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Government & Veterans Legislation: Your Voice Heard Any Time You Want

LongIsland.com

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While the old Lottery motto was "You gotta be in it to win it," the concept of participation holds true for many things, not the least of which is our representative-democracy. After all, how are our representatives to know the needs and desires of those they represent, if those they represent do not make their opinions known? This is especially true when it comes to veteran issues.

And We Need These Resources Because

As I said, whether at a personal level, or in conjunction with a group effort - whether for a one-time item or in general just to be in the know - knowing who the elected officials that represent you are and how to contact them is a good thing.

The Levels of...

Looking at how New York is organized... All of the State is subdivided into Counties. Each County contains Towns, or Cities, or Indian Reservations. Cities and Indian Reservations are as they are - Towns are further subdivided into Hamlets or Incorporated Villages. Towns, Cities and Indian Reservations will have their own municipal governments, as do Villages. Therefore, the municipal authority one finds one-self concerned with is: Federal, State, County, and Town. And unless one lives in a Hamlet, there is a fifth-level - one's City or Village or Reservation.

And Who's Who?

How to find out who's who? The League of Women Voters (

http://www.lwvofnassaucounty.org/

and

http://www.lwv-suffolkcounty.org/

and

http://www.lwvnyc.org/

) and the Long Island Association (

http://www.longislandassociation.org/

) have Guides to Public Officials. In them we can find who represents us at all, as needed, five levels. A good place to find out about your own local guide is your local public library.

Locally

Many Villages and Cities have their own web sites, as do most Towns. As many sites have a site specific search function, it is a simple matter to search on "veteran" or any other key word or phrase of your choice. Many sites also offer a mailing-list one can join that will deliver, directly to your email-box on some recurring schedule, information of interest. In addition, it is my experience that being on a first name basis with your Village Trustees, City Alder(wo)man, and Town Board Members is also a good thing.

State Level

In New York we have (at the least) three different State-Level "groups" of which one needs to be aware, in addition to the usual "crew" of elected officials.

Division of Veteran Affairs

(

http://www.veterans.state.ny.us/

): "Providing benefits counseling and advocacy for New York's military veterans and members of the active duty armed forces and their families" In addition to a list of State-Level benefit categories, there are three listings, found on many sites, that warrant visits: What's New, Links and Site-Map. Notwithstanding one's initial purpose for visiting a site, a visit to these three listings will usually provide you with some additional useful information.

State Senate

(

http://www.senate.state.ny.us/

): In addition to helping locate one's State Senator, you can identify which State Senators serve on committees which interest you - such as your State's Senate Veterans committee.

State Assembly

(

http://assembly.state.ny.us/

): Many prepared tri-folds exist that could provide you much topic-specific information.

Federal Level

Now at a Federal Level, let's take a look at...

Contacting Congress

(

http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/

): This is one of many non-governmental sites that contain a very up-to-date database of congressional contact information. As of today, there are 539 email addresses (of which 487 are Web-based email homepages), and 540 WWW home-pages known for the 540 members of the 109th Congress. More traditional ground mail addresses are available for all Congress members.

FirstGov.Gov

(

http://firstgov.gov/

): "A warehouse chock-full of information. FirstGov.gov, the official U.S. gate-way to all government information, is the catalyst for a growing electronic government. Our powerful search engine and ever-growing collection of topical and customer-focused links connects you to millions of web pages-from the federal government, local and tribal governments and to foreign nations around the world." This information includes a by-organization listing of:
A-Z Agency Index
Federal Executive
Federal Legislative
Federal Judicial
Cross-Agency Portals
State Government
Local Government
Tribal Government

U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs

(

http://veterans.senate.gov/

): very active with much information, including a live-feed of selected Senate meetings.

U.S. House Committee on Veterans' Affairs

(

http://veterans.house.gov/

): as with the Senate site, much can be gleaned here.

U.S. Senate

(

http://www.senate.gov/

)

U.S. House of Representatives

(

http://www.house.gov/

)

The White House

(

http://www.whitehouse.gov/

)

--- Regards, Walt Schmidt