Army veterans march to Hill
Army veterans march to Hill
It is hearing season on the Hill and when you walk the halls you must be alert because at this time of year a lot of "first timers" are wandering the halls often looking anywhere but where they are walking.Your government affairs team experienced that firsthand recently as we walked through all six House and Senate office buildings delivering information folders about AUSA to the offices of all new members of Congress.The folders include a copy of the 2011 Resolutions, the "Where We Stand" pocket card, a copy of AUSA NEWS and ARMY Magazine, the AUSA publication "Profile of the Army," as well as the latest Torchbearer monographs. We want to be sure that the new members are aware of AUSA and what our organization stands for.There are 11 new members who are Army veterans and their packets included a request for information that will be in the next edition of the book "Once a Soldier…Always a Soldier" that will be published later this year to honor all current members of Congress who served in the Army.The new "member-soldiers" are:
- Dan Coats, a Republican from Indiana, who is not new to the Senate having served as one of Indiana’s senators from 1989 to 1999. He served in the Army Corps of Engineers from 1966 to 1968. He serves on both the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Defense and its subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.
- Rick Crawford, a Republican from Arkansas, served in the Army from 1985 to 1989 as a bomb disposal technician reaching the rank of sergeant. He understands military life from the unique point of view of a military "brat" having grown up in an Air Force family.
- Tim Griffin is a Republican also from Arkansas. An Army major, he is currently in his 14th year of service in the Army Reserve. His military service includes assignment in Iraq and he serves on the House Armed Services Committee.
- Steve Womack is the third new Republican from Arkansas with Army service. He served for 30 years with the Arkansas Army National Guard retiring in 2009 as a colonel, and was assigned overseas with the multinational force and observers in the Sinai, Egypt.
- Allen West, a Republican from Florida, is a retired active duty Army lieutenant colonel with service in both Gulf Wars and Afghanistan. He serves on the House Armed Services Committee and attended the AUSA Winter Symposium and Exposition which was located in his congressional district.
- Mike Pompeo, a Republican from Kansas, is a graduate of the United States Military Academy (first in his class) and served on active duty for five years with overseas service in Germany.
- Jeff Landry is a Republican from Louisiana who served 11 years as a sergeant in the Louisiana Army National Guard and saw overseas service in the first Gulf War.
- Steven Palazzo, a Republican from Mississippi, is currently serving in the Mississippi Army National Guard and is a marine veteran of the first Gulf War. He serves on the House Armed Services Committee.
- Joe Heck, a Republican from Nevada, is a medical doctor and a colonel in the Army Reserve who has been deployed to Iraq. He serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Intelligence Committee.
- Chris Gibson is a Republican from New York who retired from active duty after 24 years as a colonel. A veteran of four combat tours in Iraq and deployments to Kosovo and Haiti, he will use his extensive Army experience on the House Armed Services Committee.
- Steve Stivers, a Republican from Ohio, has served for over 25 years as a logistician in the Ohio Army National Guard. Currently a lieutenant colonel, he has deployed to Kuwait, Iraq, Qatar and Djibouti.
Also on the Hill, I joined in a veteran/military service organization meeting with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.The meeting was called by Leader Pelosi to allow organizations to voice their priorities to her and senior congressional leaders that are particularly interested in military and veterans affairs.Among the almost 20 members of Congress in attendance were Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md.; House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith, D-Wash.; Army veteran and Veterans Affairs Committee member Tim Walz, D-Minn; Ranking Member of the Veterans Affairs Committee Bob Filner, D-Calif.; Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.; and Senior Democratic Whip and Co-chair of the House Military Family Caucus Sanford Bishop, D-Ga..During the meeting, the organizations’ top priorities, including closing the pay gap, preventing healthcare fee increases, ending the SBP-DIC offset and many others were presented.Pelosi stayed through the entire hour and a half meeting (interrupted by one floor vote) and shook hands and personally greeted each attendee.She announced that this would be the first of a series of 112th Congress meetings that she will coordinate between the organizations and congressional leaders offering yet another venue for the AUSA message to Congress to be heard.Stay with us through this very busy time in the congressional year.