Journal of a Stormer: Day Three
Posted by John McGlothlin on March 28
Team Golf walked all over Capitol Hill on Tuesday, the first full day of Storm the Hill, holding meetings in both the House and Senate and with Republicans and Democrats alike. The conversations included the staff of legislators and, in two cases, the legislators themselves. It was a refreshing contrast to some of the frustrations from the previous day and was a valuable opportunity to shine a light on veterans’ problems and the legislation that could fix them.
Our last meeting, with Congressman J. Randy Forbes of Virginia, might have meant the most to me. We are always happy to meet with congressional staffers, who are vital in analyzing legislation and helping it become law. But there is no substitute for meeting with the congressmen themselves, looking them right in the eye, and telling them that veterans need their help. For example, certain for-profit schools are currently exploiting the G.I. Bill, and veterans don’t always have the information to protect themselves – hence our push to pass the GI Bill Consumer Awareness Act of 2012.
We don’t expect a congressman or senator to always sign off on our proposals right then and there – many are unaware of the scope of the problems. I was unaware myself until I got involved with IAVA and Storm the Hill; I had my degree before I enlisted and am not a target for exploitive schools. They may want time to examine the details and provide feedback. But we do expect that feedback. We expect support in solving these problems. Every day sees more veterans leaving the services and becoming targets.
No legislator has time to meet with everyone whose interests he or she represents, and many of the staffers we have met are veterans themselves and understand our stories well. But it sends a powerful and important signal for them to meet personally with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. We need their support above all, but their time is also very valuable - the entire point of Storm the Hill is to ensure that people in charge of fixing these problems hear about them from those who know first-hand. Regardless of how well you convey your point to one person, it will inevitably lose power when they repeat it later. No one tells a story like the person who lived it.
John McGlothlin is from Laurel, MD and he served nine years in the U.S. Army as a paratrooper and Arabic linguist. He deployed twice, first to Iraq with the 101st Airborne and later to Afghanistan with the 173d Airborne. John is participating in 2012 Storm the Hill as part of Team GOLF.
Missed all the action at Storm the Hill 2012? Meet all the Stormers and follow our updates from the week here.
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