March 1, 2013
 

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VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY

March 1, 2013





1. VFW Members to Storm Capitol Hill: Armed with the VFW Legislative Priority Goals for 2013, more than 600 VFW advocates will converge on Capitol Hill this weekend to begin visiting every congressional office to explain in detail the VFW's stance on a variety of veterans' issues, ranging the impact of sequestration on military quality of life programs and future VA budget submissions to VA benefits, healthcare, wounded warriors, women veterans, education, suicides and homelessness. Recognized will be former Senate VA Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) with the 2013 VFW Congressional Award, and the winners of the VFW Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen competition. The VFW will stream live video of the Voice of Democracy Parade of Winners beginning at 6 p.m. (EST), Sunday, and post video Tuesday afternoon of the VFW National Commander John Hamilton's testimony before a joint hearing of the Senate and House VA Committees. More details at www.vfw.org. Follow live updates from our advocates on the Hill via Twitter and the blog at http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2013/03/live-updates-vfw-advocates-storm-hill.html?m=1.
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2. VFW Discusses Issues with President: VFW National Commander Hamilton met with President Obama on Thursday to discuss issues important to veterans, service members and their families. Topping the agenda was the impact of sequestration on military quality of life programs and on future VA budget submissions. The Chief said the president was well versed on the impact of sequestration, plus he talked in great depth on other VFW high interest topics, such as veterans unemployment, mental healthcare and the VA claims backlog, which along with the ratings accuracy rate are the No. 1 issues Hamilton is asked about when meeting with veterans at VFW Posts around the world. Read more at http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2013-Articles/VFW-SAYS-PRESIDENT-IS-KEEPING-HIS-PROMISE/.
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3. Drone Medal Placement Opposition Grows: On Tuesday, H.R. 833 was introduced by three military veterans in the House to lower the ranking of the new Distinguished Warfare Medal to below the Purple Heart. The DWM, announced Feb. 13 by outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, currently ranks 9th in the order of precedence out of more than 60 current medals and ribbons---and you don't have to serve in the warzone to earn it. The VFW National Commander wrote a letter in support of H.R. 833 to its sponsors, Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) and Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), and also a letter to new Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to urge his support to lower the medal's status. The VFW is now working to get a companion bill introduced in the Senate. In the meantime, ask your House Members to support H.R. 833 at http://capwiz.com/vfw/issues/alert/?alertid=62458216.
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4. Advanced Appropriations Bill Introduced: This week, House VA Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) and Ranking Member Michael Michaud (D-ME) introduced the Putting Veterans Funding First Act of 2013. H.R. 813, strongly supported by the VFW, would require congress to fund VA discretionary accounts a year ahead of schedule. Currently, congress provides "Advanced Appropriations" for medical care accounts only. The bill would provide funding for the remainder of the budget up front making it easier for VA to plan for investments, clams processing and construction projects and give Congress a greater level of oversight on l funding requests from year to year. VFW will continue to advocate for the bill's passage and has highlighted it on our website at: http://capwiz.com/vfw/issues/bills/ . To read the VFW Press Release, click here: http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2013-Articles/VFW-Applauds-House-Effort-to-Fund-VA-in-Advance/.
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5. Senate Caucus Hosts Vet Jobs Day: This week the Congressional Veterans Jobs Caucus hosted its Veterans' Jobs Day on the Hill, bringing together service members, veterans, legislators, government officials, professional staff, veterans' advocates and top civilian employers to discuss ways to foster recruitment and retention of veterans in the civilian workplace. Your VFW was on hand for the event, where civilian employers shared their experiences and best practices for hiring and retaining veterans. The caucus plans to host similar events on a monthly basis. To learn more about Veterans' Jobs Day, click here: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2013/02/senate-caucus-hosts-veterans-jobs-day.html.
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6. Alabama Iraq Vet Praises VFW Service Officer: Last year, the VFW asked our members and advocates to explain what the VFW's advocacy efforts mean to them, leading up to the annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. This year, we received a different kind of submission from VFW member and Marine Corps Iraq veteran Jay Pridmore, who shared why he joined the VFW and his experiences navigating the VA claims process with the help of his VFW service officer. To read Pridmore's personal story, click here: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2013/02/a-veterans-point-of-view-by-iraq.html.
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7. House VA Committee Discusses Electronic Medical Record: The House VA Committee held a hearing on the status of VA and DOD's electronic medical record. A recent announcement made by both agencies that they are backing off plans to create a single computer system to integrate electronic medical records for troops and veterans caused uproar among members of the House and Senate VA Committees. Chairman Miller invited VA and DOD witnesses to explain the set back and why after ten years and billions of dollars there is still no joint computer system. For testimony from witnesses or to view the recorded webcast click here: http://veterans.house.gov/.
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8. Two Korean War MIAs Identified: The Defense POW/MIA Office announced the identification of remains belonging to two soldiers who had been missing in action since the Korean War. Recovered are:
     * Army Sgt. Ervin A. Fricke, of Oakville, Wash. On Nov. 25, 1950, Fricke and elements of the 9th Infantry Regimental were deployed north of the town of Kujang in North Korea when the Chinese Army attacked, forcing his unit to withdraw south to a more defensible position. Fricke was reported missing in action after the battle.
     * Army Pfc. Roosevelt Clark, 18, of Arvin, Calif. In late November 1950, units of the 35th Infantry Regiment and allied forces were deployed in a defensive line along the Ch'ongch'on River in North Korea when Chinese People's Volunteer Forces attacked their position. Clark was listed as missing in action on Nov. 28, 1950.
Read more about their individual recovery stories at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases/.
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