VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY
September 9, 2011
In This Issue:
1. Tenth Anniversary of 9/11 Attack
2. VA Committee Clears Vet Bills
3. Super Committee Begins Work
4. VFW Invites You to Join Us on Twitter
5. Tax Incentives for Hiring Heroes in White House Plan
6. VA Expands List of Agent Orange-Exposed Ships
7. POW/MIA Recognition Day
8. Two Vietnam MIAs Identified
1. Tenth Anniversary of 9/11 Attack:
New VFW National Commander Richard DeNoyer is calling for America to return to the nationwide unity and pride that resulted from the vicious attacks upon our country 10 years ago this Sunday. He also warns that Americans have grown socomplacent to the distant wars that they have forgotten about almost 40 successful or thwarted attempts inside American since then. "Just because America is planning to redeploy the great majority of its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan over the next few months and years doesn't mean the enemy will stop trying to kill Americans," he said. Only a fool would believe they wouldn't have killed 30,000 or 300,000 had they had the means 10 years ago." http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/VFW-WANTS--SPIRIT-OF-9/11--BACK/
2. VA Committee Clears Vet Bills:
The House Veterans Affairs' Committee cleared several bills VFW supported in testimony. They now move to the House floor for a vote.
H.R. 2074, Veterans Sexual Assault Prevention Act was amended to include provisions from three other committee bills, including directing VA to develop and implement a centralized and comprehensive policy on reporting and tracking sexual assaults and other safetyincidents at medical facility, clarifying VA's regulation on service dogs , providing for increased flexibility on rates for reimbursement of state veterans' homes and offering better TBItreatment by focusing on an injured veteran's independence and quality of life.
H.R. 2433, Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011 will strengthen tuition benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill, offer job-training programs for transitioning servicemembers, enhance work-leave protections under USERRA and provide for retraining grants for homeless veterans.
H.R. 1263 would amend current law to include foreclosure protections to the spouses of servicemembers who die while in the military and whose death is service-connected.
For more on the mark-up visit the House VA website at: http://veterans.house.gov/
For our testimony on several of the bills go to: http://stage.vfw.org/VFW-in-DC/Congressional-Testimony/
3. Super Committee Begins Work:
Yesterday theJoint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (aka "Super Congress") met for their introductory meeting. The committee was created with the mandate to eliminate at least $1.5 trillion dollarsfrom the budget over the next 10 years. The VFW has and will continue to advocate for veterans, military retirees, and their families as the committee continues its difficult work. To learn more about the committee's schedule and this week's introductory meeting visit www.vfwonthehill.org
4. VFW Invites You to Join Us on Twitter:
Join the VFW's Quick Reaction Force (QRF) by signing up with us on Twitter. VFW recently launched a new advocacy tool using Twitter to help provide immediate and effective constituent engagement with Capitol Hill to protect veterans' priorities. The object is to get followers to communicate VFW's message to their elected officials and Senators on key issues upon receiving a voluntary text message from the VFW QRF twitter feed. Follow these very simple steps we shared with attendees at the 112th National Convention and you can begin making a difference for our veterans and their families. Learn more and join the effort by clicking here: http://stage.vfw.org/uploadedFiles/VFW.org/VFW_in_DC/VFW%20QRF%20Instructional.pdf
5. Tax Incentives for Hiring Heroes in White House Plan: President Obama's American Jobs Act includes tax credits of up to $5,600 for companies who hire unemployed veterans and up to a $9,600 tax credit for those who hire veterans with service-connected disabilities that have been looking for a job six months or longer. With unemployment among OIF/OEF veterans at record high levels, VFW applauds these provisions and looks to Congress to enact jobs legislation for veterans quickly.
6. VA Expands List of Agent Orange-Exposed Ships:
The VA has expanded its list of Navy and Coast Guard ships whose crews may be eligible for disability compensation as a result of exposure to the chemical defoliant Agent Orange. Many of the additions are landingvessels or destroyers that operated near the shore and inland waterways, or may have docked in Vietnam. VA officials say the ship list is not static; more vessels could be added based onadditional documentation such as deck logs and cruise books, as well as records kept in the National Archives. The VA has already paid out $2.2 billion in benefits to 89,000 Vietnam veterans or survivors who qualified for compensation under a ruling last fall that added three new presumptive illnesses to the list of health conditions presumed to be related to Agent Orange exposure. Read more about the new ships and presumptive conditions click here: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/shiplist/index.asp
7. POW/MIA Recognition Day: Next Friday, Sept. 16, is National POW/MIA Recognition Day in honor of more than 140,000 former American POWs and to remember our nation's 83,000 MIAs---73,000 from WWII, 8,000 from Korea, 1,680 from Vietnam, 120 from theCold War, and one each in Iraq and Afghanistan. To assist VFW Posts and members who are conducting ceremonies, a suggested speech is now available for download in the Patriotic HolidaySpeeches section of the members-only login section of www.vfw.org. Also of note were five VFW National Resolutions (R422-R426) that passed at the 112th VFW National Convention last week to strengthen the VFW's resolve of the Full Accounting Mission, and to protect mission personnel and funding, as well as the integrity of the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs.
8. Two Vietnam MIAs Identified: The Defense POW/MIA Office announced the identification of remains belonging to an Air Force fighter pilot and an Army Special Forces soldiers who had been missing in action for more than four decades.
* Air Force Maj. Thomas E. Reitmann, 34, of Red Wing, Minn., was assigned to the 334th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Takhli AB, Thailand, when on Dec 1, 1965; he flew anOperation Rolling Thunder strike mission against a railroad bridge northeast of Hanoi. When his flight of four F-105D Thunderchiefs approached the target area, they encountered extremelyheavy anti-aircraft artillery. Reitmann's aircraft took a direct and crashed.
* Army Master Sgt. Ralph J. Reno, 36, of Chicago, took off from Kham Duc, South Vietnam, on July 3, 1966, aboard an H-34 helicopter with three soldiers from 5th Special Forces Group, three Vietnamese aircrew and nine Vietnamese passengers. The aircraft crashed in Quang Nam Province in steep mountainous terrain and dense foliage after they encountered severe air turbulence.