Photo by Caitlin M. Kenney

American Legion commander presents legislative agenda to Congress

February 28, 2018 - 10:27 am

As part of the American Legion 2018 Washington Conference, their National Commander, Denise Rohan, will be speaking today at the Senate committee on veterans’ affairs about their legislative agenda. 

Here are the issues the Legion is bringing to Congress:

Protect the American flag

In two Supreme Court cases, the justices ruled 5-4 that burning the flag constituted symbolic speech and was protected by the First Amendment. The American Legion is pushing Congress for a Constitutional Amendment that would prohibit the “physical desecration” of the flag that would then allow citizens to pass laws in their state to that affect.

Reclassify cannabis for medical research

The American Legion wants Congress to immediately reschedule the drug from a Scheduled I to Schedule III which would allow research into potential medical use.

“We want the VA to be able to have an education based on sound science and research before they recommend anything like that to their patients,” said Louis Celli, American Legion director of the National Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Division.  

Support caregivers

Currently, Pre-9/11 veterans do not receive the same VA caregiver benefits as the Post 9/11 generation. The American Legion wants to see these benefits extended to all veterans who are eligible and not based on where and when they served. They also want to make sure that the caregiver program is fully funded.

“It just makes sense,” said Matthew Shuman, American Legion director of the National Legislative Division, about why the organization supports caregivers.

“There’s a lot of science that goes in that says that veterans who are at home and are able to receive their care at home, they enjoy it better. And some even claim that it’s even cheaper than having them in a domicile care facility.”

Electronic Health Records

Ensure the Veterans Health Administration’s electronic health record initiative is fully funded. This initiative is working to make sure that a veteran's medical record follows them from the Department of Defense to the VA.

Healthcare for Women veterans

Women veterans are the fastest growing veteran population and the American Legion wants to make it a priority that they are receiving the best care at the VA.

At VA medical centers, “we want to make sure that if a female veteran walks in there, she feels welcomed,” Shuman said.