Wednesday, May 30, 2012

CWSM Act and H.R. 4114 Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2012 Discussed.

Report to Members and Guests May 01 2012

CWSM Act and H.R. 4114 Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2012 Discussed.

The American Cold War Veterans annual meeting was held in Washington, D.C. on May 1, 2012, from 1-3 PM. in Room SVC 200, Capitol Visitors Center (Senate side). Frank Tims chaired the meeting, with general discussion of Cold War, legislative, and future meeting topics, and William Boyle made an excellent presentation on possible sites for a Cold War Memorial. Mr. Javier Correoso, Deputy Chief of Staff to Congressman David Rivera was present, and offered constructive feedback on the legislative process.

We gained some legislative support for the Cold War Service Medal, which was not included in the 2012 Defense Authorization, but is still possible for the 2013 Authorization. We are past the mark-up of that bill (House version is H. R. 431, which does not include the CWSM), so a floor amendment would be needed. We do not yet have the Senate version of NDAA. The legislative route does not seem promising, especially in the face of the budget sequestration. Support for the legislation is still important, even in the face of chronic Pentagon opposition.

The question was raised regarding alternatives to a Cold War Service Medal. Sean Eagan suggested that the eligibility dates for the Armed Forces Service Medal could be changed to cover the Cold War Period, or at least the intervals between recognized "periods of war." This was presented as a recommendation to the Board of Directors of ACWV. Another alternative suggested was asking President Obama to issue an executive order to reopen dates for eligible operations and expeditions since the beginning of the Cold War (September 1945) for which a campaign medal is not already authorized, for award of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (AFEM), using same criteria as are currently in regulations. This might include the deployment of the Sixth Fleet in the 1956 crisis, MAAG mission to Greece 1947-50, and various "imminent hostilities" alerts of the Armed Forces during the Cold War.

Member Frank DeBenedictis suggested that we engage educators, particularly history teachers, via the website to increase awareness of the Cold War, especially significant events, operations, and political-military aspects of that global conflict. We will follow up on this excellent suggestion, and begin to expand content as a resource page for teachers.

 We adjourned at 3 PM to travel to Arlington National Cemetery to hold a memorial service at 4PM at Section 34, where numerous Cold War Heroes are buried, including USS Liberty crewmen, CAPT McGonagle (MOH - skipper of USS Liberty), and aircrews shot down during Cold War operations. Afterwards, we placed roses on graves of Francis Gary Powers, CAPT McGonagle, several of the aircrews including those shot down over Soviet Armenia 1958), USS Liberty casualties, General Van Fleet (who led US Military Mission to Greece 1947-50), LTC Nicholson (killed in East Germany 1985), COL Nick Rowe (killed in Philippines 1989), MAJ Willard Palm (shot down over Barents Sea 1960), CAPT Edward Nordeen (killed in Greece 1988), and SP4 Phillip Michael Kern (killed on Korean DMZ 1969), AND COL James Webb (who flew in Berlin Airlift).

 In a separate meeting, Glen Talon, Sean Eagan and James Allen with Ryan Kaldahl from Senator Collins office about the CWSM Act. Ryan discussed that after this session we will have many new faces in the Senate and some of our usual supporters are leaving Congress. In an honest assessment he recommended we might try to tweak our approach to develop new and stronger support in the next Congress.

 At 4:45 the same group met with the House of Veteran's Affairs Committee Staff Director of The Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity Mike Brinck CDR USN Ret. about H.R. 4114 Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2012. This bill would assure if the the general population got a COLA increase for SSI-D benefits that Veteran's Compensation would increase the same amount automatically as of today that is not the case. The proposed bill would make it more difficult for Veterans Pension and Compensation benefits being caught up in and used as leverage or held hostage in political budget fights.