VFW Washington Weekly June 7, 2013
In This Issue: 1. New Stolen Valor Law 2. Senate Discusses Sexual Assault in Military 3. MST Bill Clears House 4. Military-VA Funding Bill Clears House 5. House Armed Services Moves NDAA 6. VFW Defends Commissaries 7. Burn Pit Registry Seeking Public Comment 8. Three MIAs Identified 1. New Stolen Valor Law: The president signed the new VFW-supported Stolen Valor Act of 2013 into law on Monday. Said VFW National Commander John Hamilton, “the new law is bullet-proof against another constitutional challenge because the focus is now on the intent to profit from the lie — to obtain money, property or something of a tangible benefit or value — which is what con artists have been doing throughout history.” Not every combat award is covered, but the ones most coveted will now have wannabe heroes facing up to a year in jail and $100,000 fines for each offense. For the VFW statement click here: http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2013-Articles/VFW-Salutes-New-Stolen-Valor-Law/
2. Senate Discusses Sexual Assaults in Military: On Tuesday, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing to discuss pending legislation regarding sexual assaults in the military. The hearing marked the first time that each service chief answered specific questions on sexual misconduct in the military and the committee took advantage of the opportunity to speak at length with all stakeholders about legislative proposals. The VFW has consistently advocated for improved reporting mechanisms and recourse for victims of sexual assault in the military, as well as streamlining the path to necessary health care and benefits for victims. For more information, including the archived webcast of the hearing, visit our Capitol Hill blog at: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2013/06/senate-discusses-sexual-assault-in.html. 3. MST Bill Clears House: VFW-supported legislation, HR 671, The Ruth Moore Act passed the house this week. The bill brings military assault victims a step closer to receiving the care and compensation they deserve. VFW will be testifying on the Senate version, S. 294, introduced by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) next week when the Senate VA Committee holds its hearing on pending benefits’ legislation. Tester’s bill contains stronger language then what was passed in the House, requiring a law change to aligned MST claims with combat PTSD regulations within current VA regulations. VFW has strongly supported this change and looks to the Senate to move the bill quickly.
4. Military-VA Funding Bill Clears House: This week, The House passed the Military Construction-VA funding bill 421-4. HR 2216 is the first appropriations measure to be advanced by the House this session. Overall the bill provides $157.8 billion for veterans programs and military construction in FY 2014. The bill also included several amendments designed to reduce wait times for disability claim decisions to include increased funding for a paperless claims system for digital scanning of health and benefits files to help VA in its goal to end the backlog by 2015. Other Highlights included: * $57.5 billion for VA medical care accounts (this includes $54.5 billion for advanced appropriations for FY 2014). * $55.6 billion in advanced funding for VA Medical programs for FY 2015. * $290 million for disability claims systems * $35 million for TBI and PTSD research * $252 million to establish a single, integrated Department of Defense (DOD) and VA electronic health record system. Short comings include: * Prosthetics research, $586 million requested, $25 million less than the IB request * Medical Facilities (which include non-recurring maintenance), $4.87 billion requested, $698 million less than the IB request. * Construction, $1.2 billion requested, $1 billion less than the IB request. For the IBs press release regarding the Administration’s budget request click here: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/veterans-groups-president-budget-falls-212200801.html. For more highlights of the bill, visit the House Appropriations website at: http://appropriations.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=336730. 5. House Armed Services Moves NDAA: This week, the House Armed Services Committee cleared their FY 2014 Defense Authorization bill (HR 1960) after a long day of amendments and discussion about military programs. Among the provisions included in the bills mark was personnel subcommittee language that would bar commanders from dismissing all but minor sexual offenses from a court martial, and prohibit them from reducing a guilty finding in a sexual assault case to a lesser offense. The language adopted comes just a day after the Senate discussed similar bills within their chamber with top military leaders in a hearing about military sexual assaults (see item #2). Other key provisions included a 1.8. percent pay raise for service members, rejection of Tricare Fees or higher pharmacy co-pays except for a $4 increase in out-patient co-pays for Tricare Prime beneficiaries. Members also adopted a bill by Congressman John Kline (R-MN) that would allow those beneficiaries to stay under Tricare Prime using one-time “opt-in” feature — DOD is requiring Prime enrollees who reside more than 40 miles from a military treatment facility to switch to Tricare Standard, effective October 1, 2013. The House is expected to vote on the bill next week and the Senate is schedule to begin discussion on their authorization bill as well. Check back here for more coverage of the NDAA as it moves through Congress. For complete highlights of the bill visit the HASC website at: http://armedservices.house.gov/index.cfm/press-releases?ContentRecord_id=dd06bb6d-c031-488d-88c4-b60e8ff35e28. 6. VFW Defends Commissaries: Last weekend the Washington Post published an article defending critics of military commissaries while attacking groups like the VFW who they believe are advocating to save “wasteful” military programs. The VFW first called attention to proposals to gut the commissary system as part of our “10 for 10” campaign in 2011. Now, it seems the opposition is coming after groups like the VFW. VFW will never apologize for advocating for our active duty military, veterans, retirees and their families. To read our entire blog posting, to include the Washington Post article, and our 10 for 10 campaign talking points, click here: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2013/06/defending-military-commissariesagain.html.
7. Burn Pit Registry Seeking Public Comment: The VA is asking for public comment on a planned registry of military members potentially exposed to open-air burn pit toxins from our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the from the first Gulf War. To establish its “Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry,” the VA is required to solicit public comment on the proposed collection of information for the index. According to a VA press release issued Wednesday, the registry will include a web-based questionnaire for troops and veterans to report health concerns and exposures. The 2012 Dignified Burial and Veterans Benefits Improvement Act required VA to establish a burn-pit registry by January 2014. Read more at https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/06/05/2013-13224/proposed-information-collection-open-burn-pit-registry-airborne-hazard-self-assessment-questionnaire.
8. Three MIAs Identified: The Defense POW/MIA Affairs Office announced the identification of remains belonging to a World War II airman and two Korean War soldiers. Returned home are: * Army Air Force Sgt. Charles R. Marshall, 19, of Martin, Ky. On July 21, 1944, a B-24H Liberator with nine crew aboard was shot down and crashed while on a bombing raid against enemy targets in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. Of the nine crew members, six parachuted to safety; a seventh crewmen’s remains were recovered near Hadorf. Marshall and another crewman were not recovered, and attempts to recover their remains after the war were unsuccessful.
* Army 1st Lt. Douglas H. Haag, 26, of Louisville, Ky. In early July 1950, Haag, and elements of the 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, were deployed along the Kum River in western South Korea when North Korean forces struck and overran the U.S. positions. Haag was reported missing, and later would be presumed dead and his remains non-recoverable.
* Army Master Sgt. Olen B. Williams, 37, of Verbena, Ala. In late 1950, Williams and elements of the 31st Regimental Combat Team were establishing a defensive line south of a bridge across the P’ungnyuri River, near a small village in Sinhung-ni, North Korea, when they were attacked by enemy forces. Williams was reported missing in action after the battle. Read more about their individual recovery stories at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases/.
As always, we want to share your advocacy stories on the VFW Capitol Hill blog. To share your stories, either fill out our online form by clicking here, http://www.vfw.org/Forms/Capitol-Hill-Blog-Submissions/, or simply email photos and stories directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WASHINGTON (April 15, 2013) — The Pentagon announced today that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has cancelled the creation of the Distinguished Warfare Medal, and instead will create a new device to affix to existing medals to properly recognize drone operators, cyber warriors and others who are making a tremendous real-time impact on battlefields far away.
John E. Hamilton, national commander of the 2 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and its Auxiliaries, said the right decision was made. “The VFW is appreciative of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for their review, and commends Secretary Hagel for taking this issue on so early in his tenure. This decision will clearly keep medals that can only be earned in combat in their high order of precedence, while providing proper recognition to all who support our warfighters regardless of their distance from the fight.”
The shape of the new device, the medals it can be affixed to, plus award eligibility, are expected to be determined within the next 90 days.
ABOUT THE VFW: The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is a nonprofit veterans’ service organization composed of combat veterans and eligible military service members from the active, Guard and Reserve forces. Founded in 1899 and chartered by Congress in 1936, the VFW is the nation’s largest organization of war veterans and its oldest major veterans’ organization. With almost 2 million members located in more than 7,200 VFW Posts worldwide, “NO ONE DOES MORE FOR VETERANS.” The VFW and its Auxiliaries are dedicated to veterans’ service, legislative advocacy, and military and community service programs worldwide. For more information or to join, visit our website at www.vfw.org.
Many questions loom surrounding potential cuts to government programs geared to assist America’s veterans and service members as a result of sequestration. Armed with its 2013 Legislative Priority Goals, the VFW will continue to combat all changes or cuts to programs that could have an adverse effect on our nation’s heroes.
We want you to know exactly where we stand on the issues. So, we are hosting our first VFW Twitter Chat Friday, April 19, 2013, at 10:30 a.m. EDT. The VFW will answer participants’ questions regarding the VFW’s 2013 Legislative Priority Goals for one hour in real-time via the VFW’s National Twitter page, @VFWHQ, using the hashtag #ASKVFW.
This chat will allow participants to gain insight into initiatives the VFW proudly supports and advocates for, and gain a better understanding of how hard we’re working in Washington. All you’ll need is a Twitter account to participate, which you can register for at www.twitter.com.
VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY
April 5, 2013
In This Issue:
1. VFW to Testify on Pending Legislation
2. Veterans’ Committee to Hear VA Budget Proposal
3. Pentagon Opposes Fort Hood Purple Hearts
4. Secretary Hagel Says Difficult Decisions to Come
5. Pentagon Expands Valor Website
6. WWII Airman Identified
1.VFW to Testify on Pending Legislation: VFW is scheduled to testify before the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity on Wednesday, April 10 at 10 a.m. in room 334 of the Cannon House Office Building. VFW Deputy Legislative Director Ryan Gallucci plans to present the VFW’s views on veterans’ legislation pending before the subcommittee addressing issues like education, training opportunities, employment, rehabilitation and homelessness. The subcommittee will post additional information about the hearing early next week. Tune in to the hearing LIVE on Wednesday at 10 a.m., by clicking here: http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/legislative-hearing-on-hr-357-hr-562-hr-631-hr-844-hr-1305-hr-1316-hr-1402-a-draft-bill.
VFW also created an event on Facebook for the hearing, which you can find by clicking here: https://www.facebook.com/events/135657346618978/
2. Veterans’ Committee to Hear VA Budget Proposal: Next Thursday VA leaders will present the President’s FY2014 budget proposal for VA to the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. The VFW, which presented its FY2014 budget analysis in January as part of the Independent Budget, will offer our response to the President’s budget early next week on www.vfw.org. Tune in to next week’s hearing LIVE on Thursday at 10 a.m., by clicking here: http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/us-department-of-veterans-affairs-budget-request-for-fiscal-year-2014
To read the FY2104 Independent Budget, click here: http://www.independentbudget.org/
3. Pentagon Opposes Fort Hood Purple Hearts: In a position paper addressed to Rep. John Carter, (R-Texas), whose district includes Fort Hood, the Pentagon is again opposing the award of the Purple Heart to the 13 dead and 32 wounded by alleged shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan on Nov. 5, 2009. According to ABC News, the position paper says awarding the Purple Hearts “will be viewed as setting the stage for a formal declaration that Major Hasan is a terrorist,” and that, in turn, will allow Defense counsel to “argue that Major Hasan cannot receive a fair trial because a branch of government has indirectly declared that Major Hasan is a terrorist.” The congressman wants the Fort Hood victims to receive the same status that was awarded to 9/11 Pentagon casualties, who received the Purple Heart or the DOD civilian equivalent. Purple Hearts were also denied for the two Army privates who were shot outside a Little Rock, Ark., military recruiting center on June 1, 2009. Pvt. Andy Long’s killer, Abdulhakim Muhammad, pled guilty, and is now serving life in prison without the possibility for parole. Read more about Fort Hood, to include a link to the Pentagon position paper, at http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/purple-hearts-fort-hood-victims-pentagon/story?id=18845771&singlePage=true
4. Secretary Hagel Says Difficult Decisions to Come: This week Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel delivered his first major speech as Secretary of Defense at National Defense University in Washington. In his speech, Hagel explained that under his leadership the Pentagon would need to reevaluate how it handled and prioritized personnel and readiness programs, making difficult decisions along the way. The VFW has been a strong advocate for maintaining military personnel, readiness, and quality-of-life programs, most recently fighting to maintain military Tuition Assistance. Your VFW will watch closely as the Pentagon looks to transform the force, persistently advocating to save programs affecting service members and their quality-of-life. To learn more about Secretary Hagel’s speech, click here: http://www.militarytimes.com/article/20130403/NEWS05/304030013/Hagel-launches-sweeping-review-DoD-structure
5. Pentagon Expands Valor Website: The Defense Department announced in late March that it had expanded its valor website to include Medal of Honor recipients from actions prior to Sept. 11, 2001. To the VFW, it’s only the beginning of a much longer process that DOD must undertake to properly document for prosperity the medals it awards, and to help expose Stolen Valor frauds. Once complete, the site, http://valor.defense.gov, will also include all Service Cross recipients, but only those Silver Star recipients awarded after Sept. 11, 2001. That’s not good enough, plus noticeably absent are hyperlinks to medal citations. A much more thorough listing is available at Military Times Hall of Valor, http://projects.militarytimes.com/citations-medals-awards/, which is maintained to an exceptionally high degree of accuracy by Vietnam veteran and fellow VFW life member Doug Sterner and his wife, Pam, based entirely on open source documentation. Hopefully the passage of VFW-supported legislation (H.R. 258/S. 210) to create a new Stolen Valor Act of 2013 will force DOD into properly documenting the medals and combat badges it awards.
6. WWII Airman Identified: The Defense POW/MIA Office announced the identification of remains belonging to Army Air Forces 1st Lt. John E. Terpning, of Mount Prospect, Ill. On May 7, 1944, Terpning was the pilot of a B-24D Liberator that departed New Guinea on a bombing mission. Due to mechanical troubles, the aircraft was delayed in departing the airbase and was unable to join the formation after takeoff. Neither the aircraft nor its 10-man crew were seen again after takeoff. Read more at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases/.
Kansas City, Mo. – VFW announces it is now accepting entries into next year’s Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen scholarship competitions. The announcement comes just two weeks after students from across the globe took home their share of nearly $3 million dollars in scholarships and awards from last year’s competitions.
VFW’s Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen essay competitions are dedicated to promoting patriotism among our nation’s youth. Students are asked to submit an essay in response to a question or statement on a subject which prompts them to consider how democratic ideals and principals apply to their lives.
This year’s Voice of Democracy theme asks students to explain, “Why I’m Optimistic About Our Nation’s Future.” The Voice of Democracy scholarship competition is an audio-essay competition open to students in grades 9-12. Students are asked to record their statement in response to the theme and submit their entry to their local Posts. The national winner will receive the $30,000, T.C. Selman Memorial Scholarship Award. Click here for more information.
The Patriot’s Pen competition is open to students in grades 6-8. This year, students are asked to reflect on the statement, “What Patriotism Means to Me.” The national winner will receive a $5,000 award. Click here for more information.
The deadline for submissions is November 1, 2013.
The national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. left the Oval Office this [yesterday] morning knowing that President Obama shares his same concerns for properly caring for military veterans, service members and their families.
“It was a very positive meeting and we’re grateful for the opportunity,” said John E. Hamilton, a combat wounded Vietnam Marine Corps rifleman from St. Augustine, Fla., who is in Washington for the VFW’s annual legislative conference, which includes presenting the organization’s top legislative priorities before a joint hearing of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees on Tuesday.
As you all are well aware, many of our departments on the eastern seaboard were hit by Hurricane Sandy. While we don’t yet know the full extent of the damages to our members, we know that there will be a need for financial assistance. We’re asking all departments, districts and posts to send a monetary donation earmarked for the Sandy fund. Any money received will be used for this purpose and should there be a surplus, it will be held in reserve for future disasters as was done with the Katrina fund.
Please direct donations to:
406 W. 34th St.
Kansas City, MO 64111
Allen “Gunner” Kent
406 W. 34th St.
Kansas City, MO 64111
VFW Washington Weekly
In this issue:
1. VFW to Attend Both Conventions: The VFW will be represented at the upcoming Republican National Convention in Tampa next week and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte in early September to ensure the voice of veterans, service members and their families is not lost during Campaign 2012. Leading both delegations will be VFW Legislative Director Ray Kelley. Stay informed throughout by reading their blog postings at: www.vfwonthehill.org/
2. President Signs USERRA Bill: Recently, the President signed VFW-supported legislation (H.R.3670) which requires the Transportation Security Administration to comply with the Uniformed Servicemembers Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, or USERRA. The VFW was instrumental in getting the bill introduced and offered our testimony in support of the legislation before the House VA Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity in March. VFW legislative associate Daniel Elkins, who currently serves in the National Guard, spearheaded efforts to find cosponsors for the bill, which helped to push the legislation through Congress. For more details about the bill, visit our Capitol Hill Blog at: http://www.vfwonthehill.org/2012/08/president-signs-userra-protections-for.html
3. New TRICARE Prime Rates Announced: On Oct. 1, military retirees will see their TRICARE Prime enrollment fees increase to $269.28 for singles and $538.56 for families. The increase reflects the 3.6% cost-of-living adjustment retirees received in 2012, when applied to the FY 2012 enrollment fee of $260 (single) and $520 (family). Retirees enrolled in TRICARE Prime prior to Oct. 1, 2011, will see a more significant increase because their enrollment fees were held at previous levels of $230 and $460, respectively. Survivors of active duty deceased sponsors and medically retired members and their dependents are exempt from annual fee increases as long as there is no break in their TRICARE Prime enrollment. Active duty service members and their families have no enrollment fee. Read more at http://www.tricare.mil/mybenefit/home/Costs/HealthPlanCosts/TRICAREPrimeOptions/EnrollmentFees.
4. VFW Speaks at Joint DoD / VA Airborne Hazards Symposium: Tuesday marked the opening of the first-of-its-kind gathering of DoD and VA officials to discuss airborne hazards. The closed-door conference will evaluate available data related to exposures to deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and debate how we should move forward to improve our diagnosis and treatment of these conditions. VFW was on hand for the opening session of the invitation-only event to discuss the available scientific data released by an Institute of Medicine report last year, and the impact these conditions have on veterans. Without this and other efforts to tackle this issue, veterans with serious unseen respiratory health conditions will go unresolved. The VFW will continue to advocate on behalf of affected veterans and provide more information on an ongoing basis.
5. VFW Joins Roundtable Discussion on Education: The VFW joined education industry experts, congressional staffers and veterans’ advocates from Student Veterans of America for a roundtable discussion on veterans’ education as part of the American Legion’s national convention in Indianapolis this week. VFW Deputy Legislative Director Ryan Gallucci was invited to participate in the roundtable discussion, which sought to identify issues faced by student-veterans pursuing an education with the Post-9/11 GI Bill in an effort to build consensus on how to improve educational decision-making for today’s veterans. To learn about the roundtable and VFW’s continued work helping to protect student-veterans, click here: http://www.vfwonthehill.org/2012/08/vfw-joins-roundtable-discussion-on.html
6. National POW/MIA Day is Sept. 21: National POW/MIA Recognition Day observances are held nationwide the third Friday of every September on military installations, ships at sea, state capitals, schools, VA facilities and VFW Posts. The observance is one of only six days — the others are Armed Forces, Memorial, Flag, Independence and Veterans Days — that the flying of the National League of Families’ POW/MIA flag is required on all federal buildings and installations, though many government agencies voluntarily fly the POW/MIA Flag 24/7. Hundreds of copies of the 2012 National POW/MIA Recognition Day poster were distributed at the 113th VFW National Convention last month. That poster is now only available for download at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/pow_day/.
7. WWII Airman Recovered: The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced the identification of remains belonging to Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. John E. Hogan, 20, of West Plains, Mo. On Sept. 13, 1944, Hogan and eight other crewmembers were aboard a B-17G Flying Fortress that crashed near Neustaedt-on-the-Werra, Germany. Only one was able to successfully parachute out of the aircraft. Read more about his recovery at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases/2012/release_hogan.pdf.
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July 13, 2012
In This Issue:
1. Obama, Romney Coming to VFW Convention:
2. House Passes Two VFW-Supported Bills
3. VFW Education Package Moves in House
4. VFW Reacts to Military Compensation Survey
5. VFW Calls For International Treaty for Disability Rights
6. MIA Recovery Operations to Resume in India
7. Ten MIAs Identified
1. Obama, Romney Coming to VFW Convention: It was announced this week that both President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney will address the 113th VFW National Convention in Reno on July 23 and 24, respectively. VFW National Commander Richard DeNoyer said he was grateful to both the president and governor for honoring a long standing VFW tradition that provides a platform for those seeking the nation’s highest office to address issues of importance directly to veterans, military service members and their families. Read more at www.vfw.org.
2. House Passes Two VFW-Supported Bills: Congress returned from the Fourth of July recess this week to pass two VFW-supported bills that would increase cost-of-living allowances, or COLA, for veterans in 2013 (H.R. 4114) and direct federal agencies to recognize military training for federal licenses (H.R. 4155). The Senate later in the week passed H.R. 4155, which means the bill now awaits the President’s signature. To learn more about each of these bills and the VFW’s efforts to get them approved, go to http://www.vfwonthehill.org/2012/07/house-passes-two-veterans-bills.html.
3. VFW Education Package Moves in House: The House VA Committee hosted a mark-up this week and passed three major pieces of veterans’ legislation supported by the VFW, to include a veterans’ education package directly inspired by VFW advocacy efforts. The three bills were the Improving Transparency of Education Opportunities for Veterans Act (H.R. 4057); the Veterans Fiduciary Reform Act (H.R. 5948); and the Military Family Home Protection Act (H.R. 5747). Each bill was extensively amended to include more than a dozen other VFW-supported legislative proposals. To learn more about each of the bills and to find links to VFW testimony on each of the issues, click on http://www.vfwonthehill.org/2012/07/vfws-education-package-among-veterans.html.
4. VFW Reacts to Military Compensation Survey: The VFW was on hand at the National Press Club to hear the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments unveil its report from a recent survey of service members, veterans, military families and retirees about military compensation. The VFW was harshly critical of the proposed survey when it was announced in January, and continues to voice concerns over how the Pentagon will receive the results. To read the survey, VFW’s reaction or learn more about the press conference, click here: http://www.vfwonthehill.org/2012/07/vfw-reacts-to-survey-on-military.html.
5. VFW Calls For International Treaty for Disability Rights: The VFW was on hand this week for a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the Senate ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Immediately following the hearing, VFW Legislative Director Ray Kelley joined Senators John McCain and Dick Durbin for a press conference, calling for the treaty. Learn more about CRPD and this week’s press conference at http://www.vfwonthehill.org/2012/07/vfw-calls-for-international-treaty-for.html.
6. MIA Recovery Operations to Resume in India: The U.S. and India have agreed to resume remains recovery activities this fall in parts of Northeastern India. The Defense Department believes there are approximately 400 unaccounted-for service members from some 90 aircraft crashes in India during World War II. The U.S. possesses information on eighteen known crash sites and continues to develop information on others. Read more at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases/2012/release_remains_recovey_in_india.pdf.
7. Ten MIAs Return Home: The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced the identification of remains belonging to 10 servicemen missing from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Returned home are:
Read their individual recovery stories at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases/.
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IMPORTANT/URGENT INFORMATION FOR ALL POST SERVICE OFFICERS WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT OF NEW HAMPSHIRE Comrades, Within the last few days, there has been a very significant, important change made to the way we conduct our duties here in the Service Office, which also affects each of you Post Service Officers across our Department…
Even though this topic will be discussed at our upcoming OTI Session in August, these changes go into effect before then, so please, take some time to read the information below, which comes from our National Veterans Service Headquarters in Washington,D.C.
In brief, this is what the below message means, and what will be important for each of you to know, as a result of these new changes: -These changes have come about, at least in part, as a result of actions that took place in another department. These changes are in no way due to anything any of you have done wrong here in our Department, Comrades.
-The form that we normally use that allows us to legally represent a veteran or a widow of a client is known as a VA FORM 21-22:APPOINTMENT OF VETERAN’S SERVICE ORGANIZATION AS CLAIMANT’S REPRESENTATIVE.
Those of you who have worked through our office in the past, or still do work with us may recall that we are required by regulations to have a client sign one before we can operate on a client’s behalf. What’s most important for you Post Service Officers out in the field to know about the revised Power Of Attorney (POA) Form is that in order for it to be a valid , Legally-Binding document now, it must also be approved and signed by myself: your Department Service Officer, before the VA will accept the form.
If you please click on the link provided to view the revised POA form contained in the message below, and take a moment to locate Block #17 (“Signature of Veteran’s Service Organization Representative”), you will see that my signature must go just below that of our client’s now.
-IN A NUTSHELL, what this means for each of you at Post level is, that you can no longer print out and have a veteran or widow sign one of these forms , and send it in to the VA, in order to have the VA process a claim for them. If the form does not include my signature, but lists the VFW as their representative, the form will not be valid, and likely will be returned to the veteran or widow who filled it out in the first place.
-If you have a veteran or widow who needs our assistance, we ask that you please CONTACT US FIRST , before filling out any forms, in order to avoid any potential issues with the VA, and so we can help you assist the veteran or widow.
**-Part of the reason this change has gone into place is because as part of our official National Veterans’ Service Policy, we are not permitted to accept POA’s from the following groups of veterans:
a.)Veterans who we have had to Revoke their Power Of Attorney (POA) with our organization because of things such as :Misconduct, Attempting to file Fraudulent Claims with the VA, or Failing to Cooperate with us, to allow us and the VA to process their claim(s), and they make the decision to attempt to ask that the VFW represent them again, despite that.
b.)Veterans who already have claims that are on Appeal, and are currently at the Board of Veteran’s Appeals (BVA), down in Washington, D.C. ,awaiting a decision from a Veterans Law Judge. Once an Appeal has been filed, it is too late for our organization to jump in to represent the client at that point.
…Sadly, it has been our experience that some veterans are not always forthcoming about details like these, when they come to the VFW (both at office and post levels) for help, because they usually understand that , if we knew this information, we could not assist them at that point. We have discovered some veterans have been less than thruthful with some of you at Post Level over the years, which is in no way your fault, Comrades. Unfortunately, we do encounter fellow veterans who are not always as honest as each of you are out there.
The changes in the POA form make it easier for us here at the Service Office to first verify the following information before taking on a new client:
1.)Whether they are already represented by another veteran’s organization.
2.)Whether we have previously revoked their POA with us due to some form of Misconduct.
3.)Whether or not they have any cases already active, and in process.
4.)Whether or not any of their active claims are in ‘APPEAL’ status at that time. These changes are meant to ensure that we know exactly who we are representing more accurately, at Service Office level, and also help the VA to know exactly who we are representing,as well.
As always, Comrades, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact us here at the Service Office, so that we can give you the correct guidance in situations you may face there at your posts. Here’s our contact information, in case you do not already have it handy: email: email@example.com phone: (603) 222-5780 fax: (603) 222-5783
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us…and, attendance at our upcoming OTI session in August is STRONGLY ENCOURAGED, in light of the recent changes the VA has put into affect recently. Your help and support of the Service Office is always greatly appreciated. Yours in Comradeship, John Barrett Department Service Officer
________________________________________ From: Theresa Aldana [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Gerald T. Manar Sent: Thursday, June 21, 2012 11:58 AM Subject: **URGENT UPDDATE **Re: Fast Ltr 12-16, Revision of VA Form 21-22 Importance: High Fast Letter 12-16, Revision of VA Form 21-22, Appointment of Veterans Service Organization as Claimant’s Representative, June 20, 2012 This Fast Letter implements changes required by 38 CFR 14.631(a). Specifically, a service organization representative must accept the appointment, in writing, of a Power of Attorney before it is legally binding on the service organization and the VA. VA revised its Form 21-22 in January 2012 to include a signature block for this purpose.
There are at least two problems which must be addressed by Department Service Officers immediately: Education of CVSO’s and PSO’s FL 12-16 was issued without advance notice to VSO’s. Although we knew this change was coming, we did not know the date it would take effect. As a consequence, the effective date of the change, June 20, 2012, took many service officers by surprise.
“The latest version of the VA Form 21-22 is dated February 2012. Due to significant revisions to the VA Form 21-22, prior versions of the form will no longer be accepted as of the date of this letter. Prior versions of the form that were processed and placed in claims folders prior to the date of this letter remain valid.”
Department Service Officers must make every effort to ensure that all VFW accredited representatives within your Department (e.g., county veteran service officers; PSO’s) comply fully with this change.
The current version of VA Form 21-22 can be found at: http://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21-22-ARE.pdf
Required E-Mail address Page 2, paragraph 1 of FL 12-16 states that Block 3C of the new form requires the E-Mail address of the organization named in block 3A. “Do not update BIRLS or any other VA electronic system with the VSO’s appointment unless the VA Form 21-22 contains a VSO signature. Items 3A through 3C and 17 and 18 MUST be completed in order for the VA Form 21-22 to be valid.” DO NOT USE ANY GENERAL VFW E-MAIL ADDRESS.
If you have not done so already, ask VA to create a VFW email account for your office. Ensure that you have the authority to provide access to at least one other staff member in your office. Once established, this should be the email address shown in Block 3C. It will be your responsibility to check the VFW email account daily in order to evaluate and respond, as appropriate, to any emails which appear in that account. In your absence, one or more members of your staff should check that account at least once a day and respond to those emails as appropriate.
We have learned that VA announced today that it would delay enforcement of the requirements of FL 12-16 for 30-60 days so that service officers have the time to educate CVSO’s and others about these changes. DSO’s must take action now to ensure that the new VA Form 21-22 is used and properly completed by all VFW accredited service officers in their jurisdiction.
Jerry Manar Deputy Director National Veterans Service Veterans of Foreign Wars
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