The four largest veteran service organizations in Indiana have joined together as a unified voice for veteran specific legislation during this 2016 session in the Indiana General Assembly.

Leaders of the Indiana Departments of The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans and American Veterans have aligned their legislative priorities in an agreement to strategically support a number of veteran specific bills introduced this session.

The combined organization’s group, known to many in the veteran community as the “Big Four,” is scheduled to hold a press conference at 10 a.m. at the Indiana State House South Atrium Friday, Jan. 29, 2016.

The Big Four would like to address the media on legislative concerns for veterans in the state and explain why the groups have joined forces to back crucial legislation for Hoosier veterans.

Some of the priority legislation the Big Four are working together to pass during the 2016 session of the Indiana General Assembly are; Veterans’ Recovery Program, which establishes programs and funding for troops with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries; Military Family Relief Fund, which expands the availability of access to the fund from active service members to honorably discharged veterans and their families, and; Unclaimed Remains of Veterans, which gives unclaimed veterans honorable burials.

The Indiana American Legion Cmdr. Larry Lowry said the state ranks low overall in the nation when it comes to veterans’ benefits and services and needs to move toward a higher standard for veterans.

“Indiana has consistently ranked among the lowest of all states regarding veterans’ benefits and services in the nation. It’s time we begin moving up on those rankings and put Indiana toward the top,” said Lowry.

The Indiana VFW Cmdr. William “Buzz” Weberding said benefits that concern veterans in the state need to be protected.

“As state commander of Indiana Veterans of Foreign Wars, and a lifelong resident of Indiana, I need to express the importance that we, as a state, start, and continue to fight for benefits that affect all Hoosier Veterans and their families. We have to stop the removal of benefits for our veterans and families,” said Weberding.

Indiana DAV Cmdr. Terry Sanders said despite the large number of veterans in Indiana, the state hasn’t moved in favor of benefits for veterans.

“Our state is home to nearly half a million veterans and that number continues to grow as more Indiana troops are deployed in support of overseas contingency operations to fight terrorism. But, Indiana is near the bottom of the list for service to veterans,” said Sanders.

Indiana AMVETS Cmdr. Jackie Randolph, expressed the need for the organizations to join together in the legislative fight and his organization’s concern for Indiana veterans.

“AMVETS is committed to our military and veterans in Indiana,” said Randolph. “Indiana is a patriotic state; we raise our men and women to want to serve. We need our elected officials to honor that service and pass meaningful legislation to get Indiana off the bottom of the pile.”

More information is available by request including a full list of the Big Four’s 2016 legislative priorities.