Eclipse Magazine - Produced by NABVETS 2015 First Edition | Page 10

First Congressional Black Caucus The 13 founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus in the early 1970s. Congressman Charles Rangel remains a member of the CBC today. Standing L–R: Parren Mitchell (MD), Charles B. Rangel (NY), Bill Clay, Sr. (MO), Ron Dellums (CA), George Collins (IL), Louis Stokes (OH), Ralph Metcalfe (IL), John Conyers (MI), and Walter Fauntroy (DC). Seated L–R: Robert Nix, Sr. (PA), Charles Diggs (MI), Shirley Chisholm (NY), and Gus Hawkins (CA). sponsored legislation aimed at combating veteran homelessness and joblessness, including the Mandatory Transition Assistance Act, which required the secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security to make participation in Transition Assistance Programs mandatory for every branch of service upon discharge. Recognizing the importance of the G.I. Bill in his own life, in 2008 Rangel helped to pass HR 2642. The bill provides that active duty veterans who served after September 11, 2001, are entitled to a full scholarship for in-state tuition at a public university, a stipend for books and supplies, and a monthly housing stipend. While most of the veteran’s legislation Rangel supports has gained bipartisan approval, he is one of few congressional voices calling for a draft and new taxes to pay for military actions overseas. “It’s terrible for a person to have to put themselves in harm’s way just to make ends meet. If we believe we need to go to war, then all of us, all Americans, should make a contribution.” He is also harshly critical of President George W. Bush’s handling of the war in Iraq. “I don’t know what President Bush was thinking when [he] put our troops into harm’s way in Iraq. He pulled the scab off of millions of people who 10