Letter to the editor: IWMC is not honoring our military and veterans

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To the editor:

House Bill 1071 – “Report on global war on terrorism monument” passed 89-0 out of the House. The bill authored by J Davisson and co-authored by Guitwein, Randall Frye, and Pack. Now this bill is “dead!” Why? The Indiana War Memorials Commission (IWMC) didn’t want to do the work!!! And they told Representative Frye, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and Safety, they didn’t want this bill — after he co-sponsored it, heard it, and voted three times for it! Chairman Frye then asked Senator Tomes, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and the Military, NOT to hear this bill. Why should a co-author of a bill that he voted for three times and that 88 other representatives, to include Speaker Huston, voted for twice. Speaker Huston signed the legislation and it was forwarded to the Senate. Taking such action could be considered disrespectful to the entire House, the Speaker, and to veterans through the state.

The Chairman of the IWMC also called Senator Tomes and told him not to hear the bill! In fact, several calls were made to Tomes and NO hearing!! The bill required the IWMC to propose the construction of a suitable monument to the men and women of Indiana who lost their lives in the global war on terrorism. It requires the IWMC to conduct five public meetings concerning the proposed monument. The bill provides that a meeting must be held in Indianapolis and in each of the four regions of Indiana. It further requires the IWMC to submit a detailed description of the proposed monument to the legislative council and the governor before November 1, 2022. There was even funding provided in the bill to do this.

How hard can this be??? Indiana Law directs the Commission to do this! Yet they said they “didn’t sign up for this!” They said this on the record in December when they met with Representative Davisson! Veterans Service Organizations throughout Indiana would surely assist as they have many times in the past. I know The Military / Veterans Coalition of Indiana would and so would the Reserve Organization of America. I know because I am a leader in both.

The Director of the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs has said he was willing to support this effort! Representative Davisson said he was willing to amend the bill to add IDVA to the bill and to reduce the number of meetings around the state from five (5) to three (3).

Looks like Governor Holcomb needs to replace all the commissioners on the IWMC and get staff and veterans willing to do the work as required by law!

Elected officials are supposed to represent their constituents — in this case they were overridden by the interest of a few legislators who took it upon themselves to kill this bill after it passed.

Veterans should be outraged! Call the Governor and tell him it’s time to replace the IWMC with veterans willing to do the job. It is also time for voters to remind legislators that they work for the people and not state agencies or a few people not willing to do the will of the people.

James L. Bauerle, BG USA (Ret.)

Carmel