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Educating political leaders--a challenge and responsibility.

Change has come to our nation's capitol. The leadership in both the House and Senate of the 110th Congress has changed. It is now our challenge and responsibility to educate the new leadership about the needs of disabled veterans and their families and to affirm our life-long commitment to support our veterans and their dependants.

I urge you to contact your Representatives and Senators and introduce yourself. Make an appointment to visit your local district office and let them know you are the one they should be calling with questions regarding disabled veterans and their families. Invite the legislative aide for veterans' issues to your meeting for an informal discussion and let them know your story and how your family is affected. Sharing a story can paint a better picture for someone who has no understanding or relation to the issue. Be sure to treat them with respect when they visit. How they see us is how they see the Auxiliary.

Members of the legislature and their aides are often not aware of our concerns until we voice them. It's up to us to keep them informed and let them know our point of view on issues. If we present a well informed view point and unified expectations, we have a better chance of a favorable response. Introduce your legislators to the DAV Web site for current information and an opportunity to better understand the DAV and Auxiliary mission.

My Representative sends me updates regularly on his views on many issues keeping me well informed and welcomes a response. Be sure to request to be added to the mailing lists of your legislators. It's a good way to stay current on what they are doing--and what they may not be doing.

You should also take advantage of all that's available on the DAV Web site. Through the Web site, you can sign up to receive e-mails when swift action is needed to contact elected officials; review DAV legislative talking points to stay informed on current topics; and use prepared letters on the site to electronically notify your legislators, quickly and easily.

Another way to become active in legislation is through DAV Commander's Action Network, available for those who may not have computer access. Information regarding legislative issues is sent to you via mail. If you choose to make a contact via postal mail, it is recommended the letters be sent to the local district office to prevent screening delays at the Capitol. Of course, currently, e-mail is the communication of choice.

The DAV Auxiliary has always been ready for legislative action. We can't be beat when it comes to writing and contacting our legislators and keeping them informed. As the DAV meets with their members of Congress during the upcoming Mid-Winter Conference, I want to encourage Auxiliary members to meet with legislative representatives at local District Offices the last week in February in an effort to make our concerns known thoroughly.

While recent elections have changed the balance of power in Washington D.C., the need to build better lives for all of our nation's disabled veterans and their families remains a priority, especially with the growing number of veterans disabled in Iraq and Afghanistan and on other fronts in the war on terrorism. It is our responsibility to keep the grassroots legislative efforts active and aggressive. This is our opportunity to educate the new members of Congress and remind those remaining in office that membership in the DAV comes at a price and all family members are affected.

If we remain focused, vigilant and active in our legislative efforts, we can also effect change--a change for the better in Washington and throughout our great nation.
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Copyright 2007, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Tanner, Donna M.
Publication:DAV Magazine
Date:Jan 1, 2007
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Next Article:2007 national service office directory.

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