Saturday, November 05, 2011

VFW's Washington Weekly

Budget Battle Impacts Troop Morale
Having returned from Afghanistan earlier this week, VFW National Commander Richard DeNoyer voiced concerns that White House and congressional proposals to eliminate or reduce military pay and benefits is impacting the morale of 190,000 deployed American troops. "They see it as a breach of faith and a complete lack of support, understanding and appreciation for what it is they do daily for the rest of America," he said. "They also cannot comprehend why anyone would even propose such measures while our nation is still engaged in two wars." Help the VFW to protect military pay and benefits by contacting your congressional members today. Urge them to protect the current military retirement and pay and allowance system, all TRICARE programs for military families and retirees, and all VA healthcare programs for wounded, ill and injured veterans. Read more about DeNoyer's trip.

Super Committee Holds Hearing on Debt Proposals
The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction held a hearing to review the work of previous debt reduction commissions. Witnesses from the President's Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform and the Bipartisan Policy Center were on hand to review some of the recommendations that came out of their policy debates. The authors of those plans—former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles and former Republican Sen. Alan K. Simpson (WY), who led President Obama's fiscal commission, and former Clinton budget director Alice Rivlin and former Republican Sen. Pete V. Domenici (NM), who produced a plan from the Bipartisan Policy Center—answered questions about cuts in entitlement programs and discretionary spending, as well as revenue increases. The committee only has three weeks to produce legislation to cut the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years. View the webcast.

House Passes COLA Bill
This week, the House passed legislation that would increase the rates of VA disability compensation and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children. S. 894, which passed the Senate a few weeks ago, authorizes the increase, which is based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index. As in the past, Congress must pass a bill allowing the increase to ensure disabled veterans and their families are also included in the COLA raise that Social Security and military retirees receive. The bill has been sent to the President for his signature. The COLA is expected to be a 3.6% increase. Read the House VA Committee press release.

Burn Pits Legislation Introduced
VFW was on hand Thursday for a media event unveiling the Open Burn Pit Registry Act of 2011, a bill that would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish and maintain a registry for individuals who may have been exposed to a burn pit in Iraq or Afghanistan. The VFW fought for decades to raise awareness of the health problems associated with Agent Orange exposure, and this registry will help identify who may be entitled to healthcare and benefits from toxic inhalation in the future. Click here to learn more.

VFW Joins House Dems for Veterans' Roundtable
On Wednesday, VFW Legislative Director Ray Kelley attended a roundtable with the House Democratic leadership at the U.S. Capitol to discuss issues ranging from survivor benefits to veterans employment. VFW's primary concerns included preserving military benefits and retirement, protecting the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill from caps and reductions, and finding alternative treatments for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. Two members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction attended and spoke broadly on their progress, saying they believe Veterans Affairs will be protected from across-the-board cuts if Congress is unable to meet its own mandate of finding at least $1.2 trillion in reductions. The committee members also said that all other areas are on the table, meaning VFW members must continue our calls asking our Senators and members of Congress to leave military benefits and retirement alone. 

Nisei Units Receive Congressional Gold Medal
Wednesday, Congress awarded its highest civilian honor to Japanese-Americans who served and fought in World War II as members of the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service. The Nisei, who are American-born to Japanese immigrants, were known as the "Go For Broke" units for their willingness to do whatever it took to succeed. Read more.

National Military Families, Caregivers Month
Calling on the nation to celebrate military families' service and sacrifice, President Obama signed proclamations on Tuesday that designated November as Military Family Month and National Family Caregivers Month. "With every step we take on American soil, we tread on ground made safer for us through the invaluable sacrifices of our service members and their families," the President said in his proclamation. Read more.

Military Family Survey
Blue Star Families has asked VFW to help distribute their 2012 Military Family Lifestyle Survey to active duty, Guard, Reserve and veteran families.

Korean War MIA Identified
The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced the identification of remains belong to Army Cpl. Eugene M. Morelli, 21, of Santa Ysabel, Calif. In February 1951, Morelli and elements of the 2nd Infantry Division were forced to withdraw during the Battle for Hoengsong in South Korea. Morelli was captured but died in captivity due to malnutrition. Read more about his recovery and identification.

Sean P Eagan

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