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The Democratic National Committee’s Veterans and Military Families Council

JULY 2013
July 22, 2013

Women to Serve in Combat Roles
Following an announcement made earlier this year, the Pentagon has released its plans to integrate women into combat roles for the first time in American military history. Under the current schedule, standards for the more elite combat units could be developed as early as July 2015 for the Rangers and by March 2016 for the Navy Seals. military as highly qualified and capable women enter our ranks In the words of Defense Secretary Hagel, “I remain confident that we will retain the trust and confidence of the American people by opening up positions to women while ensuring that all members entering these newly opened positions can meet the standards required to maintain our warfighting capability.”

This transition is part of the This decision opens nearly military’s effort to ensure 240,000 jobs in the infanthat the most capable and try, army and field artillery qualified individuals are givto women. 76 enlisted po- en the opportunity to serve, sitions, 35 officer positions, regardless of their race, reliand 19 warrant officer po- gion, gender or sexual oriensitions will be available to tation. Women’s ability to women in military by the serve in combat roles will end of 2014. only serve to strengthen the

“Today, by moving to open more military positions— including ground combat units—to women, our armed forces have taken another historic step toward harnessing the talents and skills of all our citizens...Every American can be proud that our military will grow even stronger with our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters playing a greater role in protecting this country we love.”
-President Obama January 24, 2013

Inside this issue:

Women to Serve in Combat Roles Pride Month Celebrations at the Department of Defense “Hire A Veteran Month” in Minnesota Mental Health Among Our Veterans Honoring Our Veteran – Owned Small Businesses Connect With Us

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JULY 2013
Secretary Hagel and the Department of Defense Celebrate Pride Month
As part of the Department of Defense (DOD)’s Pride Month festivities, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel hosted an event honoring its LGBT service members. This was the first time a sitting defense secretary attended a Pentagon Pride event. White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett gave the keynote address at the event on behalf of President Obama. Her speech showcased the strides the DOD has made towards equality and steps that still need to be taken. Two years ago, the controversial “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was repealed. Since then the country and the military have made great progress on the issue. The day following the DOD event, the Supreme

Secretary Hagel celebrating Pride Month as part of the Department of Defense’s festivities

Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) citing equal treatment. As a result LGBT service members and their families are now eligible for the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts.

“This month brings the LGBT community together to take pride in themselves and their many achievements. Gay and lesbian service members and LGBT civilians are integral to America's armed forces. Now they can serve openly, with full honor, integrity and respect. This makes our military and our nation stronger, much stronger.”
-Secretary Hagel June 25, 2013

Minnesota Governor Proclaims July to be “Hire a Veteran Month”
Democratic Governor Mark Dayton is working hard to expand job opportunities for veterans in Minnesota. As part of this effort, he has proclaimed July to be “Hire a Veteran Month” in Minnesota. Throughout July, Governor Dayton and his administration are hosting events to encourage Minnesota employers to hire veterans now and in the future. This past week the state held one of the largest Veteran Career Fairs in the state. Over 1,000 people attended the event hoping to translate the skills and experience they gained in the military to civilian employment. In the past two years, the unemployment rate for Post 9/11 vets has dropped by almost half. In 2011, the unemployment rate for veterans aged 18 to 24 was approximately 23%, the third highest in the nation. Since that time, Governor Dayton and the Democrats have been able to work to lower the unemployment for that demographic to just 14%. July also marks the expansion of eligibility for Minnesota’s GI Bill benefits. This past session, Governor Dayton signed the measure into law, allowing more veterans access to the financial aid resources

that allow many to pursue higher education. For some previously ineligible veterans this means up to $10,000 to help pay for college or other post-secondary studies. Until now, only veterans who served after September 11, 2001 were eligible for these benefits. Now, anyone under

65 who has served honorably in any branch of the military are eligible to receive financial aid for postsecondary education.

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JULY 2013
Mental Health Among Our Veterans
One of the most tragic aspects of military life today is the loss of life, not to enemy combatants, but to untreated mental health issues that our men and women in uniform face. The fact is, we lose twenty-two veterans a day to suicide. Until that number is reduced to zero, we must do everything in our power to support our troops and veterans suffering from any affliction related to their service. To combat these pressing issue mental health professionals, members of Veterans Service Organizations, Military Service Organizations, military family organizations, and representatives from the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs came together on July 11th to discuss how we can better serve our veterans and military in regards to mental health. President Obama knows we can do more for these hurting individuals—that’s why he has made mental health for veterans one of his top priorities. That’s also why he has allocated abundant resources into high-quality care, and better treatment for our troops. Just last month, we held the National Conference on Mental Health at the White House. However, it is not enough to simply discuss the issue, we must take action as well. That’s why President Obama announced a number of commitments to move us forward. The Veterans Administration is starting to hold mental health summits with community partners, including local government officials, community-based organizations, and Veteran Service Organizations this month. The VA has also hired thousands more mental health professionals since last year to improve access to mental health services, in addition to continuing the VA Veterans Crisis Line. is also being re-vamped so that it is able to more efficiently provide their services to those who need them. “Too many Americans who struggle with mental health illnesses are still suffering in silence rather than seeking help, and we need to see it that men and women who would never hesitate to go see a doctor if they had a broken arm or came down with the flu, that they have that same attitude when it comes to their mental health.” -President Obama June 3 2013 We must stand united in this effort to ensure our veterans receive the treatment that they deserve. No brave solider can be left behind after returning home. It is simply unacceptable.

Honoring our Veteran-Owned Small Businesses
Since 1963, the President has announced an annual proclamation declaring National Small Business Week to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s small business owners and entrepreneurs. Prime Contractor of the Year by the Small Business Administration. provide monitoring and analysis of radiation contamination from the damaged Japanese nuclear reactor following the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, helping to prevent a potential disaster. every three net new private jobs. They form the backbone of our economy and are essential to our nation’s success.

Mr. Anderson established President of INTECON, LLC in 1999, to provide telecommunication, IT, maintenance and From June 17-21, the Small operation, engineering hardBusiness Administration (SBA) ware and software services, joined the nation in showcas- and advisory & assistance ing the considerable contribu- services to government and tion small business owners commercial customers. make to our economy and The company has 81 employcountry. ees and earned $17.6 million This year, Michael Lee Ander- in revenues last year. Among son, a service-disabled veter- other things, they helped an, was named Small Business

Veterans transitioning from military duty to civilian life are Mr. Anderson’s company and well-equipped with the skills and experiences necessary to the other small businesses become a successful entrerecognized, in the words of SBA Administrator Karen Mills, preneur. This is why veteran “help boost the nation’s econ- owned firms represent 9% of omy and they are stellar mod- all U.S. firms. These 2.45 milels of how to successfully navi- lion veteran-owned businesses employ over 5.8 million gate the federal contracting individuals. arena.” Small businesses create two of Page 3

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If you have any questions, families please contact Ron Pierce, Director of Veterans Outreach.

Ron P. Pierce Director, Veterans Outreach 202-863-8037 o 202-262-5306 c Meghan Holloway Constituency Department Josh Fitterman Constituency Department

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