Monday, May 21, 2012

Washington Weekly

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Washington Weekly

Arrow May 18, 2012

Posthumous Medal of Honor Presented
President Obama awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor to a 101st Airborne Division soldier who was killed 42 years ago in eastern Cambodia during the Vietnam War. Army Spc. Leslie H. Sabo Jr., is credited with saving the lives of several of his comrades in Company B, 3rd Battalion, 506th Infantry, when his platoon was ambushed on May 10, 1970. Sabo shielded a comrade from an enemy grenade and silenced a machine-gun bunker before he was killed. Accepting the medal Wednesday was his widow, Rose Mary Sabo-Brown. Read more.

VFW Testifies on Student Veteran Policy
On Wednesday, the VFW presented testimony before the House VA Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity regarding a recent Executive Order (#13607) that would better protect students using educational benefits. The executive order, entitled "Establishing Principles of Excellence for Educational Institutions Serving Service Members, Veterans, Spouses and Other Family Members," comes after the VFW asked Congress and the White House to improve consumer protections for veterans using their earned GI Bill benefits. The committee asked panelists their thoughts on the impact to the higher education community and ways to encourage reforms and responsible decision-making to protect veterans. For our complete testimony or to view the recorded webcast, visit our blog.

VFW Discusses Vets' Issues with House Dems
VFW Legislative Director Ray Kelley joined leaders from many of the nation's top veterans' organizations at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday for a roundtable discussion on military and veterans' issues with House Democratic leadership. In his remarks, Kelley called attention to a recent report on VA's failure to deliver timely mental healthcare to veterans suffering from invisible wounds like PTSD. To learn more about the roundtable and to see photos, visit our blog

House VA Committee Discusses Prosthetics
This week, the House VA Subcommittee on Health held a hearing to examine VA's current prosthetic program and its procurement process. Witnesses included VA, several VSO's, the VA Inspector General Office and veterans discussing their personal experiences with VA's ability to provide state-of-the-art care to veterans with amputations. The Committee heard testimony concerning VA's proposal to change procurement processes for prostheses, which could result in prosthetics funding being at the disposal of hospital directors to be used for other purposes. The VFW opposes any such change and will continue to monitor the procurement process for prosthetics. Click here for the testimony or to view the recorded webcast.

NDAA Update
Today, the House cleared its version of the FY 2013 Defense bill (NDAA). As expected, the bill does not include any of the Administration's proposed TRICARE healthcare fees, but does make modest increases to the pharmacy program. Overall, the bill authorizes $554 billion (a $3.6 billion dollar increase over the Administration's request) in funding for DOD programs and $88.5 billion for the war in Afghanistan.

VFW-supported provisions include:

A 1.7% pay increase for military personnel and extensions of certain special pay and bonuses for active-duty and reserve personnel
Increased oversight and new regulations and procedures for combating Military Sexual Trauma
$10.8 billion dollars for military construction and family housing
No funding for any Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) activities

The Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled to take up their bill next week. We urge you to contact your Senators today; let them know that shifting the cost of healthcare breaks faith with those who served and that you expect them to vote NO on any proposal that would harm our service members, retirees and their families. Contact your members today. 

New Program to Retrain Unemployed Veterans
Unemployed veterans between the ages of 35 and 60 can now apply for new benefits to cover education costs for up to one year through a joint Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Labor program that focuses on retraining 99,000 veterans for high-demand jobs. As part of a provision of the VFW-supported Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, the Veteran Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) allows qualifying veterans to receive up to 12 months of assistance equal to the full-time Montgomery GI Bill active duty rate, which is currently $1,473 per month. Veterans can apply on a first-come, first-serve basis for VRAP for programs that begin on or after July 1. For more information or to apply, click here or call the VA toll free at             1-800-827-1000      . Veterans can also access the VRAP application through eBenefits.

Google Student Veterans Summit
Internet powerhouse Google will select up to 20 student-veterans to attend an all-expense-paid Student Veterans Summit at their Mountain View, Calif., headquarters on July 16-17. The Summit will include a professional development curriculum geared towards your transition into the workplace, and possibly into the Google workforce. The application deadline is 11:59 p.m. PST, May 31. Click here for more information or to apply. 

NY Times Wants to Share Your Memorial Day Traditions
The New York Times "At War" blog is asking for veterans and veterans' advocates to share their Memorial Day traditions, honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation, leading up to the holiday. Share your stories in 200 words or less via email with atwar@nytimes.com or click here

Free National Park Passes for Military
The America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands annual pass ordinarily costs $80, but beginning tomorrow, Armed Forces Day, military personnel and their dependents can now get the pass for free, thanks to a new Department of Interior troop support program. Military personnel can get the passes at any national park or wildlife refuge that charges an entrance fee by showing their military Common Access card, and family members can get their own passes by showing their dependent IDs (or DD Form 1173). Read more

Five MIA's Identified
The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced the identification of four soldiers and one Marine who had been missing-in-action since World War II and the Korean War. Returned home are:

Army Pfc. Gerald W. Kight, 23, of White Salmon, Wash. In September 1944, Kight and the 82nd Division's 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment were dropped in the vicinity of Nijmegen, Netherlands, as part of the allied invasion codenamed "Market Garden." Kight was manning a machine gun near the town of Groesbeek, when his position was overrun by German forces.
Marine Corps Cpl. Wayne R. Erickson, 19, of Minneapolis. Erickson was a crewmember aboard a PBJ-1 aircraft that failed to return from a night training mission over the island of Espiritu Santo, in what is known today as Vanuatu. None of the crew was recovered and in 1945 they were officially presumed deceased. 
Army Cpl. Clyde E. Anderson, 24, of Hamilton, Ohio. On Nov. 28, 1950, Anderson and elements of the 31st Regimental Combat Team, known as "Task Force Faith," were advancing along the eastern banks of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea when they came under attack. Anderson was reportedly last seen driving a jeep in a convoy that was ambushed by Communist forces. 
Army Master Sgt. Elwood Green, 33, of Norman, Ark. In late November 1950, Green was a member of E Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, fighting Chinese forces near Samso-ri in North Korea. On Nov. 28, he was listed as missing-in-action. After the war, it was learned Green had been captured, but died of malnutrition in a Chinese POW Camp in North Korea in early 1951.
Army Cpl. David L. Catlin, 19, of Lockney, Texas. In late November 1950, Catlin and elements of the 31st Regimental Combat Team, known as "Task Force Faith," were advancing along the eastern banks of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea when they came under attack. On Dec. 2, Catlin was listed as missing-in-action. After the war, it was learned he had been captured, but died several months later as a result of malnutrition while being held as a POW near the northern end of the Chosin Reservoir in an area known as "Death Valley."
Read more about their individual stories

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Sean P Eagan

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Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
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