Senator Toni Atkins to be Honored as Legislator of the Year by Top Veterans Group

April 19, 2017

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Department of California, will name state Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks) “Legislators of the Year” at its annual Legislative Day Reception tonight in Sacramento.

“We are proud to recognize these two outstanding legislators,” said VFW, Dept. of California State Adjutant / Quartermaster Steve Milano. “Senator Atkins and Assemblywoman Irwin have been instrumental in advancing veterans’ programs in California and we are pleased to recognize their hard work and achievements on behalf of the veterans of our state.”

Atkins has long made veterans issues one of her top priorities. For years, she has been actively involved in solutions aimed at providing affordable housing for veterans and their families and securing hard-earned benefits for men and women who have served their country.

“It’s truly an honor to have my efforts on behalf of veterans recognized by an effective advocacy organization like the VFW,” Atkins said. “Not only are veterans an important and venerable component of San Diego’s population and history; military service is also a major part of my DNA, with numerous members of my family having served in the armed forces. For me, taking care of veterans is both personal and a public-policy imperative.”

Atkins co-authored the bill that led to Proposition 41, which repurposed $600 million in available funding to pay for veterans housing. So far, $180 million has been awarded in two funding rounds, providing housing for 1,600 veterans. A third round of awards will be announced soon.

She has also been instrumental in increasing funding for County Veterans Service Officers and “Strike Force” teams at federal claims offices that help veterans obtain overdue and current veteran benefits and payments. And, each year, she participates in San Diego Stand Down, a weekend-long event that connects homeless veterans to vital services; several years ago, she launched Socks for Stand Down, a program that facilitates donations of new socks from the community for Stand Down participants.

The VFW “Legislator of the Year” Award has been presented to members of the California State Legislature who have provided leadership on issues involving benefits and services to the veterans of the nation’s military services.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is a nonprofit veterans’ service organization composed of combat veterans and those who currently serve on active duty or in the Guard and Reserves. Founded in 1899 and chartered by Congress in 1936, the VFW is the nation's largest organization of war veterans and is one of its oldest veterans’ organizations. With 2.1 million members located in 7,700 VFW Posts worldwide, the VFW and its Auxiliaries are dedicated to “honor the dead by helping the living” through veterans service, legislative initiatives, youth scholarships, Buddy Poppy and national military service programs. Annually, the VFW and its Auxiliaries contribute more than 11 million hours of community service to the nation.