WASHINGTON — Bill would aid Guard, reserves
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Alan Cranston of California well remembers the many hearings held more than 20 years ago on the readjustment problems of Vietnam veterans and their families.
After similar hearings this summer on similar problems involving veterans of the Persian Gulf War, Cranston, a Democrat who chairs the Committee on Veterans Affairs, was glad to see that some government programs had been created to deal with readjustment.
But, given the current makeup of the military with its much higher percentage of women, and of men with children and families at home, he saw another group in need of help with postwar readjustment and family counseling. That group consists of members of the National Guard and the reserves.
"The support that the nation has shown to the men and women who served must not end with the welcome-home parades," Cranston said recently. "For those whose lives were interrupted in service, we must respond quickly and effectively to whatever problems remain."
While military personnel now receive a whole range of health and mental health services, members of the reserves and National Guard can receive Department of Defense health-care services for only 30 days after leaving active duty.
Cranston, therefore, is sponsoring legislation that would authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide marriage and family counseling to reservists and National Guardsmen who served in the Persian Gulf, and their families.
Original co-sponsors of the bill, which was introduced in July, include Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md.
The needs for counseling seem especially strong among this group of civilians, whose lives -- both personal and career -- underwent a more complete disruption than did those of their regular military counterparts, according to Cranston.
"These individuals and their families experienced considerable stress as a result of being called up with little advance notice and not being as accustomed to deployments as regular active duty personnel . . . ," Cranston said when he introduced the bill.
"Moreover," he said, "they and their families often did not benefit from the extensive predeployment and reunion services that the Armed Forces provides for active duty personnel and their families."
The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee is scheduled to take up the bill next week.
Cushioning the ax:
As the Pentagon readies its much-publicized base-closure ax, Rep. David Bonior, D-Mich., has a plan to help cushion the potential blow of layoffs for certain federal workers.
Aimed at helping the many federal workers who are military retirees, the legislation would amend the U.S. Code to extend veterans' preference, which serves as a boost in obtaining federal jobs and as a shield against reductions in force, to military retirees who served at least 20 years.
Introduced in July, the bill, if approved, could conceivably change the reduction-in-force equation, putting those federal workers without prior and substantial military service in a more vulnerable position should layoffs occur.
Such reductions in force are a certainty later on this year as the Defense Department continues its budget-cutting plan to close military bases nationwide.
There are no other congressional co-sponsors for Bonior's bill.
Officers elected: Delegates to the 32nd national convention of the American Federation of Government Employees in California last week elected a new slate of officers for the next three years.
Re-elected were national president John N. Sturdivant and women's director Joan C. Welsh.
Sturdivant easily won by more than 100,000 votes over L.R. Burnham and David Engstrom.
Walsh also showed strong support, winning with a 70,000-vote margin over Janet C. Walker and Eloise Dillon.
A closer contest was the race for national secretary-treasurer, pitting Allen H. Kaplan, Bobby L. Harnage and Harry Dawson against each other.
After Kaplan led the first ballot by nearly 3,000 votes, Harnage was declared the winner in a second, run-off ballot. The second ballot gave Harnage, who currently serves as national vice president for the union's 5th District, the victory by 385 votes over Kaplan.
The National Treasury Employees Union is presenting a workshop this week on the grievance mediation procedures being negotiated by the NTEU and the Department of Health and Human Services at a four-day conference being sponsored in Hilton Head, S.C., by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
NTEU President Robert M. Tobias will conduct the workshop, "A New Era in Labor-Management Cooperation," tomorrow at the Federal Dispute Resolution Conference. The conference, which runs through Friday, is being held at the Hyatt Regency in Hilton Head.