LEGION-RELATED LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS
Members of both the House and Senate recessed to go back to their home states and districts for the summer district work period, which is August 6 through September 10. The Commander’s Testimony before the joint House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs committees is scheduled for October 3.
President Signs Omnibus Veterans Bill
For the past two weeks this report has highlighted H.R. 1627, a measure entitled the “Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012,” a comprehensive, bipartisan, bicameral legislative package. On August 6, President Obama signed the measure into law, Public Law 112-154.
Among its more than 50 provisions covering various health, benefits, housing, burial, and insurance programs, is a landmark program under which the Department of Veterans Affairs would provide health care to people suffering from long-term effects of exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, NC. Up to 750,000 people who lived or worked on the base from Jan. 1, 1957, through Dec. 31, 1987, would be eligible for care if they have a disability or disease linked to exposure to drinking water found to contain carcinogens in what has been called the largest recorded environmental incidenton a domestic Department of Defense installation.
Diseases presumed to have a connection to the contaminated water are: esophageal, lung, breast, bladder, or kidney cancer; leukemia; multiple myeloma; myelodysplasic syndromes; renal toxicity; hepatic steatosis; female infertility; miscarriage; scleroderma; neuoro-behavorial effects; and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
To learn more about P.L. 112-154, please go to this link: http://veterans.house.gov/hr1627.
LEGISLATIVE DIVISION ACTIONS
Legislative Presentation at DSO School
On August 2 and 3, Legislative staff traveled to Indianapolis to participate in the Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation division’s annual Department Service Officer school. Legislative staff interacted with the Department Service Officers to receive feedback on front line experiences in the claims process with the various new initiatives and pilot programs being rolled out by the VA across the country. The Legislative staff also oversaw a presentation on the Washington legislative process for the service officers, to help the veterans’ advocates better understand how the lawmaking process impacts the claims adjudication process, and what can and cannot be changed through fixes in the law. The feedback session also discussed the Legion resolution process and how strong resolutions from the volunteer base give the Legislative staff the ammunition and directives they need to carry the fight to Capitol Hill.
American Legion National Legislative Council
The Legislative Division continues the task of compiling the National Legislative Council Consolidated Activities Report for 2011-2012. The forms have been emailed to each Department Vice Chairman. Department Adjutants and National Executive Committeemen were also sent a copy.
NEC Resolution No. 28, passed October 19-20, 1994 reads in part: each National Vice Chairman of the Legislative Council shall submit an annual report on the Council member activities in his/her Department to the National Legislative Council Chairman not later than July 31 each year. We need 100 percent of the reports returned in order to compile the Report for the Pre-Convention National Executive Committee meeting. As of Thursday, August 9, the following Departments have failed to returned their Reports: Alabama, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, New York, Rhode Island, and Tennessee.
If you have any questions or need further assistance, please contact Assistant Director/Grassroots Coordinator Jeff Steele at (202)-263-2987 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update on Flag Amendment Bills
Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (UT) office continues to solicit additional cosponsors for Senate Joint Resolution (S.J. Res.) 19, a proposed constitutional amendment to protect the American flag from physical desecration. Its text states simply: “The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.” The cosponsor total for the Senate legislation stands at 36. To date, H.J. Res. 13 – the House companion bill to the Senate measure – has accumulated 89 cosponsors.
Please contact your representatives’ and senators’ offices, and ask them to become cosponsors of the flag amendment in their respective chambers. If they are already cosponsors, be sure to thank them for their support.
Letters of Support
On August 7, The American Legion sent a letter of support to Rep. Mike Thompson (CA), for his support of an amendment to the draft Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government for FY 2013, requiring all U.S. flags purchased by the federal government be made in America, by American workers, using American-grown and –manufactured materials. National Commander Fang Wong said in his letter of support, “There is no product that deserves a ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ label more than the American flag.”
The American Legion Legislative Division
For Week Ending 08-10-12