Veterans and 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 Veterans and Military Families Caucus Leadership:

    Richard Mehrer
    | Acting Chair Spain-Valencia Chapter and VMF Caucus Steering Committee
    Anna Marie Mattson
    | VMF Caucus Acting Chair, DPCA Voting Rep for DA France
    John Eastwood
    | Taiwan Chair, DA rep to DNC, DNC Veterans and Military Families Council
    Michael Lee
    | VMF Steering Committee
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    News

    News and Updates

    CONGRESS

    Upcoming Congressional Hearings:

    House Armed Services Committee – none scheduled.

    Senate Armed Services Committee – none scheduled.

    House Veterans’ Affairs Committee – “Resilience and Coping: Mental Health of Women Veterans” – POSTPONED until further notice. Otherwise, none scheduled.

    Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee – “Final Recommendations and Report of the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service” – POSTPONED until further notice. Otherwise, none scheduled.

    Last week, the U.S. Senate passed by voice vote H.R. 4771, the VA Tele-Hearing Modernization Act, first introduced by Rep. Cunningham (D-SC-1). The bill would require the Board of Veterans’ Appeals to allow veterans with pending appeals to appear before the Board remotely from their personal computers.  The bills is now pending on the president’s desk for signature into law.

    Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 6322, the Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act. The bill addresses issues like canceled classes, veterans who don’t have broadband Internet to attend online classes, and aims to bridge the gap to ensure those veterans also keep their full benefits through the current public health emergency - including work-study income for veterans who’ve lost their work-study jobs. This bill is now pending in the U.S. Senate. Chairman and Ranking Member’s joint press release here.

    Statement: House Armed Services Committee’s Democratic leaders’ statement on the Navy’s dismissal of U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt Captain   

    Last week, the U.S. Senate passed S. 3587, the Department of Veterans Affairs Website Accessibility Act, first introduced by Sen. Casey (D-PA). The bill would ensure that individuals with disabilities, including blindness, can access VA web pages in accordance with existing federal law. Background: Under current law, the Rehabilitation Act requires federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to individuals with disabilities. Unfortunately, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) has not made all of their websites accessible for individuals who are blind or have vision impairments. This creates an extra burden for blind veterans, as well as blind family members of veterans, who may wish to use online or electronic resources through the VA. This bill would address this issue by requiring the VA to examine all of their websites to determine if they are accessible to people with disabilities. It will also require the VA to submit a report Congress detailing which web sites are not accessible to people with disabilities, along with a plan to make them accessible and a description of existing barriers to doing so. The VA would also be required to review the accessibility of kiosks at VA medical facilities. Kiosk accessibility is critical, as many VA medical centers use them for patient check in and management. Unfortunately, many of these kiosks do not currently use technology that would make them accessible for blind veterans. The bill is now pending consideration in the House of Representatives.

    Last week, Representatives Thornberry (R-TX-13) and Kelly (R-MS-1) released their proposal on the topic “of military families’ readiness” that they intend to call for a vote on in inclusion of the upcoming FY21 National Defense Authorization Act.

    Joint letter from Democratic committee chairs: “Neal, Takano, Davis Urge Treasury and IRS to Automatically Issue Economic Impact Payments to Supplemental Security income and Veterans Affairs Recipients”

    Joint letter from U.S. representatives to Navy officials to express concern for the health and safety of American sailors and Marines embarked on Navy vessels and facing the spread of COVID-19

    Rep. Dean (D-PA-4) introduced H.Res. 912, a resolution expressing support for the designation of March 29, 2020, as “Vietnam Veterans Day.”

    Rep. Panetta (D-CA-20) introduced H.R. 6280, the Reservist Pay Equity Act, to encourage more employers to pay the salary of employees that are members of the National Guard and Reserves when activated. Background: Employers who hire military reservists and National Guard members are not required to pay those service-members when they are deployed.  However, employers may receive a tax credit for paying their employed military reservists and National Guard members differential wages, which directly help these service-members offset financial challenges while they are activated.  This bill increases the tax credit employers receive from 20% to 50%.      

    Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA-17) introduced H.R. 6353, the Increasing Access for Veterans and Their Survivors Act. This bill directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide for the availability of prompts and services of certain Department of Veterans Affairs toll-free telephone numbers and business lines in Spanish. The bill would ensure that transitioning service-members, veterans, and their survivors have prompts and options in Spanish when calling the VA’s toll-free benefits number.

    Op-ed: “Katherine Clark wants recreational pot shops open to serve veterans amid coronavirus outbreak”

    Article: “Rose to VA: Open hospitals to civilian patients”

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    High-Need items during the Coronavirus for the Landstuhl US Regional Medical Center

    Dear Fellow Democrats,

     

    A Chaplain has updated us on the situation at the US Military Hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. As many of you already know, Democrats Abroad has been actively supporting the wounded warriors program since 2006 https://www.democratsabroad.org/wounded_warriors.

    Picture1.png The hospital continues to operate and is under high protection security against the Coronavirus.  It has been upgraded from C Charly to B Bravo level.  So the ill, injured and PTS/TBI wounded warriors continue to be treated and the ambulance planes continue to fly in and out of Ramstein. The hospital is also serving the military community during the Coronavirus by testing patients with symptoms and hospitalizing them when necessary.

    No Chaplain or visitor is allowed to visit so the only “social” contact patients have is with the nurses, doctors and caregivers in the wards.  The outpatients are left to their own in their barracks.  The gym is closed.  The USO is working with a very minimal staff and is “still serving the Medical Transient Detachment (MTD) patients by providing sodas, coffee and snacks (lots) in their lounge area. We go over there twice a day to ensure they have snacks for their rooms and hopefully putting a smile on their faces”.

    Service members evacuated to the hospital come with very little, a small backpack at most and of course their uniform and boots, so they rely on the Chaplain’s Closet for clothes. Besides sending a card, letter or even chocolates to comfort and cheer up the caregivers and patients, here is the latest list of items needed:

    Picture2.png

    High need items*:

    Crocs & sneakers size 10 & 12, sweatpants (no string) for medical reasons

    Light weight winter jackets , urgent: zipped hoodies with fleece XL , mouthwash

    “Please do not sent 2 XL or 3 XL sizes”!!!

    TOP REQUESTED ITEMS

    • Military Duffle bags medium/large / Black Duffle bags ( no logos)
    • Unisex sweatshirts/hoodies (medium/large, X-large), (no logos)
    • Unisex sweatpants (small/medium/large)
    • Polyester shorts/briefs (all sizes)
    • Run T-shirts/ sportswear*,(all sizes)
    • Comfortable light T-shirts (all sizes)
    • T-Shirts color, (small/medium/large), (no logos, no white)
    • Keurig coffee pods, DARK roast (K-cup)
    • Crocs, size 9-12 / Sneakers, 9-12
    • Baseball caps
    • Scarfs
    • Light weight Winter Jackets, Beanies, Gloves

    Postal address:

    Landstuhl Regional Medical Center
    ATTN: Chaplains office
    Kirchberg Geb. 3765
    Landstuhl, 66849 Germany

    Thanks for caring, We know how much they appreciate this,

    Jim Moss and Anna Marie Mattson on behalf of
    Democrats Abroad Global Veterans and Military Families Caucus
    veteranscaucus@democratsabroad.org

    The Chaplain’s Clothes Closet (CCC) at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) started in October 2001 at the onset of Operation Enduring Freedom.  The CCC provides a variety of new essential clothing and comfort items for our deployed U.S. Service Members, DOD employees, coalition partners, and US contractors as they are evacuated to LRMC for treatment.  Since the Chaplain’s Closet is a non-funded humanitarian entity within the Department of Defense, we rely on the generous donations of fellow Americans and others.  We truly appreciate the efforts of each and every person willing to share “hugs from home” and words of encouragement with those who have given so much.

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