VMF January 2022 Newsletter

Masthead

January 2022

Newsletter

Vol. 1, No. 11

    To view in pdf, click here

Greetings and Happy New Year from a VMF Co-Editor!

Have you been reading the alarming news from Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor that her colleagues were “embracing a cataclysmic reordering of the reproductive rights landscape?” Seeing what her colleagues were going to do, Sotomayor has been turning to the American people themselves, suggesting that the court need not have the last word on abortion. She was “alerting the people to the imminent threat to abortion rights” in the hopes that, hearing her alarm, we might mobilize with the sort of grass-roots energy that once fueled the civil rights movement. Here. The court may not save our rights, but maybe we can save them ourselves. Overseas military families, like all families, have too much to lose by the radicalism of the six conservative justices in SCOTUS.

In fact, do you realize that the reactionaries in the current-day Republican Party are a minority of the U.S.A.? David Atkins points out in the Washington Monthly that Republicans are operating from a position of weakness, and U.S. counties that are predominantly Democratic produce more than 70% of the nation’s gross domestic product. Democratic states are funding the Republican-dominated states, the ones where their residents are complaining about “socialism” and our “socialist” president, Joe Biden. Here. 83% of Americans now live in cities which tend to vote Democratic, and young people are overwhelmingly progressive. 

So here is the problem: We Democrats must win every single election to prevent the destruction of our democracy, while Republicans only need to win one U.S. Senate seat. And the American system is now set up so that Republicans will win sooner or later, whether fairly or by cheating. Atkins urges the American people to “start thinking about and planning for what ‘Break glass in case of emergency’ measures look like—because, he states, it’s more likely a matter of when, not if. “Conservatives will make every attempt to turn America into the next Russia or Hungary. It will take coordinated, overlapping solidarity among both regular people and elites to stop it.”

Sotomayor and Atkins stress that stopping the march of authoritarianism will be up to us, the people. No party or leader will shake us out of our stupor and save us. Americans need to start caring about democracy enough to act on it. Apathy is how democracies die. There is only one pro-democracy party, and that is us. Democrats need to present themselves as the pro-democracy party, as the party of workers and families, and present the Republican Party as the defenders of rich tax dodgers, anti-science and non-vaccine types, as climate change deniers, and warriors against women and abortion rights. 

January means it is time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. To start, each of us needs to register to vote NOW for the November elections. Each of us needs to make sure our friends, family, and colleagues have registered. Also, you can help GOTV by joining our Phone Banking Team. Our phone bankers have been crucial to getting out the vote during COVID. We have new teams forming now for 2022!

Lastly but no less importantly, if you have base-access or are passionate about the military vote, join our GOTV team by sending us an email at [email protected]. If you would like to learn more about UOCAVA voters, voter registration statistics, and how people across the United States and the world vote in our elections, click here

If we mobilize in a coordinated way, there is nothing we can’t accomplish. Certainly we all agree and know in our hearts that our country and our democracy are worth it.

With gratitude for all that you're currently doing, 

Bob Gould

DA-VMF Caucus Steering Committee, London, UK


UPCOMING GLOBAL VMF CAUCUS MEETINGS

The Global VMF Caucus Steering Committee meets once a month. All Democrats Abroad members are welcome to attend. The next VMF meeting will be January 9th and Rotation C.

Here is the login info for the Zoom Meetings:

 https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6298521858

To receive the agenda or minutes from our meetings, contact us by emailing us here.

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JANUARY EVENTS

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

Slavery still exists at some level in 167 countries, from people being owned, to forced labor, child labor, child military conscription, and human and sex trafficking. India has the highest known number of enslaved people with 18 million people in bondage. Worldwide it is estimated to be 46 million people still enslaved. For more on this issue click here. 

January 6  World Day for War Orphans: The United Nations estimates that there are 153 million orphans worldwide. In 1982 Christiane and Alfred Blanchet formed the organisation SOS Enfants en Detresse to bring light and help to the cause of children particularly orphaned by wars. For information, click here and here (this is in French).

January 10, 1920 The Treaty of Versailles takes effect and officially ends World War I. The treaty was drafted in spring of 1919 and Germany finally signed it in June 1919 under the threat of resumed fighting. The terms were harsh, although some historians say the treaty Germany demanded of Russia was even harsher. For a good synopsis, click here. For a brief outline of military events in the following decades, click here.

January 11 Human Trafficking Awareness Day was established by Congress in 2007. Human trafficking takes many forms and exists nearly everywhere but has not received much government attention.  Private agencies around the world in the 21st century have accelerated awareness and consciousness of this pervasive worldwide threat to freedom for all. For 20 ideas of things anyone can do, click here.

January 17 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day became a national holiday when President Reagan signed the “King Holiday Bill” in 1983. Many states, however, did not follow suit. For a brief recap, click here. Many people now observe it as a day of service. For ideas, click here. Dr. King was an especially eloquent advocate for equality and humanity. For some of his quotes, go here.

January 21, 1977 - President Jimmy Carter, on his first full day in office, pardoned nearly all American Vietnam War draft evaders inclusive of those who had immigrated to Canada. For more, click here.

January 27, 1973 - The Paris Peace Accords officially ended the Vietnam War although Nguyen Van Thieu, the president of South Viet Nam, would not accept the text or the timetable. American soldiers were withdrawn in the following months, but American bombers continued to participate until 1975 when Saigon fell and the “North Vietnamese” controlled the entire country. A brief history here.

January 28, 1915 - The US Coast Guard began in 1790 as the Revenue Marines by request of Alexander Hamilton, then Secretary of the Treasury. The Steamboat Inspection Service, The Lighthouse Service, The Life-Saving Service, and the Bering Sea Patrol merged into the USCG. President Taft proposed joining these agencies for efficiency, but there were various interests with different opinions. In the end President Wilson signed the bill creating the modern USCG force. For more click here.


ANNOUNCEMENTS

The Winner is…………

 CONGRATULATIONS TO NAVY,
who beat Army, 17-13 on December 11.
 However, as each team won one game, all three share the

Commander-in-Chief Trophy for 2021.

Thanks for joining us in the VMF fundraiser to support our voter outreach efforts!

We appreciate everyone who joined us! As we move into this “off-year” election cycle we encourage you to stay tuned for opportunities to participate in whatever way suits you best!


NEWS

REMOTE Act Passed! The VMF Caucus has been working closely with multiple veterans’ organizations, members of Congress, and Congressional committee staff to advocate on overseas veterans' access to their GI Bill benefits. Because of our joint efforts, Congress amended a broader piece of legislation on student veterans to include reasonable exemptions to reporting requirements for overseas universities. This addressed a problem that led to overseas universities withdrawing en masse from the GI Bill program because of requirements that violated local privacy laws. H.R. 5545, the REMOTE Act (Responsible Education Mitigating Options and Technical Extensions Act), passed in both the House and the Senate this month and will head to President Biden's desk to be signed into law very soon. Our efforts as overseas advocates had a direct effect on the language of this legislation. It's not the end of the fight, but it is a major victory in ensuring that our veterans overseas have the same access to their education benefits as veterans in the United States. Click here to see the bill.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has been passed by Congress every year since 1962. This year’s bill, however, has had bipartisan push back – obviously for different reasons. "They tell us that we just don't have enough money to expand Medicare, guarantee paid family and medical leave, and address the climate crisis to the degree that we should if we want to protect the well-being of future generations,” says Bernie Sanders. "Yet, tomorrow, the U.S. Senate will be voting on an annual defense budget that costs $778 billion—$37 billion more than [former President] Trump's last defense budget and $25 billion more than what President Biden requested," he continued. "All this for an agency, the Department of Defense, that continues to have massive fraud and cost overruns year after year and is the only major government agency not to successfully complete an independent audit."

ALSO of major significance is the fact that Senator Imhofe (R-OK), the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, got his way and emasculated the Gillibrand/Ernst Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act of 2021. This bill, which provides support and especially takes the investigation of allegations of rape and assault in the military out of the hands of the serviceperson’s direct line of command, had 65 co-sponsors giving it a filibuster-proof vote. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, however, prevented it from being voted on as a stand-alone bill, saying it ought to be in the NDAA. The bill passed the House on December 7, 364 - 70, but 51 Democrats voted against it, many because of the damage done to the Gillibrand/Ernst Bill. Click here for remarks by Senator Gillibrand expressing her anger at the changes to their bill.

The Freedom to Vote Act and The John Lewis Voting Rights Act are both stalled in the Senate. These bills are essential for maintaining our American democracy. In December both the House and Senate approved legislation allowing for a one-time, fast-track measure shielding a bill to raise the debt ceiling from the threat of a GOP filibuster. Many voices are now calling for this same action for these essential voting rights bills. One way people can act is to write a letter to a local paper! Using your voting address, you could contact a local newspaper with your opinion with this link click. Also, Democratic Senators meet for lunch every Tuesday to discuss upcoming actions. Calling your Senators on a Tuesday morning to say your two cents could influence their discussion! The Congressional switchboard number is 202-224-3121.

January 6 House Select Committee: Things really heated up in Washington in December regarding the efforts of the January 6 House Select Committee. Now more than 300 people have been interviewed, including Ali Alexander, one of the well-known organizers of events that day. In public statements by committee members after their vote to refer Mark Meadows, former Chief-of-Staff to former President Trump, to the Department of Justice for criminal contempt over his refusal to testify before them, members have read aloud excerpts of texts that Meadows received before, during and after the insurrection. The following texts came from Congressional members in the capitol building:

"POTUS has to come out firmly and tell protesters to dissipate. Someone is going to get killed."

"Mark, he needs to stop this. Now."

"TELL THEM TO GO HOME."

"POTUS needs to calm this sh*t down."

Later one Congressman wrote, "Yesterday was a terrible day. We tried everything we could in our objection to the six states. I'm sorry nothing worked." It appears that several other significant players in the events of January 6 will either refuse to testify or will plead the 5th, such as lawyers Jeffery Clark and John Eastman, and Roger Stone. Article here

Senator Robert J. Dole dies. Former U.S. senator Robert J. Dole, who overcame the hardships of dust bowl Kansas during the Depression and devastating injuries in World War II to run three times for the presidency and serve more than a decade as the Senate Republican leader, died Dec. 5 at 98.

Dole was severely injured in a battle in Italy in the waning days of the war. In an instant, his athletic career and medical aspirations were finished. Mr. Dole’s life was a trajectory played out against nine decades of America’s political, economic and cultural transformations, from his birth in a one-bedroom house to a career that lasted more than a third of a century under the Capitol dome, where he was presented the Congressional Gold Medal in 2018.

Arriving in Washington at 37 years old, a House backbencher from Kansas among the minority Republicans, he methodically climbed the Washington ladder, possessed of a talent for counting votes and finding the sort of consensus rarely achieved today. Dole wrote an op-ed on unity this year before his death: “Bipartisanship is the minimum we should expect from ourselves. America has never achieved greatness when Republicans and Democrats simply manage to work together or tolerate each other”, he wrote. “We have overcome our biggest challenges only when we focus on our shared values and experiences. These common ties form much stronger bonds than political parties.”


ADVOCACY

Having Trouble Receiving Your GI Bill Benefits? Please reach out to us if you or someone you know is experiencing any troubles with their GI Bill or VR & E education benefits while attending or attempting to attend a foreign school or university. This will help us to document these cases and continue to collect evidence of these vets' VA experiences. Here   

Tax Team The Democrats Abroad Global Taxation Task Force (TTF) will be under new leadership beginning in 2022, and the TTF is looking for new people to join the team and hit the ground running to fight tax discrimination on behalf of Americans abroad. Are you passionate about American abroad tax issues and have the skills or time to help? If so, click here to volunteer for the 2022 Taxation Task Force.

You Can Help Support the Resettlement of Our Afghan Allies The Department of Homeland Security, in an effort to coordinate efforts to resettle Afghan refugees, has created Operation Allies Welcome. Click here for an article and a link to creating “sponsor circles” in your community. Also from VAntage Point is a valuable list of organisations helping Afghan refugees and American veterans. Click here


HEALTH

GETTING HEALTH CARE OVERSEAS

Veterans who live overseas remain entitled to the benefits and services earned through your military service. Most VA benefits are payable regardless of your place of residence or nationality. VA benefits include disability compensation, pension, education and training, health care, home loans, insurance, vocational rehabilitation and employment and burial. More info available here. Overseas veterans who are disabled, retired, or live on or near a base all have different health resource availability, making health resources a confusing mixture of contradictions. For instance, TRICARE is not available to disabled veterans living overseas according to this website: https://www.health.mil/I-Am-A/Veteran  

However, if you are a retired veteran, you may be eligible for Tricare. Here is a relevant quote: "Veterans: When you were on active duty, you used TRICARE. You may have received care at military hospitals and clinics or from TRICARE-authorized civilian providers. Now that you're separated from active duty opens a new window; you may only be eligible for health care from the Veterans Affairs (VA). While the Department of Defense and VA do have some joint programs and facilities, the VA is a separate health care program. If you're retired from active duty, this opens a new window, and you may qualify for benefits from TRICARE and the VA together.” This seems to be confirmed for overseas disabled veterans, but access to health care in addition to going through the VA FMP (Foreign Medical Program) is not allowed according to the TRICARE website. The only health care from the VA available for overseas veterans is for disabled veterans, and that health care is provided by the FMP. Click here for more info: https://www.tricare.mil/overseas  or here for answers to all your Tricare questions.

"Who Can Participate?”

  • Active-duty service members
  • Command-sponsored active-duty family members
  • Activated
  • Called or ordered to active-duty service for more than 30 days in a row.
  • National Guard/Reserve members. This includes members of the:

    • Army National Guard
    • Army Reserve
    • Navy Reserve
    • Marine Corps Reserve
    • Air National Guard
    • Air Force Reserve
    • S. Coast Guard Reserve
  • Command-sponsored family members of activated National Guard/Reserve members
  • Retirees and their families can't enrol in TRICARE Prime Overseas. More here.

Who can and cannot access US military hospitals overseas?

"Veterans enrolled in the Veterans Affairs Foreign Medical Program (FMP) and travelling overseas may receive covered healthcare for service-connected disabilities in civilian medical clinics and military medical treatment facilities (on a space-available basis), but they will need to be prepared to show proof of enrolment. Some hospitals in foreign countries may not recognize the program and may still require up-front payment.”

Foreign Medical Program (FMP) - Community Care

https://www.va.gov/COMMUNITYCARE/programs/veterans/fmp/index.asp

As a Veteran living or traveling abroad, you can receive medical care for VA service-connected disabilities through the VA Foreign Medical Program. Under this program, we assume payment responsibility for the necessary treatment of service-connected disabilities.

From VA Information For Veterans Living Overseas: from MilitaryBenefits     

https://militarybenefits.info/va-veterans-living-overseas/

VA Resources For Veterans Living Overseas The first thing a veteran or soon-to-be retired or separated military member should do is to visit the VA official site to set up an e-Benefits account, which you will use to manage your VA benefits in the United States or from the overseas location. Under this you will need to register at the DS Logon Registration page but rather than supplying your last military address, use your last recorded USA address instead.

Veterans In The Philippines For veterans living in or considering relocating to the Philippines, the Department of Veterans Affairs has special resources. The VA Philippines overseas page includes some important details about getting VA benefits, especially health care. In the Philippines, veterans may be eligible for care for ”non-service connected disabilities”  at the VA Manila Outpatient Clinic. The VA says this option is only for veterans “who are already receiving care at the outpatient clinic and whether the clinic is able to provide the needed service.” In such cases, the veteran may be required to pay for treatment “for non-service connected disabilities by non-VA care providers or by an outside medical facility.”

How To Prepare To Use Your VA Benefits Overseas This is an area that requires more planning and forward thinking than some anticipate; in some cases your access to VA benefits may be a matter of your physical location and any challenges there.

If you choose to live in Germany, where there is a network of U.S. military bases, military hospitals, and related support operations, you may have an easier time accessing some benefits than you might if you decided to relocate to Reykjavik, Iceland where U.S. military members were once stationed at nearby Naval Air Station Keflavik… There is no U.S. military support system in place in Iceland that could compare to what those remaining in Japan, Korea, Spain, Italy, or Germany might enjoy.

Direct Deposit of VA Benefit Payments Arranging direct deposit into a non-US bank may require some additional preparation, and in some cases may require the use of a translator. If you have an overseas bank account rather than an account with a company headquartered in the United States, be sure to ask what is typical when arranging such direct deposit payments. You may be required to obtain international routing numbers, SWIFT codes, International Bank Account Numbers, etc.

VA Resources For Veterans Living Overseas Or Planning To Do So If you plan to or already have retired or separated from the military in an overseas location, there are VA resources waiting for you via phone, e-mail, and online:

For Basic VA benefit questions and assistance, call (412) 395-6272 or visit the VA Inquiry Routing and Information System

Education benefits – (918) 781-5678

International Direct Deposit and currency conversion – (918) 781-7550 or via e-mail [email protected]

VA benefits representatives may be found at American embassies and consulates check online at the Social Security Foreign Country Service Information page.

VA Overseas Military Services Coordinator–get contact information online at the VA Overseas Military Services Coordinators page.

Finding an accredited representative to help you manage your benefits–online at the VA Manage Your Representative for VA Claims tool.

Other VA Resources for Veterans Living Overseas

VA Overseas Military Coordinators (OMSCs) can help service members, U.S. Veterans living or working overseas, and their families and dependents with VA Benefits transition to a life overseas. The following contact information is broken down by geographic region as presented on the VA official site:

Japan/Asia-Pacific

Iwakuni [email protected]

Okinawa [email protected]

Yokosuka [email protected]

Germany

Kaiserslautern [email protected]

Kaiserslautern [email protected]

Vilseck-Bavaria, Germany [email protected]

Italy

[email protected]

United Kingdom

[email protected]

Medical Treatment Questions Only, Email: [email protected]

Education Benefit Questions Only

VA Regional Office
PO Box 4616
Buffalo, New York 14240-4616
Website: Education Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Life Insurance Questions Only

VA Regional Office and Insurance Center
P O Box 7208
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19101

NUMEROUS VETERANS RESOURCES

2022 Veterans Disability Compensation Rates | Veterans Affairs https://www.va.gov/disability/compensation-rates/veteran-rates/

View Or Change Dependents | Veterans Affairs https://www.va.gov/view-change-dependents/

TRICARE Overseas Program Beneficiaries: Download New MyCare Overseas App > TRICARE Newsroom https://newsroom.tricare.mil/Articles/Article/2839598/tricare-overseas-program-beneficiaries-download-new-mycare-overseas-app

Veterans Affairs YouTube site: https://www.newengland.va.gov/sitrep is a complete YouTube library, the official YouTube channel for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

TheSITREP is a weekly video series. Don’t miss future episodes! https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLY7mRNUcQyMTpYxbVmoTzsdxsP_BaDgw8

USEFUL YOUTUBE VIDEOS
USEFUL WEB LINKS
Additional resources
Veteran Service Organizations

Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line anytime, day or night – 24/7. If you are a Veteran in crisis or concerned about one, you can connect with the caring, qualified responders for confidential help. Many of them are Veterans themselves.

  • Call 800-273-8255 and select 1
  • Text 838255
  • Start a confidential chat
  • Call TTY if you have hearing loss 800-799-4889
  • Get more resources at VeteransCrisisLine.net.
MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES

NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness NAMI started around a kitchen table in 1979 and has grown in 40 years to include 600 local affiliate groups and 48 state organizations. They provide help, support, training and advocacy for those affected by mental illness, their friends, family and supporters. Go here for general information and for more specific information about active duty and veterans, go here.

  • The Real Warriors Campaign aims to break down the stigma associated with mental health care and encourages service members to reach out for help when they need it. Find articles with support resources, video profiles with service member and veteran stories, and materials to download or order. Here
  • The Psychological Health Resource Center is available 24/7 for service members, veterans, and family members with questions about psychological health topics. Trained mental health consultants can help callers access mental health care and community support resources in their local area. Click on the link or call 1-866-966-1020 for assistance. Here
  • The inTransition Program is a free confidential program that provides specialized coaching and assistance for service members, National Guard members, reservists, veterans, and retirees who need access to mental health care when relocating to another assignment, returning from deployment, transitioning between active duty and reserve component, preparing to leave military service, or any other time they need a new mental health provider, or need a provider for the first time. Click here or call 1-800-424-7877.
  • The Military Crisis Line, text-messaging service, and online chat provide free VA support for all service members, including members of the National Guard and Reserve, and all veterans, even if they are not registered with VA or enrolled in VA health care. Click here to chat, call: 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, or text: 838255.
  • TRICARE offers mental health care to all its enrollees. Click here to find out how and to find other links to mental health providers through the TRICARE network.
  • Military OneSource can provide access to confidential Military Family Life Counselors in your community. Call 1-800-342-9647 or click here.
  • Military OneSource also provides resources so you can manage stress and access benefits and tools that will help you stay strong in body and mind. This page provides access to self-care mobile applications developed within the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and other partners.
  • You can also visit these mil and Tricare.mil Military Health System web pages for more information.

JOBS

Military Spouse Employment Support At the Veteran Talent Pool, with their selected strategies and unique point of view, they see spouse employment as not a spouse problem, but as a problem faced by military couples around the world. In a 60-minute Master Class for spouses and service members, Career Coach Jacey Eckhart maps out spouse employment so you and your service member can adopt all the best practices. To receive their weekly careers newsletter for the latest updates, click here. You may opt out any time.

Jobboard: Transitioning out of the military and looking for a job? Click here for listings from companies looking for vets.

Want to Advance Your Career, Start a Business or Further Your Education?

Transitioning from military to civilian life is a unique and uncertain time for military members and their families. It’s a time when figuring out what you want to do is just as difficult as figuring out how to do it. Here is one way for veterans and spouses to do both. For a free Find-a-Future program developed by Walmart to serve the veteran community, click here

Employment of Veterans in the Federal Government In 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13518, Employment of Veterans in the Federal Government, which establishes the Veterans Employment Initiative. The Initiative is a strategic approach to helping the men and women who have served our country in the military find employment in the Federal Government. The Executive Order states the Federal Government will help lead by example in promoting veterans’ employment, “creating advocates for veterans’ employment within each federal agency.” All 24 agencies have established a Veterans Employment Program. You may contact the U.S. Department of State Veterans Employment Program Manager at [email protected].

To further support the Veterans Employment Initiative, the U.S. Department of State launched the Veterans Innovation Partnership (VIP) Fellows Program, a public-private alliance platform that serves America’s veterans and separating service members by preparing them for diplomacy and development careers through a one-year fellowship experience. For more information, please visit here.

All federal jobs are posted on USAJOBS and linked here. You may search quickly for job postings — by skill, Department component or state. Use the advanced search options on USAJOBS to further expand or refine your search for Department careers. To view all jobs open to preference eligible veterans, select “Yes” under “Applicant Eligibility.”

If any DA member's child is applying for a job or internship thru his/her member of Congress, please reach out to us first. That way, we can provide a short "virtual internship" / provide a volunteer opportunity in order for VMF to provide a letter of recommendation along with the student's application. i.e. "Children and dependents of overseas active-duty service-members are especially encouraged to contact us!"

Overseas Active-Duty Service-Members and Spouses (And Their Children) Can Intern with the VMF Caucus and Receive Community Service Experience and Letter of Recommendation

If any DA member or child is looking for an internship or community service experience, please consider reaching out to us. We can provide a short "virtual internship" which would provide a volunteer a valuable work experience. For more information, and to learn what kind of work experiences are available, contact us here. VMF could also provide a letter of recommendation.


GETTING OUT THE VOTE!

 

January...IT IS TIME to register to vote!!!!!!!!!!!!

The form to register and request your November ballot is called the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), and it must be filled out each year. Americans living overseas can request their ballot as soon as January 1st if they are registered! So get on that New Year's resolution to be more politically active, and request your ballot now!

Anyone can fill out a physical FPCA and mail it back. If you are not on a military base, we recommend using the digital service at Vote From Abroad. It’s designed for Americans overseas, and comes with helpful features like filling in your FPCA online, a Voter Help Desk, how to send your ballot request faster online, an election calendar, and state-by-state helpful voter info. It’s quick, reliable and eco-friendly!

Help Us Get Out the Vote!

  • You can help GOTV right away by joining our Phone Banking Team. Our phone bankers have been crucial to getting out the vote during COVID. We have new teams forming now for 2022!
  • If you have base-access or are passionate about the military vote, join our team by sending us an email at [email protected].

WHAT’S CONGRESS UP TO?

VMF Bill Tracking Page: The VMF Caucus has a tracking pagefor

more detailed descriptions of the legislation we are following, including status updates on each bill.

Click here to check it out!


CELEBRATING THE CENTENARY OF THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER

FRANCE, NOVEMBER 2021, by Tilly Gaillard

100 years ago the remains of the U.S. unknown soldier were transported on the USS Olympia from Le Havre, France to its final resting place in Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia. After WWI and the fierce battles around Verdun, four American cemeteries – Belleau (Aisne-Marne), Romagne-sous-Montfaucon (Meuse-Argonne - Meuse), Thiaucourt-Regnieville (Saint Mihiel -Meurthe-et-Moselle) and Bony (Somme - Aisne) – were created. The body of the first unknown dead soldier in each of the four was disinterred, apparently examined to ensure that death was caused by wounds received in battle, and taken to Chalons-en-Champagne where a certain Sgt E. Younger, on October 24, 1921, selected one of the four coffins to represent all the fallen unknown warriors. The other three bodies were buried in Meuse Argonne.

100 years later, October 2021, a delegation of the Tomb Guards, who watch over the Arlington Unknown Soldier night and day, came on a pilgrimage to visit the four cemeteries, to pay tribute and share their deep respect and emotion with those who they often called “my brothers”. They were accompanied by five Gold Star Mothers.

The week-long trip was orchestrated by Society of the Honor Guard–Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, European Region of the Association of the United States Army, American Gold Star Mothers, Inc, Daughters of the American Revolution, and The American Legend Paris Post One. Here are a few features and facts that perhaps have not been highlighted in the many articles on this wondrous pilgrimage.

CHÂLONS-EN-CHAMPAGNE

The forceful re-enactment of the 1921 selection and departure of the tomb of the U.S. unknown soldier was captivating and emotionally moving. We felt the slow rhythm, the slow movement, the relation between the horse and its mistress, the carriage and lady driver waiting silently, motionless for the coffin which was draped with a U.S. flag brought from Arlington National Cemetery, the importance of the dogs to the war effort, the dress styles, the powerful musicians, the military precision.

These photos depict citizens of the early 20th century gathered to attend the stirring departure of the unknown soldier as he leaves France to travel to his final resting place in the U.S.

Life in France in the 1920s focused on questions such as, “Was the Great War over?” and “Would life return to its daily course?”

The yellow armband indicated that this person was requisitioned to work for the German Army.

A nurse in the Great War

The military band escorts the coffin.

U.S. military pallbearers carrying the coffin out of the town hall where it had been guarded since arrival.

U.S. military pallbearers carrying the coffin out of the  town hall where it had been guarded since arrival.

 

U.S. military pallbearers On procession to the train station.

On procession to the train station.

U.S. military pallbearers carrying the coffin out of the  town hall where it had been guarded since arrival.

The military band escorts the coffin.

Dogs played an essential role in WWI hauling machine guns, delivering  messages, search and rescue operations, watching over defence  installations, guarding ammunition stores, alerting to the presence  of the enemy, and of course as \

Dogs played an essential role in WWI hauling machine guns, delivering messages, search and rescue operations, watching over defence installations, guarding ammunition stores, alerting to the presence of the enemy, and of course as "man’s best friend".

Ms Darragh Paradiso, US Consul General in Strasbourg; Mr Benoist Apparu, Mayor of Châlons-en-Champagne; Mr Pierre N'Gahanne, préfet de la Marne; General Alexandre d'Andaque de Sériège, military governor in Metz; Maj. Gen. Peter B. Andrysiak U.S. Army Europe and Africa Deputy Commanding General; Army Veteran Gavin McIlvennna,  President, Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Ms Darragh Paradiso, US Consul General in Strasbourg; Mr Benoist Apparu, Mayor of Châlons-en-Champagne; Mr Pierre N'Gahanne, préfet de la Marne; General Alexandre d'Andaque de Sériège, military governor in Metz; Maj. Gen. Peter B. Andrysiak U.S. Army Europe and Africa Deputy Commanding General; Army Veteran Gavin McIlvennna,President, Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

 

Gold Star mothers at the war memorial in Châlons-en-Champagne (Photo by S. Fitoussi)

Gold Star mothers at the war memorial in Châlons-en-Champagne (Photo by S. Fitoussi)

The calming effects of his mistress’ voice before bearing away the tomb of the unknown soldier.

Susan Fitoussi, Chair, Marseille Chapter Democrats Abroad France, Anna-Marie Mattson, Co-chair, Democrats Abroad, France VMF Caucus; Abigail MacBride, Intern, Brigham Young University, Utah.

 

Many thanks to photographer François Bachmann of Châlons-en-Champagne who generously shared these photos.

 

LE HAVRE

Students from the College René Decartes researched stories about “the unknown soldier” and when these countries dedicated their sites.

FRANCE: the French eternal flame is at the Arc de Triomphe. On November 12, 1919,

the unknown soldier was laid to rest in the Pantheon in Paris; a year

later the coffin was transferred to Arc de Triomphe.

 

UNITED KINGDOM: November 11, 1920 the coffin of the unknown warrior

was placed in Westminster Abbey in London.

 

ITALY: A mother (Maria Bergamas) who had lost her son chose the unknown

soldier out of 11 caskets. On October 26, 1921 it was placed in

front of a monument dedicated to King Victor-Emmanuel II

and called sacellum (sort of tomb of ancient Rome)

of the unknown soldier. It is still there now.

 

UNITED STATES: On November 11, 1921 the unknown soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery and President Harding spoke these words:

“We do not know the eminence of his birth, but we do know the glory of his death”. Here 

During the unknown soldier’s ocean voyage from France to the U.S.,

a violent hurricane threatened to sweep the tomb off the ship.

The threat was so great that the tomb was blessed by a Chaplain

on board. Fortunately, it was firmly attached so it finally

reached the Navy Yard in Washington D.C. where it lay in State.

Thousands of gold star mothers came thinking that perhaps,

 just perhaps, the unknown soldier in the tomb was their son

and brought from a resting place in France

to Arlington National Cemetery.

 

BELGIUM: On November 22, 1922 the tomb of the Belgian unknown soldier

was placed in a burial vault between two bronze lions on the Congress

column, first for the fallen of WWI and then later extended to

embrace the victims of all wars and conflicts.

An eternal flame burns in a brazier.

 

AUSTRALIA: On November 11, 1993, the coffin of the unknown soldier was placed

under the dome of the Hall of Souvenirs of the Australian War Memorial

constructed in 1941 in Canberra. Since November 11, 1920

all the Commonwealth countries pay tribute to those who died

in the Great War. For 75 years the tomb of the unknown soldier

was in the Adelaïde military cemetery with graves of Canadians,

Australians and British in Villers-Bretonneux

built by the Australians in 1918.

 

CANADA: On May 28, 2000, the remains of an unidentified Canadian

soldier who died in the First World War, and had been buried in

Cabaret Rouge Cemetery near Vimy Ridge, France

were repatriated to Canada and placed before

the National War Memorial in Ottawa.


POETRY CORNER

An Excerpt from “A Letter From Birmingham Jail”
by Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. August 1, 1963

“We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have never yet engaged in a direct-action movement that was “well timed” according to the timetable of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “wait.” It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This “wait” has almost always meant “never.” It has been a tranquilizing thalidomide, relieving the emotional stress for a moment, only to give birth to an ill-formed infant of frustration. We must come to see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.” We have waited for more than three hundred and forty years for our God-given and constitutional rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward the goal of political independence, and we still creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward the gaining of a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. I guess it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say “wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize, and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she cannot go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her little eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see the depressing clouds of inferiority begin to form in her little mental sky, and see her begin to distort her little personality by unconsciously developing a bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son asking in agonizing pathos, “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger” and your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and when your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never knowing what to expect next, and plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodyness” — then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over and men are no longer willing to be plunged into an abyss of injustice where they experience the bleakness of corroding despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.”

This excerpt was chosen in honor of Martin Luther King’s eloquence and erudition.

Prose, in the right pen, is also poetry.

To access this letter in its entirety, and other famous letters by Dr. King, click here.

Please send poetry submissions for the February issue to: [email protected]


PODCASTS, NEWSLETTERS, & SOCIAL MEDIA TIPS

SPECIAL PODCAST Our very own Global VMF Caucus chairperson, Mike Nitz, was interviewed by Rachel Eugster and David Schellenberg, co-chairs of Canada’s capital region  chapter of DA, on Blue Vote Cafe! Listen here

Also on the podcast front, one of our newsletter readers wrote and shared, “I have two podcasts that I think are doing good work towards acknowledging some problems with war and Veterans.” Here are his suggestions:

Third Squad, about Marines in Afghanistan, a 12-part series. Here’s a link.

The Problem With Jon Stewart, a weekly podcast from Jon Stewart. Here’s a link

One new daily podcast I find a bit more versatile in subject matter is TIME The Brief. It is produced by TIME magazine, not NYT, and has a written form as well.  Here’s a link

For a fun change of pace, try this 9 episode series produced by WNYC Studios (everything they do is GREAT) called DOLLY PARTON’S AMERICA. In our divided times, Dolly Parton is still liked by people ‘on both sides’! Here’s a link (You might even be able to recommend this to your UNCLE, you know, THAT uncle.)

Two more newsletters worth mentioning:

Lucid, is a substack thread written by Ruth Ben-Ghiat, an historian whose latest book is Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present.

This one is hard to find so try this link.

Emptywheel, written by Marcie Wheeler and other contributors focuses mainly on January 6th. So this is a hot time to click here for Emptywheel.

Listen wherever you get your podcasts. Enjoy!

And if you want to follow or socialize with the DNC, here are some links:

On Facebook

Like the Democrats on Facebook

Like the DNC War Room on Facebook

Click here if you want to join the Democratic National Community

On Twitter

Follow @TheDemocrats on Twitter

Follow @DNCWarRoom on Twitter


FILM RECOMMENDATION

A Midnight Clear (1992) Ethan Hawke, Gary Sinise, Frank Whaley “Set during December 1944, it is the story of a small intelligence platoon sent on a dangerous mission to the German Front. When they discover a Nazi camp, they find a small band of frightened soldiers, not unlike themselves. A tentative truce is forged as the two platoons overcome their fear to celebrate Christmas together. Soon the tides of war change, and their separate peace explodes into violence.” Rated R - Language, War Violence, a Scene of Sensuality. Available on Amazon and YouTube

The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003) Robert McNamara discusses his experiences and lessons learned during his tenure as Secretary of Defense under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. He talks about his work as a bombing statistician during World War II, his brief tenure as president of Ford Motor Company, and the Kennedy administration's triumph during the Cuban Missile Crisis. However, the film focuses primarily on his failures in Vietnam. The theme of the film are his "eleven lessons" learned during this time. Some of these include improving military efficiency, understanding your enemy, and the frustrations of trying to deal with (and unsuccessfully trying to change) human nature. (Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, etc.)

Greyhound Several months after the U.S. entry into World War II, an inexperienced U.S. Navy commander (Tom Hanks) must lead an Allied convoy being stalked by a German submarine wolf pack. (On the Apple TV app)

News of the World Only five years after the end of the Civil War, a grizzled former Confederate Army officer (Tom Hanks) travels the dangerous roads of 1870 Texas to make a living by entertaining the people with his readings of the latest news from his pile of newspapers. The irresistible storyteller comes across the gruesome scene of a murder, and encounters the abducted ten-year-old orphan, Johanna, proud daughter of two Kiowa nomadic warriors. To reunite the savage girl with her only surviving kin, they brave the perils of the long journey back for twice-orphaned Johanna. Amid harsh territories once divided by war, what will it take to find this orphan a home?


BOOK RECOMMENDATION


Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-CA28) book had me saying, “OMG! What is happening in Washington? What is happening to our country?” too many times. Michael Beschloss said,“In this thoughtful, absorbing, and revelatory memoir, an important champion and defender of American democracy shows us how he became a national leader and, from his experiences on the inside, how close the Trump regime brought us to losing our system. Please read Adam Schiff’s book carefully and pay close heed to his warnings about the dangers that remain.” A must read for all of us. Available in bookstores, on Amazon, Kindle and Apple Books.

 

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?

Please use the link here to send us articles, poems, research, a personal essay, photos and anything else VMF-related.


BRAIN-ZONE

History Questions About the United States Coast Guard

  1. When and why was the Coast Guard founded?
  2. Sink or swim. One of the lesser-known Coast Guard facts is that becoming a Coast Guard rescue swimmer is extremely hard. What percent fail?
  3. How many wars have Coast Guard members served in?
  4. What year did the red “racing stripe” begin to appear on all Coast Guard vessels?
  5. What is a “cutter” and how does the Coast Guard define one?
  6. Which department is the Coast Guard part of?
  7. The official motto of the Coast Guard is “Semper Paratus”. What does Semper Paratus mean in English?
  8. Who was the first acclaimed Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist who served in the Coast Guard and what was his novel?
  9. Do you know your Coast Guard sports facts? From 1942-44, the Coast Guard had a championship sports team called the Cutters that played in a league considered to be one of the most competitive leagues of its time. What sport did they play?
  10. What was the Coast Guard's nickname during WWII?
  11. How did Walt Disney contribute to the Coast Guard during World War II?
  12. When did the first uniformed female Coast Guard members serve in the Coast Guard?

Answers:

  1. The Coast Guard was founded on August 4, 1790, after Congress commissioned the construction of 10 ships to help enforce federal tariffs and prevent smuggling.
  2. More than half the people who try out fail.
  3. Members of the Coast Guard have served in 17 wars and conflicts throughout U.S. history.
  4. In 1967, the Coast Guard adopted the trademark red slash design, or racing stripe, that appears on its vessels.
  5. The Coast Guard refers to a vessel as a “cutter” if it’s over 65-feet long.
  6. Since 2003, the Coast Guard has been operating as part of the Dept. of Homeland Security.
  7. “Semper Paratus” is a Latin phrase, meaning "Always ready" or “Always Prepared”. It is used as the official motto of the United States Coast Guard.
  8. Alex Haley, who wrote the acclaimed Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "Roots,“ was the Coast Guard’s first journalist.
  9. From 1942-44, the Coast Guard had a championship hockey team called the Cutters that played in the Eastern Amateur Hockey League.
  10. The nickname "Corsair Fleet" was given to the thousands of Coast Guard and Coast Guard Reserves craft that patrolled the coast watching for U-boats and saboteurs.
  11. Walt Disney created a special logo for the Coast Guard’s Corsair Fleet during World War II, featuring Donald Duck, who promoted the auxiliary. (During World War II, Disney Studios produced hundreds of logos for the U.S. Armed Forces.)
  12. In 1918, sisters Genevieve and Lucille Baker were the first uniformed women to serve in the Coast Guard.

You can learn more about the history of the United States Coast Guard here and here.

Your young family members can learn about the United States Coast Guard with The Official Coast Guard Coloring Book


Co-Editors:

Bob Gould (UK, Military Family)
Robin Rafaelidys (Greece)

Editorial Staff:

Kee Evans (Guatemala, Military Family)
Tilly Gaillard (France)
Isa Kocher (Turkey, Veteran)
Anthony “Mike” Nitz (Vietnam, Veteran)
Terese Sarno (Germany)

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“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality,

tied in a single garment of destiny.

Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from Birmingham Jail”