December 14, 2012
 

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VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY

December 14, 2012





1. Time Running Out for Congress and Sequestration: With only five work days left in the congressional schedule, Congress is running out of time to avoid the serious across-the-board cuts in Defense spending set to take place under the Budget Control Act passed last year. If you have not contacted your legislators, telling them to stop sequestration, we urge you to do so today. Use the attached Alert to send a message or call their district or DC offices today. Tell them that we expect them to reach an agreement before January 1, 2013 that protects our service members, their families and our national security. To Take Action now click here: http://capwiz.com/vfw/issues/alert/?alertid=62171626 For our Sequestration Talking Paper click here: http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2012-Articles/VFW-TALKING-PAPER-ON-SEQUESTRATION/
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2. Number of Homeless Veterans Drops: A 2012 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) prepared by HUD and presented to Congress shows a 7.2 percent decline since 2011 in the number of veterans who are homeless with a combined total of 17.2 percent since January of 2009. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said the decrease is largely attributable to the HUD- Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing or HUD -VASH program. More than 37,000 veterans have been housed using HUD Section 8 vouchers along with VA's supportive case managers also known as Supportive Services for Veterans and Families (SSVF). VA has also increased its SSVF grant money for 2012/13 to $300 million for organizations around the country combating homelessness. VFW has included ending homelessness as a top priority for 2013. For VA press release click here: http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2411
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3. Bernie Sanders Named Senate VA Chairman: This week, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was named Chairman of Veterans' Affairs Committee for the 113th Congress. Sanders has served on the VA Committee for six years. He replaces Senator Patty Murray (D-WA.), who was appointed the new chair of the Senate Budget Committee. An original co-sponsor of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Sanders has been a leader in helping veterans transition from active duty to civilian life. He has also been a strong advocated for veterans suffering from PTSD, TBI and other undiagnosed health issues, helping to secure funding for the National Center for PTSD in White River Junction, Vermont. The VFW looks forward to working with Senator Sanders to continue to improve the care and benefits for veterans and service members in the 113th Congress. To read Sanders' official announcement, click here: http://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/news/?id=ff1c26ac-e686-4728-a065-7546fdec8c49
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4. Senate VA Committee Holds Confirmation Hearing: This week, the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee held a hearing for two nominees to serve as Assistant Director for the Department of Labor Veterans Employment and Training (VETS) and as a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Keith Kelly, the nominee for Assistant Director for VETS currently serves as commissioner of the Montana Department of Labor and Industry and Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee for the National Association of State Workforce Agencies. A Vietnam Veteran, Kelly laid out five key goals he would accomplish if confirmed to lead VETS. William Greenberg, the nominee for judge for the U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals served 27 years in the Army and is a partner at the New Jersey law firm McCarter and English. The VA Committee now has to vote to confirm the two nominees and then move it forward to the full Senate for consideration. To learn more about each nominee and to view a webcast of the hearing visit our blog at: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2012/12/senate-va-committee-hosts-confirmation.html
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5. VA Adds Illnesses for TBI Claims: VA published a proposed regulation in the Federal Register which would allow service connection for five (5) disabilities if a veteran is service connected for TBI. These disabilities are considered secondary to TBI. Illnesses under consideration include unprovoked seizures, symptoms of Parkinson's disease, certain types of dementia including Alzheimer's disease, depression, and hormone deficiencies caused by changes of the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. The list, published on Monday (12/10/12) in the Federal Register, would make it easier for afflicted veterans to receive benefits and health care from VA. The public will have 60 days to comment on the proposed rule before it is finalized. For more information click here: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2012/12/va-seeks-to-expand-tbi-related.html For the Federal Register click here: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2012/12/10/2012-29709/secondary-service-connection-for-diagnosable-illnesses-associated-with-traumatic-brain-injury
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6. Vietnam War MIA Identified: The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced the identification of remains belonging to Army Capt. James M. Johnstone, 28, of Baton Rouge, La. On Nov. 19, 1966, Johnstone was piloting an OV-1A Mohawk that crashed while on a daytime reconnaissance mission over Attapu Province, Laos. Other Americans aircrews reported seeing no parachute, and a heavy enemy presence prevented recovery efforts. Read more at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases/.
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