Veterans, Military Day Takes Place Tuesday At Statehouse

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January 19, 2015 — TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS – Current and former service members will gather Tuesday at the Statehouse for the first ever Military and Veteran Legislative Day.

The event will be from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Rep. John Bartlett, D–Indianapolis, helped organize the event and is interested in making it happen annually during the legislative session.

“In my opinion for the military and for the veterans, you’re not Democrat, you’re not Republican when you go to protect this country,” Bartlett said.

The Democrat was a chair of the board of trustees at Martin University when the school had an event for veterans. He started chatting with those who attended and “I was able to hear some of the problems.” He came away thinking that a legislative day dedicated to veterans would be a good idea.

All four legislative leaders – the speaker of the House, minority leader of the House, president pro tem of the Senate, and minority leader in the Senate – will be giving greetings at the event. Gov. Mike Pence will also speak at 11 a.m.

Following a lunch, those who attend will be able to lobby their legislators.

“I tried to get them to narrow it down to like three four topics that everybody was talking about,” Bartlett said.

Lisa Wilken, chair of the women’s program for the Indiana AMVETS, said she is looking forward to the event. She said about 140 people have already said they’re coming.

“Every time I log in I have three or four more RSVPs,” she said.

Wilken has also raised some concerns with the event. She said two legislative committees scheduled to address veterans issues will be meeting at the same time as the event.

“The majority that will testify will be in the atrium for the event,” Wilken said. “We have to change things a little because we need them to testify.”

Wilken also said that it was impossible for veterans to narrow their issues down to just four main bills to lobby for, as Bartlett suggested. Instead, they grouped bills into categories including those for retirees, reservists, and active duty military.

Two things Wilken said are at the top of the list are the Recovery Act and the military relief fund. The Recovery Act would address oxygen therapy treatment for disabled veterans with brain trauma.

Wilken said veterans would also like a change to the military relief fund to open it up to all veterans. Currently, money from the fund is only open to veterans who have served since Sept. 11, 2001.

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