by Roy Kekahuna
On Veterans Day, Tom Miller, my wife Laurel, and I were invited for breakfast at the White House with President Obama and the First Lady. We were, of course, joined by all of the other VSO National Commanders and Presidents. It was an enjoyable occasion.
Following breakfast, it was my privilege and honor to represent the Blinded Veterans Association and all blinded veterans in placing our organization’s wreath at The Tomb of the Unknowns. The logistics of an event of this magnitude totally boggles the mind!
Although the Washington, DC, Veterans Day weather left much to be desired, it was heartening and rewarding to be part of such a magnificent ceremony.
I reiterate the thoughts and sentiments of our Director of Government Relations in expressing gratitude for the passage of the Advance Funding legislation that will go down in history as something more than monumental. Tom’s work, supported over the years by the BVA Legislative Committee consisting of several members of our Board of Directors, contributed to the effective VSO coalition that eventually made P.L. 111-81 a reality.
With Congress now funding VA health care one year ahead of schedule, we can be confident that adequate and timely funding will now occur. We can be certain that late budgets are now a thing of the past.
I, for one, am pleased that this new law was approved by the House and Senate and signed by President Obama on a date so close to November 11. The 111th Congress and the Executive Branch have supported hundreds of thousands of brave men and women with a budget worthy of their service and sacrifice.
Tom has mentioned in his Legislative Alerts and Updates that several supplemental bills, part of the spring national stimulus package to create new jobs, added a $1.4 billion increase for veterans in FY 2009. The House successfully passed an appropriations bill that would add $14.5 billion to the budget. This is all good news to me, as I hope it is to all of you. With respect to VA health care, we all have brighter days to look forward to.
On a final note, Laurel and I wish all of you a joyous holiday season. I hope your Thanksgiving was a most pleasant one. We wish all the best for our BVA friends as we approach Christmas, Hanukkah, and the New Year.