VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY
October 21, 2011
In This Issue:
1. Advocates Called on to Protect Benefits
2. Senate Passes COLA Bill
3. IB Releases FY 2013 Critical Issues
4. VA Committee Chair Discusses Jobs Bill with VFW
5. Stop Loss Back Pay Deadline Today
6. U.S.-North Korea MIA Talks Resume
7. Two MIA's Return Home
8. Sport Clips to Support VFW Operation Uplink
1. Advocates Called on to Protect Benefits:
The VFW launched a call to action this week to counter serious threats to military and veterans programs. Last Friday, the leadership of the Senate Armed Services Committee and both House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committeeswrote the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to support or suggest possible ways to eliminate or further reduce military and veteran quality of life programs and benefits. While thejoint House/Senate VA committee letter was short on specifics, the individual letters sent by SASC Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member John McCain (R-Ariz.) were far more ominous, because they offered more ways to cut quality of life programs. In his call to action, VFW National Commander Richard DeNoyer said "It is critical that our voices not be lost in the ongoing budget debate that seems to now equate national service and sacrifice with the size of healthcare premiums." Click here for more information about the threat and how you can join the fight. http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/VFW-Call-to-Action/
2. Senate Passes COLA Bill:
This week, the Senate passed legislation that would increase the rates of VA disability compensation and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children. S. 894, The Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act authorizes the increase which is based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index. As in the past, Congress must pass a bill allowing the increase to ensure disabled veterans and their families are also included in the COLA raise Social Security and military retirees receive. The House must now pass their version of the bill. For theSenate VA Committee press release, http://veterans.senate.gov/press-releases.cfm?action=release.display&release_id=374f9d9f-de49-4d2a-998c-cefa790a5b36
3. IB Releases FY 2013 Critical Issues:
The four Independent Budget (IB) partners have released their critical issues for FY 2013. The IB, which VFW coauthors with AMVETS, DAV and PVA, provides the Administration and Congress a veterans' view of the most important issues pertaining to VA healthcare, benefits and infrastructure, as well as the transition from service member to veteran status. The full IB will be released in conjunction with the President's proposed VA budget early next year. View the critical issues at http://www.independentbudget.org/
4. VA Committee Chair Discusses Jobs Bill with VFW:
Last week, House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) sat downwith the VFW to discuss his bill, the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act, which passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support. The bill now moves on to the Senate, where leaders have indicated they want to see a comprehensive veterans' jobs bill passed by Veterans Day. To see the exclusive interview and to learn more about the VOW Act, click here:
5. Stop Loss Back Pay Deadline Today:
After a half dozen extensions, today is the last chance to apply for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay. The reimbursement is $500 for each month or partial month served in a Stop Loss status between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009. The average benefit has been more than $3,500, but you won'tget paid unless you apply. For more details:http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2010/0710_stoploss/
6. U.S.-North Korea MIA Talks Resume: A U.S. delegation met with North Korean officials in Bangkok this week to discuss resuming recovery operations to find the remains of American servicemen missing in action from the Korean War. From 1996 to 2005, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command conducted 33 investigative and recovery operations and repatriated more than 220 sets of remains from North Korea; however, in May 2005, the U.S. government suspended bilateral talks with North Korea, as well as POW/MIA operations, over safety concerns for JPAC investigation and recovery teams. The current talks are only about resuming recovery operations as a humanitarian matter and are not tied to any other issue between the two countries. About 60 percent of almost 8,000 Americans still listed asMIA from the Korean War are believed to be in North Korea. The resumption of talks adheres to VFW Resolution 423, which was passed at the 112th VFW National Convention inAugust.
7. Two MIAs Return Home: The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced the identification of remains belonging to an Army soldier missing since the Korean War, and an Air Force pilot missing from the Vietnam War.
* In late November 1950, Army PFC Henry L. Gustafson, 18, of Cook, Ill., and his 31st Regimental Combat Team were forced to withdraw after coming under attack by communist forces near the Chosin Reservoir. After the 1953 armistice, a surviving POW confirmed that Gustafson had been captured but died from lack of medical care shortly afterwards.
* On Feb. 8, 1969, Air Force Capt. Thomas E. Clark, 29, of Emporium, Pa., was attacking an anti-aircraft artillery position in Savannakhet Province, Laos, when his F-100D Super Sabre aircraft was struck by enemy fire and crashed. No parachute was seen, and immediate search and rescue missions were unable to locate the crash site or the pilot.
8. Sport Clips to SupportVFW Operation Uplink:
Sport Clips Haircuts will be helping to raise funds for VFW's Operation Uplink Program which provides free phone calls for service members overseas. Beginning October 17th through November 13th, some 800 Sport Clips locations nationwide will be participating in the promotion by collecting donations at check-out. On Veteran's Day, Sport Clips will be donating $1 for every hair care service made. Since 2007, Sport Clips has donated more than $860,000 to Operation Uplink. They have set a goal of raising $500,000 in 2011. To find your local Sport Clips location, please visit www.sportclips.com