VFW Support

This page is specifically for the actions that the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) are taking on behalf of the veterans of our nation. Any information that directly pertains to a specific State will be located under the State’s main page (when you hover over the state’s page it will show existing pages within the main page: i.e. when you hover over the page: ‘Alabama: Veterans Contact Information’ page, the pages within, such as ‘Veteran Experience: Alabama’ will show up) as a separate page: ‘Veteran’s Support Groups Information’ for State-specific information.

This page is specifically for VFW updates and actions on our (the Veterans) behalf and the information will be organized with the most recent on the top of the page.


 
February 3, 2017
 
In This Issue:
1. Vets Committee Holds Confirmation Hearing
2. Army Reserve VSO/MSO Roundtable
3. New Blended Retirement Training
4. DOD Increases Discharge and Records Review Outreach
5. Iraqi Translators Now Welcome
6. Veterans Day Poster Contest
7. DeCA Announces Private Labels
8. MIA Update
In an effort to ensure the same high level of quality that you deserve
and to limit SPAM, the VFW Action Corps Weekly will have a new
format. We hope you continue to enjoy what we send you and we
welcome feedback at vfwac@vfw.org.
 
To view this week’s edition, click here: http://www.vfw.org/actioncorpsweekly.

 
                                                    January 27, 2017
 
In this Issue:
1. Federal Hiring Freeze Update
2. Three Veterans Tapped for Service Secretaries
3. VA to Begin Fertility Counseling and Treatment
4. Pentagon Changes RIF Evaluations
 
In an effort to ensure the same high level of quality that you deserve
and to limit SPAM, the VFW Action Corps Weekly will have a new
format. We hope you continue to enjoy what we send you and we
welcome feedback at vfwac@vfw.org.
 

To view this week’s edition, click here: http://www.vfw.org/actioncorpsweekly.


 
January 19, 2017
 
This week’s issue is being sent today in observance of Inauguration Day.
 
In This Issue:
1. President Upends Military Justice System
2. SASC Clears Defense Nominee
3. Medal of Honor Reception
4. VA to Host Summit for Women Veterans
5. MIA Update
1. President Upends Military Justice System: President Obama this week upended the entire military justice system by commuting the sentences of two military prisoners and pardoning a retired general officer. Being released from prison is former Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, who was sentenced to serve 35 years for releasing three-quarters of a million classified and sensitive military and diplomatic communiques. Former Army Pfc. Dwight Loving, a double murderer, had his death sentence commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole, and retired Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright, the former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was pardoned for lying to the FBI and releasing sensitive intelligence information to reporters. VFW National Commander Brian Duffy called Manning’s release offensive, Loving’s commutation a reflection of more concern for a convicted murderer than the families of the two dead taxicab drivers he killed, and Cartwright’s pardon proof that rank does have its privileges. Read more at: http://www.vfw.org/news-and-publications/press-room/archives/2017/1/vfw-critical-of-presidents-military-commutations-pardon.
 
2. SASC Clears Defense Nominee: Confirmation of retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis as defense secretary could occur this week following a vote in favor of his nomination Wednesday by the Senate Armed Services Committee. The committee voted 26-1 to send Mattis’ nomination to the full Senate, which has the final say on approving cabinet appointments. That vote could come immediately after President-elect Trump is sworn into office on Friday and officially nominates the general, who received the VFW Dwight D. Eisenhower Award at the 116th VFW National Convention in Pittsburgh. Read more at:
3. Medal of Honor Reception: VFW National Commander Brian Duffy hosted a reception Wednesday evening for nearly three dozen Medal of Honor recipients who are in town for the inauguration. Also in attendance was the nominee to become the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Dr. David Shulkin, as well as Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven Girodano, the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell, among many others.
 
4. VA to Host Summit for Women Veterans: The Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Women Veterans is slated to host the Summit for Women Veterans in Dallas from March 17-18. The summit will be the first national-level event for women veterans since 2011. Topics will include training, information and guidance particular to female veterans, regardless of VA enrollment. There will be lectures, panel discussions, exhibits and open forums promoting forward-thinking dialogue, collaboration with industry best practices and research. The target audience includes women veterans, public sector partners, academics and community partners. “Attendees will have an opportunity to hear from VA leadership, and participate in breakout sessions focused on employment, mental health, entrepreneurship, military sexual trauma, reproductive health, culture change and more. Additionally, plenary sessions will focus on VA care and benefits, partner organizations, and a special “Voice of the Veteran” panel,” said Kayla Williams, the director of VA’s Center for Women Veterans. To learn more about the summit and how to register, visit: http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/34336/.
 
5. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains of one American who had been missing in action from World War II. Returning home for burial with full military honors is:
— Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. John D. Mumford was a P-51C “Mustang” pilot assigned to the 318th Fighter Squadron, 325th Fighter Group, 15th Air Force. On June 6, 1944, Mumford flew escort for B-17 “Flying Fortress” bombers on their mission to bomb and destroy a German occupied airfield at Galati, Romania. Following the bombing, the formation was attacked by German fighters. Mumford pursued two German fighters before crashing near present day Novi Troyany, Ukraine. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1052053/airman-missing-from-world-war-ii-identified-mumford/.
To sign up new veterans’ advocates, click here: http://capwiz.com/vfw/mlm/signup.htm.
As always, we want to hear your advocacy stories. To share your stories or photos with us, simply email them directly to vfwac@vfw.org.


 

 
                                   January 13, 2017

 

 

 

In This Issue:

 

1. VA Secretary Nominated

 

2. Veterans Committees Leadership Changes

 

3. Camp Lejeune Contaminated Water Vets Get Relief

 

4. DOD Authorizes Online Shopping for Vets

 

5. VFW-SVA 2017 Student Veterans Fellowship Class

 

6. MIA Update

 

 

 

1. VA Secretary Nominated: On Wednesday, President-elect Donald Trump announced that

 

Dr. David Shulkin, VA’s current under secretary for health, has been nominated to be the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Shulkin has served as under secretary for 18 months and has been a leading force in VA’s health care reform. He will bring continuity to VA as it continues to improve its delivery of health care. After the announcement on Wednesday, VFW Commander-in-Chief Brian Duffy had this to say regarding the selection, “The VFW is proud to support the nomination of Dr. David Shulkin as the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and we are most appreciative of his willingness to continue serving veterans and making the VA better.”

 

 

2. Veterans Committees Leadership Changes: At the start of the 115th Congress, the Senate and House Committees on Veterans’ Affairs have changed three of their four top leadership positions. On the Senate committee, Senator Johnny Isakson retains his position as Chairman, and Senator Jon Tester has been elected as the committee’s Ranking Member. On the House side, both leadership positions have changed hands. Congressman Phil Roe, M.D,. has been elected as Chairman and Congressman Tim Walz has been elected the Ranking Member. All four are long-term members of their respective committees as well as friends of the VFW. To learn more about the Senate and House committees, visit their websites at: http://www.veterans.senate.gov/; and https://veterans.house.gov/.

 

 

3. Camp Lejeune Contaminated Water Vets Get Relief: The Obama administration has agreed to pay more than $2.2 billion over the next five years to the nearly 900,000 Marine Corps veterans and their families who were stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C. between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987 and who suffer with one of the following medical conditions: Adult leukemia, aplastic anemia, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Parkinson’s disease. We will provide an update as we learn more about this decision.

 

 

 

4. DOD Authorizes Online Shopping for Vets: Today the Department of Defense announced that beginning November 11, 2017, all honorably discharged veterans will be granted online shopping privileges though the online military exchange. Veterans will now have access to all merchandise except for uniforms, alcohol and tobacco products. To read more about the program click here: https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases.

 

 

 

5. VFW-SVA 2017 Student Veterans Fellowship Class: The VFW and Student Veterans of America announced the names of 10 student veterans who will comprise the third legislative fellowship class. The announcement was made during the SVA’s 9th National Conference and continues efforts by both organizations to train grassroots advocates. The semester-long program includes policy research and five days in Washington, D.C., for the VFW’s Legislative Conference. To learn more, click here: http://www.vfw.org/news-and-publications/press-room/archives/2017/1/vfw-and-sva-announce-2017-student-veteran-fellowship-class.

 

 

6. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains of nine Americans who had been missing in action from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:

 

— Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Sidney A. Cook was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. Cook’s unit was one of those tasked with securing the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll. Encountering fierce resistance by the Japanese, almost 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and another 1,000 were wounded in the battle. Cook was killed on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1043288/marine-missing-from-world-war-ii-identified-cook/.

 

— Marine Corps Cpl. Walter G. Critchley was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division. On Nov. 20, 1943, Critchley’s unit landed on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll against fierce Japanese resistance. Critchley was killed on Nov. 20, 1943. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1043296/marine-missing-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-critchley/.

 

— Marine Corps Reserve 2nd Lt. Ernest Matthews was assigned to Headquarters Company, Headquarters Battalion, Division Special Troops, 2nd Marine Division. On Nov. 20, 1943, Matthews’ unit landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll. Matthews was among approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors killed in the intense fighting. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1043278/marine-missing-from-world-war-ii-identified-matthews/.

 

— Marine Corps Pfc. James O. Whitehurst was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. On Nov. 20, 1943, Whitehurst’s unit landed on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll against stiff Japanese resistance. Whitehurst was killed on the first day of the battle, one of approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors killed in the intense fighting. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1043282/marine-missing-from-world-war-ii-identified-whitehurst/.

 

— Marine Corps Pfc. Larry R. Roberts was assigned to Special Weapons Group, 2nd Defense Battalion, Fleet Marine Force. Roberts’ unit landed on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll on Nov. 20, 1943. After five days of intense battle against the Japanese, Roberts was declared killed in action on Nov. 25, 1943. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1043285/marine-missing-from-world-war-ii-identified-roberts/.

 

— Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Charles E. Carlson was a P-47 pilot with the 62nd Fighter Squadron, 56th Fighter Group, Eighth Air Force. Carlson was shot down south of Bonn, Germany, during an air battle between American and German pilots on Dec. 23, 1944. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1046038/airman-missing-from-world-war-ii-identified-carlson/.

 

— Army Air Forces 1st Lt. William J. Gray was a member of the 391st Fighter Squadron, 366th Fighter Group. In April 1945, Gray flew his single seat P-47D aircraft on a dive-bombing mission in the vicinity of Lindau, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany. After strafing a truck, Gray’s aircraft clipped a tree and crashed. Gray was declared killed in action on April 16, 1945. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1043300/airman-missing-from-world-war-ii-identified-gray/.

 

— Army Sgt. James W. Sharp was a member of Battery B, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, 31st Regimental Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division. In late November 1950, his unit was assembled with South Korean soldiers in the 31st Regimental Combat Team on the east side of the Chosin River, North Korea, when his unit was attacked by Chinese forces. Sharp was among 1,300 members of the RCT killed or captured in enemy territory and was declared missing on Dec. 6, 1950. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1047133/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-identified-sharp/.

 

— Marine Corps Reserve 1st Lt. William C. Ryan was an F-4B radar intercept officer with the Marine Fighter Attack Force 115, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Fleet Marine Force Pacific. While pulling out of a bombing pass over Savannakhet Province, Laos, Ryan’s aircraft was hit by enemy fire. Ryan failed to eject and was declared deceased as of May 11, 1969. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1043272/marine-missing-from-vietnam-war-identified-ryan/. 

 

 

 

To sign up new veterans’ advocates, click here: http://capwiz.com/vfw/mlm/signup.htm.

 

 

As always, we want to hear your advocacy stories. To share your stories or photos with us, simply email them directly to vfwac@vfw.org.

 


 
December 16, 2016
 
This is the last issue of the year. The next Action Corps Weekly will be on January 6, 2017.
 
In This Issue:
1. Congress Passes Major Veterans Bill
2. National Defense Authorization Act Clears Congress
3. Military BAH Rates Set To Increase
4. Army VSO/MSO Roundtable
5. SECAF Holds Facebook Town Hall
6. WWI Centennial Commission
7. MIA Update
 
1. Congress Passes Major Veterans Bill: This week Congress sent major veterans legislation to the president for his signature. H.R. 6416, the Jeff Miller and Richard Blumenthal Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2016, included numerous provisions related to several VFW resolutions. The bill expands eligibility for grave marker medallions to be issued by VA to include those veterans who died before November 1990. Another section of the bill provides for researching how the health of children of veterans exposed to toxic substances is impacted. Changes that make uniform the definition of homelessness were also included in the bill. These important provisions were 2016 Priority Goals for the VFW and their enactment into law would fully accomplish VFW Resolution 620, and partially accomplish Resolutions 619 and 621 which were approved at the 117th VFW National Convention. Additional legislation to require VA to pilot a self-scheduling program, to authorize VA to partner with non-governmental agencies to finance VA facilities, and to pay back money withheld from veterans discharged after January 17, 1991 who received severance pay also cleared Congress and awaits the president’s signature. This concludes the 114th Congress. The VFW looks forward to working with the 115th Congress to ensure the VFW’s 2017 Priority Goals are accomplished. To view the VFW’s 2017 Priority Goals, visit: www.vfw.org/advocacy/national-legislative-service.
 
2. National Defense Authorization Act Clears Congress: Legislation providing $618.7 billion and a 2.1 percent pay raise for the military cleared Congress and was sent to the White House this week. The bill also includes a number the VFW’s 2016 Priority Goals, such as requiring DOD to formulate a process by which veterans who received Less-Than-Honorable discharges due to misconduct resulting from the effects of Post-traumatic stress disorder, Military sexual trauma (MST) and Traumatic brain injury are given a fair shake when appealing for discharge upgrade; calculating the military retirement owed to a former spouse based on the rank at time of divorce instead of at time of retirement; and improved reporting and treatment of service members who are victims of MST. The passage of this important bill also fully accomplishes VFW Resolutions 416 and 418 and partially accomplishes Resolution 410, which were approved at the 117thVFW National Convention.
3. Military BAH Rates Set To Increase: This week, the Pentagon announced that there will be a 2.4 percent increase to the Basic Allowance for Housing it pays service members. The average increase will be $41 per month, which is also dependent on the rank of the service member and whether they have dependents. While not all regions will see an increase, there will be no decrease for those living in a region that does not get an increase. Further, this marks the third of a five-year plan that will increase the amount of burden that the service member would be responsible for when paying for housing. In an attempt to reduce personnel costs –– something directly caused by sequestration –– the average service members will have to pay three percent of housing costs out-of-pocket in a design which will increase to 5 percent by fiscal year 2019. The VFW continues to be strongly opposed to this plan as part of our larger opposition to sequestration. For more information on the BAH rate increase, go to: http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/news.cfm?ID=73.
 
4. Army VSO/MSO Roundtable: The VFW participated in a veteran and military service organization roundtable on Wednesday with Under Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy, who was joined by senior officials from Manpower, Force Development, Army Review Board, Army Wounded Warrior Program and Soldier for Life. Discussions focused on the “Meet Your Army” campaign, discharge review boards, “Soldier 2020” gender integration, the future of the force and transition topics.
5. SECAF Holds Facebook Town Hall: Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James held a Facebook town hall on Dec. 12 to discuss concerns expressed during the October Air Force Spouse and Family Forum. Topics included the hiring of additional family support coordinators; an increase in respite care hours allowed under the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP); quarterly EFMP-related webcasts starting Jan 12; an increase in months of leave without pay available to spouses during moves; the expansion of parental leave per the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act; and additional steps being taken to address other childcare and spouse employment challenges. Read more at: http://www.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/223/Article/1027513/secaf-shares-developments-with-spouse-and-family-programs-at-townhall.aspx
 
6. WWI Centennial Commission: The World War I Centennial Commission was created by Congress to commemorate America’s significant role during the “war to end all wars,” as well as the subsequent rebuilding of war-torn Europe afterwards. Approximately 4.7 million American men and women served during World War I, with 2 million deploying “over there.” Sadly, 116,516 paid the ultimate price. The commission is engaging with communities across the nation, partnering with the History Channel and the Smithsonian museums, and designing a new National World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C. The VFW is fully supportive of commission initiatives, which include naming Quartermaster General Debra Anderson as a commissioner, identifying those Posts that are named after fallen WWI soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, publicizing America’s contributions in the VFW magazine, and supporting the 100 Cities/100 Memorials matching grant challenge. Learn more at: http://www.worldwar1centennial.org/index.php.
7. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains of 12 Americans who had been missing in action from World War II and Korea. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:
— Navy Seaman 2nd Class Floyd F. Clifford was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, when Japanese aircraft attacked his ship on Dec. 7, 1941. Clifford was one of 429 crewmen killed in the attack. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1030547/sailor-missing-from-world-war-ii-identified-clifford/.
— Navy Fireman 3rd Class Kenneth L. Holm was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, when Japanese aircraft attacked his ship on Dec. 7, 1941. Holm was one of 429 crewmen killed in the attack. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1030832/sailor-missing-from-world-war-ii-identified-holm/.
— Navy Seaman 1st Class Harold W. Roesch was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, when Japanese aircraft attacked his ship on Dec. 7, 1941. Roesch was one of 429 crewmen killed in the attack. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1030550/sailor-missing-from-world-war-ii-identified-roesch/.
— Navy Yeoman 3rd Class Edmund T. Ryan was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, when Japanese aircraft attacked his ship on Dec. 7, 1941. Ryan was one of 429 crewmen killed in the attack. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1026982/sailor-missing-from-world-war-ii-identified-ryan/.
— Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Byron H. Nelson was a nose gunner aboard an American B-24G Liberator bomber with the 721st Bomb Squadron, 450th Bomb Group, 15th Air Force. During a bombing run near Varese, Italy, on April 25, 1944, Nelson’s aircraft and two others were separated from the formation due to dense clouds and later attacked by German fighters. Of the 10 crewmen, six parachuted from the aircraft and escaped capture, two parachuted and were captured by German forces, and two perished in the crash. Nelson was reported to be one of the two who perished. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1027977/airman-missing-from-world-war-ii-identified-nelson/.
— Army Air Forces Capt. Albert L. Schlegel, of Cleveland, Ohio, disappeared Aug. 28, 1944, while piloting his P-51D Mustang on a ground strafing mission near Strasbourg, France. In his final communication, the fighter “ace” radioed he’d been hit by heavy anti-aircraft fire and would need to bail out. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1027011/airman-missing-from-world-war-ii-identified-schlegel/.
— Army Cpl. Gerald I. Shepler was the lead scout on a reconnaissance patrol for Company K, 3rd Battalion, 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, near Hajoyang-ni, North Korea, when his patrol was ambushed by enemy forces. Shepler was unaccounted for after the mission, and the U.S. Army declared him deceased on Nov. 29, 1950. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1027031/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-identified-shepler/.
— Army Sgt. Homer R. Abney was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, when his unit was engaged in heavy fighting with Chinese forces on the road from Kunu-ri to Sunch’on, North Korea — later named “The Gauntlet.” After several days of fighting, his regiment declared Abney missing on Nov. 30, 1950. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1027019/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-identified-abney/.
— Army Cpl. James T. Mainhart served with Company I, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, part of the 31st Regimental Combat Team deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. The RCT was attacked by an overwhelming number of Chinese forces in late November, 1950. Mainhart was among 1,300 members of the RCT killed or captured in enemy territory. He was reported missing as of Nov. 30, 1950. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1027973/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-identified-mainhart/.
— Army Cpl. Edward Pool was reported missing in action on Nov. 30, 1950, while serving with 31st Heavy Mortar Company, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. His unit was part of the 31st Regimental Combat Team deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. Pool could not be accounted for after several days of intense fighting. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1027047/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-identified-pool/.
— Army Cpl. Jules Hauterman was a medic with the Medical Platoon, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, attached to the 31st Regimental Combat Team deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. The RCT was attacked by an overwhelming number of Chinese forces in late November, 1950. Mainhart was among 1,300 members of the RCT killed or captured in enemy territory. He was reported missing as of Dec 2, 1950. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1030834/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-identified-hauterman/.
— Army Cpl. George A. Perreault was part of Support Force 21, assigned to Headquarters Battery, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, near the Central Corridor in South Korea. While supporting Korean-led attacks on Chinese forces, they were caught in a massive Chinese counterattack on Feb. 11, 1951. Perreault was declared missing on Feb. 13, 1951. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1029293/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-identified-perreault/.
To sign up new veterans’ advocates, click here: http://capwiz.com/vfw/mlm/signup.htm.
As always, we want to hear your advocacy stories. To share your stories or photos with us, simply email them directly to vfwac@vfw.org.

 


 
                                December 9, 2016
 
In This Issue:
1. Pearl Harbor Day
2. Veterans Legislation Passes
3. VA Cemeteries Offering Pre-Enrollment for Eligible Veterans
4. MIA Update
 
1. Pearl Harbor Day: On Wednesday, VFW Posts across the country commemorated the 75th anniversary of the surprise attack that brought the United States into World War II. In Hawaii, dozens of attack survivors were present, to include four of the five remaining USS Arizona survivors. Also present were VFW National Commander Brian Duffy and VFW Auxiliary National President Colette Bishop, who attended commemoration ceremonies and presented a VFW wreath aboard the Arizona Memorial. The Chief would also meet with the senior leadership of U.S. Pacific Command, Pacific Air Forces, and U.S. Army-Pacific, and the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to express our support of their missions, as well as to discuss the many troop and family support programs the VFW provides to military communities everywhere.
2. Veterans Legislation Passes: This week the House of Representatives passed nine bills, two of which have previously passed the Senate. The two that have passed both chambers of Congress and await the president’s signature are S. 3076, a bill to ensure that veterans with no next-of-kin or who lack the financial resources are provided with a casket or urn; and S. 3492, which will name a VA outpatient clinic in Michigan after Colonel Demas T. Craw.
The remaining bills await Senate action. They are: H.R. 6435 will allow independent investigations at VA medical centers; H.R. 5099 allows VA to enter into five public-private partnerships to offset the cost of building VA medical centers; H.R. 4298 directs the Secretary of the Army to place a memorial at Arlington National Cemetery honoring Vietnam era helicopter pilots and crews; H.R. 5399 will improve accountability of VA doctors; H.R. 4150 will allow VA to better schedule VA doctors’ work hours; H.R. 4352 calls for a pilot program to allow veterans to self-schedule their appointments; and H.R. 6416, a veterans omnibus package that will, among other provisions, allow for toxic exposure research, restore certain educational benefits for National Guard and Reservists and expand homeless veterans’ benefits.
Action Corps will provide you an update on the status of these and other bills that may pass in next week’s Action Corps Weekly.
 
3. VA Cemeteries Offering Pre-Enrollment for Eligible Veterans: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) this week announced it now provides eligibility determinations for interment in a VA national cemetery prior to the time of need. Through the Pre-Need Determination of Eligibility Program, upon request, individuals can learn if they are eligible for burial or memorialization in a VA national cemetery. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald said, “This new program reaffirms our commitment to providing a lifetime of benefits and services for veterans and their families.” Now veterans and their families can plan for their burial needs which will alleviate some of the burden later.
Interested individuals may submit VA Form 40-10007, Application for Pre-Need Determination of Eligibility for Burial in a VA National Cemetery, and supporting documentation, such as a DD Form 214, if readily available, to the VA National Cemetery Scheduling Office by toll-free fax at 1-855-840-8299; email to Eligibility.PreNeed@va.gov; or mail to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office, P.O. Box 510543, St. Louis, MO 63151.
4. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains of two Americans who had been missing in action from Korea. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:
— Army Cpl. David T. Nordin, Jr., 23, of Los Angeles, will be buried in Kent, Washington, on Dec. 16. Nordin was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. He was declared missing Nov. 28, 1950, after his unit was attacked by Chinese forces while establishing a position near Unsan, North Korea, as part of a United Nations Command offensive. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/1024527/soldier-killed-in-korean-war-accounted-for-nordin/.
— Army Sgt. Stafford L. Morris was a member of Battery A, 503rd Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division. His unit was operating just north of Kujang-dong, North Korea, when it was attacked by overwhelming Chinese forces and was forced to withdraw through an area referred to as “The Gauntlet.” Morris was declared missing on Dec. 1, 1950. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1024636/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-identified-morris/.
To sign up new veterans’ advocates, click here: http://capwiz.com/vfw/mlm/signup.htm.
As always, we want to hear your advocacy stories. To share your stories or photos with us, simply email them directly to vfwac@vfw.org.

 


 
                                  December 2, 2016
 
In This Issue:
1. Mattis Picked as New Defense Secretary
2. Pentagon VSO/MSO Roundtable
3. Jason Simcakoski Memorial and Promise Act Roundtable
4. Defense Bill Update
5. Congress Advances Veterans Bills
6. House Passes Gold Medal Bill for Filipino WWII Veterans
7. CVS Out, Walgreens In
8. Remembering Pearl Harbor
9. MIA Update
1. Mattis Picked as New Defense Secretary: In a speech in Ohio last night, President-elect Donald Trump said he will nominate retired Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis to lead the Department of Defense. The general, who received the VFW’s top Dwight D. Eisenhower Award in 2015, served more than four decades before retiring in 2013 as the commander of U.S. Central Command. Of his selection, VFW National Commander Brian Duffy said “Our nation has been at war for more than 15 years with no end in sight. It makes perfect sense to put a warfighter in charge of the war fighting. The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States looks forward to working with General Mattis.”
 
2. Pentagon VSO/MSO Roundtable: The VFW participated in a veteran and military service organization roundtable on Wednesday with Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, who was joined by Deputy Secretary Robert O. Work, Under Secretary of Defense Comptroller Mike McCord, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Peter Levine, as well as senior officials from the Operations and Force Structure directorates. Discussions focused on the potential impact of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act on force readiness and modernization, the need for budget stabilization, and ensuring a smooth transition into the new administration.
 
3. Jason Simcakoski Memorial and Promise Act Roundtable: On Wednesday, VFW Deputy Director Carlos Fuentes joined the family of Jason Simcakoski, Senator Tammy Baldwin, Congressman Gus Bilirakis, VA and other stakeholders to discuss VA’s progress in reducing the overmedication of veterans who suffer from chronic pain, which cost Marine combat veteran Jason Simcakoski his life. Fuentes urged VA not to overcorrect by abruptly taking veterans off medications they need and have received for years. He suggested that VA work with veterans to create personalized pain management plans to wean veterans off high dose medications and  toward equally or more effective pain management treatment options. To view a video of the roundtable discussion, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F30-fu9RvLk.
 
4. Defense Bill Update: House and Senate conferees negotiated a $618.7 billion defense policy bill this week that would increase military pay raises from the administration’s proposed 1.6 percent to 2.1 percent, which would equal the anticipated rise in the Employment Cost Index (ECI), and mark the first time in four years that military pay kept pace with the ECI. Other significant provisions would halt planned reductions in active duty Army and Marine Corps forces, keeping end strengths instead at 476,000 and 185,000, respectively; flag officer ranks would be cut by about 12 percent, the majority of them in joint billets; and stripped from the bill are plans to require women, age 18 to 26, to register for the draft. A review of the Selective Service System’s continued viability will instead be initiated. The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act is expected to go to floor votes in the House today and in the Senate early next week.
 
5. Congress Advances Veterans Bills: This week, the Senate passed several veterans bills to honor veterans who were injured or became ill while in service and fund construction projects for VA facilities in Nevada and California. These bills will now go to the House for further consideration. The House also advanced several bills to require the Department of Labor to better recognize efforts made by employers to recruit and retain veterans. The house also passed bills to require VA to provide headstones, markers, or medallions for Medal of Honor recipients who are buried in private cemeteries and send a Presidential Memorial Certificate to the families of deceased veterans; authorize congressional staffers greater access to the records of veterans who ask for help from their member of Congress; and a bill to rename the VA Medical Center in Long Beach, California after Medal of Honor recipient Tibor Rubin. These bills await Senate consideration. Another bill passed by the House to improve VA’s Automobile Adaptive Equipment Program now heads to the president’s desk for his signature. Stay tuned to the Action Corps Weekly for updates on these and other important veterans bills being considered by Congress.
 
6. House Passes Gold Medal Bill for Filipino WWII Veterans: This week, the House approved a bill that would honor Filipino and Filipino-American veterans of World War II. The VFW adopted Resolution 305 at the 116th National Convention in 2015 supporting the Filipino veterans who served and fought to help defeat the Japanese and liberate the Philippines. Of the estimated 300,000 Filipino veterans of World War II, more than 57,000 would be killed in action during the four year battle to defend, then free, their homeland which was then sovereign U.S. territory. Filipino veterans were also present at the Bataan Death March which resulted in the loss of between 6,000 to 10,000 Filipino’s alongside 700 members of the United States Armed Forces during the 70 mile march. The bill previously passed the Senate in July and now heads to the president’s desk for his signature.
 
7. CVS Out, Walgreens In: As of yesterday, CVS and CVS pharmacies in Target stores are no longer part of the TRICARE pharmacy network; but Walgreens now is, so beneficiaries need to transfer all prescription fills or refills from CVS pharmacy to another TRICARE pharmacy to avoid paying the full retail prices. Read more here: https://www.express-scripts.com/TRICARE/news/walgreens.shtml.
 
8. Remembering Pearl Harbor: VFW National Commander Brian Duffy and Auxiliary National President Colette Bishop will be among thousands of patriots in Hawaii on Wednesday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the attack. Visitors to Washington can join in the commemoration in a “Reading of the Names Candlelight Vigil” at the National World War II Memorial beginning at 5 p.m. EST, Tuesday, followed by a 75th Anniversary Commemoration at 12:53 p.m., Wednesday. For more information, click here: http://www.wwiimemorialfriends.org/.
 
9. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains of three Americans who had been missing in action from World War II and Korea. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:
— Navy Fireman 1st Class Jim H. Johnston, 23, will be buried in his hometown of Wesson, Miss., on Dec. 7. Johnston was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when Japanese aircraft attacked his ship on Dec. 7, 1941. Johnston was one of 429 crewmen to be killed in the attack. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1010134/airman-missing-from-world-war-ii-identified-moessner/.
— Army Master Sgt. Joseph Durakovich was a member of Company G, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. His unit was attacked by the Chinese forces while establishing a defensive position in Pongmyong-ni east of Kuni-ri, North Korea, on Nov. 28, 1950. After the battle, Durakovich could not be accounted for and was reported missing in action. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1011976/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-identified-durakovich/.
— Army Cpl. Louis A. Damewood was a member of Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, operating near Hoengsong, South Korea. He was declared missing after his unit attacked an opposition road block on Feb. 13, 1951. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1011982/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-identified-damewood/.
To sign up new veterans’ advocates, click here: http://capwiz.com/vfw/mlm/signup.htm.
As always, we want to hear your advocacy stories. To share your stories or photos with us, simply email them directly to vfwac@vfw.org.

November 23, 2016
In honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, the Action Corps Weekly is being sent today.
Have a great Thanksgiving!
 
In This Issue:
1. VFW Joins Give an Hour on SiriusXM Radio
2. Air Force Announces New Top Enlisted Advisor
3. Overseas Military Shipping Deadlines Near
4. MyVA311
5. MIA Update
 
1. VFW Joins Give an Hour on SiriusXM Radio: On Monday, VFW National Commander Brian Duffy joined with Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, and Give An Hour President Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, to discuss the campaign to change how our nation perceives mental health care challenges faced by veterans, service members, and the nation as a whole. SiriusXM Radio hosted the event, entitled “Changing the Culture of Mental Health: It’s Time.” The hour-long discussion will air on Nov. 24 at 6 p.m. EST on SiriusXM channel 126. To hear an excerpt of the Chief’s comments, go to https://soundcloud.com/siriusxm-news-issues/brian-duffy-vfw-1.
2. Air Force Announces New Top Enlisted Advisor: Chief Master Sgt. Kaleth Wright has been selected to become the next chief master sergeant of the Air Force. He will succeed current CMSAF James Cody, who is retiring in February. Chief Wright is currently the senior enlisted advisor to U.S. Air Forces in Europe and U.S. Air Forces Africa. The 27-year Desert Storm veteran previously served as the command chief of the 3rd Air Force and 17th Expeditionary Air Force at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, the 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Afghanistan in Kabul, Afghanistan, and the 22nd Air Refueling Wing at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. Read more at https://www.airforcetimes.com/articles/meet-the-next-chief-master-sergeant-of-the-air-force?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Mil%20EBB%2011.17.16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief.
3. Overseas Military Shipping Deadlines Near: The Military Postal Service Agency is alerting everyone that holiday shipping deadlines to overseas areas are rapidly approaching. Check mailing deadlines on its website at http://hqdainet.army.mil/mpsa/index.htm.
4. MyVA311: Last week, VA launched 1-844-MyVA311 (1-844-698-2311) as a 24/7 one-stop information service platform for all VA services. Veterans, families and caregivers who call MyVA311 can be connected to disability, pension, health care eligibility, enrollment, and burial benefits, the veterans crisis line, the homeless veterans helpline and to a self-service locator to find the nearest VA facility.  This is an effort to ensure veterans no longer have to know what number to call for specific programs and services, instead, veterans can call MyVA311 and be connected to the correct call center. If you know what number you’re calling – keep calling it. None of the existing VA numbers will go away.
5. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains of four Americans who had been missing in action from World War II and Korea. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:
— Army Pfc. Daniel Hunt, 18, of Columbiaville, Mich., will be buried Dec. 2 in Phoenix, Ariz. On Sept. 28, 1951, Hunt was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, fighting in Korean border area often referred to as Heartbreak Ridge. Hunt was reported missing in action after a series of battles. Read more at http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/1011148/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-hunt/.
— Army Cpl. Vernon D. Presswood, 19, will be buried Dec. 3 in his hometown of Pinckneyville, Ill. In late November 1950, Hendrickson was a member of Heavy Mortar Company, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, which was assembled into the 31st Regimental Combat Team and deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when it was engaged by overwhelming numbers of Chinese forces. Presswood was reported missing in action as of Dec. 2, 1950. Read more at http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/1011150/soldier-killed-in-korean-war-accounted-for-presswood/.
— Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Robert E. Moessner. On April 18, 1944, Moessner was the bombardier of a B-24 aircraft out of Kwelin, China, when it was shot down near Hong Kong. Of the 12 crewmembers aboard, only two would survive the crash landing in shallow water. Interment services are pending. Read more at http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1010134/airman-missing-from-world-war-ii-identified-moessner/.
— Army Sgt. 1st Class Harold P. Haugland, of Gallatin, Mont. In late November 1950, Haugland was a member of Company D, 15th Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion, 7th Infantry Division, which was assembled into the 31st Regimental Combat Team and deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when it was engaged by overwhelming numbers of Chinese forces. Haugland was reported missing in action as of Dec. 2, 1950. Interment services are pending. Read more at http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1008321/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-identified-haugland/.
 

 
November 18, 2016
 
In This Issue:
1. Changing Directions
2. Congress Advances Veterans’ Bills
3. White House Hosts Veteran Homelessness Summit
4. TRICARE Publications Update
5. MIA Update
 
 
1. Changing Directions: Army Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc met with VFW National Commander Brian Duffy at the VFW Washington Office on Wednesday to discuss ongoing efforts to change the direction and narrative regarding the stigma associated with seeking mental health care. The general, who commands special operations forces for U.S. Africa Command and is a member of VFW Post 1670 in Laconia, N.H., is the latest senior officer to use himself as an example to his troops that seeking care is a sign of strength, not weakness, and that admitting to having post-traumatic stress is not a career-limiter. His story was featured in a New York Times article last month. Chief Duffy and VFW Auxiliary National President Colette Bishop have made mental wellness the signature issue of their year, and have already partnered with the nation’s leading mental health providers, researchers, peer support and family caregiver organizations to help change the direction and narrative regarding seeking mental health. Read General Bolduc’s story at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/08/world/africa/donald-bolduc-ptsd.html?_r=0.
 
2. Congress Advances Veterans’ Bills: In its first week back from the election recess, Congress has advanced a number of veterans’ bills to expand the Veterans’ Oral History Project to gold star families, require VA to improve the Veterans Crisis Line to ensure no crisis call goes unanswered and improve VA’s Automobile Adaptive Equipment Program. H.R. 4511, the Gold Star Families Voices Act and H.R. 5392, the No Veterans Crisis Line Call Should Go Unanswered Act now await the president’s signature. Stay tuned to the Action Corps Weekly for updates on these bills and other important veterans legislation.
 
3. White House Hosts Veteran Homelessness Summit: The White House’s Joining Forces hosted a summit Monday, Nov. 14, bringing in leadership and mayors from across the country who have been crucial in Joining Forces’ initiative to end veteran homelessness. Since 2011, the initiative has cut veteran homelessness in half – eradicating it in 35 communities across the country as well as in two states. During the event, both First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden gave speeches. Both women highlighted that though the success has been promising, the fight to completely ending veteran homelessness will continue into the new administration come 2017. To watch the summit please visit: https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2016/11/14/together-we-can-end-veteran-homelessness. To learn more about Joining Forces’ nationwide initiative to end veteran homelessness go to: https://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/veterans/ending-homelessness.
4. TRICARE Publications Update:  DOD has redesigned TRICARE handbooks, brochures, fact sheets and guides to make them more user friendly and visually appealing. To view the updated publications, visit: www.tricare.mil/publications. Please tell us what you think of the redesign by emailing the Actions Corps at vfwac@vfw.org.
5. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains and burial updates for  four American soldiers who had been missing in action since World War II and the Korean War. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:
— Army Pfc. William W. Cowan, 19, of White House, Tenn., will be buried Nov. 19 in Fredonia, Ohio. On Feb. 12, 1951, Cowan was a member of Company M, 3rd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, when he was reported missing in action after his unit attacked a road block set up by enemy forces near Hoengsong, South Korea. It would be later learned he had been captured but died in captivity in a POW camp in North Korea. Read more at http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/1001386/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-cowan/.
— Marine Corps Pfc.Wilbur C. Mattern, 23, of Oelwein, Iowa, will be buried Nov. 21, in Arlington National Cemetery. In November 1943, Mattern was assigned to Company M, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. After several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Mattern died on the second day of the battle, Nov. 21, 1943. Read more at http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/1004088/marine-missing-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-mattern/.
— Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert R. Cummings, of Schoolcraft, Mich., was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 187th Airborne Infantry Regimental Combat Team, when his unit was attacked by an estimated 200,000 Chinese soldiers near the Yalu River in North Korea. He would be declared missing in action on Nov. 29, 1950. Interment services are pending. Read more at http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1007708/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-identified-cummings/.
Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Frederick W. Langhorst, 24, of Yonkers, New York, will be buried Nov. 26 in Battle Creek, Michigan. On July 17, 1945, Langhorst was assigned to the 1330 Army Air Force Base Unit, Air Transport Command, and was the co-pilot of a C-109 aircraft with three other crew members on a routine cargo transport mission from Jorhat, India, to Hsinching, China, when it crashed in a remote area. An extensive search of the area failed to identify the crash site and the crew was declared deceased on July 18, 1946, and their remains designated non-recoverable. Read more at http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/1008332/airman-missing-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-langhorst/.

 
                             November 10, 2016
                        Happy 241st Birthday, Marine Corps!
 
 
In observance of Veterans Day, this week’s issue is being sent today.
 
In This Issue:
1. National Commander Duffy Lays out Expectations
2. Veterans Day in Washington
3. VFW on the Mall
4. MyVA Transformation Process
5. Extension of Presumptive Period for Gulf War Illness
6. VA and Social Security Partner for Faster Service
7. America Voted
8. MIA Update
 
1. National Commander Duffy Lays out Expectations: Today, at the National Press Club in Washington, VFW’s National Commander Brian Duffy laid out VFW’s expectations for the next president and Congress. First and foremost, Duffy stated, “the VFW expects effective leadership, management, and accountability from everyone who is charged with caring for veterans, service members and their families.” Quality delivery of health care and benefits hinges on VA’s ability to quickly and effectively hire quality employees and when necessary, fire bad employees. Ending sequestration and raising the budget caps so Congress can move forward with expanding and improving benefits and services has been and will continue to be a top priority. Duffy continued to explain the harmful effects that sequestration has on our military readiness and quality of life for our all-volunteer force. Duffy ended his opening statement by stating the next president and Congress must bring “action, patience and clarity” to their jobs so veterans, service members, and their families are cared for in the manner in which our nation expects. To read his full statement, click here: http://www.vfw.org/-/media/VFWSite/Files/Advocacy/CIC-Statement-111016.pdf.
 
2. Veterans Day in Washington: VFW Posts everywhere will be recognizing Veterans Day on Friday, Nov. 11. Visitors to Washington can join in the national salute starting at the World War II Memorial at 9 a.m., at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery at 11 a.m., and at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at 1 p.m.  Representing the VFW at a White House breakfast will be National Commander Brian Duffy and his wife, Jean. The Chief will also lay wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery and the Vietnam Wall accompanied by VFW Auxiliary National President Colette Bishop and her husband, Dave. More information on the ceremonies can be found at: WWII Memorial, http://www.wwiimemorialfriends.org/news-and-events/news-events; Arlington, http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil; and The Wall, http://www.vvmf.org/news/article=Free-Family-Tours-of-the-Vietnam-Veterans-Memorial-Set-for-Veterans-Day-Weekend.
3. VFW on the Mall: Tomorrow on Veterans Day, staff members from VFW National Veterans Service will be on the National Mall to provide information and answer questions. As part of VFW National Commander Brian Duffy’s Mental Wellness Campaign, VFW partners Give an Hour and PatientsLikeMe will also be on hand at the VFW booth to discuss mental wellness and share resources for veterans.
 
4. MyVA Transformation Process: This week, VA released a major update on the MyVA transformation –– Secretary McDonald’s effort to transform VA into the top customer service agency in the federal government. This third edition of the program’s semi-annual report details progress VA has made to improve trust, expedite health care appointments and disability claims, reduce veteran homelessness and other progress to provide veterans more services in better time. To read the full report, visit: http://www.va.gov/myva/docs/MyVA-3-0-v9-digital-11816.pdf.
 
5. Extension of Presumptive Period for Gulf War Illness: VA announced that it will extend to December 31, 2021, the date by which Gulf War veterans are able to apply for presumptive disability compensation for Gulf War Illness and other conditions associated with service in the 1991 Gulf War, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and functional gastrointestinal disorders. The presumptive period for these illnesses was set to expire on December 31, 2016. For information on research regarding the causes and effective treatments for Gulf War Illness, visit: http://cdmrp.army.mil/GWIRP.
 
6. VA and Social Security Partner for Faster Service:  The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) launched a new Health IT initiative that enables VA to share medical records electronically with Social Security Disability processors. This secure process will save time and money, resulting in better service for veterans and dependents who apply for Social Security Disability Benefits. For decades, SSA obtained medical records through a manual process. This new national initiative puts in place an automated process to obtain veterans’ medical records entirely electronically. “This SSA-VA partnership is another example of VA’s leadership in interoperability efforts among federal partners,” said VA Secretary, Robert McDonald. “Increasing federal partnerships to improve operation and resource coordination across agencies is among VA’s 12 Breakthrough Priorities for 2016.” To learn more about VA health care, visit: www.va.gov/health.
 
7. America Voted: On Tuesday, Americans went to the polls to cast ballots for president, 34 seats in the Senate, and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives. The VFW is committed to working with those who were elected to ensure that laws and regulations favor our military, veterans and their families. We encourage you to meet your members of Congress and to take the 2017 VFW Priority Goals with you to inform them of our position on issues. To view a printable version the 2017 VFW Priority Goals brochure, click here:
8. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has announced the identification of remains and burial updates for two Americans who had been missing in action since World War II and Korea. Being returned home for burial with full military honors are:
— Marine Pfc. Ben H. Gore, 20, will be buried Nov. 14 in his hometown of Hopkinsville, Ky. Gore was assigned to Special Weapons Group, 2nd Defense Battalion, Fleet Marine Force, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Over several days of intense fighting, approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded in securing the island; the enemy force of 4,700 was virtually annihilated. Gore died of his wounds on Nov. 25, 1943. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/997584/marine-missing-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-gore/.
— Army Pfc. Daniel Hunt is scheduled to be interred on Dec. 2 in Phoenix. Hunt was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, in the vicinity of Hill 1030, conducting operations in an area referred to as Heartbreak Ridge. He would be reported killed in action, body not recovered on Sept. 28, 1951. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/997596/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-identified-hunt/.
To sign up new veterans’ advocates, click here: http://capwiz.com/vfw/mlm/signup.htm.
As always, we want to hear your advocacy stories. To share your stories or photos with us, simply email them directly to vfwac@vfw.org.

 
                                  October 28, 2016
 
In This Issue:
1. VFW Wants POTUS Involvement in Bonus Payback Crisis
2. TRICARE Removes Cost Barriers for Preventive and Mental Health
3. MyHealtheVet Update
4. Help A Hero Scholarship Campaign
5. MIA Update
 
1. VFW Wants POTUS Involvement in Bonus Payback Crisis: Secretary of Defense Ash Carter this week ordered the Defense Finance and Accounting Services to suspend all efforts to collect reimbursements from affected California National Guard members, but VFW National Commander Brian Duffy said the suspension decision doesn’t go deep enough, and is now calling on President Obama to issue an executive order to eliminate the collection process altogether, to repay those monies already collected plus interest, and to restore any damaged credit ratings that resulted from a horrendous abuse of power and lack of oversight within the California Army National Guard. “The president must get personally involved and not leave it to a weak system of checks and balances that created a financial crisis that is tremendously impacting the lives of thousands of current and former Guard members,” exclaimed the Chief. “The president often touts that he has a phone and a pen and is not afraid to use either. This would be a good time to use both.” Read more at: http://www.vfw.org/news-and-publications/press-room/archives/2016/10/vfw-calls-on-potus-to-end-bonus-payback-issue-now.
2. TRICARE Removes Cost Barriers for Preventive and Mental Health: The Department of Defense (DOD) is improving the number of services and cost requirements for TRICARE’s preventive and mental health benefits. These changes, expected to be fully implemented by spring 2017, are being implemented to expand access and reduce financial barriers for beneficiaries. Effective Oct. 3 this year, DOD removed TRICARE limitations on mental health care and made out-of-pocket costs the same as other medical care. These changes improve care such as inpatient mental health and substance abuse admissions, group outpatient mental health visits, outpatient treatment for substance abuse, substance abuse detoxification, treatment of gender dysphoria, family counseling and much more. Beginning January 1, 2017, the expansion of preventive services will go into complete effect. Some of the no-cost services will be expanded to include free genetic counseling for patients who are high-risk for breast cancer, colon cancer screenings/stool DNA testing and laboratory services considered preventive for certain cancers. To learn more about the mental health and substance abuse benefit changes, click here: http://www.tricare.mil/About/News/Archives/09_29_16_MHSUD.
For more information on the preventive health expansion, click here: http://www.tricare.mil/CoveredServices/BenefitUpdates/Archives/10_18_16_PreventiveServices.
 
3. MyHealtheVet Update: This week, VA launched an updated version of its MyHealtheVet website to make it more user and mobile friendly. My HealtheVet is designed to help veterans track and manage their VA prescriptions, appointments and health care records. The VFW would like your views on the new design. Please visit www.myhealth.va.gov and tell us what you think by emailing us at vfwac@vfw.org.
 
4. Help A Hero Scholarship Campaign: Since 2013, the VFW and Sport Clips have helped nearly 600 service members and veterans achieve their educational goals without incurring excessive student loan debt through the “Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship.” Now through Veterans Day, you can help further their post-military education goals by making a donation when you get a haircut at one of the more than 1,500 Sport Clips Haircuts locations across the country. Sport Clips will also hold “The Biggest Haircut Day of the Year” on Veterans Day, when participating stores will offer free haircuts to service members and veterans. For more information on the “Sport Clips Help a Hero Scholarship,” visit: www.vfw.org/scholarship.
 
5. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has announced the identification of remains of six Americans who had been missing in action since World War II and Korea. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:
— Navy Seaman 1st Class William E. Welch, 18, will be buried Oct. 29 in his hometown of Springfield, Ohio. On Dec. 7, 1941, Welch was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which capsized after sustaining multiple torpedo hits as it was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Welch. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/981456/uss-oklahoma-sailor-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-welch/.
— Army Cpl. Joseph Trepasso, 20, will be buried Nov. 5 in his hometown of Fulton, N.Y. In late November 1950, Trepasso was a member of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, which was deployed on the east side of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. He would be declared missing in action on Dec. 12, 1950. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/989134/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-trepasso/.
— Army Pfc. Lavern C. Ullmer, of Montgomery, Ohio, will be buried Nov. 11 in Dayton. Ullmer was a member of Company B, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, when he was reported missing in action on Nov. 30, 1950, in the vicinity of Kunu-ri, North Korea. It would be later learned he had been captured but died in a POW camp on Jan. 21, 1951. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/988569/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-identified-ullmer/.
— Army Sgt. James E. Martin, 22, will be buried Nov. 17 in Anacoco, La. In late November 1950, Martin was a member of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, which was deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. He would be declared missing in action on Dec. 3, 1950. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/985470/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-identified-martin/.
— Army Cpl. Donald E. Matney, 18, will be buried Nov. 19 in his hometown of Seymour, Mo. On July 20, 1950, Matney was a member of Company H, 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, when his unit attempted to delay the enemy from capturing a town near Taejon, South Korea. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/985474/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-identified-matney/.
— Army Maj. Jack D. Griffiths, of Comanche County, Okla., was a member of Headquarters, 38th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, when he was reported missing in action on Nov. 30, 1950, in the vicinity of Somin-dong, North Korea. It would be later learned he had been captured but died in a POW camp. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/988573/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-identified-griffiths/.
To sign up new veterans’ advocates, click here: http://capwiz.com/vfw/mlm/signup.htm.
As always, we want to hear your advocacy stories. To share your stories or photos with us, simply email them directly to vfwac@vfw.org.

 
                               October 21, 2016
 
In This Issue:
1. New COLA Stays Stagnant
2. VFW-SVA 2017 Legislative Fellowship Program
3. MIA Families Sought
4. MIA Update
 
1. New COLA Stays Stagnant: Military retirees, veterans receiving VA compensation, and some 70 million Americans on Social Security will see a 0.3 percent cost-of-living increase at the end of the year. Veterans’ benefits are not automatically tied to the Social Security increase, but Congress in July passed legislation to link them in 2017. The slight increase matches the 2016 raise, and marks the third consecutive year COLA has been less than a half percentage point.
2. VFW-SVA 2017 Legislative Fellowship Program: The application deadline for the 2017 VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship has been extended to October 28, 2016. First held in 2015, the program mentors 10 student veterans as they research policy areas affecting veterans and the military. Once their research is completed, the fellows will advocate for legislative and regulatory fixes related to their selected issues. Part of that advocacy includes attending the VFW’s National Legislative Conference in March where fellows will join more than 500 VFW members in promoting the VFW’s legislative agenda by meeting with members of Congress. Last year, fellows also briefed staffers from the White House and both the Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committees. The program, with all travel expenses covered, is for VFW members who attend a college or university with a Student Veterans of America chapter. For more information, including the topics for research and the application link, click here:
 
3. MIA Families Sought: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency is seeking families of missing American service members to attend informational update meetings and to collect DNA samples if one is not already on file. Learn more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/Families/Family-Events/.
 
4. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has announced the identification of remains of three Americans who had been missing in action since World War II and Korea. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:
— Army Cpl. Milton T. Bullis, 19, of Detroit, will be buried Oct. 21 in Holly, Mich. Bullis was a member of Medical Company, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, fighting a delaying action south from the Ch’ongch’on River to Kunu-ri, North Korea. He was declared missing in action on Dec. 1, 1950, but it would be later learned he died in captivity in early 1951. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/973514/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-bullis/.
— Navy Fireman 3rd Class John H. Lindsley, 22, born in the Philippines and raised in Waukegan, Ill., will be buried Oct. 25, in Arlington National Cemetery. On Dec. 7, 1941, Lindsley was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which capsized after sustaining multiple torpedo hits as it was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/977243/uss-oklahoma-sailor-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-lindsley/.
— Army Cpl. Melvin R. Hill was one of 2,500 U.S. and 700 Republic of Korea soldiers assembled into the 31st Regimental Combat Team on the east side of the Chosin River, when they were attacked and forced into a fighting withdrawal in late November 1950. By Dec. 6, 1950, approximately 1,500 wounded soldiers were evacuated, and the remaining had been either captured or killed. Hill was reported missing in action as a result of the battles. Interment services are pending. Read more at http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/973957/soldier-killed-in-korean-war-accounted-for-hill/.
To sign up new veterans’ advocates, click here: http://capwiz.com/vfw/mlm/signup.htm.
As always, we want to hear your advocacy stories. To share your stories or photos with us, simply email them directly to vfwac@vfw.org.

 
October 14, 2016
 
In This Issue:
1. VFW-SVA 2017 Legislative Fellowship Program
2. Women Veterans Campaign
3. Quarterly PTSD Research Report Released
4. Delay in DOD’s New Electronic Health Care Record
5. Veterans Online Self-Help Resources
6. MIA Update
 
1. VFW-SVA 2017 Legislative Fellowship Program: The application deadline for the 2017 VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship has been extended to October 28, 2016. First held in 2015, the program mentors 10 student veterans as they research policy areas affecting veterans and the military. Once their research is completed, the fellows will advocate for legislative and regulatory fixes related to their selected issues. Part of that advocacy includes attending the VFW’s National Legislative Conference in March where fellows will join more than 500 VFW members in promoting the VFW’s legislative agenda by meeting with members of Congress. Last year, fellows also briefed staffers from the White House and both the Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committees. The program, with all travel expenses covered, is for VFW members who attend a college or university with a Student Veterans of America chapter. For more information, including the topics for research and the application link, click here:
2. Women Veterans Campaign: The Department of Veterans Affairs partnered with Lean In Women Veterans to launch the campaign “I Serve” in efforts to highlight women veterans who have answered the call to duty. The campaign aspires to promote the diversity of women veterans and celebrate the many accomplishments they have had in our military. To participate, female veterans are asked to record a 15-second video on their phones reading a specific script–– “I am (name), and this is what a veteran looks like…” (Pause) “I serve/served!”  To learn more about the campaign, visit: https://likeawomanblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/13/womens-i-servedserve-campaign/.
3. Quarterly PTSD Research Report Released: The National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder released their quarterly report on Tuesday. The publication focused on accelerated aging associated with PTSD that has been researched by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University School of Medicine. This is believed to be mostly due to factors of stress and external environmental factors increased by PTSD that lead to poor physical health. Researchers also believe that mental health directly impacts the physiology of individuals just as much as their external environment. To read the full report, visit: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/newsletters/research-quarterly/V27N3.pdf.
4. Delay in DOD’s New Electronic Health Care Record: This week, the Department of Defense announced it would modify its initial rollout of its new electronic health care record, Military Health System (MHS) GENESIS. Instead of piloting MHS GENESIS in four military installations before the end of the calendar year, DOD will begin the new health care record at Fairchild Air Force Base this calendar year and expand to other inpatient facilities in the Pacific Northwest by June 2017. DOD is still on track for full implementation by 2022. To learn more about MHS GENESIS, visit: http://www.health.mil/News/Articles/2016/10/13/MHS-GENESIS-to-launch-in-February-2017.
5. Veterans Online Self-Help Resources: The Department of Veterans Affairs has created free, online and confidential training for service members and veterans to learn skills and tools to manage stress and to overcome life’s challenges such as parenting, financial difficulties and adjustment issues. To learn more, visit: http://www.veterantraining.va.gov/.
 
6. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains of three Americans who had been missing in action since World War II. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:
— Navy Seaman 2nd Class James N. Phipps, 24, of Rainier, Ore., will be buried Oct. 17 in Portland, Ore. On Dec. 7, 1941, Phipps was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which capsized after sustaining multiple torpedo hits as it was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack on the battleship resulted in 429 casualties. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/969384/uss-oklahoma-sailor-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-phipps/.
— Pfc. James S. Smith, 19, will be buried Oct. 17 in his hometown of Liberty, Miss. In November 1943, Smith was assigned to Company C, 2nd Amphibious Tractor Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Smith died sometime on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/969389/marine-missing-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-smith-james/.
— Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Donald L. Beals, 22, of Brookings, S.D., will be buried Oct. 17 in Arlington National Cemetery. On April 17, 1945, Beals was piloting a P-47D Thunderbolt on an armed reconnaissance mission when he was shot down by antiaircraft fire near Dresden, Germany. He was assigned to the 494th Fighter Squadron, 48th Fighter Group, 9th Air Force. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/969380/airman-missing-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-beals/.
 

 


 
                                   October 7, 2016
 
In This Issue:
1. MyVA Transformation
2. VFW Women Veterans Visit Capitol Hill
3. Veterans Preference Restriction Opposed
4. Mobile Apps for Veterans
5. TRICARE Sets Hurricane Emergency Pharmacy Rules
6. VFW and SVA 2017 Legislative Fellowship Program
7. World War One 100 Cities/100 Memorials Initiative
8. MIA Update
1. MyVA Transformation: This week, the MyVA Advisory Committee met in Pittsburgh, Pa., to discuss progress the Department of Veterans Affairs has made in the past two years to improve veterans programs and services. VFW Deputy Legislative Director Carlos Fuentes informed VA leaders that many veterans have noticed an improvement in their experiences, but much work remains in order to restore veterans’ trust in VA. For a summary of the meeting and more information on the MyVA transformation, visit: http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/31698/success-of-myva-advisory-committee-members-meet-in-pittsburgh/.
2. VFW Women Veterans Visit Capitol Hill: This week, four VFW past Department commanders who are women veterans traveled to Washington, D.C. During their visit they worked on legislative issues pertaining to female veterans, primarily focusing on preventive medicine within the Department of Veterans Affairs, military sexual trauma and homelessness. Meetings were held with leadership from Congress, the Department of Labor’s Veteran Employment and Training Service and Department of Defense’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. The focus of these meetings came as the result of a survey of women veterans the committee put together and analyzed in January 2015. With over 1,900 respondents, they were able to categorize where legislation is most needed for the female veteran community –– health care, outreach, recognition and homelessness. For more information on what the VFW is doing for female veterans, please visit: http://www.vfw.org/women-veterans.
3. Veterans Preference Restriction Opposed: Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain is now saying he will oppose a controversial proposal that would restrict veterans preference to a one-time use when applying for work within the federal government. The restriction, which the VFW has opposed since its introduction, is buried deep inside the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017. The VFW wants the current veterans preference program kept intact. The misperception by veterans and misinterpretation by federal hiring authorities is that veterans preference is a job guarantee, wherein fact the only “guarantee” is the veteran applicant gets to advance to the interview stage where he or she must still distinguish themselves as the best qualified candidate. Congress will revisit this issue when it reconvenes after the November elections.
 
4. Mobile Apps for Veterans: VA has launched a number of mobile apps aimed at improving the lives of veterans and making VA more accessible. Currently, VA has 16 apps available through the Apple store and 6 apps available on Android’s Google Play. These apps help veterans manage their PTSD, pressure ulcers, preconception care and other aspects of their health care. Many of the applications are also available for download on desktops and laptops. VA is currently field testing 11 more applications that will be released soon, including a self-scheduling application, an app to help veterans track their health care by receiving notifications from their health care team, and sending health information, such as blood pressure and other vital signs back to their health care team. For more information, visit: https://mobile.va.gov/appstore.
 
5. TRICARE Sets Hurricane Emergency Pharmacy Rules: Due to the impact of Hurricane Matthew, TRICARE has established emergency rules for those needing to refill their prescriptions. The rules will last through November 2, 2016. For more information, click here: http://www.tricare.mil/Resources/DisasterInfo/DisasterAlerts/10_04_16_HurricaneMatthew.
6. VFW and SVA 2017 Legislative Fellowship Program: The application process for the 2017 VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship is open and will close on October 21, 2016. First held in 2015, the program mentors 10 student veterans as they research policy areas affecting veterans and the military. Once their research is completed, the fellows will advocate for legislative and regulatory fixes related to their selected issues. Part of that advocacy includes attending the VFW’s National Legislative Conference in March where fellows will join more than 500 VFW members in promoting the VFW’s legislative agenda by meeting with members of Congress. Last year, fellows also briefed staffers from the White House and both the Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committees. The program, with all travel expenses covered, is for VFW members who attend a college or university with a Student Veterans of America chapter. For more information, including the topics for research and the application link, click here: http://www.vfw.org/studentfellowship/.
 
7. World War One 100 Cities/100 Memorials Initiative: In observance of the upcoming centennial of World War I, 100 matching grants of up to $2,000 apiece will be awarded for the restoration of 100 World War I memorials across the United States. Any municipal government, individual or organization may apply. Likewise, any individual, organization or company can become a sponsor of the effort. Learn more here: https://www.worldwar1centennial.org/index.php/2016-07-06-00-52-42.html.
8. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Office has announced the identification of remains belonging to six Americans who had been missing and unaccounted for since World War II and Korea. Being returned home for burial with full military honors are:
— Navy Seaman 2nd Class Rudolph V. Piskuran, 19, will be buried Oct. 14 in his hometown of Elyria, Ohio. On Dec. 7, 1941, Piskuran was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which capsized after sustaining multiple torpedo hits as it was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/967866/uss-oklahoma-sailor-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-piskuran/.
— Army Sgt. 1st Class James P. Shunney, 19, of Woonsocket, R.I., will be buried Oct. 14 in Blackstone, Mass. In early November 1950, Shunney was a member of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, when his unit was forced into a fighting withdrawal from their position near Unsan, North Korea. Shunney was declared missing in action on Nov. 2, 1950.
— Navy Fireman 3rd Class Edwin C. Hopkins, 19, will be buried Oct. 15 in his hometown of Keene, N.H. On Dec. 7, 1941, Hopkins was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which capsized after sustaining multiple torpedo hits as it was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/967875/uss-oklahoma-sailor-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-hopkins/.
— Army Cpl. Milton T. Bullis, 21, is scheduled to be buried Oct. 21 in Holly, Mich. In late November 1950, Bullis was a member of Medical Company, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division that was fighting a delaying action against Chinese forces near Kunu-ri, North Korea. He would be declared missing in action on Dec. 1, 1950. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/961704/soldier-killed-in-korean-war-accounted-for-bullis/.
— Army Pfc. William W. Cowan was a member of Company M, 3rd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, when he was reported missing in action on Feb. 12, 1951, after his unit attacked an enemy road block near Hoengsong, South Korea. It would be later learned he had been captured but died in captivity in a POW camp in North Korea. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/956305/soldier-killed-in-korean-war-accounted-for-cowan/.
— Marine Field Music 1st Class Warren G. Nelson was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff enemy resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Over several days of intense fighting, approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded; the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Nelson died on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/965980/marine-missing-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-nelson/.
 
 
To sign up new veterans’ advocates, click here: http://capwiz.com/vfw/mlm/signup.htm.
As always, we want to hear your advocacy stories. To share your stories or photos with us, simply email them directly to vfwac@vfw.org.

 
                            September 30, 2016
 
In This Issue:
1. VA Receives Full-Year Funding
2. President Signs Bill Helping 37,000 GI Bill Users
3. Sequestration Still Law of the Land
4. Army Priorities
5. White House Hosts Suicide Prevention Panel
6. House Subcommittee Hearing Held
7. Assistance for Veterans with Service-Connected Infertility
8. VA West Los Angeles Leases Approved
9. CVS Dropped from TRICARE Pharmacy Network
10. Campaign to Support Military Caregivers
11. Federal Voting Assistance Program
12. GWOT Memorial Internship Opportunities
13. MIA Update
 
1. VA Receives Full-Year Funding: A government shutdown was averted Wednesday night when Congress passed a continuing resolution to temporarily fund the federal government for 10 weeks into fiscal year 2017, which begins Saturday. Congress also approved full-year funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs, which was a significant VFW victory. The VA/military construction budget that the president is expected to sign will provide $74.4 billion in discretionary spending to VA next year, as well as $7.72 billion for military construction. Included in the new funding package are a number of VFW-supported initiatives and programs, such as authorizing VA to provide In Vitro Fertilization and covering the cost of adoptions, eliminating copayments for medications that counter potential opioid overdoses, expanding VA childcare pilot programs and whistleblower protections, and increasing the transparency of VA Office of Inspector General reports. “Stop-gap budget measures harm veterans” said VFW National Commander Brian Duffy, “which is why we are glad that Congress agreed and acted on full-year appropriations for the VA, which will allow it to properly plan and execute its numerous programs to better serve wounded, ill and injured veterans, as well as their families and survivors.” Read more at: https://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2016-Articles/VFW-Salutes-Full-Funding-for-VA/.
2. President Signs Bill Helping 37,000 GI Bill Users: After working closely with Congress to ensure legislation was introduced and passed, the VFW applauds President Barack Obama for signing the Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2016, which extends various forms of funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs. One of the timeliest of those extensions pertains to benefits for nearly 37,000 veterans using their GI Bill to attend one of the institutions which recently lost its accreditation through the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). After an extended investigation, the Department of Education terminated the organization’s accreditation for numerous cases of fraud and skewing data of student success, amongst other reasons. The bill now provides Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald the authority to extend funding of the GI Bill for student veterans attending these schools for up to 18-months. The VFW plans to continue pushing Congress to pass the Veterans First Act, which would provide assistance for veterans who were attending schools that shut down, such as ITT Technical Institute. Under current legislation, there are no benefits assisting veterans who used their GI Bill benefits to attend schools which closed. For VA resources being provided to ITT and ACICS students, please visit: http://benefits.va.gov/gibill/.
For more understanding of ACICS and what this means for its students, please visit: http://studentveterans.org/aboutus/government-affairs/acics. Veterans who have been negatively impacted financially due to school closings can request assistance here: https://www.vfw.org/UnmetNeeds/.
 
3. Sequestration Still Law of the Land: Although Congress averted a government shutdown and provided full-year funding for veterans programs, it still has a lot of work to do when it reconvenes after the Nov. 8 elections, to include passing a number of important bills that have already been introduced, and to finally eliminate sequestration, which has been the VFW’s top legislative priority ever since Congress created it with the Budget Control Act of 2011. “Five years ago the Islamic State didn’t exist, Russia wasn’t in the Ukraine, China wasn’t building islands out of rocks, and Iran and North Korea weren’t as emboldened as they are now,” said VFW National Commander Brian Duffy. “Yet here’s this budget axe that was written in a different time that continues to force the Department of Defense to operate with less funding in a worldwide environment of ever-evolving threats. Sequestration also forces the Army, which is already on a glideslope down to 450,000 active-duty soldiers, to drop to 420,000,” he stressed. “A continued sequester weakens America, worries our allies, and threatens lives — American lives,” he said. “Our brave men and women in uniform will continue to perform and excel at every mission, but overtasking with inadequate resourcing is an impending disaster the VFW will not allow. Sequestration must end!”
4. Army Priorities: The VFW met with Army Secretary Eric Fanning at the Army’s quarterly veterans and military service organization conference inside the Pentagon on Wednesday. The detailed briefing included Army Discharge Review Board updates, installation access, soldier support, and an operational overview. Primary takeaway is the Army is stretched thin from less manning but increased requirements. Meanwhile, Iraq and Afghanistan still continue, as do other requirements in Africa and Asia. The Army currently has almost 190,000 soldiers assigned to 140 worldwide locations. All headquarters staffing has reduced 25 percent, but the stress this puts on field leadership and combat-coded units has resulted in dwell times of 1:1 at division level and 1:2 for Brigade Combat Teams, which means units are either just home, getting ready to deploy or already deployed. The continued sequester exacerbates the manpower issue, in that the active Army would reduce from the current 490,000 to 420,000, Army National Guard from 350,000 to 315,000, and the Army Reserve from 202,000 to 185,000. Eliminating sequestration has been the VFW’s top legislative priority ever since Congress created it with the Budget Control Act of 2011.
 
5. White House Hosts Suicide Prevention Panel: On Thursday, the White House hosted its fourth panel in the “Making Health Care Better” series which included leaders in suicide prevention research, and prevention and intervention from both the government sector as well as the private and non-profit sectors. In attendance was VA Undersecretary for Health, Dr. David Shulkin, who discussed how VA has been working to partner with more outside sources such as the National Institute of Mental Health to address veteran suicide. VA makes roughly 1.8 million mental health care appointments a year and Dr. Shulkin assured they are doing their best to reduce 20 veteran suicides a day to zero. Some new ways VA has been working on innovations to address veteran suicide has been through implementing suicide specialists within every VA Medical Center by the end of 2016, focusing on meta data for veterans who may be overlooked for high risk of suicide, and adding the option to press the number seven on the Veterans Crisis Line to immediately speak to somebody. To watch the panel discussion, click here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/video/2016/09/29/making-health-care-better-series-suicide-prevention.
 
6. House Subcommittee Hearing Held: On Tuesday, the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs held a hearing to determine why incarcerated veterans were improperly paid millions in VA benefits. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) reported over $100 million was paid out to incarcerated veterans from 2008-2015. The OIG recommended that VA try to recoup its money as quickly as possible, and to reprioritize its personnel workload so oversights like this do not happen again. VA responded that it will renew its contract with the Department of Prisons to identify the names of individuals whose benefits need to be suspended, and will work to make sure incidents like this are not repeated. To read testimony, or watch video of the hearing, click here: https://veterans.house.gov/hearings/investigating-how-va-improperly-paid-millions-incarcerated-veterans.
 
7. Assistance for Veterans with Service-Connected Infertility: Yesterday, the president signed a bill that will authorize VA to provide assisted reproductive technology treatments or cover the cost of adoption for veterans who have lost their ability to conceive due to a service-connected condition. Ensuring veterans with service-connected infertility are afforded the opportunity to start a family has been a VFW policy goal for the past two years. Stay tuned to the Action Corps Weekly for updates on how and when VA implements this much needed benefit.
8. VA West Los Angeles Leases Approved: Yesterday, the president signed a law to authorize VA to use its West Los Angeles campus for veterans’ programs including veteran homelessness reintegration services, ending a lengthy struggle over how such property is used. For more information on VA’s plans, visit: http://www.losangeles.va.gov/masterplan/.
9. CVS Dropped from TRICARE Pharmacy Network: Today, Express Scripts, the contractor who manages the TRICARE Pharmacy Network, announced that starting December 1, 2016, service members, retirees and their families will no longer be able to have their prescriptions filled at CVS pharmacy stores. To find a network pharmacy, visit: http://tricare.mil/CoveredServices/Pharmacy/FillPrescriptions/Network.
 
10. Campaign to Support Military Caregivers: This week the VFW joined the Elizabeth Dole foundation in their launch of the Hidden Heroes Campaign to support military caregivers who provide invaluable assistance to severely injured and ill veterans and service members. If you are a caregiver or want to join the VFW and the Elizabeth Dole foundation in supporting caregivers, please visit: https://hiddenheroes.org/.
 
11. Federal Voting Assistance Program: The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) is a Department of Defense organization that works to ensure military service members, their eligible family members, and overseas U.S. citizens are aware of their right to vote, and have the tools and resources to successfully do so from anywhere in the world. With the federal election less than six weeks away, FVAP officials are reminding all absentee voters to vote as soon as they receive their absentee state ballots. Military and overseas voters who need to register or request a ballot can do so by filling out a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) at FVAP.gov — by hand or using the online assistant — and sending it to their election office. For additional information, visit FVAP.gov, email vote@fvap.gov or call 1-800-438-VOTE (8683).
12. GWOT Memorial Internship Opportunities: The Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation is launching a nationwide Internship Program consisting of eight Intern Leaders who will manage teams of 20 volunteer Team Member Interns to help reach fundraising goals. Intern Leaders will begin this Dec. 15 through May 15, 2017, and will receive a $500-a-month stipend. Team Member Interns will start on Jan. 15 and finish on April 15. Primary intern goals are to grow valuable program management, people management, sales, marketing, fundraising, and leadership skills in a fast-paced, entrepreneurial startup environment, as well as offer valuable job skills and resume worthy experiences for veterans, spouses and children of veterans looking to grow job skills while attending college. The application deadline is Nov. 15 for Intern Leaders and Dec. 1 for Team Member Interns. To learn more about the internship, click here: https://www.gwotmemorialfoundation.org/internships/. To apply for Intern Team Leader, click here: https://www.gwotmemorialfoundation.org/intern-team-leader-form/. To apply for Team Member Intern, click here: https://www.gwotmemorialfoundation.org/intern-team-member-form/.
 
13. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has announced the identification of remains of seven Americans who had been missing in action since World War II and Korea. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:
— Marine Sgt. Fae V. Moore, 23, will be buried Oct. 6 in his hometown of Chadron, Neb. In November 1943, Moore was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded; the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Moore died sometime on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/958957/marine-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-moore/.
— Army Cpl. William H. Smith, 18, of Hornell, N.Y., will be buried Oct. 7 in Elmira, N.Y. In late November 1950, Smith was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, when his unit was forced into a fighting withdrawal from their positions near Unsan, South Korea. Smith was reported missing in action as of Nov. 28, 1950. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/958994/soldier-killed-in-korean-war-accounted-for-smith-william/.
— Marine Pfc. Ronald W. Vosmer, 22, will be buried Oct. 8 in his hometown of Denver, Colo. Vosmer was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, when it landed Nov. 20, 1943, against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Over several days of intense fighting, approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded; Japanese forces were virtually annihilated. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/959003/marine-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-vosmer/.
— Army Sgt. 1st Class Louis M. Baxter, 22, will be buried Oct. 8 is his hometown of Massena, N.Y. Baxter was a member of Headquarters Battery, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, 31st Regimental Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, on the east side of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea, when his unit was forced into a fighting withdrawal southward. He would be declared missing in action on Dec. 6, 1950. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/959026/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-baxter/.
— Navy Seaman 2nd Class Lewis L. Wagoner, 20, of Douglas County, Mo., will be buried Oct. 8 in Whitewater, Kan. On Dec. 7, 1941, Schmitt was stationed aboard the battleship USS Oklahoma when it capsized after sustaining multiple torpedo hits as it was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack on the ship resulted in 429 casualties, second most only to the USS Arizona that day. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/959091/uss-oklahoma-sailor-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-wagoner/.
— Navy Lt. j.g. Aloysius H. Schmitt, 32, of St. Lucas, Iowa, will be buried Oct. 9 in Dubuque, Iowa. On Dec. 7, 1941, Schmitt was stationed aboard the battleship USS Oklahoma when it capsized after sustaining multiple torpedo hits as it was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack on the ship resulted in 429 casualties, second most only to the USS Arizona that day. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/959115/uss-oklahoma-sailor-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-schmitt/.
— Army W. Pfc. William Cowan was a member of Company M, 3rd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, when he was reported missing in action after his unit attacked an enemy roadblock near Hoengsong, South Korea, on Feb. 12, 1951. It would be later learned he died in captivity in North Korea. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/956305/soldier-killed-in-korean-war-accounted-for-cowan/.
 
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                               September 23, 2016
 
In This Issue:
1. A Day to Change Direction
2. Subcommittee Hearing on VA Procurement
3. Congress Advances Veterans Legislation
4. House Committee Advances Several Veterans Bills
5. Opioid and Heroin Awareness Week Discussion
6. Male Military Sexual Assault Prevention
7. Nominate a Military Child of the Year
8. MIA Update
1. A Day to Change Direction: The VFW Mental Wellness Campaign, sponsored by National Commander Brian Duffy and Auxiliary National President Colette Bishop, is continuing to move forward. On Saturday, Oct. 8, VFW Posts and Auxiliaries everywhere have been asked to participate in community service projects, as well as to host discussions on mental wellness and mental health to help reduce the stigma of seeking care for veterans and non-veterans alike. VFW is partnering with Give an Hour (www.giveanhour.org) to host “A Day to Change Direction.” As such, the VFW National Headquarters wants to know all of the great things happening at VFW Posts and Auxiliaries that day. In addition to sharing “A Day to Change Direction” photos on social media using #changementalhealth and #VFWPostPride, please e-mail photos and contact information to Janie Dyhouse at jdyhouse@vfw.org. We look forward to publicizing the great work of our VFW Posts and Auxiliaries!
2. Subcommittee Hearing on VA Procurement: On Tuesday, the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing to identify some of the issues plaguing VA and its ability to obtain resources for its health care providers. Currently, VA has multiple suppliers from which it obtains medical resources and medications. Witnesses testified that a single source provider of resources would greatly improve the care and efficiency VA offers its patients. Subcommittee Chairman Mike Coffman (R-CO), tasked VA with providing a plan moving forward that will allow for a single provider of supplies and a more efficient way of tracking them by 2017. To view the hearing, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lQl9c8gF1g.
3. Congress Advances Veterans Legislation: This week the Senate advanced four veterans bills that were recently passed by the House. The bills include H.R. 5936, the Veterans Care Agreement and West Los Angeles Leasing Act of 2016, to authorize VA to enter into needed leases in West Los Angeles; H.R. 1475, the Korean War Veterans Memorial Wall of Remembrance Act to authorize the construction of a wall of remembrance at the Korean War Veterans Memorial; H.R. 5985, the VA Expiring Authorities Act of 2016 to extend a number of important veterans programs set to expire this year and provide relief for veterans impacted by the closure of ITT campuses around the country; and H.R. 5937 to authorize the American Battle Monuments Commission to acquire, operate and maintain the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial in Marnes-la-Coquette, France. H.R. 1475 was amended by the Senate and must be reconsidered by the House before being sent to the president. The other three bills now await the president’s signature.
 
4. House Committee Advances Several Veterans Bills: On Wednesday, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a markup of 11 bills, which would authorize VA employees to work flexible hours and expand operating hours of VA medical facilities; authorize headstone medallions for Medal of Honor recipients buried in private cemeteries; authorize the spouses of veterans to retain their residency for tax purposes; and require VA to provide veterans information on the transferability of credits for educational programs authorized under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill program. To learn about all the bills advanced by the committee, visit: https://veterans.house.gov/legislation/markups/pending-legislation-3.
 
5. Opioid and Heroin Awareness Week Discussion: The Department of Justice hosted a discussion panel on Tuesday for Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week. The discussion was veteran specific and focused on exploring the intersections of substance use, mental health, homelessness, suicide and how veteran treatment courts are positively affecting those in need. Among those in attendance were Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert A. McDonald, Principle Deputy Associate Attorney General William J. Baer and Michael Botticelli, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. The panel discussions focused on tackling the difficulties stemming from opioid and heroin use in a holistic manner and on exploring how opioid and heroin use actually affects and causes difficulties such as incarceration and homelessness. For more information visit: https://www.justice.gov/opa/blog/opioid-abuse-awareness-veterans-treatment-courts-focus-roundtable-discussion.
6. Male Military Sexual Assault Prevention: The Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus held a briefing on Wednesday to discuss male sexual trauma victims. Co-chaired by Representatives Mike Turner (R-OH) and Niki Tsongas (D-MA), the two aimed at better informing Congress of sexual assaults on members of the military who are male. While female service members suffer from Military Sexual Trauma (MST) in alarmingly higher numbers than their male counterparts, male service members suffer from MST at a higher ratio and men who are assaulted are much less likely to come forward. This results in possible untreated mental health conditions which many are worried can lead to suicide. To read more about the briefing, please visit: https://turner.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/turner-and-tsongas-host-briefing-on-male-military-sexual-assault-to-give.
7. Nominate a Military Child of the Year: The military family-oriented nonprofit Operation Homefront is now accepting Military Child of the Year nominations through Dec. 5, 2016. The annual awards program, now in its 9th year, will recognize six outstanding young people ages eight to 18 with $10,000 each, new laptops, and will be flown with a parent or guardian to attend an awards gala April 6 in Washington, D.C. Nominations are also being accepted for a Military Child of the Year Award for Innovation, for youth age 13-18. The winner of this category will receive $5,000, mentorship by award sponsor Booz Allen Hamilton, as well as be flown with a parent or guardian to Washington for the gala. Operation Homefront received 502 nominations last year, with the winners ranging in age from nine to 18. For more information, go to: http://www.militarychildoftheyear.org/.
8. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has announced the identification of remains of two pilots and five soldiers who have been missing in action since World War II and Korea. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:
— Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Robert W. Ward, 22, will be buried Oct. 1 in his hometown of Pontiac, Mich. On Dec. 23, 1944, Ward was co-piloting a B-26C Marauder with eight other crew members when it was shot down by enemy fire while on a bombing mission near Philippsweiler, Germany. Ward and one other were reported killed in action. He was assigned to the 559th Bombardment Squadron, 387th Bombardment Group, 9th Air Force. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/906008/airman-missing-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-ward/.
— Army Cpl. William H. Smith will be buried Oct. 7 in Elmira, N.Y. In late November 1950, Smith was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, which was forced into a fighting withdrawal from Unsan, North Korea. He would be reported missing in action on Nov. 28, 1950. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/949853/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-smith-william/.
— Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Ben B. Barnes will be buried Oct. 15 in Miller, S.D. On Dec. 5, 1944, Barnes was piloting a P-51D Mustang on a bomber escort mission to Germany when he was shot down by enemy fighters northeast of Berlin. He was a member of the 361st Fighter Squadron, 356th Fighter Group. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/952187/airman-missing-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-barnes/.
— Army Cpl. Donald R. Hendrickson will be buried Oct. 15 in Janesville, Wis. In late November 1950, Hendrickson was a member of Headquarters Battery, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, 31st Regimental Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, when it was forced into a fighting withdrawal from east of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. He would be reported missing in action on Dec. 6, 1950. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/939146/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-hendrickson/.
— Army Pfc. William V. Giovanniello was a member of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, when on April 25, 1951, he would be declared missing in action after his unit was forced into a fighting withdrawal from Chorwon, South  Korea. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/949412/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-giovanniello/.
— Army Pfc. Everett E. Johnson was a member of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, when on Sept. 3, 1950, he was killed by enemy fire as his company was forced into a fighting withdrawal from Taegu, South Korea. Interment services are pending.
— Army Cpl. Roy C. Fink, 20, from New York, was assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when his unit was forced into a fighting withdrawal. Fink would be reported missing in action on Dec. 2, 1950. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/953602/soldier-killed-in-korean-war-accounted-for-fink/.
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                              September 16, 2016
                                                              National POW/MIA Recognition Day
 
In This Issue:
1. VFW Launches Mental Wellness Campaign
2. VFW Legislative Conference Concludes
3. VFW Supports GWOT Memorial Legislation
4. Senate Reviews Commission on Care Report
5. VA’s Misuse of Employee Settlement Agreements
6. House Advances Veterans Legislation
7. VFW Hosts Former Marine Corps Commandant/National Security Advisor
8. National POW/MIA Recognition Day
9. MIA Updates
 
1. VFW Launches Mental Wellness Campaign: On Tuesday, the VFW, VFW Auxiliary and three partnering organizations launched the new VFW Mental Wellness Campaign at a press event inside the National Press Club in Washington. Joined by leadership from Give an Hour, One Mind and PatientsLikeMe, VFW National Commander Brian Duffy said the overall campaign goal is to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health –– for veterans and non-veterans alike –– and to raise awareness, foster community engagement, improve research and provide intervention for those affected by invisible injuries and emotional stress. Also addressed was the partnership with Give an Hour for “A Day to Change Direction” on Oct. 8 – a day in which VFW Posts can host training sessions or perform community service. A key component of the campaign is to make communities aware of the five signs of emotional suffering: personality change, agitation, withdrawal, poor self-care and hopelessness. Learn more at: https://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2016-Articles/VFW-Introduces-Partners-in-Fight-Against-Mental-Health-Stigma/.
2. VFW Legislative Conference Concludes: More than 70 members of the VFW’s National Legislative Committee met with their members of Congress this week to urge them to eliminate sequestration and to pass a new budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs, so that a nation that creates veterans can properly take care of them when they return home. Congress, however, would rather complain about the problems instead of fund the necessary reforms to bring permanent change to the VA, said VFW National Commander Brian Duffy. “I cannot tell you how disappointed I am in the 114th Congress,” he said. “Both the VA and the VFW have pointblank told Congress what the department needs to better serve veterans, yet it appears every funding bill is going to be tabled until after the November elections, which means another continuing resolution to temporarily fund the government that does little to strengthen national security or bolster the VA’s programs and services for veterans.” The VFW wants Congress to fix the issues that surfaced after the Veterans Choice Program was implemented two years ago, to expand family caregiver benefits to veterans of all eras, pass meaningful accountability and workforce reform legislation, consolidate and improve the VA’s community care programs, reduce the appeals backlog, and pass the Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2016. “None of this can happen if Congress is in recess,” said Duffy, who said Congress must also remove the forced sequester provision of the Budget Control Act to ensure that the Department of Defense, the VA, and other agencies have the resources needed to defend our nation and to care for those who do the defending. “Federal election year or not, the near 1.7 million members of the VFW and the VFW Auxiliary fully expect those who are elected to represent us do their jobs,” he said.
3. VFW Supports GWOT Memorial Legislation: Earlier this week, Montana Congressman and former Navy Seal, Ryan Zinke, introduced legislation to authorize the building of a Global War on Terrorism Memorial in Washington, D.C. The VFW passed Resolution 302 in July of this year at our annual convention in Charlotte, N.C. Congressman Zinke and the VFW agree that due to the nature of the War on Terrorism, waiting for 10 years after the conclusion of the war is too long to wait to honor those who gave their lives to defend our freedoms and way of life.
 
4. Senate Reviews Commission on Care Report: On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing to discuss the Commission on Care’s recommendations for improving how VA provides health care to veterans. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald discussed how the Commission on Care’s recommendations are closely aligned with a proposal VA has sent Congress and that VA is ready to enact reforms, but congressional inaction is preventing it from moving forward. VFW Deputy Legislative Director Carlos Fuentes testified in support of most of the commission’s recommendations and suggested alternatives to ones the VFW opposes. To view a webcast, visit: http://www.veterans.senate.gov/hearings/commission-on-care-report09142016.
 
5. VA’s Misuse of Employee Settlement Agreements: On Wednesday, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing to discuss VA’s use of employment settlement agreements.  Committee members discussed their concerns with VA’s recurring practice of settlement agreements, 72 percent of which include monetary compensation, to resolve disciplinary actions against wrongdoers. VA testified that it weighs the strength of the evidence against an employee, financial implications, plus disruption and divisiveness that litigation will likely create for VA’s workforce when determining whether to settle a case. The Office of Special Counsel testified that settlements help it manage its workload and reach favorable outcomes for whistleblowers who have experienced retaliation. To view the webcast, visit: www.youtube.com/watch?v=1woZ47CTCTM.
 
6. House Advances Veterans Legislation: The House passed three veterans bills this week, which include the Veterans Care Agreement and West Los Angeles Leasing Act of 2016, to authorize VA to enter into needed leases in West Los Angeles and improve leasing practices for VA; the Veterans Mobility Safety Act of 2016 to improve the standards and quality of vehicles modified with VA adaptive equipment grants; and H.R. 5937 to authorize the American Battle Monuments Commission  to acquire, operate and maintain the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial in Marnes-la-Coquette, France. These bills now head to the Senate, which has been unable to act on the Veterans First Act that would also authorize VA to move forward with leases in West Los Angeles. Please stay tuned to the Action Corps Weekly for updates on these important bills.
7. VFW Hosts Former Marine Corps Commandant/National Security Advisor: On Thursday, the VFW hosted a group of VSOs and the former Commandant of the Marine Corps and National Security Advisor, General James L. Jones (USMC, ret.), to discuss the role trade has on our national security. The idea is, if the United States does not develop and maintain strong international trade agreements, countries like Russia and China will fill the void, negatively impacting both our nations’ economy and security. His hope is Congress can find agreement on and pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) before the end of the year.
 
8. National POW/MIA Recognition Day: Today, the VFW nationwide commemorates National POW/MIA Recognition Day in honor and recognition of the service and sacrifice of almost 140,000 former American prisoners of war and the 83,000 Americans who continue to be listed as missing and unaccounted for from World War II forward. To read the official presidential proclamation for today, click here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/09/15/proclamation-national-powmia-recognition-day-2016. To view the ceremony at the Pentagon, click here: https://www.dvidshub.net/video/483375/pow-mia-national-recognition-day-ceremony.
 
9. MIA Updates: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has announced burial updates and the identification and remains belonging to one Marine and six soldiers who had been missing in action since World War II and Korea. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:
— Marine Pvt. Emmett L. Kines, 24, will be buried Sept. 19 in his hometown of Grafton, W. Va. In November 1943, Kines was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. After several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Kines died sometime during the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/939067/marine-missing-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-kines/.
— Army Cpl. Wayne Minard, of Sedgwick, Kan., was a member of Company C, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, fighting a delaying action south to Kunu-ri, North Korea. He would be reported missing in action on Nov. 26, 1950. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/942631/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-minard/.
— Army Cpl. David T. Nordin Jr., of Los Angeles, was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, moving northward toward Unsan, North Korea, when forced to withdraw. Nordin was reported missing in action on Nov. 28, 1950. It would be later learned he had been captured but died in a North Korean POW camp. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/940647/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-nordin/.
— Army Sgt. 1st Class Louis M. Baxter was a member of Headquarters Battery, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, 31st Regimental Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, on the east side of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea, when his unit was forced into a fighting withdrawal southward. He would be declare missing in action on Dec. 6, 1950. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/942626/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-baxter/.
— Army Cpl. Joseph Trepasso, 20, of Fulton, N.Y., was a member of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, on the east side of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea, when his unit was forced into a fighting withdrawal southward. He would be declared missing in action on Dec. 12, 1950. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/942633/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-trepasso/.
— Army Pfc. Kenneth Miller was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, when his unit was forced to withdraw from their position on April 23, 1951. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/942623/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-miller/.
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September 9, 2016
 
In This Issue:
1. Remembering 9/11
2. VFW Mental Wellness Campaign Kickoff
3. VFW Calls on Members to Take Action
4. House Hearing on Commission on Care and Subpoenas
5. Senate Holds Hearing on VA Best Practices
6. ITT Technical Institute Closes Doors
7. Presumptive Disability Compensation for Camp Lejeune Veterans
8. Direct Scheduling for Audiology and Optometry Appointments
9. Join #ExploreVA Facebook Chat: Suicide Prevention for #WomenVets
10. DOD, VA Launch Suicide Prevention Campaign
11. VA Finds Higher Rate of Mental Health Conditions in Male MST Victims
12. MIA Update
 
1. Remembering 9/11: As the 15th anniversary of the worst attack on American soil approaches, VFW National Commander Brian Duffy wants everyone to remember that America is still at war against those responsible for killing nearly 3,000 innocents in New York City, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania, as well as against radical Islamic terrorists who slaughter without mercy. “Just as generations before me remembered the Alamo, the Maine and Pearl Harbor, I will never forget Sept. 11, 2001,” he said, while commending the one percent who secure every freedom for every other American, who choose a harder path while others don’t, and who are still in the fight in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other hotspots around the world. The Chief said the nonstop conflict has produced a lot of hindsight, but perhaps none more reassuring than to know that America’s military was capable of fighting a two-front war for 15 years with just an All-Volunteer Force. “That they have, and continue to do so magnificently, is testament to the high-caliber of today’s military, to our youth, and to their leadership,” he said. “America was built on the service and sacrifice of many Americans, but our continued safety, security and freedoms fall squarely on the shoulders of those who wear the uniform — be they military or first responder — and on behalf of nearly 1.7 million VFW and VFW Auxiliary members, I salute all who have and continue to serve and sacrifice for our great nation, and their families, too.”
2. VFW Mental Wellness Campaign Kickoff: VFW National Commander Brian Duffy will be at the National Press Club in Washington on Tuesday to launch a new nationwide campaign that focuses on mental wellness within the military and veterans’ communities. The VFW Mental Wellness Campaign will leverage the power, influence and reach of nearly 1.7 million VFW and Auxiliary members in more than 6,600 VFW Posts around the world with the nation’s leaders in mental health care, research, and peer-to-peer support. The campaign’s goal is to raise awareness, foster community engagement, improve research, and provide intervention for veterans, service members, and their loved ones who may be suffering from invisible injuries or emotional stress. The Chief will be joined at the press event by three high-profile national partners –– Give an Hour, One Mind and PatientsLikeMe. Read more at: https://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2016-Articles/VFW-Announces-New-Mental-Wellness-Campaign/.
 
3. VFW Calls on Members to Take Action: Congress has failed to pass a bill that would properly fund veterans’ health care and benefits. If Congress does not pass this important bill before September 30, 2016, veterans will be denied the care and benefits they have earned and deserve. Take action –– tell Congress to prioritize veterans and properly fund VA programs: http://capwiz.com/vfw/issues/alert/?alertid=73858626&queueid=11299959531.
 
4. House Hearing on Commission on Care and Subpoenas: On Wednesday, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing to subpoena VA on the Denver VA health care system construction project and art expenditures. The committee also discussed a report by the Commission on Care, with included 18 recommendations on how to improve the VA health care system. Commission Chairperson Nancy Schlichting and Vice Chairperson Delos (Toby) M. Cosgrove M.D., testified that the commission believes VA and Congress must reform the way VA provides health care, because veterans deserve a better organized, high-performing health care system. VFW Deputy Legislative Director Carlos Fuentes offered the VFW’s support for most of the commission’s recommendations and proposed alternatives to those the VFW opposes. To view a webcast of the hearing, visit: https://veterans.house.gov/hearings/tumult-transformation-commission-care-and-future-va-healthcare-system.
 
5. Senate Holds Hearing on VA Best Practices: On Thursday, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a hearing to discuss best practices that improve how VA delivers health care to veterans. Dr. Carolyn Clancy, VA deputy undersecretary for health for organizational excellence, informed the committee about VA’s initiative to identify clinical and administrative best practices, disseminate such practices to other health care facilities, and encourage standardization of practices that improve health care for veterans. Committee Chairman Isakson discussed the importance of discussing the success stories that occur throughout VA to ensure VA is recognized for the good things it does, rather than the tragedies that took place in Arizona and Denver and in other places. To watch the hearing, visit: http://www.veterans.senate.gov/hearings/vha-best-practices-exploring-the-diffusion-of-excellence-initiative.
 
6. ITT Technical Institute Closes Doors: After weeks of speculation, ITT Technical Institute will not offer its September semester classes and has permanently discontinued all of its academic programs. This decision leaves thousands of veterans in jeopardy of losing both academic credit accrued through ITT and their GI Bill living stipend. Veterans do have options to transfer to a qualifying college or university, but they must act fast to preserve their stipend. Veterans can explore their options by visiting the Department of Veterans Affairs’ “GI Bill College Comparison Tool” at: https://www.vets.gov/gi-bill-comparison-tool. Veterans who need more assistance can call VA’s education call center at 888-GIBILL-1 (888-442-4551) between
7 a.m. – 6 p.m. Central Time, Monday-Friday.
The VFW also operates the 1 Student Veteran program. This program offers direct assistance to student veterans who have questions or are experiencing problems accessing their VA benefits. To make an inquiry through VFW, click here: http://www.vfw.org/1StudentVeteran/.
 
7. Presumptive Disability Compensation for Camp Lejeune Veterans: Today, VA issued a proposed final rule to establish presumptive disability compensation eligibility for veterans who were exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune during the period beginning August 1, 1953, and ending on December 31, 1987. To be eligible, veterans must have served in Camp Lejeune for a minimum of 30 cumulative days during the specified dates and have a diagnosis of kidney cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, adult leukemia, liver cancer, bladder cancer, multiple myeloma, Parkinson’s disease, or aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes.
This proposed rule would apply to claims received by VA on or after the date of publication, pending review of the comments received and publication of the final rule in the Federal Register. The rule would not apply retroactively. A veteran whose claim was denied before the final rule is published must file a new claim to obtain a new determination of entitlement under the final regulation.
 
8. Direct Scheduling for Audiology and Optometry Appointments: On Thursday, VA announced it would eliminate a primary care referral requirement for veterans seeking appointments with audiologists or optometrists. The Audiology and Optometry Direct Scheduling Initiative is being piloted throughout the country and is expected to be fully operational within all VA Medical Centers by the end of 2016.
 
9. Join #ExploreVA Facebook Chat: Suicide Prevention for #WomenVets: VA and American Women Veterans will host an #ExploreVA Facebook chat on Sept. 16 centered on suicide prevention for #WomenVets. Representatives from VA will discuss how women veterans, service members and their families can use VA benefits and services to manage stress, treat conditions and access resources dedicated to suicide prevention. During the chat, participants will learn how to spot warning signs of suicide and what you can do to help; where to find VA mental health and suicide prevention resources, services and treatment options; and how to determine VA eligibility and apply for VA health care benefits. This event is part of the #ExploreVA From Service to Success online event series showcasing how veterans and their families are using VA benefits to earn degrees, start careers, buy homes, stay healthy, and do much more in life after the military. You will need a Facebook account to participate. Register here: http://explore.va.gov/events?utm_source=September%20Event%20Registration&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=ExploreVA.
10. DOD, VA Launch Suicide Prevention Campaign: September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and DOD and VA have teamed together to launch a campaign. The two agencies began the #BeThere campaign to raise awareness for the importance of being there for yourself and others. Throughout the month, both agencies will be hosting events, webinars and ceremonies highlighting the importance of continuing suicide prevention throughout the entire year. To learn more about the DOD campaign visit: http://www.dspo.mil/Campaign/. For more on the VA campaign visit: http://www.va.gov/health/NewsFeatures/2016/September/Be_There_for_a_Veteran_in_Crisis.asp.
 
11. VA Finds Higher Rate of Mental Health Conditions in Male MST Victims: After conducting the “National Health Study for a New Generation of U.S. Veterans” survey of 20,563 Post-9/11 veterans, VA found a higher prevalence of mental health conditions in male victims of sexual trauma. The survey researched self-reported data from veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as non-deployed veterans. VA researchers believe the difference in mental health conditions between the genders may be because women are more likely to seek treatment. For more information, click here: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/publications/oef-oif-ond/post-9-11-vet-fall-2016/mst.asp.
12. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains of nine Americans who had been missing in action from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:
— Marine Pvt. Frank F. Penna, 24, will be buried Sept. 17 in his hometown of Canastota, N.Y. Penna was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Over several days of intense fighting, approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded in securing the island; the enemy force of 4,700 was virtually annihilated. Penna died on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/937886/marine-missing-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-penna/.
— Army Cpl. Larry M. Dunn, 18, will be buried Sept. 17 in his hometown of Cullman, Alabama. On Dec. 1, 1950, Dunn was a member of Company B, 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, when his unit was fighting through a roadblock that was heavily defended by enemy forces near Sonchu, North Korea. He was declared missing after the battle. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/937905/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-dunn/.
— Air Force Maj. Dean A. Klenda, 25, of Marion, Kan., will be buried Sept. 17 in Pilsen, Kan., exactly 51 years after he went missing. On Sept. 17, 1965, Klenda was piloting an F-105D Thunderchief when it was shot down by enemy fire while on an attack mission west of Hanoi in Son La Province, Vietnam. He reportedly was able to eject from the aircraft, but failed to separate himself from the ejection seat. He was assigned to the 67th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 6234th Tactical Fighter Wing. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/937910/airman-missing-from-vietnam-war-accounted-for-klenda/.
— Marine Pfc. Nicholas J. Cancilla, of Blair, Pa., was assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Over several days of intense fighting, approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded in securing the island; the enemy force of 4,700 was virtually annihilated. Cancilla died on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/937392/marine-killed-in-world-war-ii-accounted-for-cancilla/.
— Marine Pfc. James S. Smith, of Amite, Miss., was assigned to Company C, 2nd Amphibious Tractor Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Over several days of intense fighting, approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded in securing the island; the enemy force of 4,700 was virtually annihilated. Smith died on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/937401/marine-killed-in-world-war-ii-accounted-for-smith/.
— Army Cpl. Vernon D. Presswood, 20, of Perry, Ill., was a member of Heavy Mortar Company, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, as one of approximately 2,500 American and 700 South Korean soldiers assembled into the 31st Regimental Combat Team, which was attacked by an overwhelming Chinese force east of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. Presswood would be reported missing on Dec. 2, 1950. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/937359/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-presswood/.
— Marine Pfc. John W. MacDonald, from Boston, was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Over several days of intense fighting, approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded in securing the island; the enemy force of 4,700 was virtually annihilated. MacDonald died on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Interment services are pending.
— Marine Sgt. James J. Hubert, of Duluth, Minn., was assigned to Company H, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Over several days of intense fighting, approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded in securing the island; the enemy force of 4,700 was virtually annihilated. Hubert died on the second day of battle, Nov. 21, 1943. Interment services are pending.
— Marine Pfc. Ben H. Gore, 20, of Hopkinsville, Ky., was assigned to Special Weapons Group, 2nd Defense Battalion, Fleet Marine Force, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Over several days of intense fighting, approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded in securing the island; the enemy force of 4,700 was virtually annihilated. Gore died of his wounds on Nov. 25, 1943. Interment services are pending.
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                              September 2, 2016
 
In This Issue:
1. Potential 1.6% Military Pay Raise in 2017
2. Veteran Homelessness Nearly Halved
3. VA Awards $300 Million More in Grants to End Veteran Homelessness
4. Study Finds Potential Biomarkers for Gulf War Illness
5. Women Veterans Social Media Campaign
6. MIA Update
 
1. Potential 1.6% Military Pay Raise in 2017: The president announced plans this week to cap military pay raises at 1.6 percent next year. In a letter to Congress, Obama used his executive powers to set the increase a half-percent below the expected increase in private sector wages, as measured by the Employment Cost Index (ECI). Unless changed by Congress — the House wants a 2.1 percent increase — the amount would mark the fourth consecutive year military pay failed to keep pace with their civilian peers. VFW National Resolution 408 calls on Congress to maintain military base pay comparability by matching annual ECI increases. Congress erased the double-digit pay gap of the 1990s by directing military pay raises from fiscal years 2000-2006 to be a half-percent above private sector wage increases, and raises from FY 2007-forward to match the ECI, although more could be authorized. However, the Department of Defense, in its continuing campaign to slow the growth of military compensation due to budget constraints and the sequester, keeps recommending that future pay increases be limited, despite knowing it could lead to another pay gap similar to the past. The last time a military pay raise matched the ECI was a 1.7 percent increase in FY 2013. Congress reconvenes after Labor Day to take up this issue, as well as all the federal government’s major funding bills.
2. Veteran Homelessness Nearly Halved: The Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, along with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, announced last month that the number of veterans experiencing homelessness in the United States has been cut nearly in half since 2010. While the government did not meet its goal to end veterans’ homelessness by the end of 2015, all agencies can be credited with dropping the total number of homeless veterans down from 76,000 to around 40,000 on any given night nationwide. The achievement is largely attributed to more government attention and better public-private partnerships at the local level. Learn more at: http://www.defense.gov/News/Article/Article/881729/veteran-homelessness-drops-nearly-50-percent-since-2010/source/GovDelivery.
3. VA Awards $300 Million More in Grants to End Veteran Homelessness: On Aug. 30, VA awarded another $300 million in grants to the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program to assist extremely low-income veteran families who are in need of permanent housing. SSVF funding supports outreach, case management and other assistance to prevent veteran homelessness or to re-house veterans who do become homeless. For more information, click here: http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2812. To better understand SSVF, please visit: http://www.va.gov/homeless/ssvf/index.asp.
4. Study Finds Potential Biomarkers for Gulf War Illness: Researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs in Minneapolis performed a study on 85 Gulf War veterans that resulted in the development of a tentative panel of blood biomarkers that could possibly verify a diagnosis of Gulf War Illness with 90 percent accuracy. The study will go on to a larger population of participants for validation of the methods used. For more information, click here: http://www.research.va.gov/currents/0716-1.cfm.
 
5. Women Veterans Social Media Campaign: In an effort to raise awareness of women veterans’ contributions to the military and society, VA has partnered with Women Veterans Interactive for a new social media campaign. The campaign launched Sept. 1 and will continue through Veterans Day weekend. To learn more about the campaign, visit: http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2814.
 
6. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains of one sailor and a soldier who had been missing in action from World War II and Korea. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:
— Navy Water Tender 1st Class Walter H. Sollie, of Alabama, died on Dec. 7, 1941, while stationed aboard the USS Oklahoma, which capsized after receiving multiple torpedo hits as it was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The battleship suffered 429 casualties that day, second only to the losses aboard the USS Arizona. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/927315/sailor-killed-in-world-war-ii-accounted-for-sollie/.
— Army Cpl. Curtis J. Wells, 19, of Ubly, Mich., will be buried Sept. 10 in nearby Harbor Beach. In late November 1950, Wells was assigned to Company C, 65th Engineer Combat Battalion, 25th Infantry Division, when his company joined with Task Force Wilson to fight in the vicinity of Unsan, North Korea. The task force was overwhelmed and by Nov. 27, 1950, began to extricate themselves south. Wells would be reported missing after his unit regrouped. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/932875/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-wells/.
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                                 August 26, 2016
 
In This Issue:
1. Free Flu Shots
2. VFW 2016 Federal Elections Survey
3. VA, DOD and NCI Create Targeted Screening Program
4. VA to Launch Service Animal Pilot Program
5. MIA Update
1. Free Flu Shots: From now through March 31, 2017, all veterans enrolled in the VA health care system can receive free flu shots at any Walgreens or Duane Reade pharmacy. The joint outreach health initiative is designed to help serve veterans closer to where they reside. Veterans must bring their VA identification cards with them, as well as another photo ID, and complete a short four-question application, which will be used to automatically update their VA Electronic Health Records. No appointments are necessary.
 
2. VFW 2016 Federal Elections Survey: There are 2.2 million service members and 21 million veterans. Including spouses, surviving parents and voting age children, the estimated military/veteran voting bloc exceeds 100 million. However, America’s military/veteran population is politically and ideologically even, according to a CNN/Gallup/USA Today poll taken in 2004, which was the last time two veterans ran for president. With another federal election year upon us, the VFW believes it is important to survey our members to better understand how our community thinks. The 16-question survey will run through Sept. 12, 2016. Please take the survey and share with other comrades: https://www.research.net/r/VFW2016FederalElectionSurvey.
3. VA, DOD and NCI Create Targeted Screening Program: On Tuesday, VA, DOD and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) announced a partnership to tailor care for lung cancer patients based on the genes and proteins associated with their tumors. The Applied Proteogenomics Organizational Learning and Outcomes consortium, or APOLLO, is part of the wider national Cancer Moonshot initiative. This partnership will leverage the expertise and resources of the largest health care delivery and research systems in the country to significantly improve the efficacy of cancer treatments. The program has the potential of saving the lives of the 8,000 veterans diagnosed with lung cancer each year in the VA health care system alone. To learn more about the APOLLO, visit: https://medium.com/cancer-moonshot.
 
4. VA to Launch Service Animal Pilot Program: The Department of Veterans Affairs announced this week the creation of the first program specifically for veterans suffering with their mental health who may be eligible for a service dog. The pilot, created by the new VA Center for Compassionate Intervention, foresees being able to enroll up to 100 veterans. Individuals selected for the new program will be chosen based on their medical team’s belief that the veteran’s daily life would be improved by having a service dog. Veterans interested in the program are encouraged to talk to their health care provider or medical team. For more information, please view: http://www.militarytimes.com/articles/va-pilot-to-cover-service-dogs-for-mental-health-conditions.
 
5. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains belonging to six servicemen who had been missing in action since World War II and Korea. All will be buried with full military honors. Returned home are:
— Army Sgt. James L. Campbell, 18, is being buried today in his hometown of Waterford, Conn. On the night of Nov. 27, 1950, Campbell, who was assigned to the 31st Regimental Combat Team, was attacked and forced into a fighting withdrawal from their positions on the east side of the Chosin River in North Korea. He would be reported missing after the battle. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/919610/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-campbell/.
— Marine Pfc. James F. Mansfield, 19, will be buried Aug. 27 in his hometown of Plymouth, Mass. In November 1943, Mansfield was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Mansfield died on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/919624/marine-missing-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-mansfield/.
— Marine Pfc. George H. Traver, 25, will be buried Aug. 28, in his hometown of Chatham, N.Y. In November 1943, Traver was also assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Traver died on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/919617/marine-missing-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-traver/.
— Navy Lt. Julian B. Jordan, 37, of Dawson, Ga., will be buried Aug. 29 in Bremerton, Wash. On Dec. 7, 1941, Jordan was assigned aboard the USS Oklahoma, which capsized after sustaining multiple torpedo hits as the battleship was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen. With the exception of the USS Arizona, no single ship at Pearl Harbor suffered more fatalities. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/921305/uss-oklahoma-sailor-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-jordan/.
— Marine Pfc. Anthony Brozyna, 22, of Hartford, Conn. will be buried Aug. 31 in Arlington National Cemetery. In November 1943, Brozyna was assigned to Company G, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Brozyna died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/924174/marine-missing-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-brozyna/.
— Army Capt. Elwood J. Euart, 28, will be buried Aug. 31 in his hometown of Pawtucket, R.I. On Oct. 26, 1942, Euart was assigned to Headquarters, 103rd Field Artillery Battalion, 43rd Infantry Division, aboard an Army transport ship that struck two mines near Espiritu Santo Island, New Hebrides, in the Republic of Vanuatu. The ship was beached on a nearby coral reef and evacuated. Hearing that men were trapped inside, Euart entered the sinking ship to help the men escape. The ship rolled and slid off the reef an hour later. Euart was one of only two crewmen lost out of approximately 5,000 troops aboard. The captain would be posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in 1943. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/924176/soldier-missing-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-euart/.
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As always, we want to hear your advocacy stories. To share your stories or photos with us, simply email them directly to vfwac@vfw.org.

 
August 19, 2016
 
In This Issue:
1. VFW, VA Host Successful Vet Center Tour and Q&A
2. VA Adds New Women’s Chat Service
3. Help with Health Care Billing Issues
4. Expanding Online Exchange Shopping Access
5. MIA Update
1. VFW, VA Host Successful Vet Center Tour and Q&A: On Wednesday, the VFW partnered with VA to host a live Facebook tour of the Annapolis, Md., Vet Center and a Facebook chat regarding the benefits and services available at the 300 Vet Centers and 80 mobile Vet Centers throughout the country. National Veterans Service Deputy Director Ryan Gallucci and Chief Officer for VA’s Readjustment Counseling Service Mike Fisher toured the Annapolis Vet Center and discussed the array of confidential health care and services one-stop Vet Centers provide to service members, veterans and their families. Following the tour, VA subject matter experts and VFW staff answered questions regarding Vet Center eligibility, community programs and how to find the nearest Vet Center. Many veterans also shared how Vet Centers have positively impacted their lives. The VFW urges VFW members and leaders to partner with local Vet Centers for community outreach and service projects. To learn more about Vet Centers, visit: www.explore.va.gov/health-care/vet-center-services. To view a video of the tour or read the questions and answers, visit: www.facebook.com/VFWFans.
 
2. VA Adds New Women’s Chat Service: The VA’s Women Veterans Call Center is expanding its outreach to women veterans with a new online, one-to-one chat function. The new service enables women veterans to go online and anonymously chat via real-time text messaging with trained representatives, all of whom are women and many of whom are veterans themselves. The new chat feature, which is open extended hours Monday through Saturday, provides another avenue for women veterans to ask general questions about benefits, eligibility and services specifically related to them. Learn more at: http://www.womenshealth.va.gov/WOMENSHEALTH/programoverview/wvcc.asp.
3. Help with Health Care Billing Issues: VA has established a toll-free phone number for veterans to call if private sector health care providers have improperly billed them for care that VA is required to pay. The VFW urges any veteran being pursued by collection agencies to seek VA’s assistance. VA will help you resolve adverse credit reporting and debt collection issues. Veterans who believe they have been incorrectly billed for their care should also call the billing call center to determine if VA is liable for the cost of the care. For assistance, call 1-877-881-7618 and press 1, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Eastern Time.
 
4. Expanding Online Exchange Shopping Access: Military Times is reporting that the Defense Department’s Executive Resale Board is recommending that all honorably discharged veterans be authorized to shop online through military exchange store websites. The VFW-supported idea was first pitched two years ago by the Army & Air Force Exchange Service as a way to increase donations to respective service morale, welfare and recreation programs, as well as to thank the great majority of honorably discharged veterans who do not make the military a career. If approved, the new benefit would apply to online shopping only, not at traditional brick-and-mortar stores, where access will remain restricted to military ID card carrying service members, retirees, 100 percent disabled veterans, and their eligible family members.
5. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains of one soldier and two sailors who had been missing in action from the Korean War and World War II. Returned are:
Army Pvt. Virgil B. Adkins, of Summers, W.Va., who is scheduled to be buried with full military honors on Sept. 3 in Hinton, W.Va. On July 17, 1953, Adkins was reported missing after his patrol came under attack north of the former Demilitarized Zone in North Korea. He was assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 65th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/914298/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-adkins/.
— Navy Fireman 1st Class Jim H. Johnston and Seaman 1st Class Murry R. Cargile, were both stationed aboard the USS Oklahoma on Dec. 7, 1941, when the battleship suffered multiple torpedo hits and capsized as it was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. During salvage efforts, a large number of remains representing as many as 400 individuals were recovered and buried as unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. The remains were exhumed in 2015, and due to advances in forensics technology, both Johnston and Cargile were identified. Interment services are pending. Read more at:
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As always, we want to hear your advocacy stories. To share your stories or photos with us, simply email them directly to vfwac@vfw.org.


                                August 12, 2016
 
In This Issue:
1. VFW 2016 Federal Elections Survey
2. Visit the VFW Website
3. VFW to Host Facebook Chat on Vet Centers
4. V-J Day Commemoration
5. MIA Updates
 
1. VFW 2016 Federal Elections Survey: There are 2.2 million service members and 21 million veterans. Including spouses, surviving parents and voting age children, the estimated military/veteran voting bloc exceeds 100 million. However, America’s military/veteran population is politically and ideologically even, according to a CNN/Gallup/USA Today poll taken in 2004, which was the last time two veterans ran for president. With another federal election year upon us, the VFW believes it is important to survey our members to better understand how our community thinks. The 16-question survey will run through Sept. 12, 2016.
2. Visit the VFW Website: Each week, the VFW Action Corps Weekly comes to you and summarizes the VFW’s activities for the week. The VFW is on Capitol Hill every day ensuring that you get what you have earned because of your service. To assist you when you call or meet a candidate or member of Congress in your district, the National Legislative Service also provides information on where we stand on issues and how to best address those issues. To learn more, click on the links below:
–The VFW Priority Goals is the overarching position paper which identifies major policy goals of the VFW. Read them here: http://www.vfw.org/uploadedFiles/VFW.org/VFW_in_DC/2016PriorityGoalsBrochure.pdf.
–The VFW’s “LESS=MORE” campaign highlights the impact of sequestration on several programs that help veterans. To read the LESS=MORE campaign literature, click here: http://www.vfw.org/uploadedFiles/VFW.org/VFW_in_DC/Less=More%20packet.pdf.
­­–Numerous policy areas have Talking Points which can be used when you meet with your members of Congress to encourage them to vote in support of veterans issues. Read them here: http://www.vfw.org/VFW-in-DC/National-Legislative-Service/.
–The see all of the research we have done on your Health Care desires and the VFW’s recommendations for the future of VA, click here: http://www.vfw.org/vawatch/.
–To find the VFW’s position on legislation that Congress is considering and to read our Congressional Testimonies, click here: http://www.vfw.org/VFW-in-DC/Congressional-Testimony/.
If you ever have any questions or comments, feel free to email the VFW Action Corps at vfwac@vfw.org and our National Legislative Service staff will answer your email.
3. VFW to Host Facebook Chat on Vet Centers: On August 17, 2016, from 7-8 p.m. EDT,
the VFW and VA will host a video tour of a Vet Center. Eligible service members, veterans and their families can learn about the free and confidential counseling services offered at the more than 300 Vet Centers around the country. VA subject matter experts will be available to answer questions about eligibility, services, and how to locate a Vet Center. If you have served in a combat zone, area of hostility, experienced military sexual trauma or served as part of a drone crew––regardless if you are active duty, reserve, guard, recently separated or served many years ago––please join the conversation on the VFW’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/VFWFans. For more information on this event and other #ExploreVA events, visit: http://explore.va.gov/events.
 
4. V-J Day Commemoration: Visitors to Washington, D.C., can join in a Victory over Japan Day observance at the National World War II Memorial on Sept. 2 at 11 a.m. The WWII Memorial has very few disability parking spaces, and street parking will be very limited since it’s a workday and still the tourist season in Washington. Taxis to the memorial are plentiful and recommended. The two closest Metro stations, Federal Triangle and Smithsonian, are both about a half-mile away. Learn more about this and other events at: http://www.wwiimemorialfriends.org/.
 
5. MIA Updates: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Office has announced burial updates and the identification of remains of 12 Americans who had been missing in action from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:
— Army Pfc. William R. Butz, 19, of Glendive, Mont., is being buried today in Vancouver, Wash. He was declared missing in action on Dec. 12, 1950, after his unit was heavily attacked by enemy forces near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. Butz was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. Learn more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/906224/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-butz/.
— Navy Ensign John C. England, 20, of Alhambra, Calif., is being buried Aug. 13 in Colorado Springs, Colo. On Dec. 7, 1941, England was stationed aboard the USS Oklahoma when the battleship suffered multiple torpedo hits and capsized as it was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/906114/uss-oklahoma-sailor-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-england/.
— Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Robert W. Ward, was co-piloting a B-26C Marauder bomber that was shot down near Philippsweiler, Germany, on Dec. 23, 1944. Ward and one other of the nine-member crew were reported killed in action. He was assigned to the 559th Bombardment Squadron, 387th Bombardment Group, 9th Air Force. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/906008/airman-missing-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-ward/.  
— Marine Corps 1st Lt. Stanley Johnson, was co-piloting a UH-34D Choctaw helicopter when it was shot down west of Tam Ky Town in South Vietnam on Dec. 3, 1965. Three Americans and nine Vietnamese soldiers were killed in the crash. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/906069/marine-missing-from-vietnam-war-accounted-for-johnson/.
— Navy Seaman 2nd Class Vernon N. Grow, Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Earl L. Melton, and Ensign Verdi Sederstrom, were stationed aboard the USS Oklahoma when the battleship suffered multiple torpedo hits and capsized as it was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The USS Oklahoma’s 429 casualties were second only to the USS Arizona’s that day. Interment services are pending.
— Marine Pvt. Emmett L. Kines, Pvt. Frank F. Penna, Pfc. Wilbur C. Mattern, Pfc. Ronald W. Vosmer and Sgt. Fae V. Moore, where killed in action when the 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, landed Nov. 20, 1943, against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Over several days of intense fighting, approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded; Japanese forces were virtually annihilated. Falling on the first day of battle were Penna, Vosmer and Moore, who were assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, and Kines, who was in Company F, 2nd Battalion. Falling on Nov. 21 was Mattern, who was assigned to Company M, 3rd Battalion. Interment services are pending.

 
                                      July 29, 2016
 
In This Issue:
1. VFW Elects First Desert Storm Vet as National Commander
2. VFW National HQ Gets New Leadership
3. Presidential Candidates Address VFW Convention
4. VA Applauds VFW Convention Panel on Women Veterans
5. NLS Holds Convention Workshop
6. VFW Panel Discusses Student Veteran Engagement
7. President Signs COLA Act of 2016
8. Opioid Addiction, Recovery Addressed in Approved Legislation
9. MIA Update
 
1. VFW Elects First Desert Storm Vet as National Commander: Air Force veteran Brian Duffy of Louisville, Ky., was elected Wednesday as the Commander-in-Chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States at its 117th National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. He also becomes the first veteran of Operation Desert Storm to lead the nation’s oldest and largest major war veterans’ organization. Duffy served in the Air Force as a jet engine mechanic on F-4 Phantom fighter aircraft, and later as a flight engineer aboard C-141 Starlifter transport aircraft in support of several campaigns to include Grenada, Panama, and Operations Desert Shield and Storm in Southwest Asia. In his acceptance speech, the retired UPS pilot called on everyone in the VFW to brag more about the accomplishments and public service that everyone inside the VFW knows is going on, but very few on the outside do. Among his primary objectives for the ensuing year is heightening the focus of mental health awareness and changing the veteran’s narrative—the veteran’s brand—which right now has 40 percent of Americans believing half of all veterans are experiencing mental health challenges, and an astounding 92 percent of employers believing veterans need access to mental health care programs. Also elected were Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief Keith E. Harman, of Delphos, Ohio, and Junior Vice Commander-in-Chief Vincent “B.J.” Lawrence, of Alamogordo, N.M. Read Duffy’s acceptance speech at:
2. VFW National HQ Gets New Leadership: Along with the election of the VFW’s first Desert Storm veteran as national commander came the appointment of a new adjutant general and the election of the VFW’s first woman as quartermaster general. Debra Anderson, who is also a Desert Storm veteran, held previous positions as assistant quartermaster general and director of Human Resources and Investment Coordinator prior to her election to quartermaster general. Bob Wallace is the VFW’s new adjutant general, as well as the executive director of the VFW Washington Office. He served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam and is the recipient of three Purple Hearts. He was also the VFW national commander from 1991 to 1992. Learn more at: http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2016-Articles/New-Adjutant-and-Quartermaster-Generals-Named-at-VFW-National-Convention/.
3. Presidential Candidates Address VFW Convention: Both presidential candidates made time to address the 117th VFW National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke Monday and Donald Trump spoke Tuesday, to a packed house of VFW and Auxiliary delegates. The VFW does not endorse any candidates for any office, but their appearance does continue a longstanding VFW tradition to provide an opportunity for those seeking the nation’s highest office to address the nation’s largest and oldest major war veterans’ organization. Several individuals and organizations were also recognized at the annual convention with national VFW awards, to include:
— VFW Armed Forces Award to U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Airborne);
— VFW Americanism Award to artist Scott LoBaido;
— VFW Hall of Fame Award to comedian, actor and retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Rob Riggle, a VFW Life Member of Post 15005 in California;
— VFW National Teacher Awards to Jessica Mosley, Park Intermediate School, Weiser, Idaho; Donna Kregelka, Chippewa Middle School, Okemos, Mich.; and William Ellery, Carmel High School, Carmel, Ind.;
— VFW Voice of Democracy $30,000 scholarship winner Grayson Campbell;
— And introduced was the 2016 VFW Buddy Poppy Child, 12-year-old Jaeden Davis from the VFW National Home for Children.
Watch convention highlights here: www.vfw.org/conventionlive.
 
4. VA Applauds VFW Convention Panel on Women Veterans: The VFW Advisory Committee for Women Veterans, along with Department of Veteran Affairs, hosted a panel discussion for women veterans’ benefits and health care last Saturday at the VFW National Convention. The discussion began with two presentations from VA about what they are doing to improve quality of care and resources for female veterans. In attendance from VA was Kayla Williams, the director of the Center for Women Veterans, and Dr. Sally Haskell, the deputy chief consultant for Women’s Health Services. Afterward, Williams and Haskell posted a blog reviewing the discussion as well as their experience. The VFW and VA look forward to working together to make the panel discussion an annual event. To read the VA blog post, visit: http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/29401/focusing-on-women-veterans-at-vfw-national-convention/.
5. NLS Holds Convention Workshop: On Sunday, the National Legislative Service staff held a workshop to update members on VFW’s legislative priorities as we end the year. Also discussed was how to become and stay involved in our Action Corps campaign, LESS=MORE. This campaign focuses on why sequestration and arbitrary budget caps are causing less funding to be provided for benefits and services, and putting more burden on veterans, service members and their families. To learn more about LESS=MORE, click here: http://www.vfw.org/uploadedFiles/VFW.org/VFW_in_DC/Less=More%20packet.pdf. To learn more about engaging your members of Congress, contact Ken Wiseman at vfwac@vfw.org.
 
6. VFW Panel Discusses Student Veteran Engagement: Ways to engage with student veterans was a topic of discussion for a packed room during the National Programs workshop at the 117th VFW National Convention. Leaders and delegates from nearly every state listened as VFW staffers from both the Kansas City and Washington, D.C., offices highlighted lessons learned and best practices on ways the VFW can interact with chapters of the Student Veterans of America (SVA). With a focus on building relationships, improving communication, and telling the VFW story to those veterans attending college, attendees learned that many of the things we already use for success in our organization are ways that we can help SVA chapters be successful on their own campuses and highlight that the VFW is a great organization to join. For further information on how you can work with your local SVA chapter, contact your Department’s student veteran liaison.
7. President Signs COLA Act of 2016: President Obama signed into law the Veterans’ Compensation COLA Act of 2016 on July 22. The act, H.R. 5588, proposed by Congressman Ralph Abraham (R-LA), provides veterans with an increased rate of disability benefits. The new law will go into effect Dec. 1, 2016. The Department of Veterans Affairs will also be required to increase additional compensation for dependents, clothing allowance for certain disabled veterans, and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children.
 
8. Opioid Addiction, Recovery Addressed in Approved Legislation: Legislation to address opioid addiction and recovery was signed into law by the president on July 22. This bill is aimed at addressing the overuse of opioids and ways to overcome addiction to them. The VFW applauds this legislation and its answer to improving patient advocacy within the Department of Veterans Affairs. Under this new law, an Office of Patient Advocacy will be established, which will remove patient advocates within VA from their facility’s direct chain of command. The bill will also guarantee the Department of Defense and VA jointly update their Clinical Practice Guidelines to comply with those from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
 
9. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Office announced the identification of remains of one Marine, one sailor and three soldiers who had been missing in action since World War II and Korea. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:
Marine Pfc. Charles E. Oetjen, 18, of Blue Island, Ill., will be buried July 30 in Alsip, Ill. In November 1943, Oetjen was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Oetjen died sometime on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/853564/marine-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-oetjen/.
Army Cpl. Charles A. White, 20, is being buried today in his hometown of New Lexington, Ohio. On December 3, 1950, White was a member of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, when his company’s position was overrun by the Chinese Communist Forces near Huksu-ri, North Korea. It would be later learned he was captured but died in captivity on May 12, 1951. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/853573/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-white/.
— Navy Fireman 2nd Class James B. Boring, 21, of Vales Mill, Ohio, will be buried Aug. 6 in Albany, Ohio. On Dec. 7, 1941, Boring was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor when the ship sustained multiple torpedo hits and quickly capsized, resulting in 429 casualties, including Boring. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/879774/uss-oklahoma-sailor-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-boring/.
Army Master Sgt. Ira V. Miss Jr., 23, of Buckeystown, Md., who was declared missing in South Korea on Feb. 5, 1950. He was assigned to Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. His burial date and location have yet to be announced.
Army Cpl. Curtis J. Wells, 19, of Huron. Mich., who was declared missing in North Korea on Nov. 27, 1950. He was assigned to Company C, 65th Engineer Combat Battalion, 25th Infantry Division. His burial date and location have yet to be announced.
To sign up new veterans’ advocates, click here: http://capwiz.com/vfw/mlm/signup.htm.

Date: 1 July 2016

From: ACTion Corps Weekly


In This Issue:
1. Senate Hearing on Pending Legislation
2. Military Construction and VA Appropriations Bill Blocked
3. Recognizing National PTSD Awareness Day
4. Congress Prepares For Summer Recess
5. Senate Confirms New Leadership
6. MIA Update
 
1. Senate Hearing on Pending Legislation: On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing to consider 18 veterans’ bills, including legislation to expand disability compensation benefits to veterans who participated in classified mustard gas experiments, to reimburse veterans who have been defrauded by their fiduciaries, and to expand USERRA rights for Guardsmen and Reservists. VFW Deputy Legislative Director Carlos Fuentes offered the VFW’s support for most of the bills and made recommendations to improve others. Committee members discussed VA’s opposition to expansion of benefits for veterans exposed to mustard gas and veterans who were involved in the cleanup of atomic waste in Enewetak Atoll. To view a webcast of the hearing, visit: http://www.veterans.senate.gov/hearings/pending-legislation06292016.
 
2. Military Construction and VA Appropriations Bill Blocked: On Tuesday, Senate Democrats blocked a conference agreement on an appropriations bill to fund military construction and VA service and programs through the end of fiscal year 2017 and to provide advance appropriations for fiscal year 2018. The bill is traditionally a non-partisan issue, but political differences on how to fund Zika prevention and research has derailed its progress. The bill’s future is uncertain and will likely require a second conference agreement before being considered again. Stay tuned to the Action Corps Weekly for updates on this important bill.
3. Recognizing National PTSD Awareness Day: Monday was National PTSD Awareness Day. Federal agencies who work with the military and veterans used the day to promote programs available for help and to end the stigma associated with seeking assistance. PTSD can be successfully treated, but service members and veterans must work to help each other overcome the hurdles it can impose. For information on PTSD treatments, how to help a loved one or to help spread the word, visit the VA’s National Center for PTSD website at: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/about/ptsd-awareness/index.asp.
 
4. Congress Prepares For Summer Recess: As the summer begins, members of Congress will also begin their long summer recess on July 16, with many of them running for re-election. This is a great opportunity for you to meet them face-to-face in their home districts and promote issues important to the VFW. There are many resources at your disposal to assist you. Each week, the Department’s representative on the VFW National Legislative Committee is emailed information if a member of Congress in that state is having a town hall meeting. Additionally, you can visit the websites of your Senators and Representatives to learn about events.  Furthermore, the VFW Action Corps at the VFW’s Washington Office is able to generate talking points for you to use during town hall meetings. Visit http://www.vfw.org/VFWinDC/ for more information. You can email vfwac@vfw.org or call (202)608-8363 to contact the VFW Action Corps for more help.
5. Senate Confirms New Leadership: The Senate this week confirmed the next Air Force chief of staff, the new head of U.S. Africa Command, and the next leaders of the National Guard, Army Reserve and Air Force Reserve. Confirmed are:
— Air Force Gen. David L. Goldfein, was confirmed as the next chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, where he currently serves as its vice chief. He is a command pilot, primarily in fighter aircraft, and has 33 years’ service. Read his bio at: http://www.af.mil/AboutUs/Biographies/Display/tabid/225/Article/108013/general-david-l-goldfein.aspx.
— Air Force Lt. Gen. Joseph H. Lengyel will be promoted to general and become the next chief of the National Guard Bureau, where he currently serves as its vice chief. He is a command pilot, primarily in fighter aircraft, with 35 years’ service. Read his bio here: http://www.af.mil/AboutUs/Biographies/Display/tabid/225/Article/108432/lieutenant-general-joseph-l-lengyel.aspx.
— Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser will be promoted to general and become the next commander of U.S. Africa Command. He is currently the director for joint force development at the Defense Department. He is the former commanding general of the I Marine Expeditionary Force and U.S. Marine Forces Central Command. Read his bio here: http://www.jcs.mil/Leadership/Article-View/Article/572011/lt-gen-thomas-d-waldhauser/.
— Army Reserve Maj. Gen. Charles D. Luckey will be promoted to lieutenant general and become the new chief of the Army Reserve, as well as commanding general, U.S. Army Reserve Command. The general currently serves as the chief of staff of U.S. Northern Command. Read his bio at: http://www.northcom.mil/Leadership/Article-View/Article/578785/major-general-charles-d-luckey/.
— Air Force Maj. Gen. Maryanne Miller will be promoted to lieutenant general and become the next chief of the Air Force Reserve, where she currently serves as its deputy chief. She is a command pilot, primarily in tankers and transport aircraft, with 35 years’ service. Read her bio at: http://www.af.mil/AboutUs/Biographies/Display/tabid/225/Article/108440/major-general-maryanne-miller.aspx.
6. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced one burial update and the identification of remains of one sailor and one soldier who died fighting in World War II and Korea. Being returned home for burial with full military honors are:
— Navy Fire Controlman 1st Class Paul A. Nash, 26, of Carlisle, Ind., will be buried July 9 in Sullivan, Ind. On Dec. 7, 1941, Nash was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which suffered multiple torpedo hits as it was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack capsized the ship, resulting in 429 casualties, including Nash. Read more here: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/821260/uss-oklahoma-sailor-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-nash/.
— Army Chief Warrant Officer Adolphus Nava, of Queens, N.Y., was declared missing in action on Nov. 30, 1950, while fighting in North Korea. It would be later learned he had been captured but died in a POW camp on May 31, 1951. He was assigned to Battery B, 38th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division. Burial details have yet to be announced.
To sign up new veterans’ advocates, click here: http://capwiz.com/vfw/mlm/signup.htm.
As always, we want to hear your advocacy stories. To share your stories or photos with us, simply email them directly to vfwac@vfw.org.

Date: 17 June 2016

From: ACTion Corps Weekly.

In This Issue:
1. Tell Your Members of Congress to Improve VA Health Care
2. House Hearing on VA Paper Record Management
3. House Hearing on Strategies for Veterans Seeking Jobs
4. Senate Passes Defense Authorization
5. White House Summit on United State of Women
6. VFW Supports Expanding Fertility Treatment Options for Veterans
7. SCOTUS Rules for Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses
8. Women Veterans Sought for Registry
9. MIA Update
1. Tell Your Members of Congress to Improve VA Health Care: Politicians, pundits and politically-motivated organizations are using the national crisis in access to care at the Department of Veterans Affairs as justification to dismantle and privatize the VA health care system, with some even proposing that veterans be charged for their service-connected care. The VFW says no! Contact your members of Congress and let them know that VA health care reform must be based on the needs and preferences of veterans, not political rhetoric: http://capwiz.com/vfw/issues/alert/?alertid=72925626.
 
2. House Hearing on VA Paper Record Management: The House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs held a hearing on Wednesday to discuss the management of paper records within the Veterans Benefits Administration. The hearing was called after the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General investigated 438,000 documents that regional offices had been shredding. According to VAOIG, 155 of those documents were related to veterans’ claims, and 130 of them were inappropriate to shred and either affected or could have affected someone’s claim. VBA defended itself by saying the issue was a human error, while VAOIG argued it was a systematic error. To watch the hearing, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7OC7Sk0C4U.
 
3. House Hearing on Strategies for Veterans Seeking Jobs: The House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity held a hearing Wednesday to discuss innovative ways to help veterans seeking employment in the modern world. Last month, the committee discussed how to better place veterans in technologically based jobs. This month was a continuance of that discussion, but was more focused on the holistic approach of how to best place veterans successfully into the economy. To watch the hearing, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLsIOr3fzFI.
 
4. Senate Passes Defense Authorization: On Tuesday, the Senate passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017. While S. 2943 calls for $206 billion in spending, it also calls on retirees to pay more for their health care, provides less housing assistance to married military couples, and provides only a 1.6 percent pay increase for our active force. The bill also requires women to register with the Selective Service System, and includes language that would require discharge review boards to give liberal consideration to petitions to discharge status if the service members have PTSD, TBI or related conditions to their military service. It is clear that sequestration and arbitrary budget caps are forcing DOD and Congress to push cost burdens onto our military families and retirees. As the differences between the Senate and House versions are negotiated through the conference process, the VFW will work to mitigate the financial burdens placed on our service members, their families and retirees.
 
5. White House Summit on United State of Women: Over 5,000 women gathered on Tuesday and Wednesday this week in Washington, D.C., for the first ever White House Summit on The United State of Women. In attendance at the event were President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Oprah Winfrey, Amy Poehler and many more. Throughout the two-day event, panel discussions were held on important topics for women, including health care, education, violence against women and women in the military. Dr. Jill Biden, who was not able to attend, recorded a video discussing women in the military, issues they come across and the amazing things they do for our country. Following her video, Gen. Lori Robinson, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command, made remarks to the crowd regarding her experiences and pride toward females who serve our country. To learn more about the summit, visit: http://www.theunitedstateofwomen.org/. To watch Gen. Robinson’s remarks, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQpi2Bpvclw.
 
6. VFW Supports Expanding Fertility Treatment Options for Veterans: On Monday, the VFW sent a letter to the members of the conference committee currently deliberating the differences between Senate and House appropriations bills for military construction and VA. In the letter, the VFW made clear that it is unacceptable for veterans to incur debt to start a family or forgo having children altogether simply because VA is prohibited from treating their service-connected infertility. To read the letter, visit: http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2016-Articles/VFW-Supports-Expanding-Fertility-Treatment-Options-for-Veterans/.
 
7. SCOTUS Rules for Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses: The Supreme Court of the United States ruled unanimously against the Department of Veterans Affairs yesterday for failing to comply with a law aimed at increasing the number of federal contracts awarded to disabled veteran-owned small businesses. The eight justices sided with Kingdomware Technologies, a disabled veteran-owned contractor based in Maryland, which VA did not consider as a potential contractor when it awarded a contract to a company that did not qualify as a veteran-owned small business. Federal law requires government agencies to use a bidding process if two or more disabled veteran-owned companies can offer service at a fair and reasonable price. A federal appeals court ruled VA did not have to follow the “Rule of Two” if it otherwise met the government’s goal of awarding between 7 and 12 percent of all contracts to veteran-owned small businesses. In overturning the lower court ruling, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said meeting annual benchmarks does not allow VA to ignore a mandatory contracting rule; that it applied to all contract determinations. Read the 16-page ruling at: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/15pdf/14-916_6j37.pdf.
8. Women Veterans Sought for Registry: The Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation is reaching out to the public to raise awareness and support for its memorial, education center and registry. Its 33,000-square-foot building opened in 1997 at the gateway to Arlington National Cemetery. Its mission is to recognize all women who served in the armed forces. It is the only major national memorial to honor all of our nation’s 3 million service women, yet its registry only lists less than 10 percent of those who have served or are serving. Register at: www.womensmemorial.org/Membership/reg.html.
9. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced burial updates and the identification of remains of six soldiers and two Marines who had been missing in action from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:
— Army Sgt. 1st Class Alan L. Boyer, 22, of Chicago, will be buried June 22 in Arlington National Cemetery. On March 28, 1968, Boyer was a member of an 11-man reconnaissance team on a classified mission inside Laos when they were attacked by enemy forces and requested emergency extraction. The Air Force CH-3 extraction helicopter came under heavy fire, and after recovering seven team members, began pulling away. Boyer was reportedly climbing the rope ladder when it broke. A search team was inserted into the area four days later but found no evidence of Boyer or the three other team members. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/NewsReleases/tabid/10159/Article/801292/soldier-missing-from-vietnam-war-accounted-for-boyer.aspx.
— Marine Pvt. Palmer S. Haraldson, 31, of Lincoln, Neb., will be buried June 22 in Fort Dodge, Iowa. In November 1943, Haraldson was assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Haraldson reportedly died on the third day of the battle, Nov. 22, 1943.
Army Master Sgt. Richard Davis, 30, of Black Lick, Pa., will be buried June 24 in Blairsville, Pa. In early November 1950, Davis was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, deployed near Unsan, North Korea, when it was engaged by an overwhelming number of Chinese forces. Davis was reported missing in action as a result of the battle on Nov. 2, 1950.
— Army Cpl. Charles B. Crofts, is scheduled to be buried July 9 in Shelley, Idaho. In late November 1950, Crofts was a member of Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea when it was engaged by an overwhelming number of Chinese forces. Crofts was reported missing in action on Dec. 2, 1950.
— Army Cpl. Frederick G. Collins Jr., from California, died in a Japanese POW camp in the Philippines on Nov. 19, 1942. He was assigned to the 263rd Quartermaster Company, Quartermaster Corps. Burial details to come.
— Marine Pfc. Roland E. Schaede, 22, of Maywood, Ill. In November 1943, Schaede was assigned to Company M, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Schaede reportedly died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Burial details to come.
— Army Pfc. William R. Butz, of Clark County, Wash., died fighting in North Korea on Dec. 12, 1950. He was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. Burial details to come.
— Army Sgt. Harold L. Curtis, died fighting in North Korea on Dec. 12, 1950. He was assigned to Company I, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. Burial details to come.