Home    Upcoming Events    Links of Interest    Ladies Auxiliary
Webmaster    Newsletters    VFW Documents    VFW NSFA Updates
Agent Orange    Contact Us    Stories    Friends of the Post
Let Them Not Go In Silence    Photo Gallery    Flag Rules and Regulations
Listen Up!: Commander’s Message    Freedom is NEVER Free!
 
 

VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY

July 22, 2011





1. VFW Advocates Help Defeat Anti-Veteran Amendment: The VFW was instrumental in defeating an amendment Wednesday evening that would have required veterans to prove a positive connection---instead of just a positive association---between Agent Orange exposure and one or more of the 15 presumptive illnesses that the VA currently recognizes. Thanks to VFW membership and our grassroots advocates, we were able to get the word to many senators who voted 69-30 in favor of veterans. To see how your senators voted, go to http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=112&session=1&vote=00114. To read a VFW statement, go to http://stage.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/VFW-Advocates-Help-Defeat-Anti-Veteran-Amendment/.


2. Marine to Receive Medal of Honor: President Obama will award the Medal of Honor to former Marine Cpl. Dakota Meyer, who in September 2009 braved intense enemy gunfire in Afghanistan to recover the bodies of four fallen comrades after being ambushed. The battle would claim the lives of five Marines and nine Afghan allies. He will be the first living Marine to receive the medal in 41 years. A presentation date is expected in the fall. Read more in a Stars & Stripes article at http://www.stripes.com/news/former-marine-to-receive-medal-of-honor-for-controversial-2009-battle-1.149651.


3. POW/MIA Update: The VFW attended the 42nd annual meeting of the National League of POW/MIA Families over the past two days to hear if senior Pentagon officials will reinstate funding and personnel to the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs, and if the planned relook of previously approved funding for the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) could result in a smaller budget. Other than to say the overall accounting mission will continue to do the most with what it has, their responses did not answer our questions or shed any new light into the direction DOD may be taking. This is unacceptable to the VFW, which was reflected in a joint opinion editorial released last week to call upon President Obama to direct DOD to restore funding and personnel to the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission, and to protect JPAC's proposed budgets. The VFW will continue to stay on top of this issue. Read the OpEd at http://finance.boston.com/boston/news/read?GUID=18968560.


4. VA Launches Childcare Pilot: The VA last week announced a free, drop-in childcare service center at three VA medical centers as part of an ongoing pilot program to better serve veterans, especially women veterans. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki made the announcement to more than 700 participants attending the Fifth National Summit on Women Veterans' Issues, which the VFW and the VFW Ladies Auxiliary helped to cosponsor on Capitol Hill. The three sites and childcare details are:
    * Northport, N.Y.: 30 child capacity, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., ages 6 weeks to 12 years
    * Tacoma, Wash.: Varying capacity, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., ages 6 weeks to 10 years
    * Buffalo, N.Y.: 6 to 10 child capacity, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., ages 6 weeks to 12 years
The three childcare center pilot programs will be operated onsite by licensed childcare providers. Drop-in services are offered free to veterans who are eligible for VA care and who are visiting the facility for an appointment. Read more at http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2134.


5. Senate Passes VA Funding Bill: The Senate was able to clear some controversial amendments this week and pass the FY 2012 Military Construction/VA Funding bill. The Senate bill is virtually identical to what was passed by the House in June. Both provide $69.5 billion for veterans benefit programs and $52.5 billion in advanced appropriations for FY 2013. The two bills have a few differences which will be ironed out by a conference committee before the end of the current fiscal year (Sept. 30). More information is available on the Senate Appropriations Committee website at http://appropriations.senate.gov/news.cfm?method=news.view&id=952f6b79-1409-45a6-9923-7c5bc0ba88d3. To see how your senators voted, go to http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=112&session=1&vote=00115.


6. House VA Committee Hearings: The House VA Committee had a busy week of hearings and mark-ups. The VFW testified before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on several bills designed to address VA's "duty to assist" requirement for disability claims, stricter auditing rules for how federal contractors employ veterans, and ongoing efforts between the DOD and VA to establish a joint electronic health and service record. The committee also marked up several VFW-supported bills that we had testified on at previous hearings. The bills include enhancements to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, mortgage protections for veterans, a more streamlined education benefit process, and legislation that would honor certain Reserve Component veterans by recognizing them as veterans under the law. VFW also made several suggestions to the committee on changes that would improve several bills that were adopted as amendments during the mark-up session. Read the VFW press release at http://stage.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/VFW-TESTIFIES-THAT-VETERANS--NEEDS-MUST-COME-FIRST/. For more information about the hearings, visit the House VA Committee website at http://veterans.house.gov/.


7. Senate Passes GI Bill Protections: On Thursday, the Senate passed the Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act by unanimous consent, adopting language from a bill introduced by House VA Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) to preserve reimbursement rates under the Post-9/11 GI Bill for students already enrolled at private schools. Changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill set to take effect this Aug. 1 would cap reimbursement for students at non-public institutions at $17,500, which would have brought financial hardships to those student-veterans already enrolled in private schools. The Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act will also ensure that students who are already using their Chapter 33 benefits will be able to complete their degree programs without unnecessary financial constraints. The bill is now one step closer to becoming law. Read VFW's testimony in support of the House version at http://www.vfw.org/VFW-in-DC/Congressional-Testimony/Draft-Legislation-and-various-other-priority-issues/.


8. Three WWII Soldiers Identified: The Defense POW/MIA Office announced the identification of remains belonging to three soldiers who have been missing in action since World War II. Identified are Army Pfc. Lawrence N. Harris, of Elkins, W.V., Cpl. Judge C. Hellums, of Paris, Miss., and Pvt. Donald D. Owens, from Cleveland. In late September 1944, their unit, the 773rd Tank Battalion, was fighting its way to France's eastern border. On Oct. 9, 1944, in the final battle for control of the region, Hellums, Harris, Owens and two other soldiers were attacked by enemy fire in their M-10 Tank Destroyer. Two men survived with serious injuries but Harris, Hellums and Owens were reported to have been killed. Evidence at the time indicated the remains of the men had been destroyed in the attack and were neither recovered nor buried near the location. Read more at http://www.defense.gov/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=14665.

Home    Upcoming Events    Links of Interest    Ladies Auxiliary
Webmaster    Newsletters    VFW Documents    VFW NSFA Updates
Agent Orange    Contact Us    Stories    Friends of the Post
Let Them Not Go In Silence    Photo Gallery    Flag Rules and Regulations
Listen Up!: Commander’s Message    Freedom is NEVER Free!