This morning AMVETS National Commander Jerry Hotop appeared before a special joint session of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees to deliver AMVETS' legislative agenda for 2011.
To view a full list of witnesses, read their prepared remarks and to watch the hearing in its entirety, Click Here.
Cmdr. Hotop's testimony and AMVETS Legislative Priorities for 2011 were guided by three sources, AMVETS adopted resolutions from the 2010 AMVETS National Convention, findings from the 2010 AMVETS Symposium for 21st Century Veterans, and the concerns of AMVETS members.
In his prepared remarks, Hotop discussed each of AMVETS' top legislative priorities in depth, ranging from improving services for rural veterans, improving services for female service members and veterans, improving screening and treatment for polytraumatic blast injuries, modernizing VA's prosthetic services, ending the claims backlog, and providing education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for veterans.
Given the time constraints, Hotop's remarks focused on meeting the needs of underserved veterans--particularly women veterans, whose ranks continue to grow; and rural/remote veterans, who comprise nearly half of today's veterans who utilize VA services.
Hotop also took the time to praise VA's efforts to end homelessness within five years, but also acknowledged that VA needs to implement more innovative programs to stop homelessness before it starts.
"We must go to the veterans, not simply sit back and hope the veterans come to us," Hotop said. "This is not a handout. This is providing the entitlements and care they have earned through their service to our country."
The AMVETS national commander's testimony before Congress is an annual tradition around which the AMVETS family of organizations converges on Washington, D.C., to advocate for veterans' causes. This year's testimony is part of the inaugural "LZ:DC," where AMVETS has landed on Capitol Hill for a week of advocacy on behalf of American veterans and their loved ones.
American Veteran is following the week's events closely. Check back regularly for updates from the LZ.
(Images: Top: AMVETS National Commander Jerry Hotop waits to testify before the Congressional Veterans Affairs committees. Middle: Cmdr. Hotop delivers AMVETS' legislative priorities to Congress while AMVETS Acting Legislative Director Christina Roof looks on. Photos by Jay Agg. Middle, left: AMVETS members from across the country joined Cmdr. Hotop for his testimony. Bottom, right: Roof discusses Sons of AMVETS legislative visits as part of LZ:DC with a member of the Sons of AMVETS prior to the hearing. Photos by Ryan Gallucci.)