven (R-ND) introduced S. 3788, the Veterans Cemetery Grants Improvement Act.  This bill would double the current $5 million limit on vet cemetery grants. The bills is currently pending in the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. The House version of this bill is H.R. 5487, introduced by Del. Sablan (D-NMI).

    House floor speech by Rep. Wilson (R-SC-2) on the National Guard

    ELSEWHERE IN GOVERNMENT

    Article: Latinos are fastest growing population in US military, but higher ranks remain out of reach

    • Artículo: Los militares de EEUU son más diversos que nunca pero los latinos no están siendo ascendidos a oficiales

    Article: VA says employees have masks and coronavirus tests, but Congress sees inconsistencies

    Article: Live nuclear testing could resume in ‘months’ if needed, official says

    DoD Article: Military Medical Experts Explore Psychological Impacts of COVID-19

    Article: Coronavirus delays new child care priority system, but good news for Coast Guard military families

    Article: VA-led research effort shows how medical devices can have well-known seal of approval

    Article: Amid criticism, Secretary Wilkie won’t commit to removing Nazi headstones from VA cemeteries

    Trump remarks: Rolling to Remember Ceremony: Honoring our Nation’s Veterans and POW/MIA

    Trump remarks: Memorial Day Ceremony in Baltimore

    Article: DoD launches financial site for Military spouses

    Article: Air Force fails to deal with racial disparities in military justice, report says

    Article: Telework capacity quadruples during pandemic, VA says

    Article: VA says onboarding changes made during the pandemic will ‘change the way we hire forever’

    Article: New changes to the VA Home Loan

    Article: How the Pandemic Is Helping The Military Prep For World War III

    VA press release: VA conducts deep-dive study into effects of COVID-19 on Veterans

    Article: VA Union Seeks Injunction Against Impasses Panel

    Article: Senate Confirms Braithwaite as Next SECNAV

    New CRS report: Full Practice Authority for VA Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) During the COVID-19 Pandemic

    New CRS report: Delivery of VA Telehealth Services During COVID-19

    New GAO report: Defense Health Care: Additional Information and Monitoring Needed to Better Position DOD for Restructuring Medical Treatment Facilities

    Article: Social Security Honors Our Military Heroes

    Article: Trump’s Decision to Freeze WHO Funding Worries the US Military

    OTHER

    Op-ed: James Mattis: Let’s honor the fallen by protecting our fragile experiment in democracy

    Editorial: Why Does the U.S. Military Celebrate White Supremacy?

    Article: Military families need—and can’t get—mental health care

    Opinion piece: Supporting the mental health of military families

    Article: German auction house sells historic Medal of Honor despite US opposition

    Editorial: Never forget

    Editorial: Memorial Day is every day right now

    Editorial: Our national shame: COVID-19 in nursing homes

    Editorial: Returning favor for veterans

    Editorial: Remember the sacrifice of our fallen

    Editorial: Military base becomes a COVID-19 black hole

    American Legion press release: Illinois post makes smooth transition to virtual world

    Opinion piece: Advocate for military families' right to vote this Memorial Day

    Article: Military Families Have Been Pushed To The Brink By COVID-19

    Photos: Veterans who died of coronavirus honored in powerful photographs

    Article: COVID-19 delays Congressional Gold Medal for many Chinese-American WWII vets

    Article: Suicide risk for veterans could grow as coronavirus crisis winds down

    Op-edHonor those who serve our country at home and abroad

    Op-Ed: We’ve learned to thank those who serve, whether it’s in war or during a pandemic

    Op-ed: What happens to veterans’ healthcare post-COVID-19?

    Article: Tax incentives and reliefs for US military and veterans

    Article: For some vets who have died during pandemic, military honors must wait

    Article: Veterans disability exams to resume at some sites as backlog hits 114,000, nearly doubling in six months

    Opinion piece: Why War Powers Matter to Military Families | Opinion

    DA-V&MFC web site post: Remembering the Fallen on Memorial Day

    DA Global Chair web site post: Statement on Memorial Day

    DNC Chair web site post: Statement on Memorial Day

    Article: Military families share Memorial Day with nation mourning coronavirus losses

    Video: Recognizing the service of Native American veterans

    Article: This unique community is a haven for military families

    Article: The forgotten history of Memorial Day

     

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    Upcoming Events

    Sunday, September 27, 2020 at 12:00 AM Eastern Time (US & Canada) · 3 rsvps

    Global Voter Assistance: September 27th

    Did you know every eligible American living  abroad can vote in U.S. elections this year? 

    Do you have questions about how to vote? Click  the chat bubble at the bottom of this screen and we'll help you find the answers.  

    Join us September 27th, or any Sunday till November from midnight to midnight Eastern  time to talk to a volunteer LIVE on Zoom about  questions you have about voting from abroad.

    More information: The easiest way to request  your ballot is at VoteFromAbroad.org. It takes  just a few minutes to complete your form and  send it in to the US state where you last lived. If  you've never voted from abroad, the website will guide you step by step. In most cases it’s pretty simple. But if you’re new to overseas voting, or if you haven’t done it in a while, you may have additional questions. That’s why we’ll be here every Sunday until election day to help.

    If you can’t make it any Sunday, you can always email us at helpdesk@votefromabroad.org or send in your question through our online help bubble, and a volunteer will get back to you promptly.

    Connection details:
    Zoom Link: https://zoom.us/j/91090344003
    Meeting number:
    910 9034 4003
    PassWord: Vote2020

    Sunday, October 04, 2020 at 12:00 AM Eastern Time (US & Canada) · 1 rsvp

    Global Voter Assistance: October 4th

    Did you know every eligible American living  abroad can vote in U.S. elections this year? 

    Do you have questions about how to vote? Click  the chat bubble at the bottom of this screen and we'll help you find the answers.  

    Join us October 4th, or any Sunday till November from midnight to midnight Eastern  time to talk to a volunteer LIVE on Zoom about  questions you have about voting from abroad.

    More information: The easiest way to request  your ballot is at VoteFromAbroad.org. It takes  just a few minutes to complete your form and  send it in to the US state where you last lived. If  you've never voted from abroad, the website will guide you step by step. In most cases it’s pretty simple. But if you’re new to overseas voting, or if you haven’t done it in a while, you may have additional questions. That’s why we’ll be here every Sunday until election day to help.

    If you can’t make it, you can always email us at helpdesk@votefromabroad.org or send in your question through our online help bubble, and a volunteer will get back to you promptly.

    Connection details:
    Zoom Link: https://zoom.us/j/91090344003
    Meeting number:
    910 9034 4003
    PassWord: Vote2020

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