Washington Conference kicks off next week

The American Legion’s 54th annual Washington Conference will feature a variety of guest speakers, discussions and award ceremonies, culminating in the presentation of the Legion’s legislative priorities to Congress by National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger. Legionnaires from throughout the nation will be on Capitol Hill during the week to meet with their various senators and represenatives to share the Legion's position on policies and legislation relating to veterans, the military and their families.

U.S. Reps. Jeff Miller and Buck McKeon, and Sen. Lindsay Graham will appear during Monday's and Tuesday's events at the Washington Hilton Hotel on 1919 Connecticut Ave. NW. Dellinger will testify before a joint session of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans' Affairs at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the Hart Senate Office Building. Following his testimony, Dellinger will meet with Senate Armed Services Committee leadership.

The Legion’s commissions will meet March 24 at the Washington Hilton Hotel. The Legislative Commission will hear from four guest speakers: Todd Harrison, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic & Budgetary Assessments; Marc Goldwein, senior policy director, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget; Joel Friedman, vice president for federal fiscal policy, Center on Budget & Policy Priorities; and Eric Baxter, senior counsel, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

The Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Commission will present its Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service Worker of the Year Award to Margaret Fields, an American Legion volunteer at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center in Hampton, Va. The committees on health administration, national cemeteries and benefits will also meet. The commission’s guest speaker will be Jon Clark, staff director for the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity.

The Veterans Employment & Education Commission will host a homeless veterans roundtable, featuring the following participants: VA representative Anthony Love, Linda Charest from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, John Driscoll, National Coalition for Homeless Veterans; Elisha Harig-Blaine, National League of Cities, Shalimar Cabrera, U.S. Vets; Jessica Venegas, Community Solutions; Joseph Belden, Housing Assistance Council; and Heather Pritchard, The Home Depot Foundation. A Small Business Task Force meeting will also be held.

The National Security Commission has four guest speakers scheduled: Maj. Gen. Marcia Anderson, U.S. Army Reserve; Maj. Gen. James Jones, U.S. Air Force; Maj. Gen. W. Montague Winfield, U.S. Air Force (ret.); and Ann Mills-Griffiths, who chairs the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia. Winfield will give the commission a POW/MIA update.

On March 25, the Legion’s Commander’s Call event will include remarks by Miller, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and by Graham, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel. He is also a colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. Following the Commander’s Call, Legionnaires will attend the “Know Before You Go” legislative briefing.

Day-long Business Development Workshops will be conducted by the Legion on March 25.