VIDEO: Udall Introduces Alamogordo Native VFW Commander-in-Chief B.J. Lawrence to Present Legislative Agenda to Congress

by Reporter / Mar 12, 2019 / 0 comments

VIDEO: Udall Introduces Alamogordo Native VFW Commander-in-Chief B.J. Lawrence to Present Legislative Agenda to Congress

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tom Udall introduced Vincent “B.J.” Lawrence, Commander-in-Chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), to present the VFW’s legislative agenda for the year at a joint hearing hosted by the Senate and House Committees on Veterans’ Affairs. During the hearing, Commander Lawrence advocated for important VFW legislative priorities, including improving the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry – an issue that Udall has championed in the Senate.  

Commander Lawrence, who hails from Alamogordo, New Mexico, has dedicated a lifetime of service to New Mexico and the United States, including serving in the U.S. Army from 1983 to 1986 in Korea, where he earned the Korean Defense Service Medal, and as a police officer for several years. In 2000, he joined VFW Post 7686 in Alamogordo and last year, he was elected Commander-in-Chief.

“Commander Lawrence hails from Alamogordo, New Mexico – located close to Holloman Air Force Base and White Sands Missile Range… He joined the VFW in 2000, and has been a successful and dynamic leader in that organization ever since,” Udall said.

“The VFW is the nation’s largest veterans’ organization.  It’s an effective advocate here in Washington, and provides needed services to veterans around the country,” Udall continued. “Commander Lawrence wants to move the organization forward into the new millennium, bring in younger generation veterans, and reinvigorate older members. His theme for his tenure is ‘Make It Happen.’ He is here today to advise us how we can help “make it happen” for our nation’s veterans.”

The full text of Udall’s remarks as prepared for delivery is below.

Chairman Isakson, Vice Chairman Tester, members of the Committee. It is my pleasure to appear before you today to introduce the Commander-in-Chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars – Vincent Lawrence, otherwise known as “B.J.”

Commander Lawrence hails from Alamogordo, New Mexico – located close to Holloman Air Force Base and White Sands Missile Range.

Mr. Vincent served in the Army from 1983 to 1986, and was stationed in South Korea where he earned the Korean Defense Service Medal.  He served his community as a police officer, including as an undercover agent, and was in the private sector as the owner of Lawrence Investigations.

He joined the VFW in 2000, and has been a successful and dynamic leader in that organization ever since.  Last July, he was elected Commander-in-Chief. 

The VFW is the nation’s largest veterans’ organization. It’s an effective advocate here in Washington, and provides needed services to veterans around the country.

Commander Lawrence wants to move the organization forward into the new millennium, bring in younger generation veterans, and reinvigorate older members.  His theme for his tenure is “Make It Happen.”  He is here today to advise us how we can help “make it happen” for our nation’s veterans.

The VFW’s legislative priorities include: passing the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act to make sure that veterans who served in offshore waters of Vietnam and were exposed to Agent Orange receive disability benefits, improving veterans’ health care, improving transition services for service members returning home, and improving the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry.

While I am here, I would like to say a few words in particular about the last item.  Along with Senator Corker, I sponsored the original Burn Pits Registry Act, signed into law in 2013. The national registry helps veterans, doctors, and the VA determine the extent that air pollution caused by open air burn pits in Afghanistan and Iraq has led to medical diseases among service members.

But we need to improve the information gathered so that veterans receive the medical treatment they have earned. 

Senator Sullivan, here, and I are sponsoring a new Burn Pit Registry Enhancement Act to do just that. This bill has also been introduced in the House on a bipartisan basis by Representatives Wenstrup and Ruiz. 

I hope this committee will consider this bill soon. 

And thank you to all the members here for your work on behalf of our nation’s veterans. They served our nation, risked everything.  And we must make sure they receive all benefits earned.

And it is now my honor to give you Commander Lawrence.

 

 

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