VMF Caucus News

VMF September 2022 Newsletter


September 2022


Vol. 2, No. 6

To view in PDF, click here

"This fall, we must elect more senators and representatives who will codify a woman's right to choose into federal law. We need to elect more state leaders to protect this right at the local level. We need to restore the protections of Roe as law of the land.”


Editor’s Message —

Greetings! With Constitution Week and Constitution Day in September, what better time to delve into the U.S. Constitution since some recent Supreme Court decisions have adversely affected our lives. We are providing you with information to use when you write to your Senators, Representatives, Governors, and Mayors. In looking at some of the quotes from our founding fathers, it appears that they foresaw that changes would need to be made, which is totally understandable because how could documents from the 18th century not undergo revisions to deal with situations in the 21st century? As all organizations refresh operating procedures when new leaders are elected or appointed, why shouldn’t the U.S. government do the same? Is it really a good idea, with the rapid changes that now take place in our society, to have people in lifetime positions that sometimes could easily cover a span of 40 years? The Constitution has no minimum or maximum age for Supreme Court Justices. William O. Douglas, appointed at age 40, retired 36 years, 7 months, and 8 days later! 

Citizens are reacting to the recent Supreme Court decisions as evidenced by the surprise abortion backlash in the Kansas election. AR-15 weapons continue to create major disasters. Some say "We need these weapons because we want to be effective against the government if it becomes tyrannical. That's part of our Second Amendment right.” Is it?

“We need leaders to support removing more barriers to voting, not trying to silence the people. The strength of our democracy and our country depends on eligible voters casting their ballot and selecting their leaders."

– Office of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf

What can you do to change the current anti-citizen situation? VOTE!

We need more elected officials at every level who support the rights of citizens. We need more U.S. Senators, Representatives, Governors, and Justices who want to safeguard the rights we have had for years and who will support new laws that will improve our lives. Use your VOTE to change what has happened this year in the Supreme Court. 

Vote in the 2022 Federal elections and in your local state elections! Urge your friends and colleagues to vote. Every member of Democrats Abroad needs to participate! If you have not yet requested your absentee ballot, what are you waiting for? Vote From Abroad!

In closing, we need your help! This is your Newsletter and we would like to focus on topics that interest you. Please take this short survey and tell us what you think! 

Terese Sarno


Every Vote Counts

Michelle Obama Urges People To Check Voter Registration Status

(N.B. This was shared July 31st so it is much less than 100 days to the midterm elections!)

Please join our caucus to show your support of the U.S. military!


Read more

President Biden Delivers Remarks and Signs the PACT Act of 2022

The long-awaited PACT Act will expand Veteran Affairs health care for personnel impacted by burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, and also  includes benefits for those affected by water contamination at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

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.


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.

Read more

VMF August 2022 Newsletter


August 2022


Vol. 2, No. 5

To view in PDF, click here

Just as we did in the presidential election of 2020, we will make sure you know who we are. If you stand against our students, we will stand against you. If you vote against our educators, we will vote against you. This November, if you get in the way of our progress toward a more just nation, we will get in the way of your election.

Becky Pringle, National Education Association President


Editor’s Message —

Greetings! We have all been brought up believing that youth holds the future in their hands and that a good education is the basis for a successful democracy. The new law in Arizona that removes the bachelor's degree requirement for teachers is another step by the far right to dismantle public education. They also make it difficult for teachers to do their jobs since they are challenging many of the books used in advanced courses, especially those by authors of color. Teachers inevitably face challenges and are compelled to provide alternatives.

That Arizona, with the lowest teacher salaries in the U.S., has thrown teaching credentials out the window is horrifying. The Network for Public Education has alerted us to what is going on! Apparently, the Governor of Arizona as well as governors of some other states have no knowledge of the teaching profession although during the pandemic, parents understood how difficult it is to be a teacher when they were in charge of home schooling their children. The Arizona Governor has no idea what it takes to be a successful teacher and he is now allowing untrained college students to teach. This mentality is emphasized by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee who allowed Larry Arnn, his key education advisor, president of Hillsdale College and its charter school chain, to say that teachers “are trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges” and that “anyone can teach.” Those anti-unionists now have the teaching profession on their hit list. (Sick of the Teachers: Time for Reform)

Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers President, commented about certification in Arizona: “It’s very dangerous. It’s a good and dangerous example of the disrespect for knowledge in this country. They would never, ever do this about airline pilots. They would never do this about engineers. They would never do this about doctors. They would never do this about lawyers. But frankly, they are fearful about teachers actually teaching critical thinking, actually having knowledge. It’s antithetical to having an educated citizenry.”

Call To Action!

What do we do? We contact our Governors to urge them to support high standards for our students at all levels. Only certified teachers should be entrusted with the education of our students. Stop the radical right from dismantling our public education system. Public tax money should be for public education, not charter schools or religious schools no matter what the Supreme Court has declared. Church and state should be separated. The far right does not seem to care about this part of the Constitution.

Email and Tweet Your Governor Now! Students need quality public schools and public schools need professionally trained teachers.

Terese Sarno, Editor


Please join our caucus to show your support of the U.S. military!


Read more

VMF July 2022 Newsletter


July 2022


Vol. 2, No. 4

To view in PDF, click here

buttons that say \

“The gun lobby’s interpretation of the Second Amendment is one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American people by special interest groups that I have seen in my lifetime.”

— Warren Burger, Chief Justice of Supreme Court (1969-1986) PBS News in 1991

Editor’s Message —

Greetings!  As we went to press, two landmark rulings came down that are causing a furor—A law that  limited who can get a permit to carry a gun in public in NY was overturned and the right for women to make decisions about their personal health care with the overturn of Roe v. Wade ending the right to legal abortions.

I hope everyone is listening and will act! We must not allow the radical element of our population to make decisions that affect all of us. They will not stop with banning legal abortions. They will march forward to take away same sex marriages and the right to privacy and who knows what else! Their desires know no bounds. It is interesting that Justice Thomas left one item, interracial marriage, off his hit list.

How do we stop this rampage on our rights? We VOTE and get all our acquaintances to vote! That is where the power is!

We recently celebrated the 247th birthday of the U.S. Army, our nation’s  first militia. Recently militia has become a very hot word  since the Second Amendment of the Constitution declares “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” 

Why would anyone think that the word “Militia” refers to individual citizens? Chief Justice Burger stated “The very language of the Second Amendment refutes any argument that it was intended to guarantee every citizen an unfettered right to any kind of weapon he or she desires.” (Associated Press, Bill of Rights article, 1991)

Justice Burger continued that “The real purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure that state armies, the militia, would be maintained for the defense of the state.”

Do you wonder how many people clinging to the Second Amendment have done any military service? Visualizing the U.S. Army as a militia puts the definition of this word into perspective. Hiding behind the Constitution to advance personal agendas is unacceptable.

In a Huffpost article by Amanda Terkel the title says it all: You're 18. You Can't Rent A Car, Hit The Club Or Buy Cigarettes — But You Can Get An AR-15. Besides the items mentioned, you can’t buy alcohol, and can’t gamble, but you can buy an assault weapon.

Why should people-young, old, middle age-have to fear leaving the house to go to church, go shopping, go to school or just go out for a walk? The certain sages of the Supreme Court however voted to overturn the NY law that limited possession of firearms in NY with Justice Clarence Thomas stating  "New York’s proper-cause requirement violates the Fourteenth Amendment by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms in public." Carrying a gun should not be a necessity. There is no need for anyone to possess an assault weapon or any kind of military equipment.

We have made some progress with a bi-partisan Gun Safety bill (Bipartisan Safer Communities Act) that President Biden signed into law on June 25th but this is just a first step. Ask yourself why every single U.S. Senator is not on board with keeping our citizens safe from guns. How can this attitude be justified?

The questions to be answered: Is it time to take another lawsuit to the Supreme Court and make sure the 2nd Amendment is interpreted correctly? Is it also time to end lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court?  With the Supreme Court ruling that Maine’s tuition assistance program must cover religious schools this could be considered three strikes.

The Bill of Rights was adopted in 1791. The Constitution should be a living document that is updated sensibly—of course we need the majority to make sure changes are sensible! How do we make sure we have the majority? We get out the vote! We can no longer allow the radical element of the population to set the rules and terrorize everyone. Politicians must listen to their constituents.

Take a few moments to look over this information from the BBC News on America's gun culture - in seven charts. What can you do? As always, contact your U.S. Senators and everyone else you can think of including governors. You also could combine forces with Students Demand Action and Moms Demand Action. Help people register to vote, especially those who have just turned 18 or will be 18 for the 2022 election.

We need to restore the protections of Roe as law of the land.  We need to elect officials who will do that. This fall, Roe is on the ballot.  Personal freedoms are on the ballot.  The right to privacy, liberty, equality, they’re all on the ballot.” — President Joe Biden
(Read President Biden’s entire June 24, 2022 speech.)

This is a tremendous challenge but we can succeed!

Get Out The Vote!

Terese Sarno, Editor

4th of July gif

Please join our caucus to show your support of the U.S. military!


Read more

VMF June 2022 Newsletter


June 2022


Vol. 2, No. 3

To view in pdf, click here

"At stake in cases challenging abortion restrictions is a woman’s 'control over her [own] destiny.' Their ability to realize their full potential, the Court recognized, is intimately connected to 'their ability to control their reproductive lives.'" She continued, "Thus, legal challenges to undue restrictions on abortion procedures do not seek to vindicate some generalized notion of privacy; rather, they center on a woman’s autonomy to determine her life’s course, and thus to enjoy equal citizenship stature.”

— Ruth Bader Ginsburg (2007 Gonzales v. Carhart)

Editor’s Message —

Greetings! Following May’s celebration of Press Freedom, we heard about the leaked draft of a Supreme Court opinion that could overturn Roe v. Wade. Now the question is when will we celebrate Freedom for Women and all US citizens regarding their personal health decisions?

Certain right-wing officials state that a right to abortion “is not deeply rooted in the nation's histories and traditions." Is that reason enough to ban it in 2022? I discovered an interesting fact when researching this topic. Benjamin Franklin included instructions for at-home abortions in a book in the 1700’s. There was no objection to this.

It is apparent that some justices are out of touch with the real world and do not care what the majority of US citizens think. Look at the numbers (from The Atlantic, May 13, 2022): In 1972, 83 percent of Americans agreed that abortions should be allowed when “a woman’s health [is] seriously endangered by the pregnancy” and 72 percent said the same when the pregnancy is the product of rape. In 2021, those numbers were 87 percent and 84 percent, respectively. At least 70 percent of Americans since 1972 have also favored legal abortion if “there is a strong chance of a serious defect in [the] baby.”

Hillary Clinton said, "I hope people now are fully aware of what we're up against because the only answer is at the ballot box to elect people who will stand up for every American's rights."

Voters UNITE! Vote these people out of office. Request your absentee ballots and urge your friends to get theirs! Protect our unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!

Terese Sarno, Editor


Read more

May 2022 Newsletter


May 2022


Vol. 2, No. 2

To view in pdf, click here

Letter from the Editor

These days it seems like there are more than enough worries to wake us up in the middle of the night. Autocratic regimes around the world are growing and democratic institutions in America are being threatened. Many anxieties are interfering with our restorative cleansing from deep sleep.

One worry is that overturning Roe v Wade would be the culmination of a half-century-long legal campaign by the GOP singularly focussed on that outcome. However, although 19 states have proposed or passed abortion restriction bills, there are clear signs that overturning Roe and restricting abortions is far from being an end in itself for the GOP. If (when?) the Supreme Court overturns Roe, the GOP would launch even more ambitious agendas, namely getting fundamental moral issues out of the realm of federal constitutional rights and under the control of the states.

A common argument for overturning Roe is that it should be states who resolve the issue of abortion for themselves, rather than by having a federal resolution imposed on them.

If Roe is overturned, what other more ambitious agendas might the Republicans launch? There are a series of federal decisions currently held that prohibit states from banning contraceptives, from criminalizing gay sex, and from recognizing same-sex marriage. These cases are now controlled by federal laws, not under the control of states. The more impactful effect of Roe being overturned is that it would grant power to the states to make laws that affect some of the most intimate aspects of people’s lives, and not be controlled by Federal laws passed by the Supreme Court.

In recent weeks, in anticipation of a Mississippi decision banning abortions, various Republican senators have questioned a law which struck down a state ban on contraceptives, a law which required states to recognize same-sex marriage, and a law which invalidated a state law which banned bi-racial marriages.

So beyond the GOP goal of overturning Roe is the goal of weakening the federal government’s power and shifting the power to the states.

If Democrats acknowledge the long-term ambitions of the GOP, and the current 6-3 conservative Supreme Court, and are armed with the fact that 80% of Americans think that abortion should be legal in all or some circumstances (here), then Democrats should be able to motivate their base to get out and vote in the upcoming midterms. The GOP aggressive attack on Roe and their plan to grant states the power to rule on personal behaviors could backfire for the GOP, if we reach out and engage our base. This is how Democrats can maintain the House and the Senate in November.

Let’s do everything we can to educate our family and friends on the GOP’s long-term ambitions, and support and motivate Democrats and the politically non-aligned Independents to vote. Our sleep will depend on it.


Yours Democratically, Bob Gould (Editor, DA-UK)

Read more

April 2022 Newsletter


April 2022


Vol. 2, No. 1

    To view in pdf, click here


I Do. How About you?

Hello Members and friends, I want to admit to you that for much of my life I ignored primaries. It felt like too much effort, and what would it matter anyway? I woke up a little in 1980. I was raised Republican but there was NO WAY I was voting for Ronald Reagan. I liked John Anderson, the Independent candidate and I was furious that even though he earned enough primary votes to be in the League of Women Voters presidential debates, everyone I knew said, “There’s no choice”, my first realization Americans are chronically binary.

In 1984 and 1988 I was really excited to be for Jesse Jackson in the primaries. I finally voted for a winning president in 1992 -- even though I’d worked for Jerry Brown in the primaries. You may notice that I am only mentioning presidential primaries! Sad but true most of us just wait for the November election run to pay attention to US Senators, US Congressman, Governors, Attorney Generals, State Representatives, Judges, on and on.

I know, it’s a heavy lift. We all have enormous demands on our time and brain. But, I’m sorry to tell you: We must do better. And, we can. Love her or not, AOC - Alexandria Ocazio Cortez (US Rep NY11) taught us that with inspiration and foot power, a novice can knock-off a long term establishment candidate. Her 2018 win was followed by a few other surprises in 2020 and many more challengers who rattled cages. None of us can do EVERYTHING but each of us can do SOMETHING.

I encourage all of us to look at our state here and find out our primary dates. Twelve are in May, the bulk in June and August, with lonely Louisiana running the primary with the November 8 election. This election season there will be over 50 open seats in the House and 7 in the Senate. It is more important to get involved in these primary races to elevate our best candidates to qualify for the November race. Pick one race to care about, it doesn’t even have to be in your state. Send in a bit of money, or make phone calls, or send postcards, or contact people on the ground there and ask what they need. Be AWAKE to the fact that primaries are before the big money. Bet on a young, new horse to shake things up. It’s not like we don’t need new blood! (How’s that for double negatives?)

Democrats Abroad does not endorse primary candidates. But you can! FIRST go to votefromabroad.org to make sure you’re registered and find out when your primary is. Then go to Ballotpedia or some other site to see all the candidates running in your state. Or listen to friends or relatives. Pick some candidate to care about and .... do what you can. As Americans overseas, I think we really see that democracy is in trouble.

Be well and keep the faith,

Robin H. Rafaelidys (Co-Editor, Greece)


Improve the VA: In the previous newsletter we asked what 3 improvements you would suggest for bringing significant improvements to the VA. How could the VA be reformed to make life better for you as a veteran overseas? Email your suggestions here. Thank you!

Trouble Using Your GI Bill Benefits? Please reach out to us if you or someone you know is having trouble using the GI Bill benefits at a foreign school or university. We are in contact with congressional offices, urging every senator and representative to immediately address this issue. GI Bill and/or VR&E educational benefits are EARNED benefits, and we will not rest until the Dept. of Veterans Affairs' policies are changed to work in favor of veterans, servicemembers, and military family members - not against them. Here

Deportation of Veterans: This remains a top priority for the Global VMF Caucus which is pressing Congress to address the issue. The Veteran Deportation Prevention and Reform Act would prevent some our nation's veterans being deported, ripping American families apart and sending shockwaves throughout our communities, and would mend promises initially made by the Federal Government. VMF urges all Americans to contact their representative to cosponsor and support H.R. 1182 in the House, and contact their senators to cosponsor and support S. 3212 in the Senate.

VOTING…it is what we are all about!

  • Have you registered?
  • Have you requested your absentee ballot?
  • Can you get involved in GOTV in other ways, maybe learn how to phone bank? Go Here

More resources about Primaries and Midterms in your state are linked here.


The House Passes Bill to Automatically Enroll Vets in VA Health Care Eligible veterans would be automatically enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ health care system under the Ensuring Veterans' Smooth Transition, or “EVEST Act”. The bill passed with a vote of 265-163, falling largely along party lines, but 44 Republicans joined Democrats. Here

In addition, both chambers are moving forward on legislation addressing veterans' health care needs due to exposure from toxic burn pits. The Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee recently passed S. 3541, the Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act, and the House Veterans' Affairs Committee recently passed H.R. 3967, the Honoring Our PACT Act. Keep an eye out for early March 2022 hearings when Veterans Service Organizations arrive on Capitol Hill to testify on what pro-veteran legislative priorities remain for the rest of the year."


Check out all the Global Democrats Abroad Activities happening this month by clicking here.


Click this link to find our VMF Health Care information and resources on our webpage. Here.

Here is the link to the webpage for Transitioning and Jobs: Here.


Click here for Spotlight, “Josephine Baker Inducted Into the Panthéon”


Click here for our Podcast & Social Media Recommendations
Click here for our Poetry Corner
Click here for our Brain-Zone Quiz
Click here for our Educational Resources
Click here for our Film and Book Recommendations

Read more

House Democrats Pass the Honoring Our PACT Act

On March 3rd, all 222 House Democrats and 34 House Republicans voted to pass the Honoring Our Pact Act, a bill introduced by House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano (D-CA-41). The bill addresses toxic exposure, burn pit exposure, radiation exposure, and, after decades of advocacy, creates a path for restitution for veterans and families exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, among other issues. Read the full press release here and read the text of the bill here