VFW National Legislative Committee Department of Georgia New Year Message

Al Lipphardt, VFW National Legislative Committee Vice Chairman 2016-2017

Now is not the time to sit back and wait for the new Congress and Administration to act.

In the January 2017 printing of the VFW Magazine our Veterans of Foreign Wars National Legislative Director, Ray Kelley says we must continue to tell Congress what veterans need in 2017. “January 3, 2017, marks the beginning of the 115th Congress.  During their campaigns, many of our elected officials promised to take care of veterans, service members and their families” said Director Kelley.  He continued by saying “Campaign promises don’t provide the health care and benefits veterans have earned and deserve.  It takes constant pressure from advocates to turn these promises into reality.”

Several years ago, the VFW Department of Georgia appointees to our National Legislative Committee began a concentrated focus of holding our Congressmen and Senators accountable, not for their rhetoric, but reporting their actions.  Blind partisanship can no longer be tolerated.  The “we” and “they” must translate into “us”.  That kind of division has created much of the gridlock that exists in Washington today.  The voice of the veteran must be heard.  The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States IS that voice and it has been since the beginnings of our organization.  VFW National leadership has transitioned from a “going along to getting along” attitude to stronger positions on legislation affecting veterans.  This has been achieved because our members are demanding action.  The “Action Corps” has been a positive tool in translating numbers into voices.  If you have not signed up, do so today and you will receive the “Action Corps Weekly via email.  Go to www.vfw.org/advocacy/grassroots-efforts

The VFW’s reputation for strong legislative advocacy, but more importantly, for our success in that advocacy, began in the 1930s by forcing Congress and the President to provide WWI veterans access to their war bonus, which were to be paid in 1945.  The Armistice was signed November 11, 1918 bringing an end to “the war to end all wars”.  The price of that war paid by those engaged on the ground, in the air and on water was the last breath by many but visible and invisible scars by all.  The bonus promised by politicians was to be paid long after the conflict resulting in many veterans dying before they received the promise made.  It is a historical fact, that with VFW support, and after marches and violent encounters with police and the military, Congress passed legislation to pay the full amount of the bonus in 1936.  VFW members stood up and demanded that the government deliver on its promise.  No one, and I do mean no one understands the inhumanity of war and the physical wounds and mental scars of armed conflict more than those engaged in battle.

Bold action to support the 115th Congress is needed and required.  I dare say combat veterans would do anything to avoid conflict, but we must no longer do nothing.   Someone asked me the other day, “Where are the teeth in the VFW when it comes to legislative advocacy?”  It’s in your voice and the teeth are in your mouth.  If you won’t take a “bite”, then you are just bumping your gums. 

Now is not the time to sit back and wait for the new Congress and Administration to act.

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