VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY
May 27, 2011
In This Issue:
1. National Defense Bill
2. Veterans Bills Clear House
3. Senate Examines Transition Efforts
4. House Veterans Employment Bill Introduced
5. Three MIAs Identified
6. VFW Foundation Needs Your Support
1. National Defense Bill: The House this week completed its work on the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2012. The bill would authorize $690 billion for defense programs, to include $119 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and $18 billion for national security programs at the Department of Energy. The bill also includes a 1.6% pay increase proposal for active-duty personnel, and would ban captured terrorists from being brought into the U.S. The bill does include a proposal to raise working age military retiree Tricare fees by 13%, and link future increases to annual cost-of-living adjustments. The VFW does not support raising Tricare fees, and is now asking its membership to contact their senators to urge them to strip the increase proposal from the defense package.
2. Veterans Bills Clear House:
The House passed several VFW-supported bills this week, including a cost-of-living increase and a fix to the current GI Bill for those attending private schools under Chapter 33. All the bills now head to the Senate for consideration – they include:
* H.R. 1381 would increase tuition and fees up to $27,000 for those attending private institutions who were adversely affected by changes made to the Post 9/11 GI Bill by the previous Congress. It would also establish a new process for the placement of monuments at Arlington National Cemetery, which would clear the way for a memorial on Chaplains Hill to honor Jewish chaplains who died in service to our country.
* H.R. 1407, The Veterans Cost of Living Adjustment Act of 2011, would provide a cost-of-living increase to veterans' disability compensation rates and other benefits. It would also provide a five-year extension to VA adaptive grants program for severely wounded veterans residing in a family member's home.
* H.R. 1657 would improve VA's enforcement of service-disabled, veteran-owned small business contracting.
Read more at http://veterans.house.gov/press-releases
3. Senate Examines Transition Efforts:
On the heels of last week's hearing on VA/DOD transitioning programs, the Senate VA Committee heard this week from servicemembers and their families on their views of the process. Several severely injured veterans told tales of bureaucratic hassles, lengthy delays, and having to be their own advocates. Retired Lance Cpl. Tim Horton testified "there are so many programs and benefits available to assist us, yet often we are never informed of these programs or the information is delivered in a time and place that is not conducive for wounded warriors to absorb it." Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) took VA and DOD to task on why injured and ill veterans are still falling through the cracks. Visit the committee website for more information at http://veterans.senate.gov/hearings.cfm
4. House Veterans Employment Bill Introduced:
Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA) introduced the House version of VFW-supported legislation that would improve training and employment programs for separating and retiring servicemembers. H.R 1941 is the companion bill to S. 951, introduced by Senate VA Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA). The Hiring Heroes Act of 2011 has received strong bipartisan support among members of Congress and is a top priority of the VFW. It would require VA, DOD and Labor to identify the gaps between military training skills and civilian licensure and credentialing. It would also extend VA's Vocational Rehabilitation and Education program, plus authorize government agencies to direct hire, and make the Transition Assistance Program mandatory for all servicemembers. Contact your legislators today and urge them to support and pass this critical bill. Visit the VFW website for our legislative alert and letter at http://capwiz.com/vfw/issues/alert/?alertid=48351501
5. Three MIAs Identified:
The Defense POW/MIA Office announced the identification of remains belonging to two World War II airmen and one Korean War soldier.
* Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Jack E. Volz, 21, of Indianapolis, along with 11 other B-24D crewmembers, took off from New Guinea on Oct. 27, 1943, on a reconnaissance mission of the shipping lanes in the Bismarck Sea. They aircraft failed to return to base.
* Army Air Forces Sgt. Martin A. Gill, 26, of Linden, Calif., along with five C-47A crewmembers departed Tanauan Airfield in the Philippines on March 12, 1945, on a resupply mission to guerilla troops. The aircraft failed to return to base.
* Army Pfc. Joseph A. Terrell, 30, of Dallas, was occupying a defensive position in North Korea on Nov. 1, 1950, when enemy attacks collapsed their perimeter and forced a fighting withdrawal. Almost 400 men were reported missing or killed in action following the battle.
Read their individual recovery stories at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases/
6. VFW Foundation Needs Your Support:
The VFW Foundation has partnered with BUFFALO WILD WINGS to support the troops through the Pepsi's Return the Favor campaign. Participating restaurants will donate 10% of a customer's food purchase when the guest shows a military ID card, VFW membership card or Return the Favor card. To find participating restaurants or to print a Return the Favor card, visit www.returnthefavor.org
. The program runs through June 12. For more information about the campaign and VFW Foundation programs, go to http://www.returnthefavor.org/?p=642#more-642