American Flag pic

July 4th Independence Day

In Philadelphia, on July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the 1,817-word Declaration of Independence. Two days later, news of the Declaration reached General Washington’s army on the battlefields of New York. Three days later, the continental brigades were marched on the parade grounds around New York in the early evening and at 6 o’clock the Declaration was read aloud.   Washington knew it would take more than a Declaration to establish a new nation! The commander in chief also had his personal message read to his soldiers: “The general hopes this important event will serve as a fresh incentive to every officer and soldier to act with fidelity and courage, as knowing that now the peace and safety of his country depends (under God) solely on the success of our arms.”

 

As we approach this 4th of July, I want to thank our serving military, veterans and your families for your service and sacrifice to preserve the freedom of our great nation. You continue to meet the expectations of General Washington!   I wish you a safe and glorious 4th of July with family and friends

 

In this Update I wanted to pass along Congressman Forbes strong stand for Defense, give you some good news on commissaries, provide the current JLC leadership list and report on some of my recent veterans related activities.

CONGRESSMAN RANDY FORBES LEADER ON DEFENSE

Forbes announces Job Fair pic

Randy Forbes, our 4th District Congressman, has been doing a splendid job standing up for a strong national defense and for the men and women who keep our nation strong. A good example of his firm support is the recent interchange with Secretary of Defense Ash Carter regarding President Obama’s threat to veto the annual defense policy bill. Forbes said, “It is unconscionable to play politics with our national security in order to promote the Administration’s political agenda.” Click here to view the 5 minute interchange between Forbes and Carter. We are fortunate to have such a strong defense supporter in Congress!

JUNE – GOOD MONTH FOR PRESENT COMMISSARY SYSTEM

Fort Lee pic

Defense Commissary Agenda Headquarters, Fort Lee

I have been keeping you up-to-date over the last several months on opposing efforts in Congress to retain or greatly modify the military commissary system. I am pleased to report some success in efforts to retain a commissary system preferred by active and retired military service members and their families. US Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Senate Armed Services Committee Member, with the support of 40 organizations representing tens of millions of active, reserve, military families, and veterans, succeeded in amending the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The amendment requires an assessment of the benefits and costs of privatizing commissaries prior to any pilot program to privatize the commissary system. The legislation received notable bipartisan support and was co-sponsored by both Virginia senators.

 

Sen. Inhofe pointed out that 95% of service members use commissaries, with a 91% satisfaction rate, to achieve the savings needed in their family budgets. The Military Compensation & Retirement Modernization Commission also found that no supermarket chain has indicated a willingness to operate commissaries. A spokesperson for the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) commenting on the issue said, “The commissary is a vital part of military compensation providing a significant benefit to military families. The average family of four who shops exclusively at the commissary sees a savings of up to 30 percent.”  I will continue to keep you posted on this critical issue so you can make your opinions heard!

NEW APPOINTMENTS TO JLC: VETERANS SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS

Kirk at JLC meeting

Del. Cox speaks at a JLC meeting at the General Assembly building.

Congratulations to the outstanding veteran leaders who have been appointed/reappointed to the Governor’s Joint Leadership Council of Veterans Service Organizations (JLC).

 

The JLC “provides a vehicle for Veterans Service Organizations to collaborate with the Department of Veterans Services on meeting the needs of Virginia’s veterans.” Each qualifying Veterans Service Organization in Virginia that participates is appointed one representative to sit on the council. Each organization is also permitted an alternate member to the JLC. Combined, the 23 members of the JLC represent more than 250,000 veterans. The JLC is a very effective organization and helps ensure that members of the General Assembly are focused on issues important to Virginia veterans. I always look forward to the opportunity to speak with these veteran leaders at the start of each General Assembly Session. Click here to see the list of appointed members with terms beginning July 1st, 2015.*

 

*Representatives Bill Barrett of the Military Order of the World Wars and Bob Huffman of the Virginia Army/Air National Guard Enlisted Association are not listed in this report as they continue to serve their present terms until 2016.

AMERICAN LEGION POST 284 HOSTS BOYS & GIRLS STATE SEND-OFF

American Legion Boys State pic 1                              American Legion Boys State pic 2

(Right photo) Auxiliary President Rita Feasenmyer (Far Left), Del. Cox (Far Right), Nancy Wright (Behind Del. Cox) and the delegates to American Legion Auxiliary Girls State.
(Left photo) Post 284 Cdr Bob Shumar (Far Left), Del. Cox, 11th Dist. Cdr Terry Brentlinger (Right) and the delegates to American Legion Boys State.

American Legion Post 284 sponsored four young adults of the twenty-three boys and eleven girls who attended the Post’s American Legion Boys State and American Legion Auxilary Girls State annual send-off breafkast. Girls State is held at Radford University; Boys State is held at Longwood University from June 21st to the 27th. I was pleased to be invited to the send-off breakfast and ceremony on the 21st to speak with the young delegates and their families to help kick-off a great week! I remember the lessons I learned when I attended Boys State, and would not be where I am without the program. The experience helps young adults to grow and gain an appreciation for our rights as citizens by teaching them how government works and honing their leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills. I hope each of the delegates who attended this year’s program had an educational and fun week as I remember I did!

 

The State Program draws from a pool of young adults across the state and helps shape the future of participants by preparing them for college and leadership roles. For more information, visit www.boysandgirlsstate.org/. It has been a great honor to participate in the send-off events for the last several years.

Kelly volunteer conselor at Girls StateMy Legislative Aide, Kelly Gee (center), was a volunteer counselor at Girls State.

VA CHAMBER ‘MILITARY & VETERANS AFFAIRS ADVOCATE AWARD’

Kirk accepts Military and Veterans Affairs Advocate Award 2014

Del. Cox accepts the Military and Veterans Affairs Advocate Award at the 2014 Chamber of Commerce gala from Chamber president and CEO Barry DuVal (Left) and former chairman of the Chamber Gary Thomson (Right).

For the second year in a row, I was pleased to receive the “Military & Veterans Affairs Advocate Award”, presented by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. I want to recognize and thank the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), the Joint Leadership Council, and the American Legion for their strong leadership and work for my legislation supporting the military, our veterans and their families. Without their help for key bills like the two this past Session, we would not have two new Veterans Care Centers on a path for construction.

 

The Chamber also gave me an A+ rating on their Legislative Report Card for supporting legislative initiatives that will help the business community to further grow and develop. I look forward to continuing to support the Virginia Chamber of Commerce initiatives that provide business leadership, direction, and long-range economic development planning to ultimately create more jobs in Virginia. To read The Progress-Index coverage please click here.

VIRGINIA SELECTIVE SERVICE AWARD

Director of VA selective service with Kirk and Bob Flores

Director of the Virginia Selective Service, Brig. Gen. Bob Flores, USAR retired, right, presents Delegate Cox with a Selective Service System coin. Col. Bill Flanagan, USA retired, chief of staff for Del. Cox, left, is also pictured with his coin.

I was delighted when Virginia’s Director of Selective Service, Brig. Gen. Bob Flores, USAR (Ret.), presented the Selective Service System recognition coins during his visit to my office in mid-June.

 

I’d like to thank Gen. Flores for his dedication to ensuring the success of the Selective Service System in Virginia, on which we’ve worked together to improve in the past. Our collective efforts have grown registration in Virginia from 74% in 1999 to 96% today, putting Virginia in the top five states for compliance with registration requirements.

I’m grateful that someone like General Flores is working to make sure our country is ready for any national emergency that might require a rapidly expanded military effort – his office has done a wonderful job of fulfilling that role. To read the news story in The Progress-Index, please click here.

VIRGINIA REP’S “SOUTH PACIFIC” HONORS WWII VETS

South Pacific pic

I wanted to be sure you knew the musical “South Pacific” is playing at the Virginia Repertory Theatre until August 9th. Set in 1945 near the end of WWII, this is one of the greatest American musicals, with 10 Tony Awards, that has a special connection to Virginia veterans. The Theatre is dedicating this production to the memory of Phyllis Galanti, a Theatre Board member for 30+ years. It was Phyllis’s idea to produce South Pacific during the 70th Anniversary summer of VJ Day, and to partner with the Virginia War Memorial in inviting all WWII vets to attend as Guests of Honor. A WWII veteran can have two free tickets to any performance by contacting the box office (804-282-2620). The Theatre is located at 114 West Broad Street, Richmond. Please click here for a Richmond Times Dispatch article for more background information.

SPECIAL THANK YOU AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Kirk's 85th birthday congratulatory letter to Col. Hank Shelton

COL Bill Flanagan USA (Ret.) gives Kirk’s 85th birthday congratulatory letter to COL. Hank Shelton USA (Ret.) (Right).

Colonel Hank Shelton USA (Ret.) turned 85 this year, and while I was unable to make the occasion, I was pleased my Chief of Staff, Col. Bill Flanagan USA (Ret.), could personally deliver my letter.

 

I thanked Col. Shelton for his 25 years of service as a member of MOOA’s Virginia Council of Chapters (VCOC), which has had a major positive impact on support for the military, veterans, and their families. He was president of the VCOC when they initiated their “Day on the Hill” at the start of each General Assembly Session that is so effective in letting Assembly members know what is important to Virginia veterans. I am personally grateful for his personal support of my efforts to get major veterans legislation passed over the last 20 years.

I was also pleased to learn the national MOAA recognized his outstanding leadership with the “Chairman’s Award” and the VCOC presented him with the “President’s Award”. We all wish COL Shelton many more years as a leading veterans advocate.

I hope you find the information in our Vet Update informative and useful. Please pass on the Vet Updates to friends and family members that have an interest in issues that impact the military, veterans, and their families.

In closing, I wish you the best for this 4th of July holiday as we celebrate the birth of our nation.  Please be safe and enjoy your time with family and friends.