Saturday August 27th, 2011 I will be leaving the great state of Missouri and heading to sunny San Antonio, Texas for the 2011 VFW and Ladies Auxiliary National Convention.
While many veterans and sisters will be enjoying some of the beautiful sights and historical events (our organization’s visit coincides with the 175th anniversary of the Battle of the Alamo), the main focus is to discuss ways to implement priority goals.
To give you an idea how hard the Veterans of Foreign Wars works, read the list of 2011 priority goals taken from the March 2011 issue of Ladies Auxiliary Magazine….
The VFW 2011 priority goals are:
VA HEALTH CARE
*Provide sufficient funding for the VA so that the highest quality care is available for all veterans.
*Ensure that this nation meets the many health care and benefits challenges facing Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, including increased funding for suicide prevention, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and other related disabilities.
*Expand programs that improve specialized care for women veterans and ensure that they have equal access to all VA’s health care services.
*Provide necessary training for gender-specific care and mental health care services for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), military sexual trauma and other needs.
*Improve outreach so that all veterans – especially female, minority and rural veterans – are aware of the health care services and benefits they have earned.
VA BENEFITS AND COMPENSATION
* Reduce the backlog of pending claims.
*Encourage the Congress to use its vital oversight authority to provide real accountability within the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA).
* Call on Congress and VA to conduct further studies to determine which disabilities, and level of disability, adversely affect a veteran’s quality of life.
*VA and Congress should adjust the Rating Schedule to ensure that veterans are adequately compensated.
*Call on Congress to pass legislation that offers workable solutions, not quick fixes, to the VBA system.
*Demand a seamless transition for those men and women serving in uniform who are transferring from Department of Defense to VA, including a truly integrated electronic medical record that travels from duty stations to VA or other health care facilities.
* Call on Congress and the Administration to improve the transition services and benefits provided to our veterans to ensure a steady and safe return to civilian life, including timely benefit processing, viable training, employment and education programs.
MILITARY QUALITY OF LIFE
* Call on Congress to remain fully committed to improving the quality of life for all active duty and Reserve Component members and their families.
* Fully fund all programs that enable our troops to succeed in their mission.Ensure our service men and women are provided increased pay, affordable health care, and adequate housing and work facilities for themselves and their families.
EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT
* Congress must immediately address the highest unemployment rates among veterans in recent history by enhancing the Post 9/11 GI Bill, including allowing the benefit to be utilized for vocational training, on-the-job training and apprenticeships.
* Ask Congress to pass legislation that will strengthen the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and reverse legal decisions that tended to favor employers.
* Urge Congress to mandate that all agencies reach the 3% government-wide procurement goal for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, and be required to report their procurement levels and be held accountable if they fail to meet that goal.
* Seek to improve the quality of life for all active and Reserve Component members and their families.
* Provide a military base-pay raise to restore full comparability with private sector wages.
*Support efforts to lower the Reserve Component retirement pay age to 55.
* Oppose any Tricare fee increases.
DEFENSE AND HOMELAND SECURITY
* Support U.S. troops and their mission to prosecute the war on terrorism around the world.
* Ensure defense funding is at a level to fully support personnel initiatives, troop end-strength requirements, and needed weapons programs.
* Halt the development and/or proliferation of nuclear weapons or material, and urge the continued development and deployment of ballistic missile defense system.
* Secure U.S. borders, shorelines and all ports of entry.
* Achieve the fullest possible accounting of all U.S. military personnel missing from our nation’s wars.
Note: For a full listing of the VFW’s 2011 Priority Goals, go to www.vfw.org/VFW-in-DC