On March 22, 2017, National Commander Colonel Carl Singer testified before a joint session of the Senate and House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. NC Singer presented the legislative priorities of JWV, thereby officially informing Congress of our position on a number of crucial veterans issues. The co-chairs of the committee were Senator John Boozman (R-AZ) and Congressman Phil Roe, M.D., (R-TN), each of whom have many years of service with the Veterans’ Affairs committees.
NC Singer’s introduction spoke of JWV’s 120 year history, of our strong VAVS program, hosting educational programs, and supporting patriotic organizations like Boy Scouts of America. He emphasized that the VA must be kept intact, expanding to private care only when VA care is unavailable. He stressed that extending the Choice Act deadline cannot mean privatization. NC Singer said, “JWV believes that the best healthcare is at the VA.”
JWV is a strong advocate of equal treatment for female veterans, and NC Singer further emphasized the need for VA improvements in the treatment process for Military Sexual Trauma (MST).
Another issue of great importance to JWV is the plight of our homeless veterans. NC Singer acknowledged that while the VA has made great strides in reducing the number of homeless veterans, even one homeless veteran is one too many.
JWV supports passage of the Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act of 2017 (HR 1472/S594) to expand care-giver eligibility to include full-time pre 9/11 veteran caregivers. These caregivers save the VA in healthcare costs and they give the veteran desired personalized treatment.
NC Singer stated that JWV strongly supports continued research and treatment for service-related toxin exposure. When veterans have been exposed to toxins while on active duty, they and their families must receive proper care and treatment, no matter when the toxin effects appear. Toxin related illnesses may appear at any time, even decades later. Delayed harmful effects of toxins may be seen from Agent Orange (JWV supports the Agent Orange Extension Act of 2015), from contaminated water (JWV supports the Honoring Americas Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2015), and from exposure experienced by our Vietnam War Navy Veterans. JWV also supports the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017 (HR 299 and S422).
Prevention of veteran suicide is one of the most important issues for JWV. The VA reports that on average, 20 veterans a day die by suicide. This is unacceptable. JWV and NC Singer strongly urges Congress to pass the Sgt. Brandon Ketchum Never Again Act (HR 874). The provisions of this act would help ensure same-day treatment for veterans calling in to the VA crisis line.
The topics mentioned above are just a few of JWV’s Legislative Priorities, which are our goals and topics of concern for Congress. The priorities initially start as Resolutions, which are submitted on a yearly basis. They are first determined at a Post level, and then are refined and voted upon by the Department. Any Resolution that passes at the Department level is forwarded to National for further discussion and debate at JWV’s annual convention. Those that are voted on and passed by the general body become the policies of our organization and are the basis for the Legislative Priorities.
Stay tuned for more information about how to submit Resolutions and participate in our 2017 Convention Resolutions process, even if you are unable to join us in San Antonio. All JWV members are encouraged to participate in this important process!
Volume 71. Number 2. Summer 2017