The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

March/April 2006

Training Seminars For Representatives


In case you are not on the net, here is the after-action report on the February 12-18 trip to Capitol Hill. At all the House and Senate offices visited, we let our representatives know VVA’s position on assured funding for the VA and the legislative agenda of the ETaBO Committee.

We started the week’s meetings on the Hill with a visit to Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R-Mo.), where we spoke with Aaron Smith, his legislative assistant, and Mary Stundebeck, his staff assistant. They said that something different needs to be done with the way VA reports its needs and the way Congress appropriates funding. They also said that support for veterans, particularly returning soldiers with service- connected injuries, should include training in order to become self-sufficient.

We had similar discussions with Andrea Martin, legislative director for Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.); John Slotman, the legislative director for Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R- Mo.); John Cox, the veterans adviser, and Lindsey Neas, the legislative assistant to Sen. James Talent (R-Mo.); Seth Appleton, legislative assistant to Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.); Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) and Adam Riedel, his legislative correspondent.

On ETaBO issues, we visited Richard J. Suzor, a research analyst; Max Kidalov, counsel to Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Me.), chair of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee; James Ludes, a legislative assistant; Nigel Stephens, the Democratic professional staff member; and Catherine Scott, the legislative aide to Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

We discussed support for the small business training that is available for veterans in conjunction with their education benefits in programs administered by The Veterans Corp. and SBDC, aside from college and university degree programs. I recommended that this also be available for programs that Pat Heavey has developed if they can be approved by the state approving agency. 

However, Nelson Crouther, counsel to Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.), chair of the House Committee on Small Business, feels that only The Corp. and SBDC should be used. When asked by VVA’s Rick Weidman, “What happened to private enterprise in America?” there was no answer. Seems that in the five-plus years of existence, The Veterans Corp. has yet to establish programs set forth in PL 106-50.

It must be remembered that this is an election year. In running for re-election, everyone wants to give lip service to veterans’ issues. Only by keeping their feet to the fire and watching the voting can we discover if they execute what they promise. 

Outside the Hill, I had an opportunity to visit with Bill Elmore, associate director for Veterans Business Development at the Small Business Administration. We discussed the good, bad, and ugly sections of the RAND Report, “Activation and the Earnings of Reservists,” and the DoD report to the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, “Effects of Activation in Support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm on Members of the National Guard and Reserve Who Were Self Employed or Owners of Small Business.”

A follow-up visit has been recommended by the VVA Government Affairs Committee chair and the Government Relations Department for the last week of March to coincide with VVA President John Rowan’s Senate testimony.

Please check out the ETaBO site. Let us know what you would like to see. We have to work together to make the site a viable tool for all veterans.


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