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VFW Magazine February 2018 : Page 23

PHOTO BY LAUREN GOLDMAN/VFW ON CAPITOL HILL, VFW’S VOICE IS HEARD LOUD AND CLEAR. THE ORGANIZATION’S INFLUENCE HAS BEEN KEY IN EVERY SIGNIFICANT PIECE OF VETERANS’ LEGISLATION PASSED IN THE 20TH AND 21ST CENTURIES. HERE’S A LOOK AT HOW VFW’S NATIONAL LEGISLATIVE SERVICE TEAM GETS IT DONE. BY JANIE DYHOUSE M ere steps from the U.S. Capitol is VFW’s Washington Office. The National Legislative Service (NLS) staff keeps the sidewalks hot as they advocate on behalf of not only VFW’s and its Auxiliary’s nearly 1.7 mil-lion members, but of all veterans, service members, their families and survivors. The staff of six monitors all legisla-tion affecting the military and veter-ans communities by testifying up to 33 times each year at congressional com-mittee hearings and interacting directly with Congress and the administration to accomplish VFW’s annual priority goals (see p. 12). As director of VFW’s National Legislative Service, Carlos Fuentes is excited to go to work each morn-ing to help safeguard against “bad” Congressional proposals that could potentially erode or eliminate earned veterans benefits. “I am honored to be involved in one of the many important programs the VFW operates which makes a significant dif-ference in the lives of veterans across the country,” said Fuentes, a life member of VFW Post 5627 in College Park, Md. “NLS leverages the power of the VFW’s membership to advance federal legisla-tion which has a direct impact on count-less veterans.” Prior to his current position with VFW, in which he began in October 2014, Fuentes was a legislative staffer for the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. The Afghanistan vet who served six years in the Marine Corps said he enjoys seeing veterans reap the benefits of the hard work put in by the NLS staff. For example, he noted that there are veterans who are now able to have fami-lies because VFW worked to ensure VA provides fertility treatments or adop-tion reimbursements. Other legislative wins include veterans who can pursue their post-military educational goals because they had their education bene-fits restored by the Forever GI Bill after their school abruptly closed. “Knowing that our collective hard work on behalf of VFW members touch-es the lives of millions of veterans, service members and their families through-out the country is extremely rewarding,” Fuentes said. “And it’s the reason I’m excited to come to work every morning.” For Ann Markel, NLS office manag-er, the best part of her job is knowing she helps reassure veterans. PHOTO BY LAUREN GOLDMAN/VFW (From left) Ken Wiseman, Carlos Fuentes, John Towles and Ann Markel conduct business during a weekly National Legislative Service staff meeting in September. FEBRUARY 2018   • WWW.VFW.ORG • 23

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