Both Minnesota and U. S. bodies of Congress are in session. Time for us to get busy contacting our elected officials on both levels for our veterans, military, and their families, supporting the legislation that the National American Legion is supporting and working on. Be sure that when you are contacting your elected officials they know you are a member of the American Legion Family and support their issues. Keep each time you contact them to just one issue. Get to know your Senators and Representatives.
The Veterans Restorative Justice Act, Senate File 116, was approved in the Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Committee and has been forward to the Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee. This bill would make veterans treatment courts in Minnesota consistent across the board. There are eight veteran’s courts presently serving 25 counties. It would provide defendants in counties without veteran’s treatment courts access to places with them if a judge approves. This bill will help trauma-impacted veterans and their families. (READ the article in the February 2021 Minnesota Legionnaire including the testimony by one veteran how this program made such a difference in his and his family’s life.)
Buddy Check Bill - On the National level the American Legion is asking us to help get the Buddy Check Bill, S. 4657 & H.R. 2898 passed. They are asking the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to designate one week each year as “Buddy Check Week”. The American Legion Family is strongly urging Congress to unanimously pass this bill. The legislation will require the VA to create a Buddy Check Week as well as provide educational opportunities, materials, and references for veterans to learn how to conduct personal wellness checks. The bill also compels the VA to expand resources for the Veterans Crisis Line to handle any potential increased volume during the designated week.
Deborah Sampson Act – Aimed to make invisible women veterans visible and to create equitable access to healthcare, housing, legal services and other resources and benefits. H.R. 3224 has passed the House and S. 514 has passed the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee with an amendment. Not all services are available to women veterans nor are they gender specific. There are many female veterans not enrolled in the VA system because of this. Contact Senators Klobuchar and Smith, as they are co-sponsors, and urge the passing of this bill.
A message from our National Legislative Chair, Norma Tramm: There are many bills with similar concepts, but The American Legion does not always support every bill that involves veterans. Bills are checked to make sure they are in the veteran’s best interest. It is your obligation to make sure you are advocating for legislation supported by the Legion. You can find more information at www.Legion.org/legislative.
Shirley Frederick, District Chair