Terms of Reference for the Veterans and Military Family (VMF) Caucus
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 Guiding 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 Family Caucus.
∙ 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;
∙ 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;
∙ Work within the DA structure and its rules;
∙ Report to the DA International Chair and/or the Democratic Party Committee Abroad (DPCA) Executive Committee at regular intervals; seek and follow guidance from the International Chair and the International Chair's designees prior to making public comments, posting statements on a website or social media, or engaging in projects such as GOTV, guest speakers, or events coordinated with local groups of Democrats Abroad.
∙ Coordinate with other DA caucuses and councils;
∙ Encourage our members, especially those who are veterans, to run for DA leadership positions including, but not limited to, delegates to the Democratic National Convention and country committee leadership roles;
∙ Provide assistance to country committees and local chapters interested in creating a VMF Caucus and support for their caucus activities;
∙ Communicate with members and conduct meetings on a regular basis (at least quarterly);
∙ Work with the DA IT team to create and maintain a dedicated VMF web page on the DA website;
∙ Utilize social media;
∙ Urge its membership and all U.S. citizens abroad to vote in all U.S.-based elections and primaries when eligible to do so; and
∙ From time to time, review and update the VMF Caucus’ Terms of Reference for submission to the DPCA Executive Committee for approval;
Membership in the Caucus shall be restricted to members of Democrats Abroad and is open to any DA member.
The Caucus will have the following leadership structure: a Steering Committee consisting of a Chair or Co-chairs and 3-4 regional representatives, in which the 3-4 regional representatives are each from a different region whenever possible, and the remaining Steering Committee consisting of at least 5 at-large members and not more than 15 at-large members; the Steering Committee must make every attempt to include members from each region whenever possible, and should seek to emphasize an inclusive age and diversity range. The Chair or Co-chair(s) shall be appointed by the DPCA Chair. The at-large members shall be appointed by the Chair or a majority vote of the Co-chairs.
The Steering Committee will assist the Chair or Co-chairs in determining members’ roles within the VMF Caucus. There will be at least one liaison each from the Americas region, the Asia-Pacific region and the European, Middle Eastern and African region.
Working with the Steering Committee, the Chair or Co-chairs will determine meeting agenda items and caucus activities. Information about actions pertaining to the caucus such as leadership changes, advocacy activities, membership numbers, GOTV efforts, and other related items will be provided to the DPCA Executive Committee for comments and guidance, prior to the execution of any plans or statements, as the DPCA Executive Committee deems appropriate. The Chair or Co-chairs shall convey all such written comments and guidance to the entire Steering Committee.
The Chair or Co-chairs will consider ideas and other information of the membership and thus determine caucus activities and delegate responsibilities to the membership on a volunteer basis, as compatible with the comments and guidance of the DPCA Executive Committee.
The Chair or Co-chairs will participate in monthly caucus leaders’ meetings and provide updates on caucus activities. In the event the Chair or one of the Co-chairs is unable to attend, efforts will be made to ensure that a designated member of the caucus is present.
At least one representative of the Caucus will attend each DA Annual General Meeting, either in person or on line, and will provide the membership with caucus updates.
Members will be encouraged to participate in DA fund-raising activities.
DA Veterans and Military Family Caucus Leadership:
Our military personnel must have the training and resources they need to meet the challenges they are likely to face. Critical security and military functions should not be outsourced to private contractors.
Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools are to be robustly funded to guarantee that military families benefit from excellent educational facilities, acceptable student-teacher ratios, and gifted or special-education opportunities that allow them to maintain high student achievement. It is important to ensure that the children of military families serving overseas have quality after-school activities, both to foster social development as well as to compete on an equal level with students living in the U.S. for university admissions.
We believe that it is critical to assist Congress and the Department of Defense to find ways to improve full and part-time career opportunities for dependents accompanying military members overseas.
We believe that retired veterans living overseas should have access to the maximum extent allowed under international agreements to military postal, commissary, legal-assistance, and exchange privileges.
We applaud non-discriminatory appearance codes and the inclusion of women in the Armyís Infantry, Armor, and Special Operations Units. We support the Military Justice Improvement Act to reform the handling of sexual assault in the military, and salute Kirsten Gillibrand's steadfast and persistent efforts to address this issue.
The Purple Heart should go to military personnel and veterans who suffer from a properly verified mental injury, notably post-traumatic stress (PTS) and traumatic brain injury (TBI), so that mental and physical war injuries can receive appropriate recognition, honor, and compensation.