VMF Caucus News

April Newsletter

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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/


April is Month of The Military Child


A Proclamation on Month of the Military Child, 2021

 WHITE HOUSE   PRESIDENTIAL ACTIONS
April marks the Month of the Military Child, when our Nation pays tribute to the resilience and tenacity of our military children; over 2 million active duty, National Guard, Reserve and children of veterans who did not make the choice to serve, but live each day supporting their brave parents.  These young people live out the words of the poet John Milton, “they also serve who only stand and wait.”  We see their service and thank them for it.

From a young age, children of service members sometimes endure long separations from their parents and shoulder the burdens of service.  They spend holidays and milestones apart from those they love the most, or celebrate with only a short phone call or virtual chat from a faraway parent.  This is something the First Lady and I have witnessed in our own lives, as our grandchildren experienced their father’s deployment to Iraq.

Military children change schools up to nine times between the start of kindergarten and high school graduation.  With each move, they grapple with difficult goodbyes and the challenge of making new friends.  Although life in a military family can include exploring new places and exposure to other cultures and customs, it can also bring frustration and loneliness.  During the Month of the Military Child, we show our appreciation for the commitment and service of military children in shouldering these challenges, and we recognize the stressors on military children brought about by the unique demands of their parents’ military life.

The strength of our Armed Forces comes not just from those who wear the uniform, but from their families, who also serve on behalf of our country.  As a Nation, we have many obligations, but we have only one truly sacred obligation:  to properly prepare and equip our troops when we send them into harm’s way, and to care for them and their families.  The First Lady and I understand the gravity of this promise personally, and we have made supporting service members, veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors a top priority for my Administration.

That is why the First Lady has committed to relaunching the Joining Forces initiative, mobilizing all Americans to continue the national commitment to support and engage our military families.  By raising awareness about the unique aspects of military life and working toward solutions to its challenges, my Administration will continue to support military children and will help ensure that they have opportunities to grow and live out their dreams.

Observing the Month of the Military Child demonstrates our support for military children who make daily sacrifices so their parents can keep our Nation safe.  Military-connected children are strong and resilient, and we must match their strength with a commitment to provide the full support of our communities and our Government.  I encourage all Americans to serve them as well as they serve us.

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 2021 as the Month of the Military Child.  I call upon the people of the United States to honor military children with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of March, 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.


U.S. Dept. of Defense Resources

Resources available to 


DOD Announces Policy Updates for Transgender Military Service

IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 31, 2021

Today, the Department of Defense published the policy updates for transgender military service. The policy updates restore the Department’s original 2016 policies regarding transgender service.

The revised policies prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or an individual’s identification as transgender, provide a means by which to access into the military in one’s self-identified gender provided all appropriate standards are met, provide a path for those in service for medical treatment, gender transition, and recognition in one’s self-identified gender, and seeks to protect the privacy of all Service members and to treat all Service members with dignity and respect.

The policies will be effective on April 30, 2021, affording the Military Services the necessary time to update service-level policies and provide guidance to Commanders, Service members, medical professionals, and other communities of practice as appropriate. During this period, the Department’s interim guidance of January 29, 2021 remains in effect.

The DoD Instruction 6130.03: Medical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment, or Induction into the Military Services can be found here.

The DoD Instruction 1300.28: In-Service Transition for Transgender Service Members can be found here.


April is the Month of the Military Child

April
 
Month of the Military Child
An opportunity to recognize military children and youth for their heroism, character, courage, sacrifices and continued resilience.
 
April 5, 2021 - Gold Star Wives Day
A day set aside to recognize the sacrifices of Gold Star wives.
 
April 14, 2021 - Air Force Reserve Birthday
 
April 23, 2021 - Army Reserve Birthday
 
April 30, 2021 - National Military Brats Day
A day set aside to honor the children of military personnel. Learn more...