Veterans have voting power

Published 10:11 pm Monday, February 20, 2006

By By Lavan Martin
Last November, House Veteran's Affairs Committee Chairman Steve Buyer (R-Ind), decided to end a decades-long tradition that gave veteran groups the opportunity to present testimony regarding a wide range of legislative priorities before a joint session of the House and Senate Veteran's Affairs Committees. In short, testimony from veteran organizations on the President's budget request and proposed policy initiatives would not be allowed.
Veterans became outraged as veteran organizations tried unsuccessfully to get Representative Buyer to reinstate joint hearings that they viewed as an invaluable tool in formulating public policy affecting American's veterans. When the new schedule of hearings and their format were announced in January proved to be even more disappointing to veterans, leaders of veteran organizations and thousands of other veterans throughout the country, flooded Rep. Buyer and other members of congress with protest letters.
Rep. Buyer heard their voices loud and clear. He reversed his original decision and extended from three minutes to 10 minutes the amount of time veteran group would have to present testimony centering on their legislative priorities, but still limited to three minutes restriction testimony form veteran organizations on the President's budget request and proposed policy initiative.
Veterans should be pleased that Chairman Buyer conceded more time to hear veterans proposed solutions to problems facing our nation's veterans. Hopefully this action will lead to the realization that veterans must be adequately heard on budget and policy proposals. The attempt to silence dissent only serves to censor the informative and expert testimony of veterans.
Millions of veterans throughout the world, and thousands throughout Alabama, have the voting power to have their voices heard on issues that affect veterans. This should be a lesson to younger veterans who are repeatedly asked to come forward and replace the older generation of veterans who have carried the torch successfully from World War I through the Vietnam War. Now it's your turn Gulf War and Iraqi Freedom veterans.
Veteran organizations represent the million of veterans whether disabled or not, whether a member of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), or the American Legion. We should all be dedicated to a single purpose: Building better lives for our nation's veterans and their families. We have the voting power, so let's use it for this purpose.
Atmore area veterans of Atmore VFW Post 7016, Veterans of Foreign Wars, continue to support our veterans. We urge all citizens of the Atmore area to do the same.
Lee "Lavan" Martin
Atmore VFW Post

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