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Veterans urged to voice opinions to Legislature

The Nevada Department of Veterans Services held its 2017 Legislative Summit earlier this month in Las Vegas. Emceed by outreach manager Blake Boles, the department shared its vision with several hundred veterans by discussing recommendations concerning upcoming legislation.

State Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Nev., told veterans that “It’s about you, collectively.” He stressed that veterans are united and collectively they have the power to change things for the better. He indicated that problems should be put together with solutions.

Assemblyman Chris Edwards, R-Nev., reported that he will chair the Veterans Caucus at the 2017 Nevada Legislative session in Carson City. He urged veterans to visit with state senators and assemblymen before those officials report for duty in Carson City. Veterans should let them know their ideas on legislation, but at the same time they must realize that any bills involving money take longer to prepare and are generally more difficult to pass.

Edwards explained the legislative process and spoke about what gets amended and what gets voted down. “We don’t have time to read them all,” he admitted. As a result he explained that phone calls, letters and emails are a big help for officials in bringing issues to their attention.

“You are very effective as advocates and as a policy group,” said Shelia Jackson, local VA director of federal benefits.

Peggy Kerns, director of the veterans Southern Nevada Medical Clinic, agreed, saying, “We rely on you to promote the legislative process.”

Cesar Melgarejo, policy analyst for the Interagency Council on Veteran Services, discussed bills that are coming before the Legislature, and Director of the Nevada Department of Veterans Services Kat Miller explained a number of other bills while giving an update on the department’s budget priorities as well as praising the veterans home in Boulder City, which is operated by her department.

Tony Yarbrough, the Nevada Legislative representative for Veterans of Foreign Wars District 1, gave his recommendations concerning legislation and discussed expanding veterans courts. He also said he was seeking to designate Nevada as a Purple Heart state, which would recognize and honor Nevada’s Purple Heart veterans.

March 15 has been designated as Military and Veterans Day at the Legislature.

Detailed information on current veterans bills was distributed to those attending the summit. Information on bills can be obtained by visiting www.leg.state.nv.us/App/NELIS/REL or www.veterans.nv.gov.

Chuck N. Baker is a Purple Heart veteran of the Vietnam War and the host of “That’s America to Me” every Sunday at 7 a.m. on 97.1-FM.

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