Vet Update – Recent Vet/Military Actions, Vet Jobs, Congressional & VA Guard Updates

This first week in May has been a very wet one; I am looking forward to a more typical Virginia May with pleasant weather as we move along.

As the 2016 Legislative Session, to include the Veto Session, is behind us, I want to update you on some of my out of Session veteran/military related activities, provide information on job activities for veterans, highlight Congressional actions that impact veterans/military retirees and our national defense posture, share an update on our Virginia National Guard and give you information on some veteran related items.

Virginia World War I and II Commemoration Commission
We have combined the World War I & II Commissions to take advantage of the WWI Commission’s experience and to focus on honoring the veterans of those two major wars, giving all a greater appreciation for the key role Virginia played in each war, making it easier for visitors to connect to museums and sites connected to the wars, and preserving those historic sites.   I am pleased to serve as the Chairman of this very important Virginia effort and look forward to working with my good friend of more than 20 years, Sen. Frank Ruff, who serves as Vice Chair. To learn more about the Commission and to get involved, click here.

Del. Cox chairs April 2016 Commission Meeting at the General Assembly Building in Richmond – Sen. Ruff is to his left.

Interstate Compact Council on Education Opportunities for Military Children

As Chairman of the Council, I am working to finalize the Agenda for our May 23rd meeting. The Council, and its counterparts in states across the nation, address the special challenges faced by school aged children of members of the Armed Forces.   At this meeting we will also recognize Sen. John Miller’s (D-1st District) significant impact on our efforts to ensure children of military members in Virginia are provided the best possible opportunity to succeed in Virginia schools. I have served on the Council since it was established by the General Assembly in 2009 and can attest to the great dedication and thoughtful insights Sen. Miller brought to our efforts before his unexpected passing.   His suggestion to have a special identifier for military children is a good example as it was a very positive innovation that alerts school officials that military students face extra challenges e.g. transfer to a new school system, making new friends, parents deployed to a war zone, etc. We have lost a strong advocate for military children.

American Legion Post 284
Law Enforcement Ceremony

Colonial Heights Post 284, one of the top Legion posts in the state, is currently celebrating 70 years of very active service supporting veterans, the active military, and citizens in our area. On May 3rd I was honored to be a part of their annual recognition ceremony that has been held since 2009 to honor outstanding local law enforcement personal. Linwood and Rose Moore have been the mainstay of this program since its inception while the Post’s Sons of the American Legion (SAL) Squadron and American Legion Riders (ALR) cosponsor this event. They really did a superb job on this event to provide well deserved recognition for law enforcement personnel who are working every day to keep our communities safe.

Kirk joins Legion Leaders and Public Safety Awardees (L-R) Linwood Moore (SAL Alt NEC), Richard Pregnall (State SAL Commander), Kirk, James Chapman (American Legion State Commander), Janet Renner (State American Legion Auxiliary President) Police Officer “P.J.” Calhoun, Fire & EMS Joey Hammack, Tele-Communicator Julie Groat, Deputy Sheriff William Hannum, & State Trooper P.M. Bishop.

Earlier on May 3rd I was able to see many of Post 284’s leaders and key Ft. Lee Quartermaster Foundation leaders and family members at my 20th Annual Legislative Breakfast. The Virginia Beer Wholesalers Association continued their 5 year practice of showing their support for veterans by inviting local veterans to attend as their guests. We recognized the veterans in attendance and Del. Jimmie Massie, the Breakfast MC, reminded us all that 21 of the House 100 Delegates are veterans and 19 of the veterans are members of our Caucus.

During Delegate Cox’s 20th Annual Legislative Breakfast, Speaker Bill Howell addresses the crowd while Delegate Cox (front row, red tie) and Senator Amanda Chase (back row, green jacket) listen. Veteran guests are seated in the front rows.

Jobs For Vets

I wanted to pass on some veteran employment information that the Department of Veterans Services have highlighted in their emails. Our Upcoming Training Events from May 10th to May 24th provides information to employers in support of veteran hiring programs. There are Webinars on setting up OJT Apprenticeship Programs, use of veterans’ data base to get the right veteran for a job, a veteran hiring seminar, etc. While the aforementioned are geared to companies that want to hire veterans, it is a good source of information for veterans looking for jobs. Click here for more information.

Virginia Transition Assistance Program Events provides information on a variety of training/education opportunities to include Tower Technician; Machining Skills Certification; IT Training; Funding a College Education; Dominion Scholarships/Internships; Hiring Fair/Transition Summit for service members, veterans & spouses; and many more. Click here for more details.

Virginia Women Veterans Summit, 6/24, in Richmond aims to give women veterans the knowledge and resources needed to smoothly transition into civilian life and improve overall wellness. The event brings together veterans, employers, community leaders, and government agencies from federal, state and local levels to give details of services and benefits offered specifically for women veterans. Click here for details.

Congressional Defense Actions
Here are some highlights on recent Congressional actions relating to benefits, defense, and the Veterans Administration. Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) President gives a short video highlight of the House Armed Services Committee’s Defense Bill recommendations to include Tricare benefit protection, military manpower increases and protecting commissary benefits. Click here to view the video.
Congressman Randy Forbes comments on Congressional efforts to rebuild the US military and his efforts to rebuild the US Navy. Click here to see press release.
American Legion National Commander speaks about his testimony before Congress where he makes the point that the Veterans Administration needs to be reformed, not abolished. Click here to see the video.

Virginia National Guard News
I waned to pass on the latest Newsletter from our Virginia National Guard. They do a great job for us in Virginia and they are supporting our military needs in many of the War on Terror hot spots. This issue of the Newsletter reports on a variety of activities to include Guard soldiers getting certified for funeral duty (a sad but necessary duty), best Guard unit in Virginia recognized, and the 55th Birthday Ceremony for the Virginia OCS. Click here for these articles and more.

Miscellaneous Items
VFW Wall Of Honor ­­­­– Provides an opportunity for you to honor a veteran on their Wall of Honor. Click here for more information.
WAC Training Center Honor Ceremony – There will be a ceremony at 2:00 p.m. on 26 May at the CASCOM Plaza (in front of Mifflin Hall) at Fort Lee to honor the WAC Training Center (located at Fort Lee from 1948-1954) with the unveiling of a Virginia highway historical marker to be placed on Route 36 near Lee Avenue Gate. The general public is invited but a special VIP invitation is extended to those who served in the Army in the 1940’s and 50’s.  For more information call 804-734-4327.
22nd Annual Memorial Mass – Celebrated in Washington on Sunday, May 15th at noon by the Archbishop for the Military Services, USA to honor the men and women who are serving or have served in the Armed Forces, especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Click here for more details.

Restoring Felons Voting Rights

Last month, Governor McAuliffe issued an executive order restoring civil rights to over 200,000 convicted felons, including violent felony offenders.  Governors of both political parties have previously looked at the legality of mass restoration of civil rights of convicted felons and their Administrations concluded such actions could violate Virginia’s constitution. Even today leading Democrats question the Governor’s action.  Paul Goldman, former Chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, co-authored a very powerful and compelling  OP-ED in the Washington Post that says this action “mocks the victims of violent crime generally and specifically rape victims.”

Despite present opposition and past legal opinions, Governor McAuliffe is moving forward.  To combat this executive overreach, House and Senate Republicans have retained a respected attorney with national and Supreme Court experience to examine the legal options to remedy this situation. We are confident we will prevail in court.

In closing, you can contact me at my home office by email or by calling 804-526-5135, by US mail – PO Box 1205, Colonial Heights 23834 or by stopping by my Colonial Heights office at 215 B East Ellerslie Avenue. I appreciate your views on legislation that will help me do a better job for the people I represent.

Please visit my Facebook page. This page, along with my website, has information/links to the 2016 General Assembly Session to include my 44 pieces of legislation, visitors’ photos, my legislative survey, videos of floor remarks, and related topics.

Please forward this Update to your fellow veteran friends and neighbors.