10.30.09

A Message from Senator Burr

As many of you who read this update regularly may know, I recently traveled to Afghanistan where I had the opportunity to witness first-hand our military situation on the ground and meet with top American and Afghan military and political officials. I was also able to have lunch with soldiers from Fort Bragg's 82nd Airborne Division. The courage and dedication of these men and women who put themselves in harm's way every day was inspiring. I left our lunch feeling confident that with men and women like that serving our country, we will be able to complete our mission in Afghanistan.

I returned to the United States confident that we can be successful there, but our success is contingent on our military forces having the tools and resources they need to accomplish the mission. As we continue to hand over more responsibility to Afghan security forces, we need more Americans there to train them and work with them in support roles. I am hopeful that President Obama will agree to fulfill General McChrystal's request for more troops so that we can ultimately hand over responsibility to Afghan citizens. To read more about my trip, click here, and to view photos, follow this link. You may also be interested in watching this interview I conducted with Fox News just hours after I returned home from my trip.

On Wednesday, over 100 World War II veterans from the Triad area traveled to Washington with Honor Flight to visit the World War II Memorial. This Honor Flight was particularly special to me because my father, Dr. David Burr, was a participant. It was great for him and his fellow veterans to get the chance to see this memorial first hand. It was an honor to get a chance to talk to many of these heroes and hear their stories, and I am grateful for the opportunity to share this experience with them.

Honor Flight is a non-profit thatwas created to honor America's veterans by flying them-free of charge-to Washington, DC, to visit the national memorial built in their honor. I am so pleased by Honor Flight's efforts to give these heroes the opportunity to see the national memorial that has been erected in memory of their courageous service.

Also with regard to our veterans, yesterday, I spoke on the Senate floor about protecting the constitutional rights of our veterans. Unbeknownst to many, veterans who come to the VA for help, but who cannot manage their own financial affairs, are labeled as "mentally defective." On that basis alone, their names are put in an FBI database (along with criminals) and are denied their Second Amendment rights. These decisions about whose names to send to the FBI are not being made by judges or through a judicial process, but by VA employees who work with veterans.

According to the spouse of one veteran who reached out to the VA Committee, a VA fiduciary told her husband - a seriously-wounded Iraq veteran - that not only would he not be permitted to keep an heirloom gun he intended to hand down to his son, but he would also not be permitted to go on adaptive hunting trips. This was not because he was deemed a danger to himself or others, but only because VA had appointed a fiduciary to help the family manage their finances. What's worse is that this injustice is happening to the dependents of these veterans as well. That's why I have introduced a bill to protect the constitutional rights of our veterans by ending this arbitrary practice. My bill, the Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act (S.669), protects the rights of veterans by ensuring that only a judge -- not an agency bureaucrat -- can determine whether a veteran is a danger to himself or herself or to others and whether to refer the veteran's name to the FBI. This is to ensure that veterans receive due process under the law. This legislation is supported by the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, AMVETS, and the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

America's veterans fought for the liberties granted to us in the Constitution, and they deserve the freedom to enjoy the rights they sacrificed so much to protect. To view my floor speech, click here.

Next week, the House is expected to debate the health care reform bill that Speaker Pelosi introduced this week. Unfortunately, we are still waiting for a draft of the Senate version of a health care reform bill that is being discussed behind closed doors by a group of Senate Democrats.