Servicemembers' advocacy groups fight for Airmen

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  • By Senior Airman David Perry
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A new Montgomery GI Bill is in the works for U.S. servicemembers, meaning greater education and career advancement opportunities.

If you've ever picked up a copy of the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy or Army Times you've probably seen one of these headlines taking up the entire cover of the issue. These types of things constantly affect us and draw our interest, yet most people have no idea how any of this change comes about.

I had the distinct honor to attend the joint hearing of the Veterans Affairs Senate and House Committees March 12. It is in these types of hearings that leaders from organizations fight for the changes we as military members so desperately seek.

"Who are these organizations and where did they come from?" you ask. Well, on that particular day, representatives from the Air Force Sergeants Association, Fleet Reserve Association, Non Commissioned Officers Association, Military Order of the Purple Heart, The Retired Enlisted Association, Military Officers Association of America, National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs, Vietnam Veterans of America and American Veterans all stood together to create a panel that fought hard for improvements.

Throughout the session various leaders from the groups spoke about programs that affect those who served before us, plus those serving today and tomorrow. They fought about issues like the Post 9-11 GI Bill technical corrections that should be made before the new GI Bill becomes implemented. Technical issues such as how the new GI Bill will be free and how it would not be fair for the government to keep the $1,200 that America's warriors have paid into the old Montgomery GI Bill system.

Professional organizations spoke about many different topics ranging from more specific women's care in the Veterans' Administration system, supporting state veterans' homes, to faster VA claims processes.

While I sat and watched the leaders of the organizations and the members of the committees go back and forth on the issues, I could not help but become consumed by the overwhelming comfort of knowing that I had people fighting for issues that can affect vets throughout their service and their lives.

I hope when you read this your eyes will open as mine did. These men and women represent organizations made up of men and women just like you and me.

You could do a huge part by supporting one of these organizations. With numbers they have strength and through their strength we have change. We fight every day for others, why not take the time to be a true wing man and fight for one another as well? You can stand and fight by getting involved with one of these organizations, or sit on the sidelines - that's up to you.

All I know is that this Airman has chosen to fight by being an active member of The Air Force Sergeants Association. I am making my voice heard and am standing with 125,000 others who have chosen to secure the best possible future any American hero could hope for.

The next AFSA meeting is April 16 at 9 a.m. at the Stewart Theater on Bolling. For more information, call membership trustee Tech. Sgt. Michelle Belles at (202)767-4011.