Update on February 24-27 2013 Washington Conference

A delegation from the Department of Colorado traveled to Washington D.C. February 24-27 for the purpose of visiting the offices of our Congressional Delegation and briefing them on issues important to us, as Veterans, and soliciting their support in obtaining positive results to various resolutions and amendments. Two “teams” were assembled to carry out the task of visiting nine offices in separate locations in the space of one day.

In addition to our visits on “The Hill”, there were a number of other events taking place to occupy our time:

Sunday, Feb. 24th

The leading candidates for national commander held a joint reception at Post 180 in Vienna, Virginia. Travel was arranged for us by bus but due to a problem with traffic on the route and insufficient number of buses, several of us decided to forego the long waits and turnaround times and threw our own “reception” at James Hoban Irish Pub within walking distance of our hotel, the Washington Hilton.

After returning to the hotel, the Department caucused for the purpose of planning strategy and assigning legislative topics to the individual team members.

Following the caucus, some of us attended a portion of the opening session of the American Legion Auxiliary’s Washington meetings.

Monday, Feb. 25th

I attended a joint session of the Americanism and Children & Youth Commissions, as a member of the Americanism Commission. After the opening and addresses by the respective commission chairmen, the Division Chair, Jill Druskis, gave her remarks and introduced several guests including a number of Past National Commanders. Current status and information regarding programs of the National Americanism Commission and Children and Youth Commission were presented by the deputy directors of the division along with the following printed handouts, among others: 1) Americanism and Children and Youth “By The Numbers” In 2012.

2) A Summary of America Legion Americanism Resolutions, Winter 2013 Position Paper

3) Official Actions and Positions of The American Legion on Matters of Children & Youth.

4) Memo: Information Regarding Programs of the National Americanism Commission. This latter document discussed current topics of relevance to programs, flag protection, citizenship and educational matters.

Late on Monday afternoon, The Legislative Commission hosted a joint meeting to go over the topics of prime importance to The American Legion that were to be presented at our meetings with all Congressional Offices.

On Monday evening, Chairman of the National VA&R Commission Ralph Bozella and his wife Susie, Legislative Committee member and UVC vice-president Frank McCurdy, Department Auxiliary President Karen Boehler and my wife, Judy, and I attended a reception at the United States Department of State headquarters, an invitation only function, rounding out a very busy day of meetings and information gathering.

Tuesday, Feb. 26th

We assault “The Hill”. After an 8:30 AM “Rally” to get us in the spirit by National Commander Koutz at his “Commander’s Call, the members of “A” Team (including myself and wife, Judy), proceeded to visit the offices of Representatives Coffman, Perlmutter, Lamborn, Gardner and Tipton. We set off for Capitol Hill at 9:00 AM and concluded our day at 6:30 PM. Hailing a cab outside the Cannon Office building after dark and in the rain proved to be somewhat of an adventure but we got back to the hotel at about 7:30 PM to find out that the dining room was closed for dinner that day, and by having to make other arrangements for our evening meal we finished up too late for a premier showing of the soon-to-be-released movie “Emperor”.

 The Office Visits: Topics for discussion were assigned across the board to the individual team members. We went prepared to ask for support, not be combative and to make sure each Representative understood exactly what it was we were asking of them.

All visits were cordial on the parts of both parties. We were accorded roughly twenty minutes to forty minutes time, maximum, in each office. We kept to the topics for the most part but only strayed slightly with small discussions related to “fracking” and Veteran’s GI Bill in-state tuition rates vs. rates now being accorded children of “illegal immigrants”.

My three assigned topics were:

1) The Flag Protection Amendment;

2) The Disabled Veterans Tax/ Widows Tax;

3) Eastern Colorado VA Replacement Hospital Project .

I asked our Representatives to sign on as co-sponsors of the Flag Protection Amendment HJ Res. 19 since there are none currently. This resolution was just newly introduced (again) in January of this year.

Not having meetings scheduled for Wednesday, February 27th, we returned home. As of this writing, two of our legislators’ staffers have sent me follow-up status on some of our issues.

I was pleased to be able to make this trip. I hope that it will bring some positive results, but with budgetary issues taking the forefront, it may be some time before OUR issues

get any attention. Let us remain positive that our Federal Government can once again become a productive entity.

Until next month, then, that’s MY “Call”.