My prediction in my last Update regarding the arrival of winter weather coinciding with the opening of the General Assembly was right on target. The winter storm forced cancellation of a General Assembly Session for only the second time in 48 years. It also forced the cancellation of the Military Officers Association of America’s (MOAA) Day on the Hill. As I have hosted the event for the last 18 years, I missed seeing many of our strongest and most consistent veteran legislation supporters!

In this Update I recognize key General Assembly visitors, share an Army Chief of Staff Readiness Paper, focus on the status of Veterans’ Legislation, highlight the Military/Veterans Caucus & the Virginia Transition Assistance Program, and provide some useful links to education and employment opportunities for veterans.
Visitors
I am very pleased that I had the opportunity to meet with many veteran and military visitors. I exchanged views with a cross section of leaders and advocates to include Secretary of Veterans & Defense AffairsADM Harvey; DVS Commissioner Newby; the Adjutant General, Virginia National Guard, MGWilliams; GEN Peay, VMI Superintendent; Maj Gen Fullhart, Commander VA Tech Corps of Cadets; and leader/advocates from the American Legion, VFW, and AMVETS.

Members of American Legion Post 284 and State Leaders pay a visit while Storming the Hill

VFW members stop by for a visit
Army Readiness Guidance, Calendar Year 2016-2017 
On January 20, 2016, Army Chief of Staff, General Mark A. Milley, USA, sent a Memorandum for all Army Leaders entitled ‘Army Readiness Guidance, Calendar Year 2016-17’ “to provide purpose, direction and motivation for the Army to regain combined arms capability in tactical formations while improving key aspects of overall strategic readiness.” You can review the complete Memorandum here.

Discussing National Guard issues with MG Williams and his staff
Update on Veterans’ Legislation
There are 67 Bills and 14 Budget Amendments that have been filed to support veterans in this Session of the General Assembly. Click here to see a complete list of all the veterans legislation current status as of February 3rd. You can also check the updated status of any of the bills by clicking here. Twenty of the bills and seven of the fourteen budget amendments support the Joint Leadership Council (JLC) Legislative Objectives (LO). I am pleased to report that my Care Center Bill (HB477) passed the House 99-0, with 90 House patronsand 15 in the Senate. This indicates strong support for JLC LO #1. Listed below is the status of bills supporting JLC Legislative Objectives as of Feb.3rd.

Del. Cox briefing the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Care Centers before a large veteran audience
JLC 01 – Care Centers
HB 477 – Passed the House 99-0; in Senate Finance

JLC 02 –DVS Benefits Services: Budget Amendment: pending approval of the budget
JLC 03 – VA Veteran + Family Support (VVFS): Budget Amendment: pending approval of the budget
JLC 04 – War Memorial: Budget Amendment: pending approval of the budget
JLC 05 – Tax Exemption:
HB21- Finance Subcommittee #2 left on the table
      HB63 – Passed Finance Subcommittee #2 9-0
      SB533 – Continued to 2017 by Senate Finance 15-0
JLC 06 –Medic & Corpsmen Training
HB825 – Passed the House 97-1 -in Senate Education and Health
       SB437 – Incorporates SB622; Senate passed substitute 39-0
       SB622 – Incorporated into SB437
JLC 07 – Guard Income Tax
HB60 – Finance Subcommittee #1continued to 2017
JLC 08 – VCCS
HB450 – Passed Education Committee 21-1 assigned to Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education
JLC 09 – Veteran Dockets
HB96 – Assigned Courts of Justice Subcommittee Criminal Law
      SB26 – Continued to 2017 in Courts of Justice (15-Y 0-N) following discussions between the Patron and the Chief Justice of the VASupreme Court
      SB317 – Continued to 2017
JLC 10 –In State Tuition
HB1176 – Assigned to Education Subcommittee on Higher Education
       SB330 – Passed Education and Health Committee 15-0; referred to Finance
JLC 11 – VMSDEP
HB1099 – Passed Education Subcommittee 8-1 and referred to Appropriations
       SB528 – Passed Education and Health Committee; referred to Finance
JLC 12 – Ballot return
HB237 – Assigned to the Privileges and Elections Subcommittee on Elections
     SB490 – Failed to report (defeated) in Privileges and Elections Committee 6-6

(TOP) Meeting with General Peay on his annual visit (BOTTOM) Discussing VA Tech issues with Maj Gen Fullhart
Military and Veterans Caucus
The Military and Veterans Caucus, Co-chaired by Delegate Rich Anderson (R-51) and Senator Bryce Reeves (R-17) is proving to be a very popular and an effective tool for members of the General Assembly to coordinate veterans’ legislation, get answers to their questions, and gain support for their veterans’ related bills. Secretary Harvey, DVS Commissioner John Newby, and key members of their staffs also attend to answer questions and provide detailed information. The last Caucus meeting, February 3rd, was standing room only. All members of the General Assembly are members of the Caucus and the public is invited to attend. Many veterans are now attending these informative sessions. If you are in the Richmond area, I invite you to attend. The Caucus meets on Wednesday mornings at 8AM in the 4 West conference room.
Virginia Transition Assistance Program (VTAP)
Allan Fryman
Recognizing that transition from military service is not complete on the date of your discharge, VTAP is designed toprovide transition resources and assistance to veterans who now call Virginia home. VTAP assists transitioning veterans connect with employment, education, and entrepreneurial services while educating veterans as well as veteran service providers on available resources and opportunities in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The DVS Program Coordinator is Allen Fryman. Click here to visit the VTAP website, learn more about this program and get links to VTAP resources available.
Scholarships Available to Veterans
The Student Veterans of America and Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems have partnered to provide scholarships to veterans pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree at an accredited four-year college or university. For more information on these and other scholarships available to veterans, click here.
Veteran Eagle Newsletter
Click here for the latest Veteran Eagle newsletter “VetJobs” where you will find information and links for employment information.
VFW Action Corps Weekly
You can find the latest issue here.
RAO Bulletin
Click here for the latest RAO Bulletin where you will find many articles of interest.
Closing
I have enjoyed all of your visits and invite you to stop in when you are in the General Assembly. In the words of Delegate O’Bannon “The list of Patrons on HB 477 (Care Centers) was longer than the bill itself.” Your visits with General Assembly Members make a difference.