We have reached Crossover, the mid-point in the Session when each Chamber has completed action on its Bills and begins to consider the Bills from the other Chamber. The Appropriations Committee in the House and the Finance Committee in the Senate, however, continue to work on their versions of the final Budget. This mid-point is a good time to provide you with the status of all the Veteran related legislation that came before each Chamber. I have also included items on the WW II Commission, the Virginia War Memorial, honoring our fallen veterans, the Blue Navy and several links to other information you may find helpful.
The 17 of 19 House Republican Caucus military veterans led by Del. Rich Anderson, COL USAF (Ret), met with the House Leadership for an update and thanks for the strong House support for key veterans issues.
There were 70 veteran related Bills and Resolutions submitted in the General Assembly this session. Forty five (64%) were in the House and 25 in the Senate. The veterans in the House of Delegates (21) carried 24 (53%) of the House Bills. There were 18 Bills that supported nine of the 12 JLC’s Legislatives Objectives (LOs). The other three were covered with Budget Amendments. There were 16 Budget Amendments submitted, six of which supported JLC LOs. I will provide you with the results of the Budget Amendments when the Budget is finalized.
The House passed 27 veteran Bills including five that were incorporated into other successful bills for an overall passage rate of 60%. Nine were left on the table (two of these were duplicate bills), two continued to 2017, four were left in committee, and three were stricken from the docket.
Following an agreement between Senator Bryce Reeves (R-17), DVS Commissioner Newby, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court whereby the Court will develop the procedures for veterans’ court dockets and to work with localities in establishing these dockets, three bills addressing this issue were continued to 2017 and two were left in committee because legislation is not required at this time.
HB237 was left in committee and SB490 failed to pass out of committee following notification that the US Senate Armed Services Committee is proposing legislation to delete the requirement for the Secretary of Defense to conduct an electronic voting demonstration for absent military voters citing cyber security issues.
Click here to view the status of all veteran legislation at Crossover.
Kirk, members of the Military and Veterans Caucus, and visitors discuss the status of veteran Bills after Crossover
World War II 75th Anniversary Commemoration Commission
In 2014 the General Assembly created “in the legislative branch the World War II 75th Anniversary Commemoration Commission. The Commission shall plan, develop, and carry out programs and activities appropriate to commemorate the 75th anniversary of World War II, including a national reunion of living veterans.” As Commission Chairman, I have submitted a Budget Amendment (Item 1 #1h) to expand the duties of this Commission to include World War I. Click here to read the complete Budget amendment language.
for a link to the World War II Commission and here
for a link to the World War I Commission. I believe this consolidated effort with the WWI Commission will help us to build on their experience to best recognize Virginia’s major role in the World Wars.
War Memorial Sets Attendance Record
Jon Hatfield, the Memorial’s Executive Director, announced that between January 1 and December 31, 2015 71,027 persons visited the Commonwealth’s tribute to its fallen heroes and military veterans- a 4.25% increase over 2014 attendance – and by far the largest number of visitors in the Memorial’s 60 year history. Read more here.
Revolutionary War Soldier to be Honored
Revolutionary War soldier Lieutenant Elias Parker will be honored at a grave marking held by the Colonel John Banister Chapter, National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 16th at Blandford Cemetery at 319 S. Crater Road in Petersburg, Virginia. The event will honor the life and accomplishments of Parker and will include the unveiling of a bronze marker detailing his military service to the United States. Parker was reportedly present at the Battle of Bunker Hill and following the battle, he continued his patriotic service in the Continental Army in the American Regiment of Artillery under Colonel and Chief of Artillery Henry Knox. After the Revolutionary War in 1783, Parker became a merchant in Petersburg, Virginia and also appears to have served in the local Militia. Parker continued to serve others in the community and later was Mayor of Petersburg, Virginia from 1796-1797.
The public is encouraged to attend the ceremony and honor his service to our country.
Missing Man Table
Frequently, I receive emails that demonstrate the high regard for veterans among the general population and specifically among our business establishments. One of these is a restaurant that set up a missing man table on Veterans Day to remind its customers that we still have men and women missing from combat operations. The table has been very popular. The story has gone viral and you can read more here
Over the past several years there have been several proposals to change the way names are added to the War Memorial. John Hatfield, Executive Director of the Virginia War Memorial, provides the background on placing names on the Wall in the this Fact Sheet
Navy Seal Receives Medal of Honor
A senior enlisted SEAL will be the first sailor in a decade to receive the Medal of Honor, for a mission to rescue an American civilian hostage in Afghanistan in 2012. For details click here.
Veterans Free Legal Clinic
The Office of the Attorney General is partnering with the Virginia Department of Veterans Services and the Virginia State Bar to host Veterans Legal Services Clinics to provide FREE estate planning services to low income veterans. Simple Wills, Powers of Attorney and Advance Medical Directives will be offered at each Clinic. See the attached flyer for additional information or click here to learn more. Space is limited, be sure to apply today!
Tuesday, March 1, 2016:
Chesapeake, Tidewater Community College
Wednesday, March 2, 2016:
Richmond, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College
Thursday, March 3, 2016:
Roanoke, Virginia Western Community College
Friday, March 4, 2016:
Northern Virginia Community College – Annandale Campus
More details here.
Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association (BWNVVA)
The BWNVVA states that on 2/5/16, the Department of Veterans Affairs once again betrayed the Vietnam Blue Water Veterans by declaring all bays and harbors offshore waters. That means that those ports which previously were considered inland waters will no longer be considered presumptive rights for care. In essence, the BWNVVA states they have decided to “kill off another possibly 10,000 Vietnam Veterans”.
The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans had presumptive rights to receive care and benefits until 2002 when the Department of Veterans Affairs decided the Blue Water Sailors were not Vietnam War Veterans. All care and benefits for these Veterans who suffer from the effects of herbicide (Agent Orange) were denied by the VA.
There is legislation in Congress – House HB 969 and Senate SB 681 which will re-instate these benefits. The BWNVVA is asking that these bills be brought forward immediately for a full vote of the House and Senate.
To view the latest news from Fort Lee, click here.
Hope is an organization that “believe those touched by military service can succeed at home by restoring their sense of self, family, and hope. Nationally, Hope For The Warriors® provides comprehensive support programs for service members, veterans, and military families that are focused on transition, health and wellness, peer engagement, and connections to community resources.” You can visit their web site here
. You can view there 2016 Run for the Warriors schedule here
Virginia Transition Assistance Program (VTAP)
The latest VTAP Bulletin contains a lot of information for veterans about employment and activities across the Commonwealth. To view click here.