In This Issue:
1. VFW Commander-in-Chief Testifies Before VA Committees
2. VFW Members Storm the Hill
3. Veterans Disarmament Bill Doesn't Exist
4. GI Bill Update
1. VFW Commander-in-Chief Testimony: VFW Commander-in- Chief George Lisicki presented the VFW's legislative priorities Tuesday before a joint hearing of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees. Lisicki called on the members to provide full funding for VA healthcare and benefits for veterans of all generations, and to fully support current legislation that would create a 21st Century GI Bill. Other major issues included the VFW's strong opposition to the Dole/Shalala Commission recommendation that would compensate veterans with similar injuries differently based on their age, opposition to prescription copayment increases and enrollment fees. To read the entire testimony or to view the taped hearing, go to: http://veterans.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?pageid=16&release_id=11533&view=all
2. VFW Members Storm the Hill: VFW held its annual Legislative and Community Services Conference earlier this week in Washington. Taking their top legislative goals to Capitol Hill, hundreds of veterans visited their representatives and senators to lobby for a GI Bill for the 21st Century and for more funding for VA healthcare. The VFW supports S. 22 and H.R. 2702, which would provide all education costs, to include tuition, fees, books, housing and a cost-of-living stipend. The VFW believes that both bills would provide a powerful transition assistance program, allowing veterans to readjust to civilian life and improve their abilities to care for themselves and their families. We also asked Congress to fully fund VA healthcare so all veterans have timely access to quality health care without delay. The VA proposed budget for FY 2009 is $2.9 billion short of what is needed to accomplish that goal.
3. Veterans Disarmament Bill Doesn't Exist: An allegation is being passed around the Internet that a new law the President signed in January would deny veterans diagnosed with PTSD or other mental health problems their constitutional right of gun ownership. The allegation is false; there is no legislation called the Veterans Disarmament Bill, and there are no validated instances of an otherwise eligible veteran being denied employment because of the the new law, which signed Jan. 7, 2008. A major supporter of H.R. 2640 was the nation's staunchest gun rights advocate, the National Rifle Association, who would have never backed a bill that overly restricted ownership rights. Bottom line: Gun ownership is a Second Amendment right, but exercising that right comes with inherent social responsibilities in a democratic society. If a court of law rules someone as mentally unfit and a danger to him/herself and to others, then the rights of society must outweigh individual rights. The new law is not anti-veteran legislation; it is common sense legislation.
Read the NRA position at: http://www.nraila.org//Issues/Articles/Read.aspx?ID=246
Read a Military.com article at: http://www.military.com/opinion/0,15202,151321_1,00.html?wh=wh
Read the White House press release at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/01/20080108-7.html
4. GI Bill Update: A GI Bill for the 21st Century is one of VFW's priority goals for 2008. Currently there are 46 co-sponsors on S. 22 and 108 on H.R. 2702 - both education bills are enthusiastically supported by the VFW. The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2007 would provide tuition costs, books, fees and a monthly stipend for veterans serving since September 11, 2001. The current GI Bill covers approximately 50% the national average cost of undergraduate tuition, fees, and room and board charged to full-time students in degree-granting institutions. Please urge your members of Congress to sign on as a co-sponsor of S. 22 and H.R. 2702. It is the right thing to do. A new generation of Americans are now in harm's way - we owe them more than our gratitude. For more on the bill or a list of cosponsors go to: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:s.00022