VMF Caucus News

Marking Hispanic Heritage Month: Honoring Medal of Honor Recipient Roy Benavides

The Democrats Abroad Veterans and Military Families Caucus along with the Hispanic Caucus proudly recognizes the unparalleled patriotism of Medal of Honor recipient Master Sergeant Raul “Roy” P. Benavidez.

 As one of the most courageous and honorable people in our nation’s history, we simply cannot talk about Hispanic Heritage Month without mentioning Benavidez. Born in Texas in 1935 to a Mexican-American father and Yaqui Native American mother, Benavidez’s childhood was rough with having to move in with his extended family after both of his parents had passed away when he was a boy. As a teenager, he stopped attending school to work blue-collar jobs to help the family pay bills and make ends meet.

During the middle of the Korean War, Benavidez decided to enlist in the U.S. Army. A few years later, Benavidez arrived in Vietnam and was critically-injured from stepping on a landmine. With severe bodily damage from shrapnel, medical professionals back in Texas concluded that he would never walk again. Determined to prove the doctors wrong, Benavidez struggled to get out of bed every night to exercise and flex his injured limbs. One year later, he shocked the medical staff by walking out of the hospital and then left to rejoin his fellow platoon members in Vietnam.

The Vietnam War tragically ended with roughly 60,000 deaths of U.S. troops and 1.3 million deaths of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians. Yet, it produced several examples of courage in the face of all obstacles.  Roy Benavidez was one of these examples... 

Known as the “six hours of hell” in South Vietnam in May 1968, then-SSgt. Benavidez, armed with only a knife, rode a helicopter straight into harm’s way to help surrounded American Special Forces who were radioing for help. With incredible bravery, Benavidez, who received multiple near-fatal injuries, still managed to successfully complete his mission of assisting his countrymen in need and recovering classified materials. During the battle, the heavily-wounded Benavidez miraculously carried both wounded and dead American and Vietnamese soldiers and loaded them on an extraction helicopter. Sure enough, Benavidez both secured the highly-classified documents and saved the lives of at least eight American troops in those six hours.

Years later, President Reagan awarded MSgt. Benavidez with the Congressional Medal of Honor after another former solider came forward with eyewitness testimony of Benavidez’s heroic acts during that day of combat in 1968. Sadly, in 1998 Benavidez passed away in Texas after battling health issues – yet, his legacy and American spirit live on.

Benavidez did not ever consider himself a hero. He once stated that he did those particular actions in war because he knew it was morally the right thing to do for his country and his countrymen.

Roy Benavidez was a historically-significant American patriot the Democrats Abroad Veterans and Military Families and Hispanic Caucus shall forever respect and admire. He showed us what it means to be brave in the face of extreme peril, what it is to fight for what you love, for what you believe, and for your values. May his heroism, his sacrifice, and his teachings never be forgotten. Let us all fight as Roy Benavidez did.

 


Trump Steals From Military To Pay For His Wall

Background: Last week, the House voted to terminate Trump’s fake national emergency after the Senate passed a bipartisan resolution.

  • Trump is abusing his constitutional powers by going around Congress after they already voted to deny Trump money for his wall.

  • Trump is trying to steal money that has already been allocated to our military in order to fund his unnecessary border wall that he promised would be paid for by Mexico.
    • Trump has already stolen $3.6 billion, which will affect military construction projects, such as childcare centers and even a cybersecurity facility, in 23 states.
    • A report from the Air Force details the national security risks of Trump’s plans to take military construction funds for his wall.

  • Trump says he is for our troops, but now he is advancing his reckless political agenda and boosting his ego at their expense.
  • This decision is an abdication of Trump’s duty as commander-in-chief.

Source: DNC WAR ROOM in Top Talkers Blast, October 2nd, 2019


Reimbursement for Emergency Care

According to NBC News and The Hill, a federal court has vacated the Department of Veterans Affairs rule that released it from reimbursing a veteran who receives emergency medical care at a non-VA facility. In the decision from Monday, September 9, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims found that this rule, which the department issued in 2018, violates federal law.

A rule releasing the department from reimbursing a veteran for an emergency claim if a portion of the costs were covered by his or her own insurance had already been found to violate the law back in 2015.

As a result of the court ruling, the VA may need to reimburse thousands of veterans, and this would involve billions of dollars in costs to the department.

https://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/460837-court-rules-va-must-reimburse-veterans-for-emergency-care-at-non-va


Redirecting funding to border wall delays projects

According to an Air-Force report that NBC News says it has obtained, by redirecting funding previously allocated by congress for Military construction to build a stretch of wall along the U.S.-Mexico boarder, some 51 projects around the world will be delayed. Apart from the obvious constitutional issues it raises, this action on the part of the White House will also increase the level of risk at a number of locations.

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Democrat Presidential Candidates: Positions on Issues of Interest to Veterans

Democrats Abroad members Richard Mehrer and Corinne Hobson have prepared a spreadsheet summarizing the positions of Democratic Presidential candidates on some of the issues of interest to members of the Veterans and Military Family Caucus.

 

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Enhancing the Presence of DA Overseas and Improving the GOTV Program by Gene Gerth, August 17th, 2019

This article relates to ways used in the past by those of us in Democrats Abroad Korea to implement the above statements. The author of this article, however, is retired US Army, living in Korea, and many of the suggestions presented here require access to military-base facilities located overseas. Let me begin by stating that during my association with DA Korea, it has included times that we were a committee in formation, a fully recognized country committee, and a period of time when the committee seemed to be non-functional. I first became associated with DA in the early years of the Bush II Presidency. At that time DA Korea was in its formative stages. We did however, associate with Republicans Abroad Korea and conducted a few joint projects. The primary one was a joint sponsorship of a forum at a major Seoul Hotel with North Korean defector Kang Chol-Hwan, and author of the book “The Aquariums of Pyongyang”. The forum concerned human rights abuse in North Korea and was attended by several prominent Korean politicians and faculty members from various Korean Universities. However, this sort of cooperation would probably not be available today, due to the Trumpification of the Republican Party. When these events took place the Republican party folks in Korea primarily consisted of honest conservatives, who were interested in debating the issues in a sensible manner, rather than vilifying the opposition as enemies.

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Veterans and Military Families Caucus Introduction

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 

 


Democrats Abroad Honors Our Fallen on Memorial Day_

Democrats Abroad honors those who fought for democracy and freedom this Memorial Day. Our leaders and volunteers represented the organization in Memorial Day ceremonies across France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the Philippines last weekend, and will also participate in ceremonies this weekend in France.