A little late but hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday season and are experiencing a great start to the new year. In this update I would like to give you a preliminary report on legislation of interest to veterans, visits I’ve had with various Veteran Service Organizations, and provide information on the WWI/WWII Commemoration Commission’s Profiles of Honor Tour.  I have also included updates on the Virginia National Guard, veteran online access to the military exchanges, and several other items of interest.

 

2017 Veterans Legislation

We have now finishing the third week of the 2017 General Assembly session and preliminary action has been taken on many of the fifty or so bills of interest to veterans. Final action on Joint Legislative Council (JLC) priorities is still pending. I am carrying the number one priority piece of legislation for the JLC–the change to the code that describes the mission and functions of the Virginia Veterans and Family Support (VVFS) program. That bill, HB2206, unanimously passed the House
Appropriations Committee.

Presenting HB 2206 to the Public Safety subcommittee with the DVS Commissioner

The status and summary of the remainder of the JLC legislative priorities can be seen here. A more comprehensive, but not complete, report can be found here.

 

Meetings with Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs)

During these first three weeks it has been my pleasure to not only meet with many 66th district constituents, but also with the many representatives of veteran service organizations visiting the General Assembly. The visits included the American Legion, VFW, and the Virginia Council of Chapters/MOAA.

Del. Cox with the leadership of The American Legion Department of Virginia.
  

(Right) Del. Cox giving MOAA members a legislative update.

(Left) Del. Cox speaking with VFW members.
I also spoke to the Joint Leadership Council (JLC) representatives from 25 veteran service organizations (with more than 250,000 members among them) at their “Day On the Hill”. In addition, I held meetings with the Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs, the Commonwealth Adjutant General, and the Commissioner of the Department of Veteran Services.

Del. Cox speaking with the Joint Leadership Council.

I greatly appreciate the advice and recommendations I receive from these veterans and their support.

 

Profiles of Honor

The Virginia World War I and World War II Profiles of Honor Mobile Tour, a mobile exhibition that will bring an interactive exhibit to museums, libraries, and historic sites throughout Virginia, is now open for visitors.
Del. Cox and members of the WWI/WWII Commission dedicating
the Profiles of Honor mobile exhibit.
This exhibit, modeled on the highly successful Civil War 150th Anniversary Commemoration HistoryMobile, will bring to life the state’s integral role in both wars, highlighting stories of Virginians who served in both conflicts. As part of the tour, visitors will be invited to bring their own World War I and II related photographs to be scanned for inclusion in the Virginia Profiles of Honor project.

More information on the tour and applications are available here.

The tour vehicle is already scheduled to be at the Colonial Square Shopping Center in Colonial Heights from 3-6 May, in Petersburg (location TBD) on 8 September, and at Fort Lee on 16 September. More information on these events to follow. 

 

West Point Cadet Visit
On January 3rd, Tim Young, a Chesterfield resident and Cadet at West Point, visited the district office. I was pleased to present him with a Virginia flag flown over the State Capitol in recognition of his commitment to serve his country.

 

Scholarships

‘Tis the season for seeking out scholarships, and the Fisher House Foundation has launched a free search tool to help troops, veterans, and families get their share of these education-budget boosters.
The Scholarships for Service tool can help those with any affiliation – active or reserve component members, veterans, retired military personnel and military family members. There are more than 3,000 scholarships available to those with various affiliations in the military community, offered from a variety of organizations.

The Scholarship for Service too can be accessed here.

 

Online Exchange Shopping
 
On January 13th of this year, the Department of Defense announced that beginning November 11th all honorably discharged veterans will be granted online shopping privileges though the online military exchange. Veterans will now have access to all merchandise except for uniforms, alcohol, and tobacco products. To read more about the program click here.

 

National Guard Update

On 6 January 2017 Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency due to the forecast winter storm system. Nearly 200 members of the Virginia National Guard were called to duty  to assist with the state’s multi-agency response to heavy snow January 7-9, 2017.
 
Anticipating the need for law enforcement and EMS to travel through heavy snow, the Guard staged personnel with high mobility vehicles at readiness centers throughout the region. Several localities requested Guard assistance through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, so soldiers with Humvees or light/medium tactical trucks deployed to firehouses and EMS facilities in multiple locations.

The Virginia Beach-based 329th Regional Support Group provided mission command for the operation, and Hampton Roads area units from the 329th and 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team provided the Soldiers and vehicles.

Additional soldiers, airmen and Virginia Defense Force troopers were on duty in Sandston and Fort Pickett providing mission command, sustainment, incident management assistance and public information support.

In addition, National Guard soldiers and airmen joined a force of approximately 7,500 National Guard personnel from across the country supporting the 58th Presidential Inauguration on January 20th. Virginia Guard personnel assisted with traffic control as well as communications, medical and chaplain support, and providing liaison officers to key military and civilian command headquarters in the area. Additional personnel from the Virginia Army National Guard, Virginia Air National Guard, and Virginia Defense Force conducted mission command and sustainment support in Sandston and other locations in the state. Additional troops were on standby.

 

Final Vet Legislation – 114th Congress

The 114th Congress wrapped up its second session with a flurry of bills being passed just before adjourning sine die on January 3, 2017.
Click here for a list of Public Laws that were enacted during the last session of the 114th Congress. Many of these bills reflect the input our Congressman received from dedicated veterans like you.