The official blog of American Veteran Magazine, the national quarterly publication of AMVETS.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Live from Capitol Hill: AMVETS to testify before Senate VA Committee

This morning, AMVETS Legislative Director Ray Kelley will tesify before the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, presenting AMVETS' stance on a host of key veterans' bills.

To view video from the hearing, Click Here.

To read Kelley's written testimony, Click Here.

During today's hearing Kelley voiced AMVETS support for several major pieces of legislation, including the Servicemembers Access to Justice Act (S. 263), which would update USERRA regulations, giving veterans sound recourse against employers who seek to take advantage of Natinoal Guard and Reserve employees.

Kelley also voiced AMVETS' support for a bill introduced by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Veterans Outreach Improvement Act (S. 315), which would authorize funding for extensive VA outreach programs that would leverage different levels of government and non-profit organizations, such as VSOs, in informing veterans of their entitlements.

Kelly said the issue was personal in nature to him.

"I returned from Iraq a little more than two years ago and as recently as last week, I received a phone call from one of the twelve people I deployed with asking, 'where do I go, who do I see, what do I qualify for?'" Kelley said. "This is very imporatant."

During the hearing, Sanders recalled a 2003 VA memo that called on staff to cease reaching out to veterans. Sanders acknowledged that the VA has come a long way since 2003, but he wants to ensure that no veterans fall through the cracks.

"If [veterans] don't know what they're entitled to, that's simply not fair," he said.

Mark-up for each of the bills discussed during today's hearing will take place on May 21, 2009. Check back with American Veteran Online for updates on these critical bills in the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs.

(Photo: AMVETS Legislative Director Ray Kelley (bottom, second from the left) testifies before the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs this morning in the Derksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill. Photo by Ryan Gallucci)

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