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tv   American Legion Hosts Annual Conference  CSPAN  February 28, 2017 9:09pm-11:30pm EST

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morning. join the discussion. sunday night on q&a, the rice and fall of ebonn morris, a largest pharmaceutical company in the world. >> i wanted to wait to see if anything else became public about this guy and when -- a year later i started looking into his life and into campaign donation and spending, into what made him one of the washington's top drug lobbyists. c-span q kp a. david shulkin was speaker. he outlined reforms that the va
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is making to better serve veterans. this is two hours two 20 minutes. good among. good morning. my name is bill, as chairman i call this call to order. with our colors in place, hand salute, 1, 2. please remain standing and i'll call on harvey clay from the department texas to lead us in prayer. in duty rot me it's written be strong and courageous. do not fear. for it is the lord our god who
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goes with you. he will not leave you or forsake you. in romans what then shall we say to these things if god is for us, who can be against us. with those scripttural passage, go to prayer. we call upon you to calm our spirit. focus our attention and energy on the task at hand knowing that what we do is part of your divine plan. grant us the courage and faith needed for the assignments we are going to under take. centered upon what you would have us do all to your grater glory.
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shower us with forthright, hones honesty and sincerity. my our preparations be fruitful and touch the hearts of those who hear them. that those who have ears hear, and those who have eyes see. you have fed and watered millions in it's dessert. a feet only you could accomplish so we have trusting in you to provide the practical means necessary in the meetings that we're about to attend. you called us to a task that requires super natural pro vision and now we are calling on to you provide details with trust in our god. we will do our part and do it well by your grace and know you will do yours.
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our strength will be renewed and we shall mount up with wings like angels with our service to god in country. in this we pray in the name of all sacred, precious and holy. amen. >> this requires a designation of a pownia chair or flag at american legion. this is for those unaccounted for for whom all wars involved our nation. so with the pow sb/mia position to my left, release any american prisoners the repateuation of
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those killed in action and full accounting of those still missing. let us rededicate ourselves for this vital endeavor. >> thank you. i call upon the chairman of the national council from the department of georgia to lead the pledge of allegiance. >> with the flag of our nation. our pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of the america to the republic for which it stands, one station under god, indi visible with liberty and justice for all. >> thank you, mr. chairman. you may be seated. >> welcome to the 57th annual
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commander call, before you leave, we hope you will be inspired, motivated and educated. our goal is to empower you with everything you need to carry the american legion message to capitol hill. with the knowledge you have with 2 million veterans their familiar and their votes behind you. we are most respected in the nation. we are the american legion. like to begin by introducing first speaker. he has been asking us to carry the legacy forward. he contributing to that legacy by fiercely advocating for veterans and their families. our retired veteran of the war, he first member to lead our
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organization it is my pleasure to introduce the national commander charles e. smith. [ applause ] >> thank you. thank you. thank you. thank you chairman oxford. good morning american legion family. hoo raw. we have an new administration and new congress no matter what your political persuasion is, it is exciting for the american legion. we are non-barn bipartisan and with a new leadership in washington we look at all new possibilities, as i like to say in my speech, accent wait the positive. we see a lot of positive signs
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coming from washington. the new va secretary dr. shulkin, seems committed to making va better than before. that isn't to say there aren't some serious problems to address, but he does agree that it is a system worth saving. let me be clear about our position regarding choice. we are not against the concept of health care choices for veterans. not all find it convenient to use va. veterans for instance, must travel more than 200 miles to find the nearest va hospital. although their needs to be a l well managed partnership with private priors to serve veterans in remote area, we are against the current mess called choice programs.
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delays, non-reimbursement for services and bureaucracyic entanglement who have attempted to use the program. no veteran should have to experience a long wait time to be seen by a doctor. we have eager to work with dr. shulkin to fix this problem. veterans will overwhelmingly choose va over private sectorful. as the president would say, let's make it great again. i'm excited because in the last congress, the house of representatives agreed with us that the antiquated appeals process for the disability claims needed to be modernize. the current process will result
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in veterans having to wait an average ten years to hear decision on their appeals this is more than twice the time for the united states to fight and win world war ii. according to va 2016 numbers, nearly half a million appeals claim are waiting to be adjudicated. 80,000 claims are waiting for 125 days. the american legion finds this completely unacceptable. we believe the appeals modernization legislation hr 457 introduced by representative will simplify were feed up the process as well as make it more transparent. the house did it's job but the senate refuse to move on it. i'm hopeful today you'll talk to
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your representative and your senators and tell them we need to pass this important legislation now. the american legion welcomes president trump's promise to are build our military. more than half of all marine core aircraft from unflyable this past december. only three brigade combat teams are considered ready for combat. the air force, had a total of 5,500 aircraft. the average aircraft is 27 years old. older than many of the pilots plying them. in the early 1990s, air force had 8,600 aircraft, what can i say about the navy, i was at
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joint base to or 75th anniversary. if we learned anything from party harbor it is that we -- pearl harbor is that we must always be prepared. temple have had major impact on navy's ability to protect our seas. a strong navy is needed now. increase pro vocation by governments of iran and north korea. this is why we are asking congress to fully fund the department of defense with a real and robust budget and not unstainable continuing resolution. does anybody believe that the world is safer now than it was during the cold war? the conclusion of the bipartisan
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9/11 commission is that our enemy was at war with us. but we were not at war with them. the courts need to recognize it is the president who has the ultimate and constitutional m mandated responsibility to keep us save. we need to take a hard look at our immigration and entry policy. wloo while we have been effective at stopping terrorists attacks. look at what happened in france, germany, turkey, as we have seen in boston, san bernardino, we will not be able to stop every attack but every one we stop saves an inkal youble amount of lives. i would like to say a few words about the deniers.
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these are people protesting on college campus and in our streets who deny our flag has significance. it's just a piece of cloth they say. it is a piece of cloth all right, it's fabric of our nation. the these people deny that flag desecration is a problem. it hardly ever occurs they say. yet a quick google search you will reveal thousands of images of people doing that. some in congress are denying a hearing on the flag amendment by doing so they are denying the rest of congress the chance to vote on it and denying the american people to right to pass this measure through the state legislature and trying protection into constitution. that's our constitution. the constitution of the american
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people. these deniers say congress has more important issues to address that the flag protection amendment is a waste of time. i say pass the amendment and we won't bo tlther you with it aga. [ applause ] otherwise, you will keep hearing from us. we never quit our mission in the military when we are not going to quit now. because that's who we are. we love peace but we will foiig for what it right. thank you all. god bless you and god bless the united states of america. [ applause ]
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thank you, commander. thank you. i notice there's lots of folks standing in the back. if you're interesting there are plenty of seats up front. the american legion is one of the most powerful voices in washington. it is because of you, and our strong grass roots presence, veterans across this nation depend upon you to make sure the nation does right by them. just remember, the most important meeting members of congress will have that relate to the american legion will be the one they have with you, their constituents. ladies and gentlemen, our next guest is chairman of the u.s. veterans affairs committee. he was elected in 2008 to serve the first congressional district of tennessee. as a physician, he ran
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successful medical practice for 31 years. delivered close to 5,000 babies. he army veteran and member of post 24 in johnson city tennessee. give a warm welcome to honorable representative from tennessee, phil row. [ applause ] thanks for having me. i appreciate the opportunity to be here. as you know, congress has a less than 12% approval rating. i'm glad to get invited anywhere. thank you for having employee. i told the speaker, mr. speaker, it's not as bad you you think.
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there's -- the bar is low. i want to thank you all for being here. taking your time to come to washington to talk to us about the important issues that you face. once again, my name is phil row. i'm country doctor from tennessee. eight or nine years ago decided i didn't like the direction the country was going, i felt i would serve my country, so i went off my medication and reason for congress and looked what happened. [ laughter ] >> so i -- be careful to stay on your medicine. i was a young physician in memphis, i tell people that i won a free trip to southeast
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asia. many of you did the same thing i went to the mailbox and got draft notice and had six week old child when i went into the military, went through basic training, stations in korea. i spent a few months in seoul. grew up in tennessee. i felt i have like i was part of the military. i know when the congress today, less than 20% of us have served in the military. back in the early '70s many you of are world war ii, korea vietnam, a lot smaller percentage have served than previous generation. it is on honor to do what i do
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and have time it do this or the opportunity to do this. i want to thank you all and jury families for coming up here. i know a lieutenaot of times we there's a family that loves and cares for us and gives us an opportunity and privilege of serving. i want to thank dr. shulkin, i have to be careful what i say because he is backstage, he going to be a great secretary. i have had opportunity to work with him on the veterans affairs committee. i think he going to do a great job for our veterans country. i have been on the committee since 2009. we were spending $97 billion ayear on veterans.
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today it's south of $80 billion. we have added -- 360,000. the va has more than employees than the u.s. navy does. i don't know that the va is doing that much better job. we have resources to take care of what we are doing today, i think we need to do a better job of man managing and i intend to hold the va accountable. i know many of you have aware of the scandal that occurred in phoenix, it turned out this was per viive than we thought. it gives him the ability to fire or hold people accountable for what they do. and there are many egregious
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have occurred that took months and years to make right. i come from the private sector. that doesn't happen in the private sector. some of the events occurred the door would not hit you the backside that day, dr. shulkin needs these tools. he is going to get these tools. we are going to mark this bill up next week. one of the things i want to work about physician who solves veteran patients in my office and saw them active military doctor, i want to be sure we put veterans in charge of health care decision. what i mean by that, my practice, the person i work for is the patient. not the hospital, the insurance company, the patient.
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i want to do, i want the veterans and the doctors to be making those health care decision. if it you feel you're not getting the care you need, you should have a choice to go where you want to, but i travel to texas and valley in washington, to visit rural areas where va are. veterans are spread out across there country. in my district, 10% of my district are veterans. we have 70,000 in first congressional district and i know we have bob hencely who is a veteran from mountain city,
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tennessee. i want to thank him for being here. there would not be a texas if it were not for tennessee. i want to point that out. what i want to see happen whether the va in health care, i want you to have the absolute best health care that can be provided by anybody in the world. you should have that as a veteran. you have aearned it. you deserve to have it. i think accountability and two access to care is a huge item for he. i co chair -- there's a huge opioid i b opioid abuse. we have had prescription drug deaths killed as many people in this countries. it's scary epidemic that's
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preventable. it's something we should not have. there's an appropriate use for opioid and there's inappropriate use. we protect people from the deaths occurring. i know there's another thing i'm concerned about also about tim walsh, co-chair co cause in congress that takes care of folks with post-traumatic stress disorder. i will give them a big shout-out. the va has been a leader in post-traumatic stress disorder treatment. we passed a bill that we acknowledge we need to do more for veterans and can other patients in this country suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. one of the biggest thing we have to do is -- i know dr. shulkin is concerned and worried about
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this, is to transform va's it system. we spend $4.5 billion, that's $4500 million on technology. and it's right now the va health care system is a good one. it's not easy to do. i say this sort of a joke, electronic health system that made me a congressman. it drove me crazy learning how to do it. technology is good if it works the va fleeds needs to be reformed. we are sending people on the choice program which is not working. we have get that working better. technology is the key to it so you can bill, to pay your bills and do other things with with
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technology, that is big time we're going to take at the apple. one of the things i want to assure you is i'm not sitting up here talking about privatizing va. ti i'm talking about making va better -- [ applause ] that's something i think extremely important for people to know that's not what's we're doing. the va today will not look like the va of 20 years ago. we have va that needs haaccess a different way. i don't know from i know that most of you have a smartphone, there's going to be tremendous amount of health care provided through smartphone. i keep getting unsolis ited
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e-mail from walk in tub. we have the most bipartisan committee in the congress. it's one of the reasons i enjoy working on the committee. it's about how we take care of veterans. that is exactly why i'm on that committee. [ applause ] i want to thank you you again for having me. i'm going to finish my remarks to tell you why i'm passionate about being chairman. 1943, a guy in johnson city tennessee, walked into arm recruiters and tried to sign up for the united states marine corps, he was turned down. his name hoer petes. the reason he was turned down he
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was 13 years old. think did not allow him to go in. not to be deterred. he cleaned up local derelict. put a suit on him, had him sign as his father that he was 17 years old and go into arm. he got in. not just the army but 101st airborne division at age 13. he para chuted in age 15. he was wounded and sent back to england to recover from his injury. he rejoin and fault in the battle of the bulge. his mother didn't know he was in the war. he was wounded and sent back. in his recover. they finally caught up with
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homer and ethey straighted him from the army. he came back to johnson tennessee tn. he tried to sign up again. he said son, you have been in the battle of the bulge. you have been in the norm di evasion go home and be a kid. he went and finished. went through rotc and was commissioned and he was a police officer and did a lot of other things. but he decided that was not good enough so we went into the army rangers in 1950s. they volunteered for vietnam, homer was killed in 1965 when the silver star in vietnam. those ladies and gentlemen, are
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the shoulders that we stand on. unbelievable story. >>. [ applause ] wouldn't you have liked to have met homer and gotten to know him and tipped one with imhad. i would have. i want to thank you. there are stories right out here in this room, that are just at compelling. i want to thank you. you have my solemn promise to do everything i can to make sure this va works for you and give you back the service you have earned. thank you, and may god bless each and every one of you. [ applause ] i just made a comment to the chairman, i'm in awe of the
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5,000 babies. at this point i would like to recognize commander smith for introduction. >> it is customary to refer to members of congress as honorable. it was title earned by our next guest. i hope you don't consider my rude for saying it dank and impressive. it was a prison known as hanoi hilton and it is not a nice hotel like this. the son of an admiral, our guest was offered early relief from pow camp but he turned it down. after operation homecoming, he continued navy career and
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retired in 1981. he represented arizona and u.s. senate since 1987. best known as 20,008 republican nominee for of the united states. he embraces pillar of the national defense. a graduate of the u.s. navial academy. currently serves as chairman of the senate armed services committee. it is my pleasure to represent american legion to honorable senator john s. mccain. [ applause ]
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thank you. it's great honor to be with you. i'm grateful to say a few words to you at your annual conference. you come here to help us do lord's work in the center of y satan. i lost running for president of united states. thank you. i appreciate that. after i lost, i slept like a baby. sleep two hours, wake up and can cry. sleep two hours. [ laughter ] thanks for not mentioning the number of landings did not match the number of take offs, but that's okay. i can tell you one story. before i retired, i was at the bar at the club, i guy standing
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next to me, old looking guy, he looked like charles here, [ laughter ] i notice he was wearing one stripe on his sleeve, i said to him, how are you? i said how long you in the navy? >> he said 30 years. i was at first squadron in early world war ii. every single night, one japanese airplane would fly over our fields, we have to start the engine and the all clear was washing machine charlie. i got tired of us. so i caught this monkey and i trained the monkey that when the siren went out, he start the engine, when the all clear siren
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went off, he would go back into the jungle. one night it wasn't washing machine charlie, it was a real air raid. he said i came out, just in time to see that monkey taking over in my airplane. i said i can certainly see why you were not promoting. >> he said that's not what made me mad. s the monkey is retiring as an admiral last week. most admirals don't enjoy that joke. i want to thank you friends and comrades and i didn't want to make one additional comments. as you know there was an effort in yemen, and we lost airplane and a man, several wounded.
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all of us have lost a comrade. sometimes mission succeed and sometime they don't. it doesn't have nothing to do with the sacrifice that thae have made. it does not in any way whether we judge the anything have any way of diminishing their courage. my friends 55,000 names are in black granite not far from here. because of failure of leadership, a lot of those brave americans were on missions that did not succeed. many of us are familiar with that. but we honor their sacrifice every day.
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these brave americans when they are told to do, they go. that's where american is all about. [ applause ] so we're live not guilty a dangerous world my friend. we're in the most dangerous world we have been in this 70 years. we are seeing the break down of the order. after the bloodest war in history, the united states, thanks for the service and sacrifice and allies there was a new world order. it was shaped around freedom of the press, free to elect our leaders, we imbued throughout
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the world. in the world of margaret thatcher without firing a shot because he shouldtood for what believe it. when he say turn down that wall, that was a call for freedom. we heard from people, they said we heard ronald reagan. we heard him on voice of america. we heard him or radio for europe. they loved us for the message of freedom. of democracy, of human rights, freedom of the slavery, now my friends we are being tested again. we are going tested in the south china sea where the chinese are filing an island where they have no busy doing. gross violation of international
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law. we have six million refugees, 400,000 dead. we have vladimir putin dismanhattaning ukraine. he will be testing this administration. we are seeing the possible break up of the european union and we are seeing russian interference in the french and german election. if they are able to destroy our ability to elect our leadership they is destroying the fundamental of democracy. that's why we have to -- [ applause ] that's where we have to stop them. theres a new area of competition it's called cyber war. right now today there have been attacks on some of our most
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important capabilities. attacks on our privacy, attacks that continue ask it's a new area. when i so we have to address this issue on everything we hold dear. our privacy and capabilities. so we are now in an era where there's more strains on that coalition, that new world order that was formed at the end of world war ii that was won at the sacrifice of so many brave americans, so many. we don't know where they all are but we know they lie in
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battlefields in europe. i want to talk about ptsd. every day someone is committing suicide. we passed a bill which was named after clay hunt suicide prevention named after a brave young man named clay hunt that committed suicide many march 2011. so we have had problems addressing this issue. we have an obligation to identify, resource and make available effective forms of triemt to eliminate veteran suicide. we owe that to every one of our
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veterans. [ applause ] in phoenix 50 veterans were on a nonexistent waiting list and died. veterans need this more today than any time ever. we need you. [ applause ]
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i know there's controversy about that. let me say i believe the va does the best job of anybody on ptsd, traumatic brain injury and others. there is also medical care veterans need and they need it immediately. they shouldn't have to wait on a waiting list. people who are on medicare are not on a waiting list. they go out to a health care o provider and get that health care. what i want our veterans to be able to do is when they need the specialized care only the va can provide we should make sure they have that. they should be able to call up and make an appointment and see a doctor just like people in medicare do. i want our veterans to have immediate care, whether it's at the va or another health care provider. no one should be on a waiting list for days and weeks or
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months, no one. [ applause ] so i will hope that -- at one time we had 15,000 veterans standing in line for care including dozens who died. we can't do that. we can't do that to our veterans. so we live in interesting and challenging times. those who i live most and know bets are those that i had the great honor was serving in a hotel far away from here. and those people are those who had great honor and privilege. some of them have left us. if there is any success i
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achieved is because of the struggle we waged together, my friends, fellow pow's and i'm honored to be with you today. thank you. [ applause ]
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commander, would you introduce our next guest speaker? >> it gives me great pleasure to introduce our next speaker. he was confirmed by the u.s. senate as secretary of veterans affairs on february 13th, 2017, unanimously. how often do you hear of a senate agreeing on something 100 to no votes? how about that? leading the nation's largest integrated health care system with more than 1,700 sites serving almost 9 million veterans. it is at the atlantic health systems and president and ceo of beth israel medical center in new york city. he has been named as one of the
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50 most influential physicians executives in the country by modern health care. please give a warm american legion welcome to dr. david schulkin. [ applause ] >> thank you for that warm welcome. you know, i don't think the commander has been home in a long long time. no one works harder traveling the country, caring about visiting people. i want to thank you for everything you're doing. i wanted to recognize and say hello to davis and bill oxford
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and mr. clay. it is great to be here. the american legion is such an important organization because of your commitment and passion for everything that people do and you do for our veterans is so important. i can't imagine being lead by a more able and confident leader. i don't think anybody knows more about what's going on in washington. i appreciate it. you guys are really so capably lead. i wanted to talk this morning about modernizing the va. i have been secretary for two weeks today.
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it is important we get on with this and do this very very quickly. this is long overdue. let me share a few thoughts with you. it is a tremendous privilege and honor to lead this department with the mission that we have. it is the best mission in the federal government, obviously making sure those who have gone and served our country are getting what they deserve and have earned. i believe the va system is a testimony worth saving for vett veterans and for the country. i'm reminded how important it is we have a system that cares for
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veterans. many of you may have seen the final salute to honor a person that served their country. you don't see things like this in the private sector. we also have to remind ourselves when you go out into the private sector that the type of care that you get isn't always the type of care that our veterans need. only one in five providers in the private sector actually have military competency. when i came and i started to practice in the va health care system i recognized how different the va is from what
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you get in the community. in the va there is peer support, crisis lines, transportation, care givers, finding veterans homes. all sorts of things that frankly are much more comprehensive approach to care than what you would find in the private sector. these are some of the reasons i think it's so important we keep a strong va. i don't know how many of you have been here but you take people out of wheel chairs and ski down mountains or this summer when i was with veterans who were out there surfing. you begin to start seeing how important these types of actives are, these are unique services that are offered in the va
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system. our use of technology is also unique. this is a picture of me practicing where i see patients using technology. i had not done this in the private sector. this is routine how we deliver care particularly to rural veterans. no one uses technology the way va does. in intensive care units, places that don't have doctors the va is able to use technology to small rural va's. this is something that is something unique. i think people understand it
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takes care but they often forget about our full commission which is to be there in case of catastrophe, whether it's a medical emergency that might happen or military emergency that might happen we are the backbone, that safety net for america. we have there. we train for this. we deployed eight times this past year in national emergencies. we are there and people forget how vital it is for the country. i always think it's important to remember that va has historically contributed to not only health care but to all of america. so i date this back to the civil war, which as you know, was the bloodiest war we fought in this country. it was sort of hand to hand
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combat at the time they are protocols on how to treat trauma. they are writing them so fast and adding them to the book that the binder broke open and the only way to hold the book together was to wrap it in red tape. the va is the originator of red tape. we brought that to all of america. when you look at history there have been lots of efforts to modernize the va.
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i have counted 140 of these assessments that are sitting somewhere on the desk in the va. we don't need anymore studies or commissions, recommendations on how to fix the va. what we need to do is really focus on that. that's what we are going to be doing. we will be getting rid of red tape that prevent us from providing services. where we are going is where they talked about. it is to take the best of va and the best of the private sector and make that one system that essentially works for veterans and that's our focus. he talked about legislation. i couldn't agree with that more,
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that when people has their values that we all hold dearly they no longer and we'll make sure they don't work in the va senator mccane mentioned the program congress was able to authorize. it does expire this august. we need to see that legislation extended beyond august because we need that. we are seeking that extension and we are working to make sure that happens in the next couple of weeks. then what we want to do so come back and redesign this program so it actually works for veterans. we know this was way too complex. there were too many steps to go out and get the care veterans needed. until i can think of a better
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name we are calling it choice 2.0. this is really meant to make this program work better. it means we'll need to eliminate the 40 mile 30 day rule. i wouldn't have thought about picking it on mileage and wait times. we'll make sure the president is exit ex committed to that as well. there are some parts of the country, there's no sense in keeping buildings empty. we'll invest in world class facilities. again, we have a commitment to do that.
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enhancing our foundational services. by that i mean what senator mccane was tam mccain was talking about. i want to make sure we continue to be on the cutting edge. we'll continue to invest in those. we need to work closer with the department of defense and other federal facilities. i'll show you a map of where va and d.o.d. intercept. we need them and we will be working closely together to make sure that we are maximizing our ability to work together. our it systems, as dr. row said, we have been a leader but these desperately need modernization. we'll take those steps too this year. suicide prevention, what senator mccane w mccain was talking about. we are looking for legislation
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to be reintroduced to get that system fixed. you should not be waiting near the period of time people are waiting to get their appeals heard and decisions made. until we get a legislative fix we are not going to make the progress that we need. and lastly on the benefits side we still have much more that we can do to get faster decisions. and so i just want to highlight a few of these things that are really important in modernization, infrastructure, the way we work with the private sector, improving quality and keeping the va unique. now, for those who worked with me for years when i ran hospitals before coming to the va, i was often known as being relatively impatient. i think that's true. i would say to my hospital
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teams, look, i want this done now. what's it going to take, an act of congress? now ironically everything i do takes an act of congress. i'm getting used to it. when i talked about the infrastructure you can see on some of our va's today we have buildings standing from the 18 hundreds. and so i think everyone recognizes that this is going to require a new level of investment to be able to get our facilities to look like what a contemporary modern hospital should look like. burg facilities, able to have family members stay with them. that's what we want for every veteran. this is d.o.d. map.
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when i look at progress and whether we are making progress i look at these four areas, quality of care, whether we provide access, whether we are making progress in the areas that are important to us, like suicide and fooinally, what are customers and what veterans say about what they are experiencing about va. when it comes to quality we measure quality very comprehensively. i'm pleased to say last year 82% of our va's made significant progress in the quality of care. and it's not just va who says that. when independent groups look at our quality and they report on this they find that the quality of care in va is as good or better than what you would find in the private sector. that's important for us.
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va continues to lead in important issues not only to veterans but to all americans. the va began borwork on this bee it was recognized. we have seen 22% reduction. in hepatitis i'm also pleased to say by the end of next year we have been able to treat every ve veteran with the 95% cure rate. no other health care system will be able to do that. [ applause ] people working hard are up 12%. it is a major increase. even in vba where our call centers a year ago, 59% of our calls used to be blocked. in other words you couldn't speak to somebody, today that is less than 1%.
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we are trying to make it easier for you to see our progress. you'll see much easier comparisons to the private sector rather than complex government reports. we are working to make our results more transparent to you and easier to understand. in terms of access. senator mccain was talking about this. we have same day access in primary care and mental health. if you have a medical problem or you have a mental health problem your va medical center would be able to take care of that issue
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today. that is important so we don't have people waiting for urgent care needs. we are asking you how you're doing and you're letting us know how you're doing. in homelessness we saw a decrease since we started our efforts in 2010. we will continue to focus on this until there are no longer
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homeless veterans. in vba, in march of 2013 we had over 600,000 claims waiting more than 125 days. today that is less than 100,000. it will make sure we get that even to a much lower number. we are looking at way to modernize our benefit system even further. the cemetery association, highest customer satisfaction in the country by the american customer loyalty index, 96% satisfaction rate. we are very proud of the services we are able to do. i mentioned suicide as our top priority. you'll see new initiatives come out in the next couple of weeks. we will be working with our community partners to do as much as we possibly can. we do need help on this. >> i'm good. i'm good. >> i'm good but i have a story
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and i don't know where to start. >> i'm good, but i feel alone in a crowd. >> i'm good, but nobody understands. >> i'm good, but i feel overwhelmed. >> i'm good but i don't even know who i am. >> but i still have nightmares. >> but i don't need any help. >> i'm good, but i don't feel anything anymore. >> i'm good, but i can't live like this anymore. >> i'm really not so good, but are you ready to listen? ♪ >> we are trying to get the message out. we added hundreds of new veterans crisis line responders.
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we continue to innovate and find ways to do better jobs. that's what organizations do m it is now the largest database in the country where it looks at information to find new discoveries, for us to do a better job. they are doing terrific work. we are taking what we learned at one va and spreading it across every va. this is our best practices
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initiative. we know we broke that trust but in april 201447% of veterans felt their could trust va. today that number is above 60% and we are not satisfied with that. we believe we are slowly rebuilding that trust and should be acting in a way that you should consider giving us back that trust. va must become a customer rated organization. we measure our pharmacy benefits as number one in the industry above all of the private sector benefits companies like
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walgreens and others that do this. so if we can do it in the national cemeteries and in our pharmacy benefits area we know that va can do this in other areas. and so to do that we are partnering with the best countries in the company. american he john legion is very important to us. i wanted to thank all of you once again. so delighted i could be here with you this morning. thank you very much.
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>> thank you, sir. our next speaker is running a little bit behind so we have going to adjust. our next guest is an accredited va service officer and member of memorial unit 53 in dupont, washington. she is eligible through her parents, her husband and her son who served her in desert storment sstorm. she served in the auxiliary for 40 years. you would never believe it. welcome the leader of america's largest womens national president of the american legion organization, marye. davis.
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[ applause ] >> thank you so much. the commander's call is such an important feature of the d.c. conference because it prepares or members to be effective advocates for members and their families during our hill visits later today. so i thank you very much for allowing me to be part of this
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morning. we pledged to look within our posts and communities to uplift and offer support key con stitch wan sis. we also heard from non-profits to work together to honor and serve veterans families. each of these allow opportunities to increase awareness with the added benefit of continuing our good works on behalf of service members, veterans and their families. american legion auxiliary members do incredible work. contribute $22 million to support youth scholarships and
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communities. contribute $2.6 million for active duty militaries and their members. they are recognized by department of veterans affairs each year for our outstanding contributions to the quality of life for veterans in va medical centers. the american legion auxiliary it is proud to stand alongside the american legion and sons of the american legion in advocating
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for military veterans and their care givers. we join the legion family in calling for quality care for male and female veterans, timely benefits and support for veteran care givers. our missions heros should expect nothing less, nothingless, fr l all of us. we will stand beside you as fellow legion family members reminding elected representatives in congress that the collective voting power of the world's largest veterans organization and the world's large a largest organization are a powerful voice both here in washington d.c. or at home in his or her district offices. we will continue to encourage our member to sign up for the action alerts and we will make
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frequent visits to the legion's online legislative center. we pledge to continue to work hand in hand with our american legion and sons of the american legion to advocate for public policies and funding that improves the well being quality and quality of life for our troops, our veterans and their families. thank you for to opportunity to add dres all of the veterans. thank you for your service both in and out of uniform. [ applause ]
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thank you very much. they have dedicated themselves to their families. this is one reason the sons of the american legions was created in 1932. it is made up of boys and men of all ages wlhose parents or grandparents are eligible for membership. our next is eligible through his father and step father. she a member of squadron 27 in arizona. please welcome the national commander, jeff frame.
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>> good morning. welcome to washington d.c. thank you for your service. without you we wouldn't be here. this is not like a normal conference where you go in there and talk about the programs of the sons and american legion. if they were here to discuss the issues about our veterans. going up on the hill and seeing congress and the senate we are here to discuss the difference of why the sons are here.
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in 19312 it was a prachlt since then we have been standing side by side. we come here today to stand side by side to make sure they are taken care of. one of the things, when i was trying to write this speech. i usually speak off of the cuff. i kept referring back to carrying the legacy forward. as i said, 1932 the sons of american legion was create today carry down all of the principals which the american legion stands. will all of the members please stand up. i can't see you. [ applause ]
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please stay standing. this is the exercise program, up and down, up and down. commander schmidt, in front of you is sao. they come here mostly on their own expense to stand there and help. we don't toot our own horns as sons. today i want to showcase the them to you. we come here on our own expense. we do it because we have a passion. our passion is our veterans. so the ones standing are here for the ones who are sitting, the veterans. so commander and legion family, i say to you, you created the sons of the american legion to
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carry on the legacy of the american legion and all of the great principals which the american legion stands. i'm here as national commander to say, we, sir, will stand beside you through the halls of congress. we will stand and fight with you to make sure our veterans are taken care of and we will carry on all of the principals which the american leon stands in helping our veterans. thank you commander, and thank you everybody. [ applause ] >> thank you for your leadership
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of the sons and carrying forward to legacy. at this time we'll be receiving commission chairman reports. the next is veterans rehabilitation chairman ralph of colorado. are you here? [ applause ] good morning everybody. my job is to very briefly brief you on five point that is are of particular interest. we learned one thing for sure. if we are not legislating we are advocating. it is important to make these points happen for the veterans in our country today. to first one is unified va
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programs. we heard from our speakers this morning about the importance and he talked about the different va outsourcing programs. what we are concerned about is three things happen when va coordinates all of the programs to send veterans in for community care. we want to be sure that the care is provided in a timely manner. on your way in american legions staff handed you this card where there's a hash tag thing on
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there. just say this is so important to us and it is. you know the existing appeals process was developed in 1933 and it's no wonder it doesn't work. we need to have this modernize in our staff. american legion staff has worked with white house staff to simplify and make it a much more fair process. va need to make sure health care is absolutely gender specific. this one is to reclassify
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cannabis for medical research. we are supporting research. one thing that we have always done in the american legion is to find out is any treatment good for veterans or not good for veterans. the only way we can know if the cannabis research is for congress to reclassify cannabis from a schedule one drug so people who conduct the research have proper facilities and funding to do so. the last thing is the caregiver act. right now the caregiver act provides funding for care
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givers. as you go about your business today and every day let's remember those on the battlefields right now, those men and women defending our freedom. everything we do effects their lives in the future. thank you very much. [ applause ] our next guest is a former schoolteacher. he also served and provides quality health care for veterans regardless of where they live. he also understands the challenge of running a small business having done so at a custom butcher shop. in fact he still butchers his own meat and hauls it from washington d.c. in a carry on suitcase. what can you say?
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welcome to ranking member senator john tester of montana [ applause ] >> thank you very much. it is true. i do pack my own beef from washington d.c. i like mine. i snow where know where it come. i want to knowledge some montana legioneers for making the jump for montana. i saw them a little bit earlier. they are in the back of the room. it is good to see you, folks.
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i'm glad he took to time to visit with you this morning. he has an enormous task ahead of him an open dialogue is as important as we share the same goal of honoring our nations veterans. since it was chartered back in 1919 your grass roots efforts have helped veterans and families in montana and across this country in my opinion it
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would be disasterous for veterans seeking care. veterans have told me once they get in the door they love the care. the problem has been getting in the door. as ranging member of the veterans affairs committee you can be assured that i will remain committed to improving access to timely and quality care and benefits for you and your families. [ applause ]
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together i think we can knowledge they have made a great deal of progress we can also knowledge the va is confronted with shortfalls and unacceptable number of appeals and a program that failed to meet the needs of our veterans. it is to cut the red tape so that veterans are connected to care more quickly and community providers reimbursed in a more timely manner. we need to untangle community programs and stream like across montana is no exception.
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congress must reform the choice program before i agree to extend it. on my farm if something is broken you fix it. it's that simple. while we are reforming community care we need to make sure it has the long-term needs of our veterans. i'm calling on congress to prove the 24 pending leases for medical facilities including one in montana. we cannot serve veterans if we do not have the infrastructure. they won't do any good without appropriate staff to operate them. all federal employees should be held accountable for their
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conduct. no question that the va should deal with those not delivering when they enlist. in those cases folks need to be shown the door. it is simply not a choice i'm currently working on legislation that would allow the va to better compete with private sector to serve as medical center directors. in recent years we have seen a vacancy as high as 30% in those positions. if we want real reform and strong va leadership this needs to change. we must also ensure that the va's addressing the needs of all eligible veterans regardless of where they live or who they are. women veterans are the fastest
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growing veteran population and they continue to encounter unique barriers. i'm talking about things as base you can as privacy in the examination rooms and access to primary care providers. women veterans have an unemployment rate higher than their male peers and they are 3 to 4 times more likely to experience homelessness than nonveteran women. we know that women veterans are resi resilie resilient. with the sporlt they deserve they have higher household incomes and less likely to live in poverty than women who have never served. they must address the needs of women veterans and connect them with benefits they have earned. i authored landmark legislation that will expand peer to peer is they will not fall through the cracks and transition and will
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get connected with the va. the bill includes a creation of text messaging service to womens veterans call center and to legal services for women to atd address needs like child support issues, restoring drivers license and eviction and foreclosure. additionally the bill provides all facility directors the ability to provide child care for veterans. my legislation will require the va to eliminate by ensuring it has medical personnel to better meet the health care needs of women veterans. in addressing issues that impalimpact privacy like locks on exam room doors. i'm rolling out this legislation to get your feed back so we can work together to ensure it works for your members and all of america's veterans. [ applause ]
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so please review the bill and get back to me. it is no secret that it is archaic and in desperate need of reform. over 450,000 veterans are waiting in limbo. at least 80,000 have been in line for five years. last year bipartisan group of legislators introduced a bill you supported by establishing three lanes of appeal. it means a veteran doesn't have to start over and a veteran can
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go straight to adjudication. i also have the act that makes it easier for service members and veterans to get the most out after their educational benefits this legislation will ensure colleges and universities are better able to create vet centers on their campuses. tomorrow it will be in the house veterans afefairs committees. i look forward to hearing from you to ensure veterans and families are provided with benefits they have earned. moving forward i have a request
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for each of you, hoeltd me and my congressional colleagues accountable. be vocal, be relentless. words have meaning but they are hallow if they are not followed up by action. it is a priority of mine but it's a two-way street. i don't know about you but i'm sick and tired of congress shaking its fist at the va without giving them resources that they need. [ applause ] i want to notwithstandithank yo service and everything you do on behalf of our vetteerans and ou country.
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thank you. god bless you. god bless america. [ applause ] >> thanks, senator for the work you do on behalf of america's veterans. we look forward to working with you and your staff and the congressional legislators to move veterans to the forefront of the 115th congress. i would like to call paul dillard to the podium. >> thank you. good morning. it's good to be here. i want to cover about five bullet points and just highlight a couple of -- a few little areas so when you go to the hill.
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defend veterans education benefits. as the creator of the original gi bill the american legion continues to focus on the sustainable of this benefit while ensuring veterans receive the most benefit possible. the next bullet point is to ensure that those returning from active duty retain their employment rights. in 1994 the uniformed service employment and reemployment rights act protects the rights of servicemen to be reemployed after returning from active duty including reserves and national guard members. the american legion wants to prohibit employers from pressuring veterans into waiving their veterans employment rights under this protection. support veterans owned small
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business. businesses owned by disabled veterans are require today receive 3% of federal contracts. the american legion supports efforts to ensure the u.s. government meets these thresholds. the continue funding programs to end programs, to fully implement the va's pledge for veterans homeless congress must continue making responsible investments in affordable housing programs such as supportive service of veterans families that moves veterans and their families off these streets and into stable housing. also we have to kree ya american legion coin. it will celebrate centennial in 2018/2019 and american legion
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centennial coin and authorization is needed and your support is requested. it takes two-thirds for peoplec the senate. these proceeds from this coin will go towards our four pillars. and so the sales would start january of 169 and end the december 19. we need your help there, thank you, mr. chairman. [ applause ] >> thank you, chairman dillard. up next is national security chairman mike flee from maryland. >> thank you, chairman oxfordpy pleasure to be with you today. in your trifold the number one as it should be is national defense. i want do a few bullet points
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which are awfully before you go to the hill. if the leaks in washington are correct, the president tonight will announce an increase about a 10% increase in the defense budget. that's a first step. the important thing to remember is number one we need an increase, number two sustainedability. second area quality of life for the troops as we approach nearly a 20-year mark on this current face of the war on terrorism, our troops have been in combat for nearly 20 years. as a vietnam guy, when i think in terms of three, four, and five combat tours, done by our men and women in uniform including our guard and reserve forces, it just blows my mind. taking care of the troops is an awfully important issue. another issue while it's a small dot in the dod budget line, provide full funding for the fullest possible accounting of our p.o.w. and m.i.a.s. dpaa is currently running a 10
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or $15 million shortfall. we need to fully fund that issue. additionally, in addition to the increase in defense spending, the sustained increases in defense spending we need a viable u.s. foreign policy which protects interests worldwide. the preamble of the constitution directs that our elected officials do six things. one of them is to provide for the common defense. when you go to the hill, demand that they do their job. thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you, chairman flee. commander schmidt, would you introduce our next guest? >> i will. >> our next guest is the chairman of world war i centennial commission. he is a retired army colonel and will be wearing in a brand-new
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member of the esteemed commission. please welcome chairman robert del as san dro and john monahan. >> so nice to be here. well, so nice to be here and nice to see a room full of legionnaires. i'm embarrassed to say that i'm not wearing my legionnaires hat. but am a good legionnaire myself. [ applause ] >> thank you. it's always risky to put historian on the podium but i'll make this quick. we are commemorating and remembering the hundredth anniversary of world war i, our country entered the war in april of 1917, and i would argue that in addition to the roos that we have in the american region this that war, that that war changed america dramatically and forever.
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in every way. ing in race relations, in gender relations, and in the way that america looked at the world. it opened an american century and setup the greatest generation, our achievements since and america as foremost in the world. as such, we are charged with educating americans on the importance of world war i. and we do that in partnership with the american legion. so this morning is very important to us because our new american legion commissioner, jack monahan, is going to be sworn in. so without further ado, jack, if you would come forward. please race your right hand. i, state your name. >> i john monahan. >> do solemnly swear that i will
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support and defend the constitution of the united states. >> the constitution of the united states. >> against all enemies. >> against all enemies foreign and domestic, that i will bear truth faith and allegiance to the staple that i take this obligation freely. >> that i take this obligation freely. >> without any mental reservation. >> without any mental reservation. >> for purpose of evasion and that i will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office. >> discharge the duties of the office. >> of which i am about to enter. >> so help me god. >> so help me god. >> congratulations. welcome aboard. >> thank you so much. [ applause ] be. >> good morning. comrades and friends, i thank chairman del as san dro for being with us today and i also thank national commander 134id for entrusting me with this
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responsibility. most importantly, i thank my wife diane for her support and her encouragement. the cataclysm of the first world war literally changed everything. empires fell. the social and moral fabric of europe was torn asunder. war was systemized and mechanized which resulted in death and destruction on an unprecedented scale. america entered the world stage in its first real way from world war i. it made a decisive contribution to the outcome of the war. and the great war there be became the hinge upon which literally the entirety of the 20th century turns. no real understanding of the 20th century can be had without an understanding of the war, the great war and its impacts. this century in fact, would
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become known as the american century. the mission of the world war i centennial commission is to foster education opt conflict to commemorate its important industries, and it honor the contribution of all who served. the work of the commission in raising public awareness of the great war and its effect on our nation is not only worthy in and of itself, but it is also of importance to the american legion because the war forms the context of our own founding. the spirit of the doug boy, courage, character, his values and ideals, this was the spirit tempered in the crucible of combat which formed the values of the american legion. as expressed so eloquently by the founders in the preamble to the constitution. it is my hope that our own centennial will be not only a celebration of our own many achievements, but also a
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commemoration of our ideals and our values and it will offer us i think the opportunity to rededicate ourselves to those values to uphold them as an organization and as individual legionnaires. i pledge to you that i will do my best to achieve this object and i hope and ask that you will join with me. thank you. [ applause ] >> congratulations, commissioner. we're very happy and proud and excited to swhave you in this position. at this point i'd like to call on our legislative staff to share with us the important information we need before we go to capitol hill. matthew shuman.
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. >> morning. >> morning, everybody. right. we are very eager and excited to be here in morning and to give you a run-through of the legislative priorities. first i need to take a roll for the legislative commission. if you would assist me here. i'll tend to in this extremely quickly and i'm going to have to ask you to be extremely loud. and if i mess up your name, i may have done it on purpose. scott cline. dolores harden. >> here. >> george cringebaum. >> here. >> steven gray. a.d. kinzcy. jeff williams. mr. george curbing. >> here. >> mr. nielsen dean with the
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great state of arizona. kenneth king. s. larry bayhaul. >> here. >> wesley sherman. joann evans. michael bremer. >> here. >> norman clinen don. peter duncan. >> here. >> robert behindish. >> here. >> nelson lumm. >> here. >> harley santos junior. j. michaelates. >> here. >> raymond graven. >> here. >> thomas bach. jerard dearman. >> here. >> k. robert lewis. >> here. >> mr. arthur swabe. clarence hill. >> here. >> jerard clark. susan mason. >> here. >> raymond olson.
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george wirehe'll. mr. dewey moss of georgia. >> here. >> roger i think itler. >> here. >> william linehop. >> here. >> bernard lee. >> here. >> francis riddle. >> here. >> marvin siegfried. >> here. >> dwight dink la. >> here. >> jerry seben. >> here. >> thomas mattis. >> here. >> henry row barreds. >> here. >> robert wesley. w. darrell henceal. >> here. >> frederick langley. paul steward. robert newman. >> here. >> david warnkin. >> yo. >> noel silas.
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>> here. >> james terrell. >> here. >> charles aucoin. >> here. >> james johnson. >> here. >> thomas mccormack. >> here. >> anthony heath. mark avis. >> here. >> william chisholm. paul morin. >> here. >> william trotter. >> here, sir. >> good morning. >> frank porter. >> here. >> jerryd crockett. peter johnson. ronald runyan. william goadee. >> here. >> richard high gart. >> here. >> blair morin. >> here. >> dick sanford. >> here. >> bobby cook. robert gosa. almost done.
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robert ent. the honorable james oxford from north carolina. >> here snore eugene cochina. >> here. >> douglas bolt. >> here. >> william crosshair. freddy tisdale. john grahame. >> here. >> robert dione. >> here. >> steven shirtlef. clifford griffiths. john chicello. >> here. >> mr. joseph gugliza. joseph businessbing. david evans. david stevens. >> here. >> conrad flickers child. >> here. >> frank fozio. patrick warrick. darrell bishop. >> here. >> ronald chapman.
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>> here. >> robert stegman. greg james. >> here. >> john blocksom. >> here. >> donald kuntz. >> here. >> michael tailer. >> here. >> jim willis. >> here snore bryce northstein. john tomaski. william weaver. >> here. >> james holland. >> here. >> carlton patterson. >> here. >> dennis brendan. >> here. >> gary drennen. we have made it to the last page. john keys. robert hinsly. >> here. >> don mathis. john mckinney. >> here. >> richard britten.
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>> here. >> thomas bow. walter. >> here. >> thank you. [ laughter ] >> edward quousler. john morris. david sherman. donald sherman. okay. c.w. sparks. >> here. >> randy edwards. terry scho. milton willis junior. >> here. >> you all should talk. mr. brett ricestad. >> here. >> lyndon dixon. >> here. >> george lucier. >> here. >> richard 0 oo rtell. >> here. >> michael bund kerront. >> here.
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>> william schrier. william paul. william bob wallace. george sinkwitz. >> herer. >> russell handsetter. miss denise rohan. james schmidt. keith davidson. thank you for managing through that. i certainly appreciate it. we'll get started with the legislative briefing. if you have questions, we'll be happy to answer them towards the ends. in-depth questions of that nature, as well. there's been a lot of activity particularly with the new session of congress with the new white house. we are eager and excited as you've already heard from chairman phil rowe and ranking february tester, there's a lot going on. we're eager to get involved and be there and the american legion, i can't tell you the number of e-mails and phone
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calls we've received in the last few weeks about getting involved with legislation and moving forward. so i want to preface this entire thing our power truly comes from you. we need to you be involved. call your members of congress. call your senators and tell them to do the right hinge on behalf of veterans. . we will begin now. this is the legislative agenda hopefully you have received it. if you have not received, please get one on your way out. leave them with your members of congress. it includes resolutions attached. in addition it has staff information on the back if the congressional staff have more questions. they conveniently fit in your pocket. all right. we would like to fully fund the national defense, extremely simple. president-elect trump now president trump has committed to keeping or increasing the troop size. it's absolutely important to do that. there is a statement yesterday they plan on giving $54 billion
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increase to the department of defense which is wonderful. however, if you increase the department of defense, you also need to increase the va funding. we hope to see that coming, as well. with increasing troop size, we need to make sure that they do the same thing for equipment. it doesn't necessarily need to increase the number of equipment they have but also modernizing that equipment. the president's budget recommendations will be put out soon. we are encouraging congress as we are beginning to see blueprints of that to pass this legislation of course, it already has a lot of money for dod increase. and this i will pass it off to warren goldstein, our assistant director. >> thanks. >> good morning, commander. good morning, everyone. the future of va health care as everybody 2340es and heard this
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morning that the choice program expires in august. community care is now a basic expectation. continued focus is needed to ensure va can meet the challengesing in delivering high quality timely benefits in health care to those hose have served. the care and community options now a basic expectation for veterans receiving health care in the va health care system. over the last two years, care in the community has grown from 21% to 31% today. wlaf could the american legion do? call on congress to pass legislation that will provide va the authority tort consolidate its multiple care in the community programs. another hot topic that you heard from the secretary this morning as well as congressman rowe and senator tester, modernization. the current system is broken. the house passed the bill last year but stalled in congress.
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the we cannot as the american legion sip the status quo. appeals legislation passed the house of representatives late 2016 only to fail in the senate. this year appeals modernization should be must pass legislation va needs in order to put veterans first. what can the american legion do? the american legion supports the following veterans appeals modernization legislative proposals currently under consideration by congress. the modernization act of 2017 sponsored by deda titus. women veterans. i believe senator tester was talking about that this morning. women veterans are the fastest growing demographic serving in the u.s. military, since 2000, women veterans receiving va health care has doubled from
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159,000 to over 337,000 and that number continues to grow. barriers for care. many women veteran dozen not identify themselves as being veterans. many women veterans do not know or understand what benefits they are entitled to receive. many vamcs do not have the zwud residence mental health care programs. not very many have child care services and not all have designated clinics for women top receive gender specific health care. what can the american legion do? call on congress toes pass legislation that would put into place child care services at all vamcs across the health care system. as as well as call on congress to pass legislation that require all vmcs to find a health care clinic for women to receive gender specific health care.
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medical can business research. ptsd, tbi committee. in 2010, the american legion established a tbi and ptsd complete for the purpose of investigating the existing medical science and procedures as well as researching alternative methods for treating veterans suffering from tpi and ptsd. recent studies have shown that medical marijuana is a viable option for treating pain, inflammation, autoimmune diseases as well as other illnesses. the american legion believes additional research is needed to determine if there are medical benefits from using medical marijuana as an appropriate treatment for veterans through resolution 11, medical marijuana research, the american legion supports increased research into cannabis as a treatment in therapy. what can the american legion do? call on congress to reclassify medical marijuana by removing it from schedule one and reclassifying it in a category
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at a preliminary that recognize can business as a drug with potential medical value as well as urge congress toes provide oversight and sundaying to the va for medicine in treating various illnesses and disabilities and to pass ledge tlags that would improve the pain management policies of dod and va. expand caregivers. there are 5.5 million caregivers caring for veterans bhou r not eligible for any assistance from the va. they suffer from higher rates of depression and health care than others. different levels of va benefits based on dates and location of service rather than their honorable service. through resolution 146 veterans receive same level of benefits, the mirren legion supports va expanded caregiver benefits to all eligible enrolled veterans regardless when they served.
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benefits should not be limited to only post 9/11 veterans. what can the american legion do? call on congress to pass legislation that would authorize va to provide caregiver benefit dozen all eligible veterans regardless of the dates of theaters of operation during their military service as well as call on congress to review current legislation and public laws to ensure all veterans receive, excuse me all benefits are provide equitably and consistently for all veterans. end of service physical examinations. for guard and reservists. active duty service members must undergo a separate physical examination. however this same right to an end of service physical examination is not mandated for reserve component service members. the same right needs to be given to them when they return to civilian life. for the purpose of assessing their health conditions and to determine if any existing medical conditions arose during
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their time in service. no end of service physical documentation can increase the claims backlog. through resolution 95, support for military quality of life, the american legion urges congress and dod to require the services before mandatory physical examinations without waivers for all separating retired service members within 90 days of separation from service. what can the legion do in the mirren legion can call on congress to reintroduce legislation that was introduced in the 114th congress entitled "the guard and reserve equal access to health act." repeal unfair offsets. known as the disabled veterans and widows tax. this practice bars certain retired veterans from receiving both their full military pay and full service connected disability compensation pay. currently veteran who are rate the 50% and above receive both
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their military retirement pay as well as their va disability compensation without any offsets. however, veterans who are rated 40% and below have to offset the military retirement pay by the amount of their va disability compensation dollar for dollar. military retirees are the only federal employees who must offset the retirement pay with their va disability compensation. as well as under federal law if the surviving spouse of a military retiree is eligible to receive the monthly survivor benefit program, also known as sbp, the annuity payment and is also awarded a monthly dependency and indem nit compensation known as dic benefit from the department of veterans affairs the annuity is the offseted dollar to dollar by the amount of -- of the amount of dic received. this offset is commonly referred to as military widow's tax.
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through resolution 85, the support for military call of life. we urge congress to repeal these offsets. what can the american legion do? call on congress to pass hr-303. introduced by congress because bill rack cas from florida as well as s-66 sponsored by the senator dehiller of nevada. as well as s-339 sponsored by senator ben nelson of florida entitled "the military widows elimination act of 2017." >> thank you, warren. we appreciate that information. it's extremely important information from cannabis research, the key word being research there, that's critical. we just want to find out if it can help to caregivers and make sure that every veteran is
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treated the same and fairly. continuing on with health care, access is critical. we need to make sure veterans across this nation have access to health care. widows tax, all very important quality of life measures for veterans. thank you very much for that information. shifting now to education benefits. rather a simple, the american legion being the original author of the gi bill and being extremely involved and critical in the process for the post 9/11 job bill wants to make sure that veterans have access to their gi bill and also the ability to use the funds to help start a business, purchase a business or expand a business. veterans are so much more likely to create a business that lasts longer than just about than their civilian counterparts. that's critical. right now, in the recent past we have seen a lot of skol closures from itt tech and corinthian. problem is when had he close,
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the gi bill students do not have the same protections as the civilian counterparts do. when a school closes and a civilian student has taken out loans or things that have nature, the department of education discharges those loans. says you no longer owe this money. problem with that is the gi bill students do not. their gi bill benefits have been used up. that's something we are working to replenish those benefits working on the time line if it should be for the entire period they were at school or things of that nature. please talk about the replenishment of gi bill benefits. that's critical. in addition, some issues in the recent history is, this is complicated, 12304b deployment offereds. there are national guard and reserve units being deployed overseas is to other supporting units, egypt, the way their orders are being written is a cost saving measure to prevent them from using the gi bill
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which is appalling. i'm sure you agree with this. we are working with members of congress to prevent them from doing that. that is wrong. we need to make sure our veterans and service members receive the gi bill as promised when they join the military. u sarah. sort of the trends we've seen are our companies implementing and who their employment contracts when you get hired is a clause we move your rights. when you as a national guard or reservist get deployed, you have the ability by federal law to keep that job for five years. in addition, if you are to receive a bonus or pay raise during that time, that should happen when you're deployed. when you come home, your job is still there. unfortunately some of these companies have put into the employment contracts waiving that right. we want to work to prevent that from happening. even if a veteran or service member does sign that contract not knowing what it says, it would not be legal and would not
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stand. there was a recent case where the navy reservist deploying a captain the day before he was leaving, they had a party for him, a cake, everything. it was beautiful. very kind. after that, they came to him with this pink slip and said hey, you're off. so that was just wrong. we need to make sure we prevent things like that happening. we need to make sure we are people who are protecting our freedom. i'm sure you will agree. moving forward, supporting veterans in business. with the access to capital. there's legislation being introduced that was introduced in the last session and continue to be introduced hopefully in this sessionings with senator moran which will start a pilot program for the access to capital through the gi bill. they'll use 250 veterans to try the program, make sure it works in modern times. let's try it because veterans as i said earlier do, a better job at owning businesses for the long run. for the more, they hire veterans. it just makes sense.
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veteran homelessness. secretary shulkin spoking about this earlier. 2015, then secretary shinseki attempted to eradicate this. this was a very great and lofty goal. he put a large dent into it but there are still hopeless veterans. i don't think the american legion lj rest till it's a term of the past. there's a possibility to permanently fund the support service for veterans families, a program at the va that is sort of in layman's terms in a very simple way, sort of the hub of the spoke. all these different organizations and services use it. there have been times when their funding has been as high $600 million. average is around $300 million. it has to be renewed annually. if the va truly wants to make sure that homeless veterans is a term of the past, they need to permanently fund this program so the people working there are not in fear of losing their jobs and
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prevent had from being an issue. in addition, it's not just about getting a veteran an apartment. we can get him an apartment. it's about helping them have job benefits do, resumes, helping them find out how to dress and things of this nature. supportive services need to be there for the veteran, as well. happy birthday. i'm sure most of you know we are turning 120 in 2019 proudly working with members of congress. i'm not going to tell you who, represent tim walls will be introducing a bill hopefully next week. you can tell him i said that that will recognize and make the mint produce a coin for the commemorative for the centennial of the american legion. the hard part it's not just a normal bill. it goes through the process in the whole floor of the house and senate. we have to have two-thirds
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cosponsorship. we have to found pavement and get members of congress to commit to it and then vote on it later. that's going to be a lot of fun. the legislative team section sites and we'll be up on capitol hill and knocking. we've been received well. many members of congress we've begun discussing this, i wouldn't even finish the ask and they're like we'll do it. we've already engaged the mint, they want this to happen. several other members of congress. i had one member of congress who is wanted to introduce a coin bill. i said how about you wait a year. i told him why. there's support on capitol hill for this. just mention it to them, tell them it will be coming up soon and we would love for them to cosponsor this bill. i don't want to cry. but this flag is something that's special. i think it touches most of our hearts. we need to pass an amendment to protecting this. we need to return to congress is
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the ability to protect it. congress mack of arkansas has introduced a hr61 we are working right now with a senator to do the same in the senate. we want this em to cosponsor this bill and support this flag. that's that. it's critical. it means a lot to all of us. while you're up on capitol hill, speak with your members of congress and tell them this is absolutely critical to the foundation of this country. and lastly social media is a thing. when you're on capitol hill, if you take pictures and tweet them or put them on facebook, use the #pass a pills mod now to allow us to see all those photos watch what you're doing so we can share these with members of congress. this is a wonderful way. it's froor for to us do it. it gets our message out. it's absolutely good stuff.
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so with that, i will bid you adieu. i thank you very much. if you have any questions, the legislative staff is standing by always ready to talk to you here, answer your phone calls and e-mails. like i said on the back of the drop sheet is our contact information. thank you very much. and god bless you. [ applause ] >> matthew, congratulations and thank you and your staff warren, and jeff and wendy and the legislative staff for providing us with this great information. to give to us carry to capitol hill. i do and i this i we are all better equipped because of the information you've given us. commander, i'd like to call upon you at this time for your closing charge. >> thank you. snore ladies and gentlemen, let's give another round of applause for the great speakers that we heard today.
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[ applause ] >> if you don't feel inspired now, have somebody collect your pulse. >> now for the next order of business, really the purpose of why we had these presentations this morning, i want you to walk the halls of congress, see your two 12340rz, visit your representative. if they are not available speak with their staff. tell them about some of the issues you heard discussed today. bring them the legislative priorities of the american legion. leave the drop sheet behind for them to use throughout the year. please keep your conversations can professional, courteous and nonpartisan. you may not agree with the views expressed by your members of congress. but you are there as a representative of our organization. we are all about policies, not personalities. be sure you thank them for the work they have done on issues that are important to us.
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and try to some gentle and polite persuasion when discussing issues which they don't agree with us. remember as you walk the capitol hill that you are building on the legacies of those who walked those halls before us and are you starting a new legacy that we are building for future veterans. so carry that legacy forward. thank you for all you do day in and day out. month after month and year after year. god bless you and may god bless our country, the united states of america. >> sunday, in-depth features a live conversation with pulitzer prize-winning author and columnist dave barry. during our discussion from books and books book story in coral gables, florida, we'll take your calls, tweets, e-mails and facebook questions on mr. barry's literal career.
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>> i moved to miami in 198 6 and have been therein ever since. it's really a good place if you want to be a humor writer. it's an excellent place to go. anyway. >> dave barry has published over 30 books including dave barry slept here, dave barry's greatest hits and recently released best state ever, a florida man defends his homeland. watch in-depth live sunday from noon to 3:00 p.m. eastern on book tv on c-span2. >> c-span where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> in 2010, a u.s. border patrol agent shot and killed a 15-year-old sergio hernandez on


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