Ocean County American Legion
Courtesy of Past County Commander Bill Palme
Ocean County American Legion
PRESIDENT SIGNS HISTORIC PACT ACT INTO LAW
The President ushered in sweeping changes for millions of veterans exposed to toxic fumes by signing the PACT Act in a ceremony at the White House on Aug. 10.
The bipartisan legislation — Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 — is named in honor of an Army National Guard veteran. After deploying to Kosovo and Iraq as a combat medic with the Ohio National Guard, Robinson was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder and stage 4 lung cancer. He died in May 2020. His widow, Danielle, and their young daughter, Brielle, stood next to the president when he signed the bill into law.
The legislation was spearheaded by Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) and championed by The American Legion. The legislation will impact generations of veterans by expanding Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits and care for veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances. The PACT Act is the most significant expansion of VA health-care benefits and services in more than 30 years and could impact as many as five million veterans.
BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION COULD HELP AFGHAN EVACUEES IN LEGAL LIMBOIn the year since the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan, the United States has welcomed more than 76,000 Afghan evacuees into the country. They include human rights and political activists, women who served in the government and armed forces, those who served alongside American troops and others deemed to be at immediate risk.
The evacuation was the largest effort since the Vietnam War. While many evacuees reached safety inside the United States, tens of thousands of U.S. allies remained. Their service alongside American forces made them — along with their families — targets for retribution as the government crumbled and the country fell back under Taliban control.
Days before the first anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, legislation was introduced in both chambers of Congress that could provide those 76,000 Afghan evacuees in the U.S. with a pathway to permanent residency. Many are eligible for asylum or special immigrant visas (SIV) due to the critical assistance they provided to the U.S. during 20 years of war in Afghanistan.
Despite being eligible for these programs, their futures remain uncertain. Both the SIV and asylum processes are faced with steep backlogs.
The American Legion-supported Afghan Adjustment Act of 2022 would:
- Establish a pathway to permanent legal status for Afghans brought to the United States on a temporary humanitarian status by allowing additional vetting to apply for permanent legal residency. This includes those who supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan over the past two decades.
- Expand the SIV program to include four previously omitted groups, including the Female Tactical Teams of Afghanistan, the Afghan National Army Special Operations Command, the Afghan Air Force and the Special Mission Wing of Afghanistan.
- Establish a task force to develop and implement a strategy for supporting Afghans outside of the United States who are eligible for SIV status and require the Department of State to respond to congressional inquiries about SIV applications.
Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) served three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as a U.S. Army paratrooper and Army Ranger. He says the bill is vital to securing the futures of these evacuees in the U.S.
“In Iraq and Afghanistan, I worked closely with local translators and contractors who were critical to our safety and the success of our mission,” Crow said. “For over a year, I’ve been proud to lead efforts to honor our promises and protect Afghan partners who aided the US mission and other at-risk Afghans. The Afghan Adjustment Act is an important next step to get vulnerable Afghan families to safety and ensure they can lead productive lives here in the United States.”
“Giving our Afghan allies a chance to apply for permanent legal status is the right and necessary thing to do,” said Sen. Klobuchar (D-MN). “This bipartisan legislation will help provide these newly arrived Afghans who have sacrificed so much for our country with the legal certainty they deserve as they begin their lives in the U.S. It’s important to do what we can to help our Afghan friends find stability, opportunity and community in their new home.”
‘WOODY’ WILLIAMS LIED IN HONOR IN US CAPITOLSpeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the body of Medal of Honor recipient Herschel Woodrow “Woody” Williams will lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda. In making the announcement, Pelosi, (D-Calif.) and Schumer, (D-N.Y.) said the proceedings honoring Chief Warrant Officer 4 Williams would take place after consulting with his family and Congress returned from the July recess.
Williams, 98, was the last surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient. The Marine Corps veteran was awarded the nation’s highest award for his actions on Iwo Jima. He died Wednesday, June 29, surrounded by family, at the VA Medical Center in Huntington, W.Va. American Legion National Commander Paul E. Dillard called for The President to authorize a state funeral for Hershel “Woody” Williams, the last Medal of Honor recipient from World War II to pass away. Williams, a 72-year member of American Legion Post 177 in Barboursville, WV, died June 29 at age 98.
The House finished its work on the FY23 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) today. Lawmakers made it through all 650 amendments thanks to a late night session Wednesday, with final votes occurring on Thursday. The final bill, as amended, passed the full House on a 329-101 bipartisan vote. Many amendments of particular interest to The American Legion passed the House NDAA. This includes amendment 532, which was introduced by Reps. Harder (D-CA) and Fitzpatrick (R-PA). This amendment would expand eligibility for VA health care to include veterans of World War II who are not already covered. The amendment language comes from H.R. 5562: WWII Veterans Hospital and Medical Eligibility Act. This legislation was the direct result of Legion Resolution No. 3 (2017):
In addition, several amendments passed to either repeal outdated Authorizations for the Use of Military Force (AUMFs), place two-year sunsets on all future military authorizations, or express a Sense of Congress that AUMFs should include sunset provisions. These amendments are consistent with Legion Resolution No. 22 (2020): Addressing the "Forever War."
Amendment 187, which would authorize the President to award the Medal of Honor to E. Royce Williams for acts of valor beyond the call of duty during the Korean War, also passed the House NDAA. This amendment was supported by American Legion Resolution No. 70 (2017): Medal of Honor for E. Royce Williams
2021-2022 Bills 117th Congress
Active Bills Since Last Report
H.R.310 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) To posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods, J. Christopher Stevens, and Sean Smith, in recognition of their contributions to the Nation. Sponsor: Lynch, Stephen F. [Rep.-D-MA-8] (Introduced 01/13/2021) Cosponsors: (295) Committees: House - Financial Services | Senate - Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Latest Action: Senate - 07/27/2022 Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
H.R.2992 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) TBI and PTSD Law Enforcement Training Act Sponsor: Pascrell, Bill, Jr. [Rep.-D-NJ-9] (Introduced 05/04/2021) Cosponsors: (13) Committees: House - Judiciary; Energy and Commerce | Senate – Judiciary Committee Report: H. Rept. 117-336 Latest Action: 08/16/2022 Became Public Law No: 117-170.
S.3373 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) Honoring our PACT Act of 2022Sponsor: Kaine, Tim [Sen.-D-VA] (Introduced 12/09/2021) Cosponsors: (2) Committees: Senate - Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Latest Action: 08/10/2022 Became Public Law No: 117-168.
S.3606 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to eliminate the requirement to specify an effective period of transfer of Post-9/11 educational assistance to a dependent, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Tuberville, Tommy [Sen.-R-AL] (Introduced 02/09/2022) Cosponsors: (9) Committees: Senate - Veterans' Affairs Latest Action: House - 08/09/2022 Held at the desk.
S.4458 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) Ensuring the Best Schools for Veterans Act of 2022 Sponsor: Tester, Jon [Sen.-D-MT] (Introduced 06/23/2022) Cosponsors: (3) Committees: Senate - Veterans' Affairs Latest Action: House - 08/12/2022 Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.
For any Federal Bill Details go to: Library of Congress - https://www.congress.gov/search
AL Legislative Center: http://capwiz.com/legion/issues/bills/
2022-2023 Bills – 219th Legislative Session
Active Bills Since Last Report
A872/S3041 Broadens eligibility for certain civil service and pension benefits for veterans by eliminating requirement of service during specified dates or in specified locations. Latest Action: Assembly 6/9/2022 Reported and Referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee; Senate S3041 Introduced 8/8/22.
A1455/S1596 Permits County clerk or register of deeds and mortgages to issue identification card to Gold Star Family Member.
Latest Action: 6/29/2022 Passed Senate (Passed Both Houses) (40-0); 7/5/2022 Approved P.L.2022, c.59.
A4054/S3004 Establishes New Jersey Veterans' Organization Building Grant Program. Latest Action: Assembly: 5/19/2022 Introduced, Referred to Assembly Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee; Senate S3004 Introduced 8/8/22.
S2984 Creates State contract set-aside for businesses owned and operated by spouses of military service members. Latest Action: Introduced 8/8/22
S2998 Prohibits misrepresentation of federal tuition benefits to service members and veterans and establishes public awareness campaign on certain higher education benefits available to service members and veterans. Latest Action: Introduced 8/8/22
For Details of NJ Legislative bills go to https://legiscan.com/NJ