by Tom Barnes
We have all learned through hard experience that only the squeaky wheel gets the grease. For veterans, the disabled most especially, writing politicians and asking or even demanding the veterans’ share of the national resources available is the only way many veterans can survive. Many cannot work and need government resources to feed themselves, educate their kids or pay their rent. I have included here some essential website addresses for veterans to use to contact the government when it is necessary to do so.
Even a mildly interested disabled veteran should contact his congressman and state politicians at least once a fiscal quarter. If you do not write these people, they just assume you are not politically dangerous to their agenda. NEVER let them assume that. Having grown up in a family deeply involved in GOP politics in Philadelphia, PA and having been involved myself in left wing Democratic Party politics here in Northern Virginia for almost 13 years now I can personally attest to you how important a clearly written email or letter can be to a politician. It forms his agenda for the year if the correspondence is clear, concise and to the point.
Here are some essential website addresses that all veterans should use to register their needs.
Most Important – your Congressman. Mine is Jim Moran in Northern Virginia and his website is http://moran.house.gov/contact.shtml
Second in importance – your Senators. Here is one of my Senator’s websites. It is Jim Webb, a former Secretary of the Navy so he is a good guy to have on our side: http://webb.senate.gov/
Close to most important – Senate Veterans Affairs Committee – you can find their website at http://www.veterans.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?pageid=1
Remember, if either of your Senators or your Congressman sits on either of the Veterans Affairs Committees (you should find this out) he is key to our success in claiming our share of national resources for our needs. Your email or letter to that particular Congressman or Senator has a heavier weight that one to a Congressman or Senator who does not sit on such a committee. Remember that, it could be absolutely crucial to our agenda as veterans in a clinch situation.
Another important website for veterans – House Committee on Veterans Affairs. The House does not allow email to the full committee but it does allow a telefax to be sent on the following fax number: (202) 225-2034 You should address the telefax message to this committee as you would address a letter. Keep your comments to one page or they often ignore you. The address is: House Committee on Veterans Affairs, 335 Cannon Office Building, Washington D.C. 20515
Now we get down to the state level. All the states have veterans affairs departments and a few of the states have very active departments with very good benefits that complement of even exceed federal benefits in some areas. In my state, Virgina, the webstite for the State Department of Veterans Services is http://www.dvs.virginia.gov/
Next you can decide whether or not you want to contact one of the major veterans organizations. I am a lifetime member of the D.A.V. and I belong to the American Legion. Now to be frank, they are essential in filing a disability claim but their politics seem to me often to be of the mindless right-wing variety so I am not actively involved in either organization. They suffer my membership in silence. But to be fair, I would never have gotten my disability claim handled anywhere near as well as I did without the help of both organizations.
They have websites and even more importantly they have a system on their websites which allow you to send an email to your Congressman and Senators and the President directly on their system. All you need to know is your zip code and the system finds your elected officials for you. This is invaluable to anyone who has a beef relative to veterans benefits or needs and is not sure of his representatives.
The squeaky wheel gets the grease. You should be squeaking at least four times a year if you ever want to be taken seriously as a danger to their agenda. And trust me, as someone who grew up in politics and is still involved in politics, that is the ONLY way you can get their attention. Be a danger to their agenda.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tom Barnes is a retired Coast Guard warrant officer, a retired employee development specialist from the Smithsonian Institution and he spent a little time teaching public high school business courses in Northern Virginia after he left the Service. He is a totally disabled veteran.
He is the the Author, "The McGurk".
The McGurk is a novel about the many cultural facets of Catholicism within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in the 19th, 20th and 21st Centuries. We read about a small aspect of that very large story as it plays out primarily in the lives of bishops, priests and nuns who are struggling with their Faith, their loyalties and their sense of ‘church’. Many aspects of historical Jesus research are integral to the storyline. The Irish in Philadelphia and Irish Catholicism as it existed there are the nucleus of the story. This novel can be purchased at Amazon.com