VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY
May 6, 2011
In This Issue:
1. Osama Bin Laden Dead
2. Two Korean War Medals of Honor Awarded
3. Caregiver Applications Begin Monday
4. Subcommittee Votes Against TRICARE Increases
5. House VA Committee Hearings
6. WWII MIA Identified
7. Purple Heart Forever Stamp
1. Osama Bin Laden Dead: The death of al Qaeda's leader on Sunday helped to make a dangerous world a little bit safer. In a press statement, VFW National Commander Richard Eubank said "the military and CIA are to be congratulated for their persistence, precision and performance. Osama bin Laden was responsible for killing thousands of innocent people. He was a threat to world peace who had to be brought to justice. His death at the hands of the world's best trained and motivated military and intelligence agency is justice served."
2. Two Korean War Medals of Honor Awarded:
: On Monday, the president presented the Medal of Honor posthumously to the families of Army Pfcs. Anthony T. Kaho'ohanohano, from Hawaii, and Henry Svehla, of New Jersey. The two soldiers were assigned to the 7th Infantry Division. Both were killed in action and had previously received the Distinguished Service Cross for their actions, but Svehla's body was never recovered. He continues to be among the 8,000 MIAs from the Korean War. Read more at http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=63785
3. Caregiver Applications Begin Monday:
The VA this week published their Interim Final Rule for implementing the family caregiver program, which mirrors the intent of the legislation Congress passed as part of the Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010. Beginning Monday, May 9, veterans can download a copy of the program application to designate a primary family caregiver or secondary family caregiver, as needed. The caregiver would be eligible for a living stipend, mental health services, and access to health insurance, among other services. For more information, go to http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2088
4. Subcommittee Votes Against TRICARE Increases:
The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel voted this week against a proposal to increase TRICARE fees for working age military retirees, but the proposal still isn't dead. The full committee will take it up when they meet May 11 on the FY 2012 National Defense Bill. The VFW is against raising TRICARE fees, and in a letter to HASC Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA), wrote "TRICARE is the cornerstone of a military retirement package that the armed forces must provide in order to entice someone to voluntarily give up 20 or more years of their youth to serve their nation." The VFW is now asking everyone to contact their representatives and urge them to vote against raising TRICARE fees. To read our letter and to contact your members of Congress, go to http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/House-Subcommittee-Holds-the-Line-on-TRICARE-Fees/
5. House VA Committee Hearings:
The House Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing Tuesday on VA patient safety failures at several VA medical facilities that resulted in thousands of veterans being notified of potential exposure to infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis. The VFW also testified before the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity and the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs in support of:
* HR 1383, Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act of 2011, which would grandfather veterans attending private schools who were adversely affected by the changes made in the GI Bill that became law at the end of last Congress.
* HR 1657, legislation that would improve VA's enforcement of service-disabled, veteran-owned small business contracting.
* HR 1441, a bill to ban reserving burial and interment locations at Arlington National Cemetery.
* HR 1407, The Veterans Cost of Living Adjustment Act of 2011, which would provide a cost-of-living increase to veterans' disability compensation rates and other benefits.
To read our testimony: http://stage.vfw.org/VFW-in-DC/Congressional-Testimony/
. For more information or to view recorded webcasts of the hearings, go to committee website at http://veterans.house.gov/
6. WWII MIA Identified:
The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced the identification of remains belonging to Army Pfc. Robert B. Bayne, of Dundalk, Md. On March 28, 1945, while patrolling the Rhine River in an inflatable raft, Bayne and three others were forced into the river after being attacked near Schwegenheim, Germany. One was rescued, and the remains of two would eventually be identified. Bayne would be buried as an "unknown" in an American cemetery in France until 2010, when new case leads and forensic tools would lead to his exhumation and identification. Read more at http://www.defense.gov/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=14474
7. Purple Heart Forever Stamp:
Deputy Postmaster General of the U.S. Postal Service Ron Stroman unveiled the "Purple Heart with Ribbon" forever stamp in a ceremony yesterday aboard the USS Midway in San Diego harbor. It now joins the Liberty Bell as the nation's only two forever stamps. For more information, to include how to obtain first-day issue stamps, go to http://www.usps.com/communications/newsroom/2011/pr11_045.htm