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january/february 2007

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PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE
A Sad Ending And A New Beginning

BY JOHN ROWAN

We ended 2006 with the sad loss of one of our most active members and senior member of the Board of Directors, Randy Barnes. The obituary in this issue will give you some details of Randy’s life and his efforts on behalf of veterans. I prefer to remember him as my friend.

Everyone who knew Randy knows he had a loquacious streak. But this was just an outgrowth of his passion. However, even after a hard-fought discussion, he would always revert to his jolly self, and his infectious, happy-go-lucky grin would return. VVA will miss the staunch warrior, but I will miss the buddy.

Despite this grievous loss, I hope that your holidays were joyous and the New Year bright.

As we begin this year, we are operating in a new environment. Thanks to the efforts of political activists like Randy Barnes, the Democrats control the new Congress. Rep. Bob Filner of California is the new chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii chairs the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. We look forward to working with the new leadership. When they were in the minority, the Democrats made many promises to veterans, particularly with regard to assured funding for the VA. We intend to hold them to those promises.

Meanwhile, we will continue to work with their Republican predecessors, who will now be in the minority, Rep. Steve Buyer of Indiana and Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho. These two gentlemen fought for veterans when they were in charge, and we are sure that they will continue to do so. We hope to develop a bipartisan program that will provide veterans with the programs and financial support that they need.

As we go forward with our legislative program, we will continue our efforts in the three primary areas that are critical for the effective and efficient delivery of health care services and service-connected disability benefits earned by veterans: funding, accountability, and outreach.

Because of the political changes, our lobbying efforts will increase significantly this year. This will require even more effort by chapters and state councils. Become familiar with the issues, and then contact your Representative and Senators, some of whom may be new and will need your guidance and expertise. Consider a trip to Washington to meet with your state’s delegation. Everyone says they support veterans. We have to show them how.

If you need any help, contact our Government Affairs team in the national office. Together we can insure that veterans will be protected now and in the future. This is what our brother Randy fought for all his life and would have wanted us to do.

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