March 8, 2013
 

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VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY

March 8, 2013





1. Action Alert: Contact Congress to Lower Medal Status: The VFW needs you to immediately contact your members of Congress to urge their support of H.R. 833 and S. 470 to lower the ranking of the new Distinguished Warfare Medal to below the Purple Heart. Why? Because in a letter to VFW National Commander John Hamilton, the Defense Department again said they would not lower the status of the medal, which now ranks 9th highest out of five dozen current medals and ribbons in the order of precedence --- and you don't have to go to war to earn it! As of this morning, H.R. 833 had only 41 sponsors out of 435 members of the House, and S. 470 had only 10 sponsors out of 100 members of the Senate. We need more! This VFW-supported legislation has bipartisan support because it is the right thing to do for the troops who go into harm's way and not home every night. This is a policy disagreement over the placement of the new medal, not whether drone operators, cyber warriors and others don't deserve to be properly recognized for the tremendous impact they are bringing to the battlefield in real-time. The VFW just adamantly believes that medals that can only be earned in combat must rank higher than new medals awarded in the rear. Tell your members of Congress to support H.R. 833 and S. 470 today! To Take Action, click here: http://capwiz.com/vfw/issues/alert/?alertid=62485196.
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2. VFW Commander-in-Chief Testifies for Veterans: Tuesday, VFW Commander-in-Chief John E. Hamilton testified before a joint session of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees. Speaking on behalf of all veterans, Hamilton pledged that the organization will not let America's veterans be forgotten by Congress or the Administration. Raising concerns about VA's disability claims process and veteran/military suicide rates, he asked committee members to do what is right for our nations warriors. He also spoke about VFW's concern for how sequestration will impact the progress of VA facility improvements, veterans employment programs under the Department of Labor and continuing research geared to address the specific needs of women veterans.
For our Press Release and the full testimony, click here: http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2013-Articles/VFW-EXPRESSES-DEEP-CONCERN-OVER-THE-IMPACT-OF-SEQUESTRATION-ON-VETERANS/
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3. VFW Leaders Take Advocacy Message to Hill: As part of our March National Legislative Conference over 600 VFW leaders took to the hill and met with their members of Congress on critical issues facing veterans, service members and their families. Dropping off our 2013 Legislative Priority Goals and "Advocacy in Action" booklet, members explained in detail the VFW's position on a variety of issues including access to VA disability benefits, military quality-of-life programs, economic opportunity, and health care. Other concerns included the effects of sequestration/budget cuts on DOD, veterans' employment and homelessness programs, as well as the newly-commissioned Distinguished Warfare Medal for drone pilots, which the VFW vocally opposes. Key legislators on the House and Senate VA Committees were just a few who had one-on-one meetings with VFW members from their states. To read more about the meetings on the Hill and for our Twitter feed, visit http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2013/03/live-updates-vfw-advocates-storm-hill.html.
Next week we will bring you more highlights on the blog, highlighting the work of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans advocating for New Jersey veterans and California VFW successfully meeting with all 55 Congressional offices. Check back next week for details.
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4. VFW Supports Military Caregivers: Yesterday, the VFW attended a lunch briefing hosted by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation: Caring for Military Families. The foundation spearheads efforts to help military and family caregivers by strengthening services provided to them through evidence based research and collaboration with VA, DOD and leading non-profit organizations. The lunch highlighted Military and Veterans Caregiver Week and a recent study by the Rand Corporation entitled Military Caregivers: Cornerstones of Support for our Nations' Wounded, Ill and Injured Veterans. The report is Phase I of a continuing research project funded by the Dole Foundation to assess the needs and challenges of military caregivers.
For more about yesterday's event and to download the full report, click here: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2013/03/vfw-joins-dole-foundation-for.html
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5. Korean War MIA Identified: The Defense POW/MIA Office announced the identification of remains belonging to Army Sgt. Raymond B. Wellbrock, 20, of Cincinnati, Ohio. In late November 1950, Wellbrock and elements of the 31st Regimental Combat Team were deployed along the eastern banks of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea when they were attacked and forced into a fighting withdrawal to a more defensible position. Wellbrock was reported missing Dec. 12, 1950. After the war it was learned he had been captured but died shortly afterward from battlefield wounds and lack of medical treatment. Read more about his story at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases/.
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6. VFW Attends Special Screening of "The Emperor:" Last week the VFW Washington Office attended a special advance screening of the new film "The Emperor," which documents the conflict faced by Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Brig. Gen. Bonner Fellers over whether to prosecute Japanese Emperor Hirohito as a war criminal during the post-WWII occupation of Japan. The film, which stars Tommy Lee Jones as MacArthur and Matthew Fox as Fellows, received both positive and some negative feedback from veterans in attendance, some of whom fought in WWII, and the VFW wants your thoughts as the new films comes to theaters nationwide. As we lose our nation's Greatest Generation, preserving the history of WWII becomes critically important, which is why the filmmakers have actively sought feedback from the veterans' community. To learn more about the film, to view the trailer and to find out where you can see it, click here: www.emperor-themovie.com.
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