This episode was sponsored by Military Officers Association of America (MOAA).
Since 1929, the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) mission has been to protect your earned military benefits. Through tireless advocacy, they have forged a legacy of success benefiting the entire military community. As a veteran or service member, you might not realize the power and impact of having MOAA fighting for you on Capitol Hill. This week I am interviewing Aniela Szymanski. In the interview, we talked about the work MOAA has done and continues to do on Capitol Hill. I learned so much and realize how important it is to be a member of MOAA. You can sign up to become a member at MOAA.org/forthepeople.
Joining the Military
Aniela decided to join the military when she was looking at what she would do in the civilian sector and it wasn’t quite what she was looking for. As she began to search for options, she saw a poster for the Marines and realized she could be a recruiter in the Marine Corps. She went through the Delayed Entry Judge Advocate Program and served on active duty for nine years before transferring to the Reserves. She continued to stay active in helping veterans with legal work and that is how she found herself working at the Military Officers Association of America.
Advocacy with the Military Officers Association of America
While at MOAA she worked to help get the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act Passed. That allowed those on ships to get VA coverage for Agent Orange. It took years to get Vietnam Veterans benefits for diseases caused by Agent Orange on both land and sea. And there is currently an act in Congress working to prevent current and recent Middle East War veterans from going through the same long process. It is called the Toxic Exposure in the American Military (TEAM) Act. If you think you are suffering from an illness related to a burn pit check out this link for Veterans Affairs to register.
She also worked to close loopholes that limited what “active duty” meant while serving in the Guard and Reserves. Allowing more members to qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill and for more members to receive full benefits. This work was directly connected to her service as a Reservist.
After watching her father go through a ten-year struggle to qualify for VA health care and disability from his service during Vietnam she was excited to help work to modernize the VA Claims Process. What used to take over a year now, takes 3-4 months.
Veteran Service Organizations
She encourages veterans to get involved in Veteran Service Organizations especially at the local level. If you can get involved in your local chapter you can help make an impact on the veteran community within your community.
Reaching out to MOAA
Also, reach out to organizations like MOAA and let them know what you are concerned about or struggling with. Real stories from their members are helpful when advocating for changes or benefits. So don’t be afraid to write to MOAA at the national level if you have a concern. They want to listen to you and help you get your voice heard.
MOAA’s motto is Never Stop Serving because veterans have service engrained into who they are. So if you are looking to continue serving get involved with MOAA today!
Connect with Aniela:
Resources for the Military Officers Association of America:
If you want to learn more about how a bill is made into law you can check out Episode 49. In this episode, Erin Miller shares her experience of getting the law changed to allow her grandmother one of World War II’s Women Air Force Service Pilots to be inurned at Arlington National Cemetery.
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