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may/june 2009

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BY JOHN ROWAN

It’s hard to believe that two years have gone by since we prepared for the Springfield National Convention. Soon, delegates will head to Louisville to elect our leadership for the next two years, to consider constitutional amendments (although you would think we would have gotten it right by now), and to review old resolutions and perhaps come up with some new ones. Take time to review all the candidates’ biographies and the proposed amendments and resolutions. I hope all the chapters and state councils have chosen their delegates by now and are sending in their registrations. Aside from the work to be done, it will be good to meet and greet old friends again.

Meanwhile, we’re been busy on Capitol Hill. Both the Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committees have been holding a lot of hearings. It looks good for advanced funding of the VA, but we await final approval.

Rick Weidman and other members of our staff have been attending meetings in the Executive Offices of the White House on many issues. We have been given unprecedented access to the White House staff. Never before have veterans service organizations been asked to meet directly with the White House staff who work on veterans affairs.

Veterans Health Council (VHC) (www.veteranshealth.org) activities have been developing rapidly. In May, we held a hearing in the House and a briefing for all Senators and Representatives. In June, we will attend a conference in San Diego run by America’s Health Insurance Plans. This group represents 97 percent of the health insurance companies in the United States. It is responsible for providing health care to most of the 80 percent of veterans who do not use the VA. We hope to introduce their staff to the VHC, so they can effectively treat veteran clients. We must get the word out to our brother and sister veterans about health problems related to their military service and their possible entitlement to compensation and health care from the VA.

Among my many travels of late, I had the pleasure of attending Region 3’s twentieth conference. These are always memorable events, but this year was especially sweet, as it was named the George C. Duggins Region 3 Conference. This was a well-deserved honor, given George’s service to VVA as a member of the Board of Directors, as Vice President, and as President. I remember George fondly from our service together on the Board of Directors back in 1985. He was a real gentleman and is sorely missed.

Speaking of gentlemen, Allen Manuel, our Region 7 Director, deserves a lot of credit for his work with incarcerated veterans in Angola. In this issue, you will get a behind-the-walls look at the workings of an incarcerated chapter.

In this issue, too, our National Chaplain, Father Philip Salois, presents the annual tribute to the members we have lost in the past year. A virtual roster, which lists all deceased VVA members, can be found on our website, www.vva.org Please remember all of our deceased members in your hearts.

 

 

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