WASHINGTON WEEK 7 JUNE 2013

           

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 vfwac@vfw.org.

     

Washington Weekly May 24, 2013

VFW Washington Weekly
May 24, 2013
In This Issue:
1. Stolen Valor Act Headed to President
2. Obama Vows to Close Guantanamo
3. House VA Committee Evaluates Claims Initiative
4. House VA Subcommittee Discusses Health Care Bills
5. VFW Joins Discussion on Military Credentialing
6. HASC Subcommittee Clears Personnel Bill
7. VFW in Israel for Fact-Finding Mission
8. WWII Soldier Recovered
9. Memorial Day 2013
 
1. Stolen Valor Act Headed to President: The VFW is applauding Congress this week for passing the Stolen Valor Act of 2013, introduced by Rep. Joe Heck and Sen. Dean Heller, both from Nevada. H.R. 258 was passed overwhelmingly in the House on Monday by a vote of 390-3, and the Senate passed its companion, S. 210, Wednesday night by unanimous consent. The legislation now heads to the White House for the president’s signature. VFW National Commander John Hamilton said Congress followed the roadmap laid out by the U.S. Supreme Court when they overturned the original Stolen Valor Act last year. In their writings, the high court suggested any future legislation had to be narrower in focus than just to penalize people for simple lying, which they ruled as protected speech in a 6-3 decision. “Now the new language is bullet-proof,” said Hamilton, “because the focus is on the intent to profit from the lie, to obtain money, property or something of a tangible benefit, which is what con artists have been doing throughout history.” Not every combat award is covered, but the ones most worn by wannabe heroes will be protected once the bill becomes law. VFW advocates were able to reach all 100 Senate offices in record time after the House passed their bill, encouraging the Senate to take action. It is because of you that the Senate bill passed so quickly! Read about the VFW’s reaction at http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2013-Articles/Stolen-Valor-Act-Passes-Congress!/. To send a thank you to your Senators, click here.http://capwiz.com/vfw/issues/alert/?alertid=62685126.
2. Obama Vows to Close Guantanamo: The president yesterday vowed again to close the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and tasked the Defense Department to locate a site in the U.S. where military tribunals can be held. The VFW is firmly against both proposals by national resolutions approved by delegates attending our past three national conventions. Guantanamo serves a purpose: it keeps our most dangerous enemies off the battlefield, out of America, and provides an extremely secure and controlled environment for the military court system.
 
3. House VA Committee Evaluates Claims Initiative: The House VA Committee held a hearing to evaluate VA’s recent initiative to process claims pending over two years. VFW provided written testimony acknowledging that although the project did provide decisions to many who have waited a long time, more needs to be done to ensure VA creates a viable, effective and efficient system to develop and manage claims. VA Under Secretary for Benefits Allison Hickey spoke about the 34,834 claims that have been adjudicated within the last 30 days and how VBA will finalize the remaining 32,000 by the end of June. Committee members voiced concerns about current backlog numbers, employee training and performance reviews, and how VA plans to justify to veterans lengthy wait times for decisions. To learn more about the hearing and to view an archived webcast click here:http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/expediting-claims-or-exploiting-statistics-an-examination-of-va%E2%80%99s-special-initiative-to. To read the VFW’s testimony in its entirety, click here:http://www.vfw.org/VFW-in-DC/Congressional-Testimony/Expediting-Claims-or-Exploiting-Statistics—An-Examination-of-VA%E2%80%99s-Special-Initiative-to-Process-Rating-Claims-Pending-Over-Two-Years/.
4. House VA Subcommittee Discusses Health Care Bills: The House VA Subcommittee on Health hosted a hearing to discuss pending veterans’ health care legislation. VFW provided written testimony offering comments on bills regarding VA travel benefits, CHAMPVA regulations and medical research. Among the bills we supported is legislation (H.R. 984) that would establish an interagency task force on genitourinary organ trauma, or urotrauma – the technical terms for the loss or damage to reproductive organs. A recent study shows that 5 to 10 percent of battlefield injuries involve urotrauma, and that these injuries have been on the rise in Afghanistan. For more on the hearing and to read our complete testimony visit the blog at: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2013/05/house-hosts-hearing-on-veterans-health.html
5. VFW Joins Discussion on Military Credentialing: This week the VFW joined Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and Illinois Rep. Tammy Duckworth for a discussion on professional credentialing for military training. Kaine and Duckworth are the sponsors of the VFW-supported Troop Talent Act of 2013, a bipartisan bill that would improve the path to civilian professional credentials for service members trained by the military, ensure credentials are relevant to civilian industries, and increase access to high-demand industries for service members. To learn more about the discussion, click here:http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2013/05/vfw-joins-military-credentialing.html.
6. HASC Subcommittee Clears Personnel Bill: This week, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel cleared its section of the FY 2014 Defense Authorization bill (HR 1960) by voice vote. Among the provisions is stricter language to combat military sexual assault, which 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 comes on the heels of recent reports from the Pentagon estimating that 70 sexual assaults take place every day in the military. Other provisions included a 1.8 percent pay raise for service members and strong rejections to any Tricare Fee increases. The full committee is expected to take up the bill sometime after the Memorial Day recess. Check back here for full coverage of the NDAA as it moves through Congress. For VFW statement on military sexual assaults, click here: http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2013-Articles/VFW-Statement-on-Military-Sexual-Assaults/. To read the bill provisions, visit the committee website at http://armedservices.house.gov/index.cfm?p=fy14-subcommittee-marks.
7. VFW in Israel for Fact-Finding Mission: This week VFW Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief Bill Thien is in Israel to share ideas with our allies on issues like military personnel readiness and veterans’ issues like training, benefits, resiliency and access to mental healthcare. The VFW will also learn about the geopolitical issues facing Israelis and Palestinians in the volatile region. VFW National Legislative Director Ray Kelley accompanied Thien on the trip to provide updates. Click here for more information: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2013/05/vfw-lands-in-israel-for-military-and.html.
8. WWII Soldier Recovered: The Defense POW/MIA Office announced the identification of remains belonging to Army Pvt. William Yawney, 23, of Freemansburg, Pa.. On June 15, 1944, U.S. forces were ordered into Saipan as part of an Allied strategic goal to secure the Mariana Islands. After a month of intense fighting, enemy forces conducted a final attack on the 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division’s position. Elements of the regiment sustained heavy losses, to include Yawney, who was originally thought to have been buried in a military cemetery on Saipan. Read more at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases/.
9. Memorial Day 2013: National Commander John Hamilton will be representing the VFW in the White House Monday morning, as well as participate in Memorial Day ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  Locally, many of our 7,200 VFW Posts will be having similar ceremonies to honor our fallen. As we gather to remember the more than one million Americans who served and died in our nation’s conflicts going back to the Revolutionary War, please remember to keep our 83,000 missing and unaccounted-for servicemen—and their families—in your thoughts, as well as the men and women assigned to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, who are tasked with bringing them home from some of the most austere places on Earth. As of today, there are 73,661 missing from World War II; 7,918 from the Korean War; 1,647 from the Vietnam War; 126 from the Cold War; and 6 from our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. More information, plus loss statistics, are available at the DPMO website at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/summary_statistics/.
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 May 17, 2013

In This Issue: 1. VFW Attends DOJ Veterans Fraud Discussion 2. House Committee Clears VA Funding Bill 3. Senate VA Hearing Postponed 4. Korean War 60th 5. Three MIAs Identified
1. VFW Attends DOJ Veterans Fraud Discussion: This week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) hosted a meeting with veterans’ leaders to discuss ongoing efforts to prevent fraud against service members, veterans and their families. VFW joined in the conversation alongside officials from DOJ, the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and several other veterans’ organizations. Discussion centered on tools used across the agencies to collect consumer complaints, identify trends, alert law enforcement and track results. The VFW has watched this issue closely as issues of potential fraud within higher education; mortgage lending and credit reporting have become heightened within the veterans’ community during difficult economic times. We suggested that DOJ host similar quarterly roundtables to keep the veterans’ community up to date on trends and potential solutions to ensure companies cannot take advantage of veterans. For more on the event and to stay informed on this issue, visit our blog at.http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2013/05/justice-department-hosts-veterans-fraud.html
2. House Committee Clears VA Funding Bill: The House Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Military Construction/Veterans Affairs approved its FY 2014 funding bill which would provide $63.1 billion for VA programs and $9.9 billion for military construction. Overall, the bill calls for $147.6 billion to include a $1.4 billion dollar increase over FY 2013. Members of the Committee spoke at length about VA’s disability claims backlog and requested as part of the funding bill about $344 million for a single DOD-VA electronic health record and $155 million for the Veterans Benefit Management System or VBMS, a paperless claims process system. They also included $136 million for the Veterans Claims Intake Program, which aims to eliminate the paper-based system by digitally scanning existing paper health records. VA has testified that they believe VBMS will help to eliminate the backlog by 2015. The bill now moves to the full Appropriations Committee for approval.
3. Senate VA Hearing Postponed: The VFW was scheduled to testify this week before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on a series of veterans’ benefits bills. However, a series of votes forced the committee to postpone the meeting to Tuesday, June 5 at 10 a.m. Eastern. On June 5, the VFW plans to discuss a variety of bills like in-state tuition equity for GI Bill recipients, economic opportunity, sexual assault prevention and cost of living allowances. For more details about the hearing, visit the committee’s website here: http://www.veterans.senate.gov/hearings.cfm?action=release.display&release_id=04a17e8c-da3d-4584-8e39-7f8d6e1d3728
4. Korean War 60th: Plans are being set to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War armistice in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, July 27. Thousands of veterans from across the nation, as well as representatives from other UN nations, are expected to be present at the Korean War Memorial for the 9:30 a.m. ceremony. The event will be broadcast live, and VFW Posts are encouraged to share in the commemoration by hosting “Pancakes for Patriots”-type events to honor and help educate local communities about the service and sacrifices made by so many of our VFW members and their families. The current June/July issue of VFW Magazine is dedicated to Korean War veterans, plus highlights our $600,000 donation towards building their national memorial—tops among all veterans’ organizations. More information regarding how your Posts can help share the day will be provided as the anniversary draws nearer.
5. Three MIAs Identified: The Defense POW/MIA Office recently announced the identification of remains belonging to two soldiers from the Korean War and one Marine, who was lost during the ill-fated SS Mayaguez rescue operation in 1975. Recovered are: * Army Pfc. James L. Constant, 19, of Beach Grove, Ind. In late 1950, Constant and elements of 2nd Infantry Division were defending the Naktong Bulge, near Changnyong, South Korea, when they were attacked by enemy forces. Constant and many other service members were reported missing. Remains were later recovered and buried, reburied, and eventually transferred and reburied again as an “unknown” in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. * Army Sgt. Charles Allen, 23, of Mineola, Texas. In late November 1950, Allen and elements of Company C, 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, were deployed north of the Ch’ongch’on River in North Korea when their unit was encircled and attacked by enemy forces. Allen was captured but died in captivity on March 31, 1951. An exchange of remains after the war failed to identify Allen, so he buried as “unknown” at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.  * Marine Pfc. Daniel A. Benedett, of Seattle. On May 12, 1975, Khmer Rouge gunboats captured the S.S. Mayaguez in international waters off the coast of Cambodia and took the civilian vessel to Koh Tang Island. After efforts to secure the release of the ship and crew failed, a rescue mission was launched that resulted in heavy U.S. losses. Benedett was aboard a helicopter that was shot down with 26 men aboard, only half of whom were rescued. Benedett was buried May 15 at Arlington National Cemetery in a mass grave containing the remains of his 12 other previously recovered crewmates. Theirs are the last names on the Vietnam Wall, Panel 1 West. Read more at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases/

VFW Washington Weekly
May 10, 2013

In This Issue:
1. VFW Testifies on VA   Construction Process
2. House Committee   Clears Veterans Bills
3. Senate VA Committee   Discusses Healthcare Bills
4. Two MIAs Identified

1.VFW Testifies on VA   Construction Process: This week, VFW testified before the   House VA Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, discussing   shortcomings in VA’s construction planning process. A recent GAO report   finding discrepancies in costs and delays averaging 35 months on critical   medical facility projects was also debated. Our testimony centered on how VA   could deliver new medical facilities in a timely manner with more accurate   cost projections. As the author of the IB section on VA major and minor   construction, we shared our thoughts on how VA should develop a master plan   for major medical construction projects, to include forecasting future needs   for veterans in certain areas. Other witnesses concluded that the process VA   uses to build its health care facilities has to be changed in order to avoid   delays in caring for veterans. We will continue monitoring and working with   all parties to ensure that major health care facilities can be delivered in a   timely manner to meet the health care needs of all veterans. For the hearing   specifics or to view the archived webcast, click here: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2013/05/watch-vfw-testifies-before-house-on-va.html.   For more on VA’s major and minor construction needs in the IB click here, http://www.independentbudget.org/
2. House Committee   Clears Veterans Bills: Earlier this week, the House VA committee   cleared six pieces of veterans’ legislation. All of the bills now move to the   House floor for consideration and debate. Some of the VFW- supported bills   included:
HR 671, The Ruth Moore Act was amended to include more stringent reporting   requirements for VA which the committee hopes will pressure VA to update and   improve its sexual trauma regulations. VFW was disappointed that the bill did   not require a law change to aligned MST claims with combat PTSD regulations.
HR 357 included the original provision which requires public universities to   charge only what is equal to in-state tuition for veterans, and a   controversial amendment banning bonuses for senior VA executives for five   years. It also contains provisions of 6 other bills including HR 1405, HR 1305,   HR 844 HR 631, 562 and HR 1453.
HR 844 extends the eligibility period for veterans enrolling in vocational   rehabilitation programs from 12 years following discharge to 17 years.
For complete coverage of all the related bills visit the House VA website at:   http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/legislative-hearing-on-hr-569-hr-570-hr-602-hr-671-hr-679-hr-733-hr-894-and-hr-1405.   For VFW’s April testimony on the bills, click here: http://www.vfw.org/VFW-in-DC/Congressional-Testimony/HVAC-DAMA-Bill-Hearing/
3. Senate VA Committee   Discusses Healthcare Bills: The Senate Veterans Affairs’   Committee held a lengthy bill hearing examining a variety of healthcare   bills. Many of the bills would expand or extend existing programs for   veterans and their families. VFW provided testimony for the record and gave   our support to:
S. 851 which would expand the caregiver program and extend these services and   benefits to the caregivers of veterans of all eras.
S. 825, Homeless Veterans Prevention Act would improve and expand homeless   programs within VA.
S. 131, Women Veterans and Other Health Improvements Act would advance VA   programs for women veterans and their families by offering reproductive and   fertility services for service-connected veterans as well as require VA, DOD   and IOM to collaborate on research to improve the long-term reproductive   health needs of veterans. It also would provide child care assistance and   readjustment counseling in retreat settings for those seeking mental health   services.
S. 422, Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act would require VA to   establish programs for chiropractic care and services in at least 75 medical   centers by December 2014.
For more on the hearing to include testimony and the recorded webcast click   here: http://www.veterans.senate.gov/hearings.cfm?action=release.display&release_id=784bc3b3-ec97-4437-b8a3-0fe3bf0c5e4d
To read VFW’s submitted testimony click here: http://www.vfw.org/VFW-in-DC/Congressional-Testimony/SVAC-Bill-Hearing/

4. Two MIAs   Identified: The Defense POW/MIA Office announced the   identification of remains belonging to:
* Army Sgt. William C. Knight, 20, of West Brookfield, Mass. In late November   1950, Knight and elements of the Headquarters Battery, 57th Field Artillery   Battalion, 31st Regimental Combat Team, known historically as Task Force   Faith, began a fighting withdrawal to a more defensible position south of the   Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. Knight would be reported missing during the   withdrawal.
* Navy Lt. Richard L. Laws, 26, of West Sacramento, Calif. On April 3, 1966,   Laws was strafing enemy targets in Thanh Hoa Province, North Vietnam, when   his F-8E Crusader was struck by enemy ground fire. His mission commander saw   his aircraft crash into a nearby hillside and explode. As a result, Laws   would be declared killed in action/body not recovered.
Read more about their individual recoveries 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 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 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/.