CONGRESS: Pass Restoring Veterans’ Trust Act

Like many veterans, when I returned home from Iraq, I sought care at a VA facility near my home.

So you can imagine why the politicization of the disclosures at the VA facility in Phoenix has gotten me down. The truth is, we’ve all known for some time that the veterans’ health system needs real reform.

And while President Obama and Secretary Shinseki have done admirable work to reduce the backlog, we’ve long needed solutions that get to the root of the problems.

This week, the U.S. Senate has a chance to take meaningful action to improve veterans’ health care, and I hope they take it this time.

Join VoteVets and Campaign for Americans Future and tell your Senators to vote for Bernie Sanders’ Restoring Veterans’ Trust Act of 2014.

Here’s what the bill does:

1. Authorizes the VA to hire new doctors and nurses, closing the gap between a growing number of veterans returning home to seek care and the number of health care professionals able to deliver it.

2. Allows the Department of Veterans Affairs to increase the number of locations delivering care by leasing twenty-seven new health facilities in eighteen states.

3. To address long-term needs, the legislation awards scholarships and forgives student debt for health care professionals willing to accept positions at the VA.

These are important steps Congress should take right now in order to improve short and long-term care for our nation’s veterans.

Tell the Senate to support the Restoring Veterans’ Trust Act of 2014.

In late February, right-wing Senators led a filibuster against similar legislation that would have struck at the root of problems within the VA system.

It’s time to end the talk and take some action.

Jon Soltz
Iraq War Veteran and Chairman

An Idea Becomes Reality


Momentum Builds As Seattle City Council Unanimously Approves $15 Minimum Wage

Last month, we wrote about the tale of two Washingtons: just a day after 41 Republican Senators in Washington, DC prevented a federal minimum wage increase to $10.10 from even being debated, Seattle, Washington announced a plan to raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour.

On Tuesday, the city made that deal official, with the city council voting unanimously to approve a $15 minimum wage. It will be phased in over the next seven years and will be the highest in the United States.

The minimum wage has been advancing in cities and states around the country, and not the halls of Congress, for some time. But the ambition of Seattle’s increase has sparked a particular flame for other cities and states considering a bigger increase. The Seattle Times reports that “organizers who pushed a $15 minimum wage in Seattle are looking at their next targets,” including Bellevue, Spokane, or an increase in the state minimum wage.

“It’s expanding the range of the possible,” said Paul Sonn, general counsel and program director for the National Employment Law Project. “Seattle was a breakthrough.”

Think Progress, meanwhile, has published a detailed investigative report on the fight to bring a living wage to Seattle, featuring a coalition of a millionaire, a socialist, and some Taco Bell workers. While it notes that “some things about that process may be unique to Seattle,” the ingredients for a $15 minimum wage “are completely portable, and could soon come to a city near you.”

At the same time, the ambition of Seattle’s increase — a full-time minimum wage worker making $15 per hour will earn over $30,000 annually — has generated broader discussion among national thought leaders and policy analysts. The Seattle entrepreneur and venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, a prominent supporter of the $15 campaign, spells out the argument in favor of the increase in a New York Times column entitled “Well Paid Workers Strengthen Local Economies“:

If the minimum wage had tracked productivity gains since 1968, it would be $21.70 today; had it tracked the wages of us in the top 1 percent, it would be $28. Raising it to only $15 in a city as prosperous and expensive as Seattle isn’t a risky experiment. The risky experiment has been the 30 years of trickle-down policy that enriched a few of us while eviscerating the middle class.

The most insidious part of trickle down isn’t the idea that if the rich get richer, that’s good for the economy. It is that if the poor get richer, that will be bad for the economy. A $15-an-hour wage isn’t a risky and untried policy in Seattle. It is the natural evolution of common-sense economic thinking.

BOTTOM LINE: Conservatives really believe that the economy grows from the top down – that if we give more to CEOs and billionaires it will trickle down to the rest of us. But decades of trickle down policy has done nothing but give millionaires and billionaires more, leaving middle and worker class families with less and destabilizing our entire economy. Seattle’s $15 minimum wage is a bold alternative approach–one that will help the economy grow from the middle class out and build an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few. And it appears that the wave could be catching on.

Brad Schenck, Rainforest Action Network

Photo: Chelsea Matthews / RAN

June 5th is World Environment Day, and Thomas’ Langurs monkeys need your help.

This highly localized primate—sometimes called “punky monkeys”—live only in rainforests on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra, in Indonesia. Indonesia has the largest rainforest in all of Asia and it’s a global hotspot of animal and human diversity, home to hundreds of distinct cultures and over 3,000 animal species like this one. Conflict Palm Oil is destroying their only home and is one of the leading causes of climate change—but you can change that.

Join in and help save our rainforest from destruction this World Environment Day by making a $5 donation now.

With your help, we’re calling out 20 of the top snack food brands that are using palm oil tied to rainforest destruction and demanding that they change their ways.

No punky monkeys—or Sumatran tigers, or orangutans, or any other wildlife that calls the rainforest home—should lose their homes for cheap snack foods.

Can you chip in $5 to help stop Indonesia’s rainforests from being bulldozed for Conflict Palm Oil?

Brad Schenck


Brad Schenck
Digital Engagement Director


I’m a mother of six Marines ~~ Loraine Tackett,

My name is Loraine Tackett from Billings, Montana. I’m a mother to nine children … six of whom are United States Marines.

It can be difficult at times, as you can imagine, but I am grateful that U.S. Senator, and Iraq War veteran, John Walsh is on our side. He recognizes that the cost of war doesn’t end after the troops come home, and is committed to making sure all veterans, including those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, receive the care they deserve.

Representative Steve Daines is running for Walsh’s Senate seat, but he’s consistently aligned himself with the Tea Party Caucus and voted against improving care at the VA and increasing the pensions of disabled vets.

Montanans deserve to know about their records, and I am proud to share my story in a VoteVets ad with one of my sons. Contribute $5 to help keep it on the air.


As veterans, military family members, and VoteVets supporters, you know that Tea Party Representatives like Steve Daines have politicized the VA crisis while consistently voting against legislation that would get to the root of the problem and improve care.

VoteVets has pledged to share that story across the country, in many states.

I’m happy to help them in Montana.

Loraine Tackett
Mother to six U.S. Marines

Meet the Bay Area Impact Challenge winners


Ten days ago, voting opened for Google’s first Bay Area Impact Challenge, and now the tally is in. On the ballot? Ten amazing nonprofit proposals tomake a difference in our community.Between May 22 and June 2, nearly 200,000 votes poured in (191,504to be exact)—adjusted for population, that makes it the highest voter turnout we’ve had in a Challenge to date. Now we’re unveiling the winners. Each will receive $500,000 in funding and support from Google:

  • Hack the Hood will address digital equity by training low-income youth to build websites for local small businesses, actively supporting them to launch their own tech careers.
  • Center for Employment Opportunities will develop a tech platform to prepare formerly incarcerated people for employment in a digital world.
  • The Health Trust will create new distribution channels for people to get affordable produce, expanding options for street vendors, corner stores, and farmers’ markets for underserved areas.
  • Bring me a book will give kids access to digital books, in multiple languages, while creating a supportive online community for parents and caregivers.
Hack the Hood celebrates their win with community advisor Reverend Cecil Williams

But everyone wins in this competition: The six remaining finalists will each receive $250,000, and we also gave an additional 15 nonprofits around the Bay Area $100,000 each.

Finally, all 25 Google Impact Challenge nonprofits will receive one year of accelerator support at our first-ever impact lab, a co-working space launched in partnership with Impact Hub SF, a shared workspace for entrepreneurs committed to positive social and environmental change.

Nonprofits will have access to networking events, meeting space, and development workshops in the Impact Hub SF, as well as membership to all U.S. Hub locations. We also plan to host community events for the Bay Area nonprofit community throughout the year—so check out our website or follow us on Google+ to stay in the loop.

Now the work really begins, and we’re excited to continue to build on our ongoing efforts to give back to the community.

Posted by Jacquelline Fuller, Director of