November 22, 2013
 

Back

 
 

VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY

November 22, 2013





1. JFK Day of Remembrance: The flags are at half-staff to honor President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated 50 years ago today in Dallas. In a proclamation, President Obama said "John F. Kennedy weathered some of the most perilous tests of the Cold War and led America to the cusp of a bright new age. His leadership through the Cuban Missile Crisis remains the standard for American diplomacy at its finest. In a divided Berlin, he delivered a stirring defense of freedom that would echo through the ages, yet he also knew that we must advance human rights here at home." In life and death, President Kennedy had strong links to the VFW. He was a member of former VFW Post 5880 in Brockton, Mass., and the fourth floor of the VFW Washington Office would soon become the base of operations for the Warren Commission, which was created on Nov. 29, 1963, to investigate the assassination. Read President Obama's proclamation at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/11/21/presidential-proclamation-day-remembrance-president-john-f-kennedy2
Top


2. VA Issues Fraud Alert: The Department of Veterans Affairs has issued a fraud alert about a marketing scam that is targeting veterans who misdial the VA National Call Center (800-827-1000) or the GI Bill Call Center (888-442-4551) phone numbers. A marketing company created two phone numbers that differ from the real VA numbers by one digit. If a veteran calls the bogus number by accident, the answering party will offer a gift card and try to obtain sensitive personal data, to include credit card information. Please note that the VA will "never" ask for credit card or banking information over the phone. The two bogus numbers are 800-872-1000 and 888-442-4511. Law enforcement officials have been notified. A list of toll-free VA phone numbers is at https://iris.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1703
Top


3. Senate NDAA Update: The Senate began debate on its version of the FY 2014 NDAA (S.1197) this week, but failed to finish up the $625 billion dollar authorizing bill before recessing for the Thanksgiving break. The bill still needs to go to conference with the House which cleared their bill, HR 1960, in June. The VFW will continue to monitor the bill for anything that may affect military quality of life programs to include pay and compensation rates, TRICARE and several sexual assault provisions that make changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Both bills include specific provisions that provide specially designed legal assistance and counseling to sexual assault victims. Check back later for more on the bill and the House-Senate Conference.
Top


4. Senate VA Committee Clears Bills: On Tuesday, the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee cleared several VFW-supported bills that will improve access to healthcare and shield veterans from any budget uncertainly that may occur in the future. The committee approved, The Putting Veterans Funding First Act which will fund all VA programs a year in advance. Currently, only VA medical care accounts are provided an advance appropriation. The legislation is a top priority for the VFW and our partners on the Independent Budget. The House cleared a similar bill in August which calls for advance funding beginning with the 2016 budget. Other bills cleared include:
     * S. 1604 expands the period of eligibility to enroll in VA healthcare for Post 9/11 combat veterans to include Guard and Reserves from 5 to 10 years. It also simplifies VA method in determining eligibility based on income thus allowing more veterans to enroll in VA.
     * S. 1593 extends protections for service members with regards to sales contracts, mortgage penalties and provides further improvements under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act or SCRA. All of the bills now move to the Senate floor for debate.
For the VFW testimony on some of the bills, click here: http://www.vfw.org/VFW-in-DC/Congressional-Testimony/Hearing--Pending-Health-and-Benefits-Legislation/
For more information, visit the Senate VA Committee website at: http://www.veterans.senate.gov/press-releases.cfm?action=release.display&release_id=95c0c4ee-feed-4513-9fee-203472468383.
Top


5. VFW Testifies on VA Construction Challenges: This week, VFW submitted testimony to the House VA Committee regarding VA's major construction and lease programs. Our testimony pointed out that decades of underfunding have led to a large backlog in uncompleted projects. Currently there are 21 VHA major construction projects, dating back to 2007, which remain partially funded and/or incomplete. VFW authors the Independent Budget section regarding major and minor construction and has continually asked Congress to provide adequate funding levels to close gaps. We advised Committee members that VA will need to invest at least $23.2 billion over the next 10 years to finish existing projects and close current and future gaps. At current requested funding levels, it will take more than 67 years to complete VA's 10-year plan. Failing to complete projects on time puts access and services for veterans in jeopardy. For more about the hearing and to read our prepared testimony, click here: http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/building-va%E2%80%99s-future-confronting-persistent-challenges-in-va-major-construction-and-lease
Top


6. VFW Discusses Budget; Jobs During House Democratic Roundtable: This week, VFW attended a roundtable with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and members of the House Democratic Caucus. Discussion centered on budget sequestration, advanced funding for VA, sexual assault in the military and jobs for veterans. With budget deadlines and the current environment of fiscal uncertainty, VFW highlighted the need for a responsible budget agreement and how it can adversely affect veterans and future leaders in the military. We also echoed calls from the veterans' community to fully fund VA in advance, ensuring that services remain in place in the event of future budget uncertainty and weighed in on the critical issue of employment for Post/911 era veterans. To read more, visit our blog at: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2013/11/vfw-discusses-budget-jobs-during-house.html?m=1
Top


7. Compensation Commission to Meet in Hampton Roads: The Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission will hold two public hearings and town hall meetings in Virginia's Hampton Roads area on Dec. 2 and 3, location to be determined. All service personnel, veterans, military retirees and their families are encouraged to attend because the Commission is charged with examining how our troops are compensated while in uniform, in retirement, and as veterans, and their reach includes those programs operated by the VA and Department of Labor. Among the compensation and Quality of Life programs under review are the 20-year retirement system; military pay and the tax-exempt status of allowances; concurrent receipt of retiree and disability pay; the GI Bills; military healthcare costs and eligibility; military exchanges, commissaries and schools; and transition and employment assistance programs, among many others. To the VFW, who testified before the Commission on Nov. 5, this is a serious attempt to balance the budget on the backs of military families, retirees and veterans through an erosion of pay and benefits that will negatively impact recruiting and retention, and possibly threaten the continued viability of the all-volunteer military. The Commission is required to issue their report to the White House by May 1, 2014. For more information on the Hampton Roads hearings or to leave a public comment on their website, go to http://www.mcrmc.gov/.


As always, we want to share your advocacy stories on the VFW Capitol Hill blog. To share your stories, either fill out our online form by clicking here, http://www.vfw.org/Forms/Capitol-Hill-Blog-Submissions/, or simply email photos and stories directly to vfwac@vfw.org.

To sign up new veterans' advocates to receive the Washington Weekly every Friday, click here: http://capwiz.com/vfw/mlm/signup.htm

 

© 2013-2015 VFW Post 1037, Waupaca, WI 54981