1. VFW Elects New Officers:
The 113th VFW National Convention closed with the election of John E. Hamilton of St. Augustine, Florida who will head the 1.5 million member organization into 2013. Hamilton a Vietnam War veteran who served in the Marine Corps from 1968-1970 reminded the membership that the VFW must remain vigilant in its efforts to care for war veterans, especially during these tough economic times and as the wars wind down in the Middle East. He also noted the importance of the bond VFW members share with newly returning veterans and their responsibility to assist them as they transition back into civilian life. Also elected were Bill Thien, Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief of Georgetown, Indiana and John Stroud, Junior Vice Commander-in-Chief from Hawthorne, Nevada. Highlights of the week long convention to include award recipients and speeches by President Obama and Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney can be found on the VFW website at: www.vfw.org
3. House Discusses VA --DOD Collaboration:
The House VA Committee welcomed Secretaries' Leon Panetta (DOD) and Eric Shinseki (VA) to discuss collaboration between their two agencies. The committee asked both cabinet members to review the status of the electronic health record initiative and the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES). Committee Chairman, Jeff Miller (R-FL) said that testimony they have heard during this Congress on the initiatives has been mixed and improvements slow and often unclear to service members and their families. Much of the discussion centered on gaps between agencies with the surprising revelation that "administrative functions" within VA may be subject to sequestration. When asked, Secretary Shinseki had no clear definition of what those functions -- or what cuts -- VA may be facing.
To read testimony from the hearing or for the recorded webcast click here: http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/back-from-the-battlefield-dod-and-va-collaboration-to-assist-servicemembers-returning-to