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 welcomes any DA member. 

    VMF2021-1.jpgDemocrats 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.

    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.

    The members of our armed forces, their families, and our caucus reflect the diversity of race, gender, religion, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, color, ethnicity, ancestry, marital status, veteran status, and ability that make up American society. Discrimination, intolerance, hate speech, and bigotry have no place in the United States Armed Forces, Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, or our 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

    VMF2021-2.jpg 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

    Please feel free to contact the Veterans and Military Families Caucus: [email protected] 

     

    DA Global Veterans & Military Families Caucus Leadership:

    Kee Adams Evans
    | Chair, DA Guatemala; Acting Chair, Global Veterans and Military Families Caucus
    Michael Ramos
    | DA Veterans and Military Families Caucus; DA Hispanic Caucus; DA Australia (Victoria); DNC Labor Council
    Robert Scott
    | DPCA Representative, Germany; DA Global Veterans and Military Families Caucus Steering Committee; Team Leader, DA Germany Veterans and Military Families Caucus; GSC Liaison to VMF
    Susan Fitoussi
    | DAF-Marseille Chair
    See all Leaders

    News

    VMF Caucus Interview w/ Former U.S. Army Officer Facing G.I. Bill Barrier Through VA

    Democrats Abroad's Global Veterans and Military Families Caucus spoke with Christian Pierce, a student veteran in Europe who previously served as a Captain in the U.S. Army. Like many veterans studying abroad, Christian faced a major problem when trying to utilize his earned G.I. Bill educational benefits. But first, a quick background on using the G.I. Bill.

    For 77 years, America’s veterans have been able to use G.I. Bill benefits to further their education after leaving the Armed Forces. Veterans have used this vital benefit to learn how to open and run businesses, become doctors and lawyers, learn important trade skills, and much more. For the entire history of this benefit, veterans have been able to freely use their benefits at whatever legitimate institution of higher learning they wanted -- until now.

    During the Trump Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) made changes to the program approval process for universities to participate in the GI Bill program. For a foreign university to receive tuition payments from VA, the university must open a bank account with a U.S. financial institution and successfully obtain a U.S. Employer Identification Number through the IRS. VA calls this a "mere formality," but as student veterans abroad have come to find out, this is a critical barrier to paying for their education and thus have been left with no choice but to burn through their savings or drop out of school. This extra burden on overseas universities is unnecessary. After being questioned by Congress, VA admitted that the requirement is solely due to their legacy electronic payment system, which cannot process payments to foreign financial institutions. We maintain that this is an unacceptable reason to deny veterans their earned education benefits.

    Have a listen to Christian detail his situation. We are in contact with several other veterans and military family members abroad who, sadly, have similar stories, which is why the 117th Congress must urgently fix this problem. Veterans earned their education benefits by sacrificing years of their lives and their health to serve in the United States Armed Forces. We cannot abide by veterans losing access to their earned benefits simply because of where they reside or where they would like to receive an education. Many overseas veterans have been unable to utilize their benefits because of these changes, and some have seen their G.I. Bill benefits expire. At the same time, they have waited for VA to approve their academic programs. Congress and VA must address this issue.

     

     

    What can we do? Contact your U.S. Senators and the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs to tell them to pass H.R. 7375 immediately. This legislation would require VA to update its electronic payment system within 90 days of enactment to be able to process payments to foreign financial institutions. This would solve many problems for overseas-based student veterans. We believe this podcast interview will enlighten many listeners, and we encourage you to share it with other Americans to urge them to contact their Senators as well.

     

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    VMF Caucus Responds to Senate’s Failure to Advance PACT Act

    ANTIGUA, Guatemala—Upon the United States Senate’s failure earlier this week to vote for cloture during debate on a toxic exposure bill which would help an estimated 3.5 million veterans in getting the care they need and deserve, Democrats Abroad’s Global Veterans and Military Families (VMF) Caucus leadership team expressed outrage in response.
    The bill in question, S. 3373 (formerly H.R. 3967), the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022, or “PACT Act,” is a bipartisan and bicameral agreement which would enable a presumption of service-connection for veterans’ illnesses and injuries directly related to respiratory inhalation of toxic burn pits, exposure to dangerous radiation stemming from the Cold War, covering our military’s Agent Orange victims who fought in Laos and Cambodia, and other locations.

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