Thank our elected officials for their support of veterans this session
Our voices were heard this historic legislative session!
Our Hoosier Legionnaires have written more than 17,000 letters to legislators during this 2017 Indiana General Assembly! Thank you for all of your support and advocacy for Hoosier Veterans. Your voices have been heard by our elected officials and it's paid dividends in helping Hoosier Veterans. Let's thank your elected officials for hearing our voice and let them know our voice does matter!
Hoosier Legionnaires voices heard by Indiana State House officials
2017 sees historic legislative session for veterans in Indiana
The 2017 legislative session was interesting and very busy to say the least. One thing is certain, Hoosier Legionnaires had an impact on the historic decisions made at the Indiana State House this year which will have a direct and positive impact on the Indiana veterans community.
Several “calls-to-action” were published on the Department of Indiana’s website at indianalegion.org/legislative after new advocacy software was installed there earlier this year. Pre-drafted letters and talking points addressed to elected officials were available to all who wished to exercise their voice to the Hoosier Capitol turning our Legionnaires into veterans legislative advocates with the click of a mouse.
Issues included the veterans scratch-off lottery ticket which would have potentially generated millions to support county veteran service officers, homeless veterans, and research into hyperbaric oxygen therapy for veterans with traumatic brain injuries. Unfortunately, this idea was met with strong resistance from our legislators. The Hoosier Legion responded with more than 9,000 letters submitted to their local elected-officials through the department website.
Feeling this immediate and substantial response, and due to the dynamic partnership and alignment between the “Big Four” largest veterans service organizations, The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans and American Veterans, respectively, things quickly began to change in the legislative arena.
“We quickly became a voice to be reckoned with,” said Department of Indiana Assistant Adjutant William Henry who has taken point in veterans advocacy at the State House. “The credit belongs to our members and their strong response to support our Indiana veterans.”
As the end of session drew near, it all came down to the Biennial Budget, House Bill 1001. The Big Four met with Appropriations Committee Chairman Sen. Luke Kenley regarding programs and funding. Gov. Eric Holcomb himself came to the Big Four to ask for their backing and support of his tax exemption priority for military retirees.
Overall, our advocates helped secure six of the original 12 legislative priorities of the Indiana Legion this session. See the list of new legislation passed for veterans this year below. In total, more than 17,000 letters were sent to our local elected officials across Indiana by our advocates through the department website. In addition to the legislation secured for veterans, the Department of Indiana also secured an annual stipend of $200,000 to help fund the Department Service Office who manages more than 65,000 veterans a year to help them secure their VA benefits free of charge and regardless of membership.
“It is important to note that we, The American Legion, Department of Indiana, did not accomplish these endeavors alone,” said Henry. “This was an organized and concerted effort from across all veteran and military organizations and associations in this state. We are changing the way we approach these issues, and we are standing together even more with other military and veteran organizations and associations on our shared priority items. The veteran community refuses to be divided on common goals any longer. Thanks to everyone who helped the veteran community accomplish so much during this legislative session. We are already working to prepare for next session.”
The Department of Indiana asks that our advocates use our advocacy software at indianalegion.org/legislative one last time this year and thank their local elected officials for listening to our collective voice and making change to help Indiana veterans. Let them know our voice matters and we’re coming back strong during the 2018 legislative session to again advocate for the Hoosier veteran community!
House Enrolled Act 1001 – Biennial budget bill provides funding for:
OTHER NOTABLE LEGISLATION:
Senate Enrolled Act 307 – Allows veteran preference in hiring and training individuals
Senate Enrolled Act 382 – Veteran or surviving spouse indicators on driver’s licenses.
House Enrolled Act 1148 – Allows use of cannabidiol, or cannabis derived medication, to treat some medicinally resistant epileptic conditions
House Enrolled Act 1396 – Expedited teacher licensing for active military spouses