Thursday, November 24, 2011

VFW Washington Weekly

Veterans' Jobs Bill Becomes Law
The VFW joined President Obama at the White House on Monday to witness the VOW to Hire Heroes Act signed into law. This comprehensive piece of veterans' jobs legislation passed both houses of Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support thanks, in large part, to the advocacy of the VFW on the issue of veterans' unemployment. VFW National Commander Richard DeNoyer said separating service members should feel the impact of this legislation almost immediately, because it now requires the Defense Department to focus more on output instead of just recruiting and retention, and it gives the troops another alternative to standing in an unemployment line or reenlisting for another combat tour. Learn more about how the VOW to Hire Heroes Act will help unemployed and underemployed veterans. 

Super Committee Fails
The congressional Super Committee's failure to reach a bipartisan agreement to cut a minimum of $1.2 trillion from the federal budget over the next decade now means mandatory cuts will take place across all federal departments and agencies, beginning January 2013. Where and how much, however, will be determined after the White House Office of Management and Budget identifies which, if any, programs are exempt. Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare have been mentioned as being exempt, as have veterans programs, but in an update to membership, VFW Washington Executive Director Bob Wallace said no one has yet identified which veterans programs. The VFW believes that veterans' healthcare programs and benefits will be exempt from any cuts. Questions remain, however, about increased co-payments for visits and prescriptions, as well as imposing enrollment fees on VA category 7 and 8 veterans. Over at the Defense Department are recommendations to change the pay and benefits of those currently serving and military retirees, which are in addition to possible reductions in force and cuts to other quality of life programs. In a call to action, the VFW is asking everyone to flood Congress with letters and phone calls to protect veterans' programs and military quality of life programs from any cuts. This is an obligation of every VFW member to keep the faith with our comrades who need us to be their collective voice in Washington. The VFW needs you to make your voice heard now, because the most powerful message Congress can receive is from the folks who employ them—their voting constituents. Learn more

Seven MIAs Return Home
The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced the identification of remains belonging to four airmen from World War II, two soldiers from the Korean War, and another soldier from the Vietnam War. Returned home are:

  • Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Wilson C. Cater, 24, of Jackson, Miss.; Master Sgt. Donald A. Mackey, 28, of Chambersburg, Pa.; and Staff Sgt. Glenn E. Webb, 20, of Wetumpka, Okla. On Oct. 16, 1942, Cater, Mackey, and Webb were on an air drop mission of food and supplies when their C-47C Skytrain crashed in the mountains near Kagi, New Guinea.
  • Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Meceslaus T. Miaskiewicz, 27, of Salem, Mass. On May 18, 1944, Miaskiewicz and 10 other airmen where on a bombing mission of the Ploesti Oil Refinery in Romania when their B-17G aircraft was shot down over what is now Bosnia-Herzegovina. 
  • Army Sgt. 1st Class Benny D. Rogers, 25, of Athens, Texas. In November 1950, Rogers and almost 600 other 8th Cavalry Regiment soldiers were killed during a battle south of Unsan, North Korea. Their bodies were not recoverable at the time and were likely buried by Chinese or North Korean forces. 
  • Army Pfc. Jimmie J. Gaitan, 21, of San Antonio, Texas. Gaitan was serving with the Clearing Company, 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, when he was reported missing in action in February 1951, near Hoengsong, South Korea. It was later learned that he was captured and marched north to a prison camp where he died of malnutrition in late May 1951.
  • Army Sgt. David E. Lemcke, 20, of Rochester, N.Y. On May 21, 1968, Lemcke and four other servicemen were in a bunker in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam, when a fire broke out due to the accidental firing of a weapon. Two escaped, but Lemcke and two others did not.

Read more about their individual stories. 

Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000