VFW Washington Weekly 3 May 2013

May, 3 2013

In   This Issue:
1. New Student   -Veteran Support Program
2. VFW Joins Discussion on Credentialing
3. Congress returns to   Busy May Schedule
4. Vietnam MIAs Buried

1. New Student-Veteran   Support Program: In partnership with Student Veterans of   America, the VFW launched 1studentveteran@vfw.org   to provide direct assistance to student-veterans on 800 college and   university campuses who may experience problems accessing their GI Bill or   other earned benefits provided by VA. Said VFW National Commander John   Hamilton, “Student-veterans will now have a place to turn to for   reliable and timely help when they encounter problems with the VA.” Read   more at http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2013-Articles/VFW,-SVA-Launch-New-Initiative-to-Help-Student-Veterans/.

2.   VFW Joins Discussion on Credentialing: This week, VFW   spent some time at the White House for a series of roundtable discussions on   military professional credentialing and academic credit for military training   and experience. The discussion is part of First Lady Michelle Obama, and Dr.   Jill Biden’s Joining Forces initiative. Hundreds of stakeholders across the   federal government, private industry, military and the veterans’ community   were on hand to discuss ways to improve the portability of military training   for civilian professional licenses and credentials as well as academic credit   toward a college degree. VFW has been and will continue to be a vocal   advocate on both of these issues. We have helped champion legislation in the   last Congress to improve career portability and academic preparedness for   transitioning service members and veterans. We will continue to work with the   White House, VA, the Pentagon and Congress to ensure that separating service   members have access to quality careers after leaving the military. For more   on the event and the Joining Forces campaign visit our blog at: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2013/04/vfw-joins-white-house-roundtables-on.html

3. Congress Returns to Busy May Schedule: Congress returns   to Washington next week for a busy month of bill hearings, appropriation   wrangling and mark-ups. Some of the bills that will be debated in committee   are those VFW has been monitoring since the beginning of Congress. They cover   a wide- range of topics to include homeless veteran programs, chiropractic   care, caregiver expansion, research sharing, and improvements to women   veterans’ health care within VA. Check back next week for full coverage of   the bill hearings and our testimony.
For our blog postings, click here: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/
For the Senate VA Committee website, click here: http://www.veterans.senate.gov/

4. Vietnam MIAs   Buried: On July 19, 1967, Navy Lt. Dennis W. Peterson of   Huntington Park, Calif., was the pilot of an SH-3A helicopter that took off   from the USS Hornet on a search and rescue mission of a downed pilot in Ha   Nam Province, North Vietnam. A concealed enemy 37mm gun targeted the   helicopter as it flew in. Also aboard were Ensign Donald P. Frye of Los   Angeles, and Aviation Antisubmarine Warfare Technicians William B. Jackson of   Stockdale, Texas, and Donald P. McGrane of Waverly, Iowa, all of whom had   been previously identified. The reunited crew was buried as a group on May 2   at Arlington National Cemetery. Read more at http://www.defense.gov/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=15968.

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 vfwac@vfw.org

 
 

VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY APRIL 26

In This Issue:

1. House VA Committee Moves Vet Bills

2.  VFW Attends House Leadership Roundtable –Discusses Claims Backlog

3. Affordable Care Act and VA Debated

4. Armed Services Committees Discuss Cuts and TAP

5. New VA Hotline for Women Veterans

6. Support Tools for Military Kids

7. Korean War MIA Recovered

 

1. House VA Committee Moves Vet Bills: This week, the House Subcommittees on Disability and Memorial Affairs and Economic Opportunity moved several VFW-supported bills that would improve benefits and employment/transition options for veterans. All of the bills now move to the full committee for consideration.

Bills cleared by the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity include

HR 631 – A bill which was amended to now mandate participation in the new education TAP classes for service members who plan to use their GI Bill education benefits.

HR 357 – The GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act of 2013, which will require public universities to charge only what is equal to in-state tuition for veterans, and was amended to give states two years to comply.

HR 844 – A bill which extends the eligibility period for veterans enrolling in vocational rehabilitation programs from 12 years following discharge to 17 years.

Five other bills (HR 562, HR 1305, HR 1316, HR 1402, HR 1412, and HR 1453) cleared committee, which the VFW recently supported in testimony. To read VFW’s testimony on these bills, click here: http://veterans.house.gov/witness-testimony/mr-ryan-m-gallucci-1.

Bills cleared by Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial Affairs –

H.R. 570 – A bill to provide an automatic COLA (tied to social security and CPI) increase thereby ending the need for Congress to introduce a bill each fiscal year.
H.R. 671 – The Ruth Moore Act of 2013, which would relax evidential standards and make it easier for military sexual assault victims to receive VA disability benefits

H.R. 679, the Honor America’s Guard-Reserve Retirees Act, legislation which would recognize those men and women who choose to serve our nation in the Reserve component as veterans

To read VFW’s testimony on these bills, click here: http://www.vfw.org/VFW-in-DC/Congressional-Testimony/HVAC-DAMA-Bill-Hearing/

For a list of all the bills and subcommittee action, visit the House VA Committee Website at: http://veterans.house.gov/

 

2. VFW Attends House Leadership Roundtable – Discusses Claims Backlog: On Thursday, VFW attended a roundtable discussion hosted by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi as part of ongoing efforts between the VSO community and House leadership to address the critical issues facing veterans, service members and their families. The main topic of discussion was the disability claims backlog with a nod to the goal of eliminating the backlog by 2015 using the new electronic filing system –Veterans Benefits Management System or VBMS. VFW suggested that VA must be held accountable as we move closer to the 2015 goal, but Congress should ask for milestones moving forward and VA must provide results. Criticism directed at VA has been ongoing, but VFW commented that in order to fix the broken system, VA must receive the resources needed to achieve their self-imposed goal of providing quality and timely disability ratings. To learn more about what VFW had to say, click here: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2013/04/vfw-discusses-claims-backlog-at-house.html.

 

For pictures and the Democratic Press release click here: http://www.democraticleader.gov/Pelosi_Holds_Roundtable_with_Veterans_Groups_to_Address_Disability_Claims_Backlog.

 

3. Affordable Care Act and VA Care Debated: On Wednesday, the House VA Committee held a hearing entitled “Examining the Implications of the Affordable Care Act on VA Healthcare.”  The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or ACA became law in March 2010 and will be fully implemented in January 2014.  V.A.’s fiscal year 2014 budget proposal includes a request of $88.4 million to implement the provisions of the ACA and meet the department’s responsibilities as a provider of required essential coverage. The Committee asked Dr. Robert Petzel, Undersecretary of Health, Veterans Health Administration and a Ms. Lisa Zarlenga, Legislative Council, Department of the Treasury to discuss factors that may affect veterans.  Dr. Petzel discussed enrollment changes and funding levels for medical care and IT to help meet any increase in care.  He acknowledged to committee members that they have estimated about 66,000 new enrollees (based on VA surveys of veterans) who may use VA as their choice of health care under the new law. Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) and other members were skeptical of that number and believe that the influx of veterans who may choose VA for their health care needs will be much higher.  Confusion on health care coverage and choices for those veterans living in remote and rural areas was also discussed.  Ms. Zarlenga noted the Treasury and IRS worked side-by-side with VA and HHS to make sure the rule of law provided flexibility and clarity for veterans when deciding their health care coverage. For full hearing coverage and the recorded webcast, click here: http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/examining-the-implications-of-the-affordable-care-act-on-va-healthcare.

 

4. Armed Services Committees Discuss Cuts and TAP: This week your VFW was on hand as the House and Senate Armed Services committees hosted hearings to discuss proposed military cuts and the revamped military Transition Assistance Program, or TAP. The Senate hosted each service’s assistant secretary for manpower to discuss proposed cuts to TRICARE, military pay raises, as well as morale and readiness in the wake of sequestration. The subcommittee pushed hard for increases to TRICARE fees, which the VFW vows to oppose. The House hosted officials from the departments of Defense, VA, and Labor to discuss the ongoing roll-out of the new military TAP, which VFW has played a key role in evaluating. To learn more about each hearing and to view archived webcasts, click here: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2013/04/armed-services-committees-discuss.html.

 

5. New VA Hotline for Women Veterans: The VA launched a new hotline, 1-855-VA-WOMEN or 1-855-829-6636, to respond to questions from women veterans, families and caregivers about the many VA services and resources available to women veterans. Women make up nearly 15 percent of today’s active duty military and 18 percent of Guard and Reserve forces. Yet even though the number of women using VA healthcare has doubled over the past decade to more than 350,000, women still only account for 6 percent of the total number of veterans seeking VA healthcare. “Many women who served don’t self-identify as veterans and therefore don’t think they qualify for VA benefits,” said Irene Trowell-Harris, director of VA’s Center for Women Veterans. “We need to correct existing misinformation and misperceptions so we can serve more women veterans with the benefits they’ve earned.” The new hotline joins numerous other VA hotlines that provide critical information and assistance to all veterans, such as those in crises or in danger of becoming homeless. Learn more at www.eBenefits.va.gov and MyHealtheVet.va.gov.

 

6. Support Tools for Military Kids: April is the Month of the Military Child, which recognizes the nation’s 1.8 million military children for their character, courage, sacrifices and resilience in the face of unique challenges — deployments that take parents away for months at a time; frequent moves that involve changing schools and leaving friends behind; and parents returning home with combat-related injuries. If you’re a service member with children, here’s a strong list of resources to help you help them cope with whatever military life might bring their way: http://www.dcoe.health.mil/blog/13-04-23/Support_Tools_for_Military_Families_Military_Kids.aspx.

 

7. Korean War MIA Recovered: The Defense POW/MIA Office announced the identification of remains belonging to Army Master Sgt. Robert A. Stein, 29, of Jamestown, N.Y. In late 1950, Stein and elements of the 31st Regimental Combat Team were engaged by vastly superior numbers of enemy forces east of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. Remnants of the 31st RCT, known historically as Task Force Faith, began a fighting withdrawal to a more defensible position south of the reservoir. Stein was reported missing Dec. 2, 1950. Read more 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 vfwac@vfw.org

VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY 26 APRIL 2013

VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY
April 26, 2013

In This Issue:
1. House VA Committee Moves Vet Bills
2. VFW Attends House Leadership Roundtable –Discusses Claims Backlog
3. Affordable Care Act and VA Debated
4. Armed Services Committees Discuss Cuts and TAP
5. New VA Hotline for Women Veterans
6. Support Tools for Military Kids
7. Korean War MIA Recovered

1. House VA Committee Moves Vet Bills: This week, the House Subcommittees on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs and Economic Opportunity moved several VFW-supported bills that would improve benefits and employment/transition options for veterans. All of the bills now move to the full committee for consideration.
Bills cleared by the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity include –
HR 631 — A bill which was amended to now mandate participation in the new education TAP classes for service members who plan to use their GI Bill education benefits.
HR 357 — The GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act of 2013, which will require public universities to charge only what is equal to in-state tuition for veterans, and was amended to give states two years to comply.
HR 844 — A bill which extends the eligibility period for veterans enrolling in vocational rehabilitation programs from 12 years following discharge to 17 years.
Five other bills (HR 562, HR 1305, HR 1316, HR 1402, HR 1412, and HR 1453) cleared committee, which the VFW recently supported in testimony. To read VFW’s testimony on these bills, click here: http://veterans.house.gov/witness-testimony/mr-ryan-m-gallucci-1.
Bills cleared by Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs
H.R. 570 — A bill to provide an automatic COLA (tied to social security and CPI) increase thereby ending the need for Congress to introduce a bill each fiscal year.
H.R. 671 — The Ruth Moore Act of 2013, which would relax evidential standards and make it easier for military sexual assault victims to receive VA disability benefits
H.R. 679, the Honor America’s Guard-Reserve Retirees Act, legislation which would recognize those men and women who choose to serve our nation in the Reserve component as veterans
To read VFW’s testimony on these bills, click here: http://www.vfw.org/VFW-in-DC/Congressional-Testimony/HVAC-DAMA-Bill-Hearing/
For a list of all the bills and subcommittee action, visit the House VA Committee Website at: http://veterans.house.gov/

2. VFW Attends House Leadership Roundtable – Discusses Claims Backlog: On Thursday, VFW attended a roundtable discussion hosted by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi as part of ongoing efforts between the VSO community and House leadership to address the critical issues facing veterans, service members and their families. The main topic of discussion was the disability claims backlog with a nod to the goal of eliminating the backlog by 2015 using the new electronic filing system –Veterans Benefits Management System or VBMS. VFW suggested that VA must be held accountable as we move closer to the 2015 goal, but Congress should ask for milestones moving forward and VA must provide results. Criticism directed at VA has been ongoing, but VFW commented that in order to fix the broken system, VA must receive the resources needed to achieve their self-imposed goal of providing quality and timely disability ratings. To learn more about what VFW had to say, click here: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2013/04/vfw-discusses-claims-backlog-at-house.html.

For pictures and the Democratic Press release click here: http://www.democraticleader.gov/Pelosi_Holds_Roundtable_with_Veterans_Groups_to_Address_Disability_Claims_Backlog.

3. Affordable Care Act and VA Care Debated: On Wednesday, the House VA Committee held a hearing entitled “Examining the Implications of the Affordable Care Act on VA Healthcare.” The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or ACA became law in March 2010 and will be fully implemented in January 2014. V.A.’s fiscal year 2014 budget proposal includes a request of $88.4 million to implement the provisions of the ACA and meet the department’s responsibilities as a provider of required essential coverage. The Committee asked Dr. Robert Petzel, Undersecretary of Health, Veterans Health Administration and a Ms. Lisa Zarlenga, Legislative Council, Department of the Treasury to discuss factors that may affect veterans. Dr. Petzel discussed enrollment changes and funding levels for medical care and IT to help meet any increase in care. He acknowledged to committee members that they have estimated about 66,000 new enrollees (based on VA surveys of veterans) who may use VA as their choice of health care under the new law. Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) and other members were skeptical of that number and believe that the influx of veterans who may choose VA for their health care needs will be much higher. Confusion on health care coverage and choices for those veterans living in remote and rural areas was also discussed. Ms. Zarlenga noted the Treasury and IRS worked side-by-side with VA and HHS to make sure the rule of law provided flexibility and clarity for veterans when deciding their health care coverage. For full hearing coverage and the recorded webcast, click here: http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/examining-the-implications-of-the-affordable-care-act-on-va-healthcare.

4. Armed Services Committees Discuss Cuts and TAP: This week your VFW was on hand as the House and Senate Armed Services committees hosted hearings to discuss proposed military cuts and the revamped military Transition Assistance Program, or TAP. The Senate hosted each service’s assistant secretary for manpower to discuss proposed cuts to TRICARE, military pay raises, as well as morale and readiness in the wake of sequestration. The subcommittee pushed hard for increases to TRICARE fees, which the VFW vows to oppose. The House hosted officials from the departments of Defense, VA, and Labor to discuss the ongoing roll-out of the new military TAP, which VFW has played a key role in evaluating. To learn more about each hearing and to view archived webcasts, click here: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2013/04/armed-services-committees-discuss.html.

5. New VA Hotline for Women Veterans: The VA launched a new hotline, 1-855-VA-WOMEN or 1-855-829-6636, to respond to questions from women veterans, families and caregivers about the many VA services and resources available to women veterans. Women make up nearly 15 percent of today’s active duty military and 18 percent of Guard and Reserve forces. Yet even though the number of women using VA healthcare has doubled over the past decade to more than 350,000, women still only account for 6 percent of the total number of veterans seeking VA healthcare. “Many women who served don’t self-identify as veterans and therefore don’t think they qualify for VA benefits,” said Irene Trowell-Harris, director of VA’s Center for Women Veterans. “We need to correct existing misinformation and misperceptions so we can serve more women veterans with the benefits they’ve earned.” The new hotline joins numerous other VA hotlines that provide critical information and assistance to all veterans, such as those in crises or in danger of becoming homeless. Learn more at www.eBenefits.va.gov and MyHealtheVet.va.gov.

6. Support Tools for Military Kids: April is the Month of the Military Child, which recognizes the nation’s 1.8 million military children for their character, courage, sacrifices and resilience in the face of unique challenges — deployments that take parents away for months at a time; frequent moves that involve changing schools and leaving friends behind; and parents returning home with combat-related injuries. If you’re a service member with children, here’s a strong list of resources to help you help them cope with whatever military life might bring their way: http://www.dcoe.health.mil/blog/13-04-23/Support_Tools_for_Military_Families_Military_Kids.aspx.

7. Korean War MIA Recovered: The Defense POW/MIA Office announced the identification of remains belonging to Army Master Sgt. Robert A. Stein, 29, of Jamestown, N.Y. In late 1950, Stein and elements of the 31st Regimental Combat Team were engaged by vastly superior numbers of enemy forces east of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. Remnants of the 31st RCT, known historically as Task Force Faith, began a fighting withdrawal to a more defensible position south of the reservoir. Stein was reported missing Dec. 2, 1950. Read more 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 vfwac@vfw.org

VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY APRIL 19, 2013

VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY

April 19, 2013

 

In This Issue:

1. Boston Marathon Bombing

2. Drone Medal Cancelled

3. VFW Testifies on Veterans Bills

4. VFW Leads Discussion on Veterans Education

5. VFW Hosts Twitter Chat

6. Senate Armed Services Talks Personnel Issues

7. Senate VA Holds Budget Hearing

8. Senate VA Military Construction and VA Appropriations Hearing

9. Help Complete Your Health Record

10. Three MIA’s Identified

 

1. Boston Marathon Bombing: The VFW shares in the grief and anger that Monday’s tragic terror bombing of the Boston Marathon produced. Said VFW National Commander John Hamilton, “Our hearts and prayers are with Boston and our friends, families and visitors who came to celebrate Patriots’ Day and tremendous human achievement, but who now leave wounded inside and out, or worse. As a nation, we cannot allow our great ability to heal to also become a liability. Our resiliency must not turn into complacency, because America’s enemies will neither forgive, forget or stop. The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States fully supports our nation’s law enforcement officials who will bring those responsible for this senseless and cowardly act to justice.”

 

2. Drone Medal Cancelled: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel cancelled the highly unpopular Distinguished Warfare Medal, and the Pentagon 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. The VFW, which immediately began an intense media and grassroots lobbying effort against the 9th place ranking of the new medal on the military order of precedence, is appreciative of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for their review, and commends Secretary Hagel for taking on the issue so early in his tenure. VFW National Commander John Hamilton called it the right decision, which 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.

 

3. VFW Testifies on Veterans Bills: This week, the VFW Testified before the House VA Subcommittee of Disability and Memorial Affairs on an array of veterans’ bills designed to enhance and improve benefits. VFW supported bills included:

**H.R. 570, a bill to provide an automatic COLA (tied to social security and CPI) increase thereby ending the need for Congress to introduce a bill each fiscal year.

**H.R. 671, the Ruth Moore Act of 2013, legislation that would relax evidential standards and make it easier for military sexual assault victims to receive VA disability benefits.

**H.R. 679, the Honor America’s Guard-Reserve Retirees Act,  legislation which would recognize those men and women who choose to serve our nation in the Reserve component as veterans.

For more information, including our entire testimony or to view the recorded webcast, visit our blog at: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2013/04/watch-live-vfw-to-testify-on-pending.html

4. VFW Leads Discussion on Veterans Education: On Tuesday, the VFW led a panel discussion alongside veterans’ education stakeholders to address the many challenges facing today’s student veterans. The panel, sponsored by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) was a part of the 8th annual Ohio College Presidents Conference comprised of college presidents from across Ohio. VFW was asked to focus on the unique education needs facing service members and veterans as they transition from battlefield to classroom. The VFW has been on the forefront of fighting and preserving veterans’ education benefits. For complete coverage of the event or to join the conversation, click on our blog at: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2013/04/vfw-leads-panel-discussion-on-veterans.html

 

5. VFW Hosts Twitter Chat: This week the VFW hosted its first Twitter chat to discuss the VFW’s legislative priority goals. Veterans asked questions related to the disability claims backlog, education, employment, TRICARE and a variety of other veterans’ issues, with VFW responding in real time. To view a summary of the Twitter chat, click here: http://www.twitter.com/#ASKVFW.

 

6. Senate Armed Services Talks Personnel Issues:  On the heels of last week’s DOD 2014 budget release, the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel held a hearing on key personnel proposals. Plans by the Pentagon to increase health care fees for retirees and their families were met with questions by new members of the committee and support from others. Military pay, family readiness, DOD-VA integrated Evaluation System (IDES) and caregiver family support were some of the issues discussed by panelists.  While Senators expressed skepticism over Tricare fee hikes and disappointment over the caps to military pay raises proposed by DOD, they acknowledged that the Pentagon will be forced to make tough choices with  lower than expected funding levels.  Representatives from The Military Coalition, a consortium of prominent uniformed services and veterans organizations including the VFW, voiced its strong opposition to proposals to cut pay and benefits, arguing that military compensation and benefits must remain strong to ensure we continue to recruit and retain top quality personnel.

To read testimony or view the recorded webcast: http://www.armed-services.senate.gov/hearings/event.cfm?eventid=4090706de0c19a82a355ab0213cf3b7a

 

7. Senate VA Holds Budget Hearing: The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee held their FY 2014 VA Budget hearing this week.  Among the items discussed by Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and committee members was a proposal that would change the annual cost-of-living index to a chained CPI- something the VFW adamantly opposes. Committee members also discussed the disability claims backlog progress, mental health and suicide prevention programs and VA construction projects.  Chairman Sanders remarked that this is the “4th year in a row the President’s request has been out of touch with the realities on what is needed to adequately fund and maintain VA’s aging infrastructure.”  VFW is responsible for the construction portion of the Independent Budget (IB) and we have voiced our concerns about the decades of underfunding of major construction accounts which has led to a backlog of about $25 billion dollars.

For the recorded webcast of the hearing click here: http://www.veterans.senate.gov/hearings.cfm?action=release.display&release_id=6b06dcea-496c-46c7-a029-62da738dfbad

To read the full Independent Budget: http://www.independentbudget.org/

 

8. Senate Military Construction and VA Appropriations Hearing: The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs held its first hearing of the year on VA funding for FY 2014 and Advanced Appropriations for FY 2015.  Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) remarked that the VA Inspector General’s office was also asked to testify to offer their insight on how VA manages resources while delivering quality care and services to veterans. The hearing focused on many areas already discussed during recent budget hearings to include: VA disability claims backlog, mental health access and concerns about progress regarding the VA-DOD electronic medical record.  VFW will continue to monitor the appropriations process and advocate for proper funding for VA.

 

9. Help Complete Your Health Record: According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, seven out of 10 veterans and service members obtain services from private health care providers, which makes it difficult for the VA and Defense Department to maintain a complete record of a patient’s healthcare. That’s why VA and DOD actively participate in the eHealth Exchange. Formerly known as the Nationwide Health Information Network, the eHealth Exchange is a partnership between 38 public and private organizations that, with a patient’s permission, securely share health information. With the recent addition of the Idaho Health Information Exchange, VA is currently exchanging data with 14 regional private sector partners. As the eHealth Exchange network continues to grow, VA and DOD plan to expand their health information sharing programs into additional regions of the U.S. Learn more at http://vaww.blog.va.gov/oit360/814/ehealth-knowledge-is-power/.

 

10. Three MIAs Identified: The Defense POW/MIA Office announced the identification of remains belonging to three Army personnel from World War II and the Korean War.  Returned home are:

  • Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Ray E. Thompson, of Portland, Ore. On May 7, 1944, Thompson was a crewmember of a B-24D Liberator that departed Nadzab, New Guinea, on a bombing mission. Due to mechanical troubles, the aircraft departed late and was unable to join the formation after takeoff. Neither the aircraft nor 10-man crew were seen again.
  • Army Master Sgt. Earnest W. Grainger, 28, of Conway, S.C. In early July 1950, Grainger, 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 their positions. During this attack, Grainger was reported missing near the town of Chochiwon.
  • Army Lt. Col. Don C. Faith, Jr., 35, of Washington, Ind. In late 1950, Faith’s 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, which was attached to the 31st Regimental Combat Team, was advancing along the eastern side of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea when Chinese forces encircled and attempted to overrun their positions. As the battle continued, the 31st RCT, which came to be known as “Task Force Faith,” was forced to withdraw to a more defensible position. Faith would be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.

Read more about their individual stories at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases/.

WASHINGTON WEEKLY APRIL 5, 2013

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/.

WASHINGTON WEEKLY NEWS

VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY
November 9, 2012

In This Issue:
1. Veterans Day Weekend in Washington
2. Congress Returns Next Week
3. VFW Supports Working Wounded Games
4. VFW Becomes First Commemorative Partner
5. Support Overseas Access for Disabled Veterans
6. Veterans Day Freebies and Discounts

1. Veterans Day Weekend in Washington: VFW National Commander John Hamilton is in Washington to commemorate the 237th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps on Saturday, then on Sunday will attend a White House breakfast with the President, then join him for national Veterans Day ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery. The Chief will lay a VFW wreath first at the Tomb of the Unknowns, then again following afternoon ceremonies at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Also, the VFW at midnight tonight begins a 96-hour LED display of some 15,000 rotating photos of service members killed in action from WWII through Iraq and Afghanistan. The big screen will be at the intersection of 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue, just across the street from The Wall. This will be the third time the VFW has sponsored the display to ensure those who made the ultimate sacrifice are always remembered.

2. Congress Returns Next Week: With the election now over, Members of Congress return next week to a “lame duck” session with many critical items on their agenda. Among them, the impact mandatory sequestration could have on defense and VA programs. VFW released a talking paper on the issue which can be found here: http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2012-Articles/VFW-TALKING-PAPER-ON-SEQUESTRATION/
Other important veterans’ bills that await passage include- a comprehensive Veterans Jobs Bill, COLA, enhanced mental health care for veterans, GI Bill protections and improved care for women veterans. It is very important that all members and supporters make contact with their legislators in the weeks ahead and voice their concerns regarding sequestration and other issues important to veterans and our active duty serve members. Time is short and the 112th Congress is quickly coming to a close, which is why we’re asking for Congress to “Finish Strong For Veterans.” We urge you to contact your members and remind them of their commitment to veterans, our active duty, guard and reserve and their families. For more information on our specific legislative agenda for the end of the 112th Congress, check out our “Finish Strong For Veterans” brochure by clicking here: http://www.vfw.org/uploadedFiles/VFW.org/VFW_in_DC/2012OutstandingIssues.pdf.
For more information on our talking points, priority goals or any of the bills click here: http://www.vfw.org/VFW-in-DC/
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 vfwac@vfw.org.

3. VFW Supports Working Wounded Games: More than 20 wounded warriors will converge on CrossFit Rubicon in Vienna, Va., this Saturday, November 10 at 8 a.m., for the first-ever Working Wounded Games. Hosted in conjunction CrossFit Walter Reed and volunteers from other metro area CrossFit affiliates, the Working Wounded Games will allow veterans with combat-related disabilities to compete in an open-style competition that will benefit two new wounded warrior charities. The VFW is proud to serve as an inaugural sponsor for the event, which coincides with the 237th birthday of the Marine Corps and Veterans Day. If you will be in the Washington Metro Area this weekend, stop by the Working Wounded Games to show your support for this one-of-a-kind event. To learn more about the Working Wounded Games and CrossFit in general, click here: http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2012-Articles/JOIN-VFW-IN-SUPPORTING-INAUGURAL-WORKING-WOUNDED-GAMES/
To see a video that explains more about CrossFit Walter Reed’s unique mission, click here: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2012/11/watch-this-weekends-working-wounded.html

4. VFW Becomes First Commemorative Partner: The VFW was recognized this morning as the first veterans’ organization to be recognized as a commemorative partner of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War Commemoration. The Commemorative Partner Program is designed for federal, state and local communities, veterans’ organizations and other nongovernmental organizations to assist a grateful nation in thanking and honoring our Vietnam veterans and their families. Commemorative Partners are encouraged to participate in the Commemoration of the Vietnam War by planning and conducting events and activities that will recognize the Vietnam Veterans and their families’ service, valor, and sacrifice. Individual VFW Departments, Districts and Posts can also become Commemorative Partners. Logon to their site for more information at http://www.vietnamwar50th.com/commemorative_partners/.

5. Support Overseas Access for Disabled Veterans: Help us to support access for disabled veterans overseas by contacting your Senators today and asking them to support the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD). Before the Congressional recess the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed CRPD out of committee. The Senate is set to take the bill up in the lame duck session, now is time to contact your Senators to ask for their support. Tell them that the veterans’ community supports passage because the bill would help to provide equality, independence and rights for those with disabilities living overseas. To take Action Now, click here: http://capwiz.com/vfw/issues/alert/?alertid=61692521

6. Veterans Day Freebies and Discounts: America is saying “Thank You!” to military service members and veterans this weekend with free admissions, meals and discounts. All that’s needed is a valid VA or military ID card, or a DD-214 as proof of eligibility. This includes free admission to such places as the Newseum, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and every National Park, plus discounted admissions at numerous other locations. Check local newspapers for offers in your area, or go here for a good list of offers from nationwide chains: http://hamptonroads.com/2012/11/2012-veterans-day-free-meals-and-discounts

VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY

VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY

November 2, 2012

 

In This Issue:

1. Protecting Our House from Military Quality-of-Life Cuts

2. Election Just Days Away

3. VFW Fires Back Against False Drop-Out Report on Student-Veterans

4. VA Facilities Closed from Aftermath of Sandy

5. VFW Co-Hosts Wounded Warrior Dinner

6. New Military Family Survey Begins

7. JPAC Welcomes New Commander

8. Two MIAs Identified

 

1. Protecting Our House from Military Quality-of-Life Cuts: This week, the progressive think tank, the Center for American Progress, published a report once again recommending cuts to military pay increases and retiree health care as a way to save money after mortgaging more than a decade of war. The VFW will continue to advocate against these kinds of proposals and adamantly opposes any cuts to military quality-of-life benefits; particularly while our military men and women continue to serve in harm’s way.  Last year, the VFW was the first major veterans’ organization to call attention to drastic proposed cuts to military quality-of-life programs through our “10 for 10” campaign. We have also addressed military budget cuts in our talking paper on budget sequestration.  We recognize that our nation must make difficult budget decisions in the coming months, but balancing the budget on the backs of disabled veterans, those in uniform, their families, and military retirees is not a solution.  Please join us in letting those in Washington know that the VFW will not tolerate any plan that requires those who serve and sacrifice the most to do even more.

To learn how you can make your voice heard in Washington, click here: http://capwiz.com/vfw/issues/?style=D&

To read the report and VFW’s full analysis on our Capitol Hill blog, click here: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2012/11/here-we-go-again-protecting-our-house.html

 

2. Election Just Days Away:  The 2012 Election is just days away.  VFW encourages all members and veterans’ advocates to get out and vote. Help your members who may need transportation to the polls by arranging car pools and local pick-ups in your area. Remember to check our website to see how your members voted on critical veterans issues when they reached the floor of the House and Senate. Before heading to the voting booth, take a look at what your members have done to improve the lives of veterans, our active duty and their families. To view our vote analysis, visit the VFW website at http://www.vfw.org/VFW-in-DC/ and use the Connect to Congress box on bottom right.

As always, if you have a unique program that helps veterans get out to vote this election day, please share your stories with us for the Capitol Hill blog, www.thevfw.blogspot.com. 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 vfwac@vfw.org.

 

3. VFW Fires Back Against False Drop-Out Report on Student-Veterans: Last week the Huffington Post reported that nearly 88 percent of veterans going to school on the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill drop out. After reading the story, the veterans’ community balked at the baseless allegation and started firing back. To the VFW, this latest story of abysmal student-veteran performance is a disservice to the nearly 850,000 veterans currently enrolled in school through the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, especially since nobody in higher education or VA currently tracks student-veteran drop-outs or completions. The VFW believes that we have an obligation to today’s veterans to ensure they have access to the quality education we promised them, and has been working diligently over the last four years to improve and protect the benefit. To read the VFW’s full response to the erroneous story and to learn about ways the VFW is working to maintain the integrity of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, click here: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2012/11/protecting-gi-bill-perception-is-reality.html

 

4. VA Facilities Closed from Aftermath of Sandy: The Department of Veterans’ Affairs announced several facilities closed due to the effects of Sandy in the Northeast and parts of West Virginia. Facilities with closures include:

  • VISN 2: Bath, NY (Mansfield CBOC)
  • VISN 3: Hudson Valley (Monticello & New City)
  • VISN 3: New Jersey (Outpt at Lyons and Newark; Hackensack, Hamilton, Jersey City, Morristown, Tinton Falls; East Orange plastic surgery)
  • VISN 3: New York Harbor (all open except Manhattan)
  • VISN 3: Northport (all clinics closed thru Friday, no DAV transportation)
  • VISN 4: Clarksburg (Tucker County CBOC)
  • VISN 4: Coatesville (No MRI Wed/Thurs)
  • VISN 4: Philadelphia (Ft. Dix closed; Gloucester limited phones)

For more information click on the facility link above or visit the VA website at:  http://www.va.gov/

 

5. VFW Co-Hosts Wounded Warrior Dinner: The VFW is joining the Aleethia Foundation to co-host a Wounded Warrior Dinner this evening at the National Press Club in Washington. What makes this dinner extra special is it will bring military personnel recuperating from their wounds at nearby Walter Reed National Military Medical Center together with 30 Marines who have moved on from their injuries to complete a USMC Wounded Warrior Cycling Camp at MCB Quantico. The VFW has been a strong supporter of these weekly wounded warrior dinners ever since they were created in October 2003 by fellow VFW member Hal Koster, who received the VFW Citizenship Award in 2007.

 

6. New Military Family Survey Begins: The 2013 Military Family Lifestyle Survey is now available online for veterans, service members and their families. The survey is open through December 3, and should take approximately 20-25 minutes to complete, depending on your responses. Go to the Blue Star Families website to participate at http://www.bluestarfam.org/Policy/Surveys/Survey_2013.

 

7. JPAC Welcomes New Commander: Air Force Maj. Gen. Kelly McKeague assumed command of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command yesterday in change of command ceremonies at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. He replaces Army Maj. Gen. Steve Tom, who will be retiring after serving our nation for 40 years, and who was able to address the 113th VFW National Convention in Nevada in July. Read more at http://www.jpac.pacom.mil/index.php?page=press_center&size=100&ind=0&fldr=PressImageArchive&file=2012-10-31_ChangeofCommand.

 

8. Two MIAs Identified: The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced the identification of remains belonging to two soldiers who had been missing-in-action from the Korean and Vietnam Wars.  Identified are:

  • Army Pfc. James C. Mullins, 20, of Dunham, Ky. On July 22, 1950, Mullins and his unit, H Company, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, were fighting enemy forces near Yugong-ni, South Korea. Mullins was declared missing after the battle.
  • Army Maj. James L. Whited, 42, of Norman, Okla. On Nov. 19, 1966, Whited was the co-pilot of an OV-1A Mohawk that crashed while conducting a daytime reconnaissance mission over Attapu Province, Laos. No parachutes were seen exiting the aircraft, and heavy enemy presence in the area prevented recovery efforts.

Read more about their stories at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases/.

VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY OCTOBER 26 2012

VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY
October 26, 2012

In This Issue:
1. Impact of   Sequestration
2. VFW Joins Panel for   Documentary
3. New Arlington App
4. Three MIAs   Identified

1. Impact of   Sequestration: The VFW released a Talking Paper this week on   the impact mandatory sequestration could have on defense and VA programs. It   is very important that all members and supporters are aware of what   sequestration is, its impact, and how you can help by addressing our concerns   with your elected leaders at every opportunity. Current budget realities are   forcing very hard choices in Congress and in agencies and departments across   the executive branch, but the we also recognize that balancing the budget on   the backs of disabled veterans, those in uniform, their families, and   military retirees is not a solution, and could potentially jeopardize the   continued success and viability of the all-volunteer force. After the election,   the VFW will contact every member of Congress and tell them to put their   petty issues aside and do what’s right for the country. Read the Talking   Paper at : http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2012-Articles/VFW-TALKING-PAPER-ON-SEQUESTRATION/

2. VFW Joins Panel for   Documentary: This week, VFW joined Congressman Jared Polis,   (D-CO) for an advance screening of “High Ground,” a new documentary   that chronicles the experiences of wounded warriors who climbed Mt. Lobouche   in Nepal. After the screening, VFW joined film producer Don Hahn and one of   the climbers from the film, retired Marine Cody Miranda, for a   question-and-answer session hosted by Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, founder and   president of Give An Hour. The discussion centered around what happens when   wounded heroes return home in and are challenged by their struggles with   life-changing experiences and injuries from their time at war. The film,   which opens for a limited engagement on Friday, November 2, shares the   stories of one Gold Star mother and 11 veterans representing all branches of   the military who returned from deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and suffer   from injuries ranging from invisible wounds, like Post-Traumatic Stress   Disorder or Traumatic Brain Injury, to the visible, like loss of limbs. For   the complete story visit our Capitol Hill blog at http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2012/10/vfw-joins-panel-to-discuss-high-ground.html

3. New Arlington App:   Arlington National Cemetery released an application that enables family   members and the public to find gravesites and explore Arlington’s rich   history. ANC Explorer allows users to use a smart phone or common web browser   to locate gravesites, events or other points of interest throughout the   cemetery; generate front-and-back photos of a headstone or monument; and   receive directions to these locations. The free app is now available on   Arlington’s website, the iTunes store, and Google Play, and is loaded on new   kiosks in Arlington National Cemetery’s Visitors Center. For additional   information and the link to the ANC Explorer app, go to http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/Map/ANCExplorer.aspx.

4. Three MIAs   Identified: The Defense POW/Personnel Office announced the   identification of remains belonging to three servicemen who had been missing   since post-World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. They are:
* Army Air Forces Tech. Sgt. William S. Cassell, of Mt. Airy, N.C. On Nov. 1,   1946, Cassell and seven other crew members were aboard a B-17G Flying   Fortress that went missing after departing Naples, Italy. Search and rescue   attempts proved unsuccessful and the remains of the crewmen were declared   non-recoverable.
* Army Cpl. Joseph W. Fontenot, 20, of Maurepas, La. In February 1951,   Fontenot was assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division when he was captured by   enemy forces near Saemal, South Korea. He reportedly died in June 1951 in a   North Korean POW Camp.
* Air Force Airman 1st Class Jerry M. Wall, 24, of Jacksonville, Texas. On   May 18, 1966, Wall and four other crew members were aboard a C-123B Provider   that crashed while carrying out a nighttime flare-drop mission over Binh   Dinh, South Vietnam. Heavy enemy presence in the area prevented immediate   search and rescue efforts. The remains of three of the five crew members were   later recovered.
Read more about their stories at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases/.

 
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VFW Washington Weekly Oct 19, 2012

VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY

October 19, 2012

 

In This Issue:

 

1. VFW Hosts Labor Officials for Employment Discussion

2. VFW Joins Department of Transportation Veterans’ Forum

3.Field Report:  Georgia VFW Honors Sheriff

4. Overseas Initiative Helps POW/MIA Mission

5. Stop Loss Special Pay to End

6. Reserve TRICARE Program Payments to Change

7. TRICARE Mail-order Prescriptions to End in Germany

8. VA eBenefits Fact Sheet

9. Two Vietnam MIA’s Identified

 

1. VFW Hosts Labor Officials for Employment Discussion: On Wednesday the VFW hosted officials from the Department of Labor (DOL) and 10 leading veterans’ organizations to discuss veterans’ career services available through DOL’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS). Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for VETS John Moran wanted to bring together veterans’ advocates to outline how VETS intends to better utilize current resources to serve the needs of veterans once they leave the military, such as improved outreach to separating service members and better ways to monitor veteran success in the workforce. To learn more about the meeting and VETS’ goal to better serve veterans, click here: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2012/10/vfw-hosts-labor-officials-for-veterans.html.

 

2. VFW Joins Department of Transportation Veterans’ Forum: Yesterday the Department of Transportation brought together leaders from the transportation industry, the military, Department of Labor, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, trade unions, and veterans service organizations like the VFW for a forum on veterans’ career opportunities in transportation. The forum featured panelists discussing how private industry and the federal government can improve outreach and recruitment of veterans. Then, participants broke into working groups to address specific questions about how to connect veterans with careers in the transportation industry. To learn more about the forum, click here: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2012/10/vfw-joins-department-of-transportation.html.

 

3. Field Report:  Georgia VFW Honors Sheriff: Last week the VFW Department of Georgia honored John Darr, sheriff of Muscogee County, for his work helping incarcerated veterans.
Darr created a dormitory within the Muscogee County Jail exclusively for incarcerated veterans, offering extensive counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, and assistance in applying for veterans’ benefits.  The VFW has long supported the concept of veterans’ treatment courts around the country, offering unique rehabilitation and intervention services for veterans who get into trouble with the law. In 2012, the VFW once again passed a national resolution in support of veterans’ treatment courts.  For more on the story visit our blog at: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2012/10/field-report-georgia-vfw-honors-sheriff.html

To share your stories of advocacy for publication on the VFW’s Capitol Hill blog, go to http://www.vfw.org/Forms/Capitol-Hill-Blog-Submissions/or simply email photos and stories directly to vfwac@vfw.org.

 

 

4. Overseas Initiative Helps POW/MIA Mission: VFW National Commander John Hamilton returned last week from traveling to Moscow to continue our mission to gain more access for American researchers into Russia’s central military archives and to potential eyewitnesses.  It was a very productive trip that included meetings with the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, two of Russia’s largest veterans’ organization, senior members of the Russian Federation Council and State Duma, and the Russian co-chairman of the US-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs. From Russia, the Chief attended the VFW Eastern Conference meeting in Germany, then laid a VFW wreath at the American Cemetery in Normandy to commemorate the 68th anniversary of the D-Day landing.  He also met with 173rd Airborne Brigade troops in Vicenza, Italy, to discuss how the VFW can better serve them and their families. On POW/MIA and other high-interest issues, Hamilton said he was proud to say “no one does more for veterans than the VFW.” Read more at https://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2012-Articles/VFW-Overseas-Initiative-Helps-POW/MIA-Mission/.

 

5. Stop Loss Special Pay to End: The deadline to apply for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay is October 21. Service members and veterans whose active military service was involuntarily extended under the “Stop Loss” program between the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Sept. 30, 2009, are eligible for special retroactive pay, but you have to apply. Eligible members or their beneficiaries must submit a claim to their respective military service to receive $500 for each full or partial month served in a Stop Loss status. Because the majority of those eligible had separated from the military, many eligible service members, veterans and their beneficiaries are not aware of the benefit. Please forward this information to all VFW members, Posts and friends. To apply or for more information, go to http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2010/0710_stoploss/.

 

6. Reserve TRICARE Program Payments to Change: Beneficiaries who pay monthly premiums by check for TRICARE Reserve Select or TRICARE Retired Reserve need to switch to an electronic form of payment before the end of the year. Beginning Jan. 1, 2013, TRICARE will only accept monthly premium payments using recurring automatic payments by credit or debit card, or by a recurring electronic funds transfer from a linked bank account. This is mandatory, and failure to pay premiums by the due date will result in the termination of coverage. Read more at http://www.tricare.mil/mediacenter/news.aspx?fid=751.

 

7. TRICARE Mail-order Prescriptions to End in Germany: Military family members and retirees in Germany who receive TRICARE mail order prescriptions by APO or FPO in Germany will have to fill their medications locally by the end of the year. This is because host-nation law prohibits the importation of medications through the mail. Officials are urging beneficiaries to switch their prescriptions to a U.S. military treatment facility or use their TRICARE pharmacy benefit at a local German pharmacy. Both the Tricare Prime Overseas and Tricare Prime Remote Overseas programs will reimburse affected beneficiaries for 100 percent of their out-of-pocket costs if they have authorization. Read more at http://www.tricare.mil/mybenefit/home/Prescriptions/FillingPrescriptions/OutsideUS.

 

8. VA eBenefits Fact Sheet:  VA is reaching out to more veterans and service members to remind them about their eBenefits program.  eBenefits is a joint VA/DoD web portal that provides resources and self-service capabilities to veterans, service members, and their families enabling them to access and manage their VA, military benefits and personal information online. It also gives lists of links to other sites that provides information about military and Veteran benefits. It is an essential way for Veterans, Service members, and their families to receive access to and service from VA and DoD.

Veterans and service members wishing to use the site must be listed in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) and obtain a DS login. You can register for an account online using the eBenefits Logon Account Registration Wizard.

For more information call 1-800-827-1000 or use the eBenefits website at www.ebenefits.va.gov

 

9. Two Vietnam MIAs Identified: The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced the identification of remains belonging to Air Force Col. Wendell Keller, 34, of Fargo, N.D., and Capt. Virgil K. Meroney III, 25, of Fayetteville, Ark. On March 1, 1969, Keller and Meroney were flying an F-4D Phantom II aircraft that crashed while on a nighttime strike mission in Khammouan Province, Laos. Other aircrews reported seeing the aircraft hit by enemy fire, but no parachutes were seen, and heavy enemy presence in the area prevented recovery efforts. Read their story at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases/.

VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY REVIEW AUGUST 31, 2012

VFW Washington Weekly
August 31, 2012

In this issue:

1. VFW Applauds White   House Effort to Combat Suicide
2. VFW Active at   Republican Convention
3. VA Increases Vets   Retraining Assistance Program
4. Combating Veterans’   Homelessness
5. VFW Hears from   Marine Corps Commandant
6. Army and NFL   Discuss TBI
7. Five MIAs Return   Home

1. VFW Applauds White House Effort to Combat Suicide: Today, the President signed   an executive order designed to curb military and veteran suicide and improve   the delivery of mental health resources to our nation’s heroes. The executive   order, “Improving Access to Mental Health Services for Veterans, Service   Members and Military Families,” which President Obama is scheduled to   announce during a visit to Fort Bliss in Texas, includes nearly a dozen   specific initiatives designed to improve mental health resources and   intervention tools. National Commander John E. Hamilton, noted the VFW   support for the president’s vision to prevent military suicides and improve   mental health care delivery, but also expressed concerns about potential   funding shortfalls to accomplish the president’s goals. Click here for the   VFW’s Press release: http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2012-Articles/VFW-Applauds-White-House-Efforts-to-Stop-Military-Suicide/

2. VFW Active at   Republican Convention: VFW Representatives attending the   Republican National Convention (RNC) listened to key note speakers and spoke   with delegates on critical issues like veterans mental and behavioral health,   accurate claims processing and helping service members secure educational,   employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. The VFW will also be   represented at next week’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte to   ensure the voice of veterans, service members and their families remains a   key priority during Campaign 2012. Leading both delegations will be VFW   Legislative Director Ray Kelley. Stay informed throughout by reading blog   postings at: www.vfwonthehill.org/

3. VA Increases Vets   Retraining Assistance Program: This week, VA announced that   have filled 36,000 of the 45,000 job training openings available under the   Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) passed as a part of the VOW to   Heroes Act. An additional 55,000 openings will be available October 1, 2012.   VRAP provides up to $1,473 a month in GI Bill benefits for those taking   full-time courses to learn the skills necessary to land a job. VFW was   instrumental in getting the provision passed as a part of the comprehensive   jobs bill and encourages veterans eligible to apply online. Click here for   more information: http://www.benefits.va.gov/VOW/

4. Combating Veterans’   Homelessness: Veterans’ homelessness is a national problem   that is best solved at the local level. As such, the VA recently launched a   new online ordering portal for communities and national partners to order   free informational material and promotional items ranging from brochures and   posters to wallet cards, drawstring bags and hygiene kits, among other items.   Share the portal link with your VFW members and Posts and with others in your   community to help spread the word. For more information or to place an order,   go to http://www.va.gov/homeless/materials_center.asp.

5. VFW Hears from   Marine Corps Commandant: This week, VFW attended a Press Club   event where Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos spoke on a number of   issues important to the Corps. Leading the list was the continuing success of   combat operations in Afghanistan and the transfer of responsibilities over to   Afghan national security forces. Following his remarks, Amos fielded   questions from the audience on a variety of military quality-of-life and   force readiness issues ranging from fiscal responsibility and budget   constraints on the Marines Corps, to women serving in combat, suicide, and   sexual assault. When asked about potential across-the-board cuts to the   Defense budget, Amos said he believed the Marine Corps would be hit   disproportionately hard, considering the size of the force and the value it   delivers to the U.S. military. Amos also said that the greatest challenge for   the Corps moving forward would be ensuring the force remains balanced through   a period of fiscal austerity. To learn more about Amos’ remarks and to view   C-SPAN’s full coverage of the event, click here: http://www.vfwonthehill.org/2012/08/vfw-hears-from-marine-commandant.html?m=1

6. Army and NFL   Discuss TBI: Earlier this week, Army representatives hosted   NFL leaders at West Point to discuss how they can affect positive change   surrounding Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and concussions. The military,   alongside the NFL have continued conversations regarding the Soldier-Athlete commitment   to education and awareness of these serious injuries. To watch the   discussion, click here: http://www.dvidshub.net/webcast/2578#.UD5iiqCoz1l.

7. Five MIAs Return   Home: The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office recently   announced the identification of remains belonging to one airmen and four   soldiers who had been missing in action since World War II, Korea and   Vietnam. Returned home are:
* Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Harry W. Eck, of Minot Ward, N.D. On Sept. 13,   1944, Eck and eight other crewmembers were aboard a B-17G Flying Fortress   that crashed near Neustaedt-on-the-Werra, Germany. Only one of the nine   crewmen is known to have successfully parachuted out of the aircraft before   in crashed.
* Army Cpl. Kenneth R. Block, 22, of Ann Arbor, Mich. In late November 1950,   Block and elements of the 31st Regimental Combat Team, known as “Task   Force Faith,” were advancing along the eastern banks of the Chosin   Reservoir in North Korea when they came under attack. On Dec. 3, Block and   many other Americans would be listed as missing in action as a result of the   heavy fighting.
* Army Sgt. 1st Class William T. Brown, 24, of La Habra, Calif.; Sgt. 1st   Class Donald M. Shue, 20, of Kannapolis, N.C.; and Sgt. 1st Class Gunther H.   Wald, 25, of Palisades Park, N.J. On Nov. 3, 1969, the men and six Vietnamese   soldiers were part of a Special Forces reconnaissance patrol that was   ambushed while operating in Quang Tri Province near the Vietnam-Laos border.
Read more about their recovery and identification at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases/.

 
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