VMF Caucus News

VMF Fifth Newsletter

Masthead

July 2021

Newsletter

Vol. 1, No. 5

Greetings from the Co-Editor

We have been hard at work these last several months building a newsletter for our community: veterans, service members, military families, and allies. A whirlwind of news and legislation has impacted our community so far this year. Between COVID vaccinations for veterans and military families, burn pit and toxic exposure legislation, veteran deportation legislation, and more, we have been very busy. That is why we created a new section of our newsletter: “How We Are Fighting for Veterans and Military Families.” We want to tell you all about what we’re working on, and we want you to continue to tell us what you want. We receive emails every month from our readers about VMF issues.  You can write us at our newsletter email address [email protected].

Please continue to tell us what you want to see, what you’ve enjoyed or would like to see change about our newsletter, and keep bringing new issues to us so we can continue to advocate for our community. We have had amazing results so far from our analytics team. Almost 40% of our members are reading the newsletter! We want to continue improving this publication for those who read it now and those who may read it in the future. Our next goal is to better integrate our newsletter with the Democrats Abroad website where we can create more detailed versions of particular sections of our newsletter. For instance, we intend to move much of the legislation we are tracking onto the website. We understand that these bills moving through Congress are important, but we also realize that two pages of legislation in the newsletter may be too much.

Remember, this newsletter is for you. Contact us any time you have VMF concerns that you believe we should address and never hesitate to ask us questions about voting, registering to vote, utilizing the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), or Vote From Abroad!

Democratically yours,

 

Anthony “Mike” Nitz, Navy Veteran

 

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VMF Fourth Newsletter

MARGRATEN ON MEMORIAL DAY AND EVERY DAY

By Roberta Enschede, DA The Netherlands

Margraten

“If ever proof were needed that we fought for a cause and not for conquest,

it could be found in these cemeteries. Here was our only conquest: 

all we asked ....was enough.....soil in which to bury our gallant dead.”

Lt. Gen. Mark W. Clark

Sadly, this year like last, there can be no public ceremony at Margraten on Memorial Day.   The thousands of people - grandparents, parents, children, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, veterans who come year after year will not be there to put a flower or a bouquet on the grave of “their soldier” or a handful of pebbles on a white marble Star of David. 

Yet, even though they can’t be there, their memories and thoughts, like mine, will be in the rolling land of Limburg where we “buried our gallant dead.” Perhaps they’ll tell friends a story about “their soldier,” the young hero the family adopted. Perhaps they’ll say a prayer or look at a book of old photos.  Maybe they’ll think about how they felt when they had the privilege to lay a wreath during the Memorial Day Ceremony.  Maybe they’ll remember when they were Scouts and walked around and placed a Dutch and American flag in front of each grave.

The more you go to Margraten, the more meaningful it becomes. When I’m there, I always stop at the grave of Robert van Klinken. He was a young soldier whose parents were Dutch immigrants and who died in the land of their birth. I visit the grave of Willie James, an African-American soldier who posthumously was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President  Barack Obama. I walk over to the grave of Major General Maurice Rose, the highest ranking soldier buried in Margraten and the most decorated. 

Before I leave, I find some of the graves of the Timberwolves -  the 104th Infantry.  I was fortunate enough to get to know some of their comrades who made it out of the war and made a point of returning to Margraten for as long as they were able to travel. My Timberwolf  friends are all gone now - those funny, feisty, smart, wise, courageous men. I could always feel how they cared for each other. Sometimes, they acted like teenagers who won a ballgame, slapping and laughing. Sometimes, I could feel their sadness and I knew they were asking themselves: why was I lucky? Why is he here and not me?  One fellow, a jeweler from LA, would say, “Margraten, that’s my church.” Another tall lanky gentleman, an architect from Kansas, would amble over to the graves of his comrades and come back with tears filling his eyes. He’d tell his soldier buddies, “I said hello.”

I would stand to the side and just watch and listen. They were in a world only another soldier could understand.

The ancient words of Pericles are carved in the white marble of Margraten. They are especially fitting this year when we are only able to be there in our thoughts and memories.

"EACH FOR HIS OWN MEMORIAL EARNED

PRAISE THAT WILL NEVER DIE AND WITH

IT THE GRANDEST OF ALL SEPULCHRES

NOT THAT IN WHICH HIS MORTAL BONES

ARE LAID BUT A HOME IN THE MINDS OF MEN."

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May Newsletter

Masthead

May 2021

Newsletter

Vol. 1, No. 3

Greetings from the Co-Editor

Nearly 15% of the attempted insurrectionists on January 6 were veterans. Research is consistently indicating that the primary driver for those insurrectionists was fear of the “great replacement,” the belief that the rights of minorities will “overtake” that of Whites. One study by Chicago’s Project on Security and Threats found that for every 1% decline in a county’s White non-Hispanic population over a 5-year period, the county was 6 times more likely to send at least one insurrectionist.

For example, the Proud Boys, a far-right neo-fascist organization, actively reaches out to and recruits military-trained and police-trained individuals. Evidence indicates they were the predominant leaders of the insurrection, carefully coordinating with other “far-right extremist groups” prior to January 6. Thus far four Proud Boys have flipped and are assisting the FBI, by providing information, for instance, on how they delivered security for Trump advisor Roger Stone in the days around the insurrection.
 
In surveys the Proud Boys deny being White supremacists and stress that there is no systemic racism in America, and that Black Lives Matter (BLM) supporters and Antifa are the violent forces in the country.
 
So, where do we go from here? I see four important conclusions:
  • The ingredients currently exist for future political violence.
  • We need a thorough bipartisan investigation into the insurrection, including how it was possible that there was a 58 to 1 ratio of rioters to Capitol Police officers, and why 78 requests for backup were denied or ignored.
  • FBI, National Guard, mayors, law enforcement, the CIA, etc. need better intelligence, communications, and sounder risk analysis of right-wing extremist groups in America.
  • Research is needed to assess the extent radicalization occurs before, during, or after military service and police training.
I suspect this letter may generate a dialog, and as this newsletter is for you, please send your comments, questions, and thoughts about the letter from the co-editor and VMF-related issues to our Suggestion Box. Send us an article and tell us what you’d like us to write about in future issues, and tell us what you want us to address in our semi-monthly Caucus meetings.  

Democratically yours, Bob Gould

Sources:

Washington Post 4/6/21 What an analysis of Capitol insurrections tells us Here

Chicago’s Project on Security and Threats (CPOST) Here

Washington Post 4/15/21 Police at the Capitol Severely Disadvantaged Here

The Nation 4/7/21 The US Military Is an Extremism Incubator Here

 

 

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V-E Day


Today V-E and WW II are commemorated around the world as those who served are honored. V-E Day marked the end of most fighting in Europe where tens of millions of service members and civilians lost their lives. President Harry S. Truman, who was born on May 8, 1884, announced the end of the war in Europe on his 61st birthday. About 16 million Americans served in World War II—with 2 million serving in Europe. 11% of our population fought in World War II. 
Join the Global VMF Caucus Zoom Event Volunteers Honoring Veterans in Washington, D.C. with Helen Belletti, Volunteer Coordinator, today, May 8 at 3:00 p.m. CET. This event is co-sponsored by the DA Germany VMF Caucus and the Global Women’s Caucus.
RSVP: [email protected]To join the VMF Caucus, go to: http://www.democratsabroad.org/vmf.     

May is National Military Appreciation Month



May-National Military Appreciation Month

A month to recognize and show appreciation to the Armed Forces of the United States of America.

May 1, 2021- Loyalty Day

A day set aside for American citizens to reaffirm their loyalty to the United States

and to recognize the heritage of American freedom.  Learn more...

May 1, 2021 - Silver Star Service Banner Day

A day set aside to honor our wounded, ill, and dying military personnel by

participating in flying a Silver Star Banner.  Learn more...

May 6, 2021 - National Day of Prayer

The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of

May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation. Learn more...

How can you pray for the military community? Learn more...

May 7, 2021 - Military Spouse Appreciation Day

A day set aside to acknowledge the contributions and sacrifices of the spouses of

the U.S. Armed Forces. Learn more...

​LINK - Practical insights in caring for a military home front family

May 8, 2021 — V-E (Victory in Europe) Day

(Celebrated May 7 in Commonwealth countries)

A day which marks the anniversary of the Allies' victory in Europe during World War II

on May 8, 1945. Learn more...


Volunteers Honoring Veterans in Washington, D.C. 
with Helen Belletti, Volunteer Coordinator

May 8, 2021, VE-DAY, at 3:00 p.m. (CET)

RSVP for the Zoom Webinar: [email protected]

To join on Zoom, go to: http://us02web.zoom.us/j/4414855431

Meeting ID: 441 485 5431  (Waiting room. No password needed.)

To join the VMF Caucus: http://www.democratsabroad.org/vmf

May 9, 2021 - Mother's Day
 
May 13, 2021 - Children of Fallen Patriots Day
A day to honor the families our Fallen Heroes have left behind – especially their children. 
It’s a reminder to the community that we have an obligation to support the families of our Fallen Patriots. Learn more...
 
May 15, 2021 - Armed Forces Day
A day set aside to pay tribute to men and women who serve in the United States’
Armed Forces. Learn more...
 
May 31, 2021 - Memorial Day (Decoration Day)
A day set aside to commemorate all who have died in military service for the United
States. Typically recognized by parades, visiting memorials and cemeteries. Learn more...
 
May 31, 2021 at 1 pm Eastern (7 pm CET
Virtual Event  Vietnam Veterans Memorial – Washington, DC        


April Newsletter

Masthead

April/May 2021

Newsletter

Vol. 1, No. 2

 

UPCOMING VMF CAUCUS MEETINGSACTIVISMFILM RECOMMENDATIONARTICLE
Greetings from the Editor
This newsletter is for you. With this in mind, please use our Suggestion Box to provide us with your questions, comments, and thoughts on Caucus business or VMF-related issues. Feel free to let us know what you’d like to see us write about in future issues, send us articles, and tell us what you want us to address in our twice-a-month Caucus meetings.
 
Georgia's New Voting Laws and How They Affect Everyone:
 
Before I talk about Georgia’s laws, I would first like to recommend that all overseas voters utilize electronic delivery of their voting materials. Federal law requires that states allow this for elections with federal offices on the ballot and doing so will significantly cut down on the chance that your ballot won’t arrive in time to be counted. Some states, like my state of North Carolina, even allow you to submit your ballot electronically. I recommend looking up your state’s specific rules using votefromabroad.org.
 
There are bills being considered in state legislatures all around the country that attempt to mirror many of the changes made in Georgia’s election law. We should expect to see similar restrictions on election officials, overseas and military voting, and ballot access pass in many states before the 2022 elections. Here are the most impactful amendments to Georgia’s election laws for military and overseas voters:

• There will now be two separate requirements to prove your identity when voting absentee. First, officials will compare your name, date of birth, and one of your Georgia Driver’s License number, Georgia State-issued ID number, or the last four digits of your Social Security Number written on an outer “oath envelope” (instructions will be provided to accomplish this when voting using an electronically submitted ballot). Second, you must place a copy of one of the following ID cards in your outer envelope: Georgia Driver’s License, Georgia State-issued photo ID, a valid US passport, a valid Government employee photo ID, a valid US military photo ID, or a valid tribal photo ID. More information on valid IDs can be found here.
• Signature verification is no longer a part of registering for your absentee ballot. Instead, the registrar or absentee ballot clerk will compare your name, date of birth, and either your Georgia Driver’s License or State-issued ID number to what they have on file. If you do not have one of those two forms of ID, they “shall verify that the identification provided with the application identifies the applicant.” To be safe, I recommend following the provisions linked above.
• When you complete your registration to receive an absentee ballot, election officials are no longer required to send you your ballot. You must now request your ballot for each primary or election you wish to vote in. However, filling out and submitting the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) will still allow you to request an absentee ballot for every federal election in that calendar year. This is federal law for overseas and military voters (and their families!), so Georgia’s laws cannot circumvent this. Here’s an extra link to the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) guidelines for Georgia.
• The dates to request absentee ballots have changed in Georgia. Instead of up to 180 days prior to an election, you must now request your absentee ballot between 11 and 78 days prior to the election. Again, using the FPCA will allow you to register in any state at the beginning of the year as normal.
• Because overseas and military voters are covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizen Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), the changes made to when absentee ballots are sent out do not apply if you use the FPCA to request your absentee ballots. All states are required to send out these absentee ballots to overseas/military voters at least 45 days prior to the election if there are federal candidates on the ballot. For other absentee voters, Georgia will send out most absentee ballots between 25 and 29 days before the election.
• Run-offs in GA will now be held 28 days after the election instead of 9 weeks after. This means that there will be a significant time crunch in returning absentee run-off ballots. A blank run-off ballot will be provided with your election materials, but this may not always be useful if there are a lot of candidates from both parties like we saw in Senator Warnock's election. Unfortunately, I don’t have a solution for this problem -- many of us may not be able to return ballots in time for run-offs. Use express mail if it's available to you. I don’t know if this part of the law will be successfully challenged in court, but I do strongly believe that it goes against the spirit of the provisions laid out in the UOCAVA.

Don’t let these changes dishearten you. Keep engaged, keep voting, and make sure your friends and family are voting too. We won 2020 fair and square, and we will do it again. Your voice matters. Your vote matters. Persevere.

For those who are interested in reading the full text of the bill, here is a link to Georgia SB202. And remember, use the FPCA!

Mike Nitz, Co-Editor, Global VMF Caucus Secretary, and Veteran

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Earth Day/Week 2021

                                                                                

The theme for Earth Day 2021 is Restore Our Earth, which focuses on restoring the world’s ecosystems through natural processes, emerging green technologies and innovative thinking. 

EARTH DAY observed by the U.S. military:

The U.S. Air Force at Ramstein Air Base will plant 500 trees base-wide in designated places from April 20-22. This free activity is open to service members and their families. Trees will be distributed in the KMCC. parking lot. During Earth Week, the legendary Wild Boar Mud Run will also take place.
 
The  U.S. Army “is committed to environmental excellence through stewardship, vigilance, and partnership with the community. Sound environmental practices are part of everything a Soldier does; thus, every day is Earth Day to the Army."
 
The U.S. Marines are using Earth Day as a reminder “to reflect on our mission, our environment, and the need to preserve our resources for future generations of Marines, so we can continue to win our Nation’s battles.”
 

The U.S.Navy: “Each year, our Sailors and Navy civilians go above and beyond to demonstrate our commitment to environmental stewardship. Not just on Earth Day, but in our daily work year round, we take pride in caring for the ecosystems and communities in which we operate."

 
The U.S. Coast Guard: “Earth Day has been a day dedicated to educating everyone on responsible environmental management and supporting ways that make the planet healthier and more sustainable. It’s a chance to think about how our actions impact our environment. Individuals and organizations celebrate Earth Day in a variety of ways. Some people plant trees, clean up trash along highways, set up recycling programs or commit to saving energy.”
 

 
From its beginning, Earth Day was bipartisan. A Democratic senator and a Republican congressman met with members of the media to promote the concept of a national teaching day for environmental issues.They chose April 22 for the event and everyone realized we all share common values. Everyone wants blue skies and clean water. Congress then created the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species.
 
 

 
Schedule for Earth Week Events        
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
 
April 18-Earth Day Initiative (EDI) and March for Science NYC, are offering a series of online events with speakers and presentations from politicians, artists, and activists such as Elizabeth Warren, Kyra Sedgwick, Rosdely Ciprian, and Marc Yaggi, exploring a variety of environmental issues. Check out the full virtual stage schedule here.

April 19-at 3:00 p.m. (ET) the virtual march and rally, called “SC1.5NCE NOT SILENCE,” will take place in a 1990s-like virtual reality space created by Future Meets Present and Gather. Through an avatar, you will be able to visit booths, speak to exhibitors and other attendees, and, at 3PM ET, take part in a march and rally organized by March for Science NYC and Fridays for Future (the movement co-founded by Greta Thunberg).                                                                             You can attend by sending an RSVP via the EDI site.    
                                                                                                       

April 20-a global youth summit.                                                                                                                                              

April 21-a global education summit.                                                                                                                                        

April 21- 8:30 p.m. (ET) join National Geographic for its Earth Day Eve 2021 virtual celebration, with performances by artists such as Angélique KidjoWillie NelsonYo-Yo Ma, and Ziggy Marley, and appearances by a number of environmental activists such as Dr. Jane Goodall. You can join at the NatGeo website or at its YouTube channel — and afterward, continue with the music of Jayda G on the organization’s TikTok channel.

April 22- Earthday.org’s second annual “Earth Day Live: Restore Our Earth” online program, featuring celebrities, politicians, and activists, will be live streamed at noon (ET) at the same time as the global climate summit organized by the Biden administration. To participate, visit Earthday.org on the day of the event.

April 22 & 23- Leaders Summit on Climate to which President Biden has invited 40 world leaders. A live stream link will be available on the date of the event.


Medal of Honor Monday: Navy Corpsman Richard D. DeWert

April 5, 2021  | By Katie Lange, DoD News
 
Know Your Military
 
“Of the millions who have served the nation, more than 3,500 men and one woman have received its highest award for valor. Medal of Honor Monday highlights a different service member from this elite group each week.”

A Proclamation on National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day, 2021

•WHITE HOUSE   PRESIDENTIAL ACTIONS

Enduring with limitless dignity and determination, these former prisoners of war are a powerful reminder that their indomitable spirit could not be broken, even by brutal treatment in contravention of international law and morality.  Despite the terrible suffering inflicted upon them by their captors in harsh prisons and camps in Europe and Asia, American prisoners of war steadfastly demonstrated their devotion to duty, honor, and country.

On this day and every day, let us honor all who have borne the hardships of captivity in service to our Nation, remember the brave men and women who were held as prisoners in foreign lands during our Nation’s past conflicts, and recognize those at home who anxiously awaited their loved ones’ return.  Their faith in God, love of family, and trust in our Nation are an inspiration to all Americans, and we will always remember their sacrifices. 

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 9, 2021, as National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day.  I call upon all Americans to observe this day by honoring the service and sacrifice of all former prisoners of war as our Nation expresses its eternal gratitude for their sacrifice.  I also call upon Federal, State, and local government officials and organizations to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this ninth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fifth.

                             JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.


Military children qualify for a variety of VA benefits

Every April, the nation celebrates the Month of the Military Child – a time that honors all military children for their dedication and sacrifices. The VA honors military children year-round by providing them earned benefits. Dependents and surviving children of Veterans and service members may qualify for certain benefits, such as life insurance, education services and health care.
Click the link for more information: https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/86374/military-children-qualify-variety-va-benefits/