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march/april 2008

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The Give And Take

This winter has been busy as usual. Congress is back in session, and we have been testifying at various House and Senate committees and subcommittees on a myriad of issues. Often, the give and take between legislators and witnesses results in new ideas. While testifying before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I got into a dialogue with Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the ranking committee member. He described a conversation he had had with veterans on a college campus who discussed some of the problems they had in trying to fit in.

This brought to mind my experience after Vietnam, working with the Veterans Office while attending Queens College. This program was funded by a federal grant intended to increase the numbers of veterans in school. I suggested that a new program be created, enhanced with counseling for PTSD, which we were unaware of at the time. Serendipitously, Sen.

Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) introduced the SERV Act, which would accomplish the goals I suggested. I later publicly urged Sen. Burr to join Sen. Brown in a nonpartisan effort to pass this legislation ASAP. We hope this is done in conjunction with passage of a new GI Bill, similar to the Post-World War II GI Bill that helped create the middle class and our higher education institutions.

Later, I joined the American Ex-Prisoners of War, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, the Jewish War Veterans, the Blinded Veterans Association, the Non-Commissioned Officers Association, and the Air Force Sergeants Association in presenting our legislative agendas before the joint House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees. Despite our different perspectives, I was glad to see that we were unanimous in our support for assured funding for the VA.

In this issue is an article on food that I am sure will bring back great memories—or perhaps not—of those wonderful C-Rations. Contrary to the old adage, I think the Army marched in spite of what ended up in their stomachs. Of course I am biased: In the Air Force, we got the best food.


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