By Ken Greenberg, National Executive Director
Former Texas Congressman Chet Edwards participated in the Advocacy, Legislation and Grassroots Activities session during our 2023 National Convention. During his tenure in Congress, Edwards represented a district including Fort Hood and two VA medical centers. Throughout his career, he was a champion for the veteran and military community, having served in leadership positions on the House Veterans Affairs Committee as well as being Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on VA Military Construction.
The session was led by National Executive Director Ken Greenberg, who highlighted the importance of coalition building like The Military Coalition and National Military Veterans Alliance, two consortiums of more that 30 VSOs working together to advocate for veterans and military benefits.
Edwards emphasized the importance of establishing local and DC relationships with Members of Congress and their staff; setting up quarterly meetings to advocate for JWV priorities, and even inviting them to Department or Post meetings. Edwards message was clear “Members listen to their constituents, your voice matters, and you can make a difference in influencing a vote.”
Greenberg highlighted that JWV Departments, Posts and members need to be known to officials at their local VA medical centers, regional offices, national cemeteries, and DOD facilities. “Cultivating relationships at the local level leads to a better understanding of issues, improves access and lets VA and DOD leaders know JWV, who we are, and what we do,“ said Greenberg.
Both encouraged members to promote and establish local relationships with media, press and TV stations. Reach out to local Jewish publications and develop partnerships with Jewish Community Organizations like Hillel, Federations, Synagogues, and day schools.
JWV members must be engaged locally to tell their stories and once a story is run – the contact will return for more stories and events. Plan your pitch for a story around Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jewish American Heritage Month or one of the Jewish holidays or festivals.
Moving forward remember to partner with other local VSOs, like DAV, VFW, American Legion, VVA, ROA and MOAA on mutually supported issues. There is strength in numbers especially when you are advocating to elected officials at the federal, state, or local levels.
You can find the video of the session at JWV’s YouTube channel.
Volume 77. Number 3. 2023