Department of Massachusetts
Communications #2 August 2018
VFW Elects Vincent ‘B.J.’ Lawrence as New National Commander
‘There’s an energy in this organization that’s just chomping at the bit to be released’
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Vincent “B.J.” Lawrence, of Alamogordo, N.M., was elected today as the new national commander of the 1.2 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, a congressionally-chartered veterans service organization comprised of eligible veterans and military service members from all five branches of the armed forces.
VFW membership eligibility requires honorable service in a war or expedition on foreign soil or in hostile waters. Lawrence served in the U.S. Army from 1983 to 1986 and earned his eligibility by serving in South Korea, where an armistice, or cease-fire agreement, has existed since July 27, 1953, and where war could erupt at a moment’s notice. He joined VFW Post 7686 in Alamogordo, N.M., in 2000, and immediately began moving the organization forward into the new millennium. He has proven to be a highly effective and dynamic leader, serving in a myriad of critical leadership positions, to include being elected commander at every level of the organization. His theme for the year and challenge to the $102 million nonprofit organization is to “Make It Happen.”
He said “everything the VFW wants costs money, but everything the VFW wants is for someone else.” Through donations and corporate partnerships, the organization has provided more than $10 million in financial grants to help almost 9,000 veteran and military families through tough times since 2004. It has awarded almost $5 million in educational grants since 2014 to help more than 1,100 veterans and military service members to complete their degrees, and its youth patriotic scholarship competition, which drew some 133,000 middle and high school entries this year, awarded $3 million to local, state and national winners. The VFW national organization also testified before Congress more than three dozen times this year to improve quality of life programs and healthcare for veterans, service members and their families, and VFW’s nationwide cadre of trained and accredited service officers helped more than 500,000 veterans to recoup $7.7 billion in disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2017.
Aiding VFW’s corporate relationships is its VFW Foundation, an IRS 501(c)(3) charity that earlier this month was awarded a coveted four-star rating by Charity Navigator, which sets the Foundation apart from its peers and demonstrates to the public its trustworthiness.
For all the organization already does for others every day, Lawrence now wants the 1.2 million-member VFW to “Make It Happen” even more in every community across the nation and world. “There’s an energy in this organization that’s just chomping at the bit to be released,” he said in his acceptance speech today at the Kansas City Convention Center. “It comes from a younger generation who wants to get their hands dirty out in their communities, and it comes from an older generation who knows that the way we did things in the past no longer works, but whose experience and knowledge remains valuable.”
The new VFW national commander is also putting a new focus on supporting the 6,400 existing VFW Posts, on creating new Posts, and on recruiting and retention of new members, as well as remaining focused nationally on ending sequestration, fixing the VA, and recovering missing and unaccounted-for service members from all wars.
The VFW Needs YOU: As a grassroots organization, the power of the VFW is in its membership. That means all 1.7 million of our members. We are stronger together and effective because of what our collective efforts accomplish. Part of being great advocates means renewing your membership and we encourage you to do so. We also encourage you to consider becoming a Life Member of the VFW as a permanent show of your support. If you are not yet a member, we encourage you to join. Renew your membership or become a Life member. Please click here to join.

Fattman Amendment Supporting Veterans Passes State Senate Vote New legislation will expand benefits and increase access to a range of services for veterans, active-duty military and their families

BOSTON- From the Office of Senator Fattman: The Massachusetts State Senate unanimously passed new legislation that will expand benefits and increase access to a range of services for veterans, active-duty military and their families.
Entitled "The Brave Act", the legislation included a provision filed by State Senator Ryan C. Fattman (R-Sutton) that protects veteran workers. The amendment adds employment protections for veterans who wish to observe, participate in ceremonies, or be granted a leave of absence in the work place on Memorial Day and Veteran's Day.
"It may come as a shock to people that veteran's weren't legally entitled to take the day off to observe the commitment their fellow men and women made in serving our country. As the brother to a current service member, I believe this is the least we can do out of respect for the sacrifices made by generations of Americans," said Fattman.

"I am pleased that the final version of the BRAVE Act included Senator Fattman's provision to provide time off for veterans for Memorial and Veterans Day so they can take part in ceremonies in their communities," said Senator Mike Rush (Chair, Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs). "This is one way we can honor those who sacrifice for us and those that provide the freedoms we so often take for granted."
The bill also grants paid military leave for those called to duty by the armed forces for up to 40 days for training and operation purposes.

To help ease the costs of housing, the legislation changes the requirement for veterans to receive property tax exemptions from residing in the Commonwealth for five years down to two years. It also increases the amount a veteran can earn on their property tax exemption for volunteering in their city or town.
The BRAVE Act also increases the burial expense paid by commonwealth from $2,000 to $4,000 for indigent veterans to receive to adequately provide for a dignified funeral. It also exempts any veterans who receive annuities for service to their country from income calculations when applying for state programs or services.
The bill, which now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration, is the legislature's latest effort to support veterans, military members and their families.
For more information on the bill, please contact Senator Fattman's office at 617-722-1420.

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