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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