In This Issue:
1. Medal of Honor Awarded
2. Disability Compensation Hearing
3. Veterans Courts
1. Medal of Honor Awarded: The President bestowed the Medal of Honor posthumously to the family of Army Sgt. 1st Class Jared C. Monti during a White House ceremony yesterday. Then-Staff Sergeant Monti was killed June 21, 2006, after making several attempts to rescue a fellow soldier after his 16-man patrol was attacked by 50 Taliban insurgents on a rocky ridge in Afghanistan. Monti, a native of Raynham, MA, was 30 years old at the time of his death. He enlisted in the Army in March 1993 and trained as a forward observer for artillery. He was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division's 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, based at Fort Drum, NY. This is only the second time the medal has been awarded for action in Afghanistan. It has been awarded four times for action in Iraq. All the presentations were done posthumously. For more information on Monti's award, go to http://www.defenselink.mil../news/newsarticle.aspx?id=..55892.
2. Disability Compensation Hearing: The Senate VA Committee held a hearing this week on VA Disability Compensation for the 21st Century, their third such hearing this session. Witnesses and committee members discussed reforming the compensation process so that veterans receive timely, accurate and fair compensation. Chairman Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) both agreed that the committee is looking at legislation that would revamp the rating schedule to reflect modern medicine and quality of life payments for service-connected veterans. Retired Lt. Gen. James Terry Scott, chairman of the Advisory Committee on Disability Compensation, recommended examining the rating schedule to reflect accurate and timely assessment of disabilities and loss of earnings, as well as recognizing inconsistencies in mental versus physical disabilities. The other panelists recommended further studies into compensating quality of life. Committee members questioned the need for additional studies and strongly voiced the need for progress in the disability claims system. For more information or to watch the webcast of the hearing, go to the Senate VA website at http://veterans.senate.gov../.
3. Veterans Courts: The House VA Committee held a roundtable discussion Wednesday on judicial courts that only hear nonviolent cases involving veterans. Modeled after drug and mental health treatment courts, judges are able to order counseling, substance abuse treatment, mentoring, job training, housing assistance, and job placement services as alternatives to incarceration, which is far more expensive. Ten veterans’ courts currently operate in New York, Alaska, California, Oklahoma, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, with other states working to establish similar programs. Invited guests included three judges from Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Edwardsville, IL, as well as a VA medical center director and others involved in mentoring and treatment programs. For more on the hearing, visit the House VA website at http://veterans.house.gov/.