1. President Signs TRICARE Protections
2. Mojave Desert Memorial Update
3. House VA Committee Hearings
4. Assistance Dog Benefits Clarified
5. Eight WWII MIAs Identified
1. President Signs TRICARE Protections: The President signed into law
this week H.R. 4887 (P.L. 111-159) to recognize all Defense Department
TRICARE and nonappropriated fund healthcare programs as meeting
minimum essential coverage standards under the new national healthcare
law. VFW National Commander Thomas J. Tradewell Sr. thanked the
President and Congress for protecting the healthcare programs of more
than 9 million beneficiaries, but said "Getting H.R. 4887 signed into
law is just half the fight. Now we need the House to pass the
legislation so that all VA care provided to eligible veterans, widows
and children will also be recognized and protected." The VFW asks you
to take Action today by contacting your legislators on this critical
issue. To send a message to your legislators, go to
http://capwiz.com/vfw/issues/alert/?alertid=14936976. For the VFW
press release, go to
2. Mojave Desert Memorial Update: After seven months of deliberation,
the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday reversed a lower court ruling to
tear down a cross-shaped veterans memorial in the middle of the Mojave
Desert that VFW members built in 1934 to honor the fallen of World War
I. But there's still work to be done, according to VFW National
Commander Thomas J. Tradewell Sr. "Their ruling was a strong step
forward, but the 5-4 split decision only protects the memorial today
and doesn't yet allow the congressional approved land transfer to
occur or remove the plywood box that currently encases it," he said.
The Supreme Court decision sends the case back to the lower court. To
read the VFW press release, go to
http://www.vfw.org/index.cfm?fa=news.newsDtl&did=5457. To read the
ruling and justices' opinions, go to http://www.supremecourt.gov/.
The case is Salazar v. Buono.
3. House VA Committee Hearings:
· The Subcommittee on Health held a hearing on VA's enhanced
contract care pilot program. Congress passed legislation in October
2008 which required VA to implement a contract care pilot program for
veterans living in rural areas. The pilot was authorized to expand
access to health care for rural veterans residing in areas where the
VA is unable to provide care. According to statistics, 40 percent or
nearly 3 million veterans who use the VA health care system live in
rural areas, to include more than 100,000 veterans in highly rural
areas. The subcommittee focused on potential barriers hindering the
pilot program, as well as current implementation of the program and
contracts in five VISNs.
· The Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity continued its
ongoing oversight into the status of veteran-owned small businesses by
discussing barriers and recommendations to improve existing programs.
Witnesses included the GAO and veterans' organizations, as well as the
Small Business Administration, Export/Import Bank of the U.S., and a
veteran representing the International Franchising Association. The
first panel provided positive information on franchising and programs
administered by the Export/Import Bank which offers veterans a
wide-variety of small business opportunities.
For more on any of the hearings, or to view recorded webcasts, visit
the House VA Committee website at http://veterans.house.gov/.
4. Assistance Dog Benefits Clarified: VA recently clarified section
1714 of Title 38, which outlines eligibility criteria for veterans to
receive service dogs. Filing guidelines are under the VA Prosthetic
and Sensory Aides Services (PSAS) program, which is on the VA website.
Any veteran who was previously denied, but who now thinks may be
eligible, should reapply immediately. PSAS stated that claims will be
adjudicated within 10 days of receipt of a veterans form 10-2641. For
more information, go to
5. Eight WWII MIAs Identified: The Defense POW/Missing Personnel
Office announced that the remains of eight airmen out of an 11-man
B-24J Liberator crew have been identified and returned to their
families for burial with full military honors. The group remains of
Lt. Jack S. M. Arnett (WV), Flight Officer William B. Simpson (NC),
Tech. Sgts. Charles T. Goulding (NY) and Robert J. Stimson (CA), and
Staff Sgts. Jimmie Doyle (TX), Leland D. Price (OH) and Earl E. Yoh
(OH) were identified, plus the individual remains of Lt. Frank J.
Arhar (PA). On Sept. 1, 1944, their aircraft was shot down while on a
bombing mission of enemy targets over the Pacific island of Palau.
Crewmen on other aircraft reported seeing Arnett's aircraft come apart
and crash into the sea. Two parachutes were spotted, but none of the
11-man crew returned to friendly territory. Post-war Japanese
documents established that three other crewmembers survived the crash,
but died while POWs. In 1949, the American Graves Registration
Service declared the remains of all 11 crewmembers to be
non-recoverable. They were … until the Joint POW/MIA Accounting
Command got involved. To read more about the recovery, go to