If a federal budget isn't approved soon, more than 4 million disabled veterans, survivors and student-veterans will not be receiving VA checks at the end of the month. The failure of Congress to compromise on a budget also forced the VA to close its 56 regional offices this week, and furlough more than 7,000 employees, the majority of whom were responsible for processing VA claims. In an opinion editorial, VFW National Commander Bill Thien said he was disgusted with the partisan bickering and government paralysis caused by a White House and Congress that will not budge from their ideological extremes in order to properly take care of America's true heroes. "We need leadership, not more rhetoric, and if the government is unable to take care of veterans, then the government should quit creating us," he said. Read the Chief's OpEd.
Find or contact a VFW Service Officer. While ROs across the country have closed their doors to veterans, VFW Service Officers around the country are still hard at work processing veterans' claims. Some service officers have set up temporary offices at posts. If you need help with a claim, contact your service officer and/or check with your posts. Our service officers can still turn claims into VA.
VA Secretary Discusses Shutdown with Committee
On Wednesday, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki testified before the House VA Committee on the effects of the current government shutdown on benefits and services for veterans. The VFW provided written testimony for the hearing stating our deep concern that services to veterans are being harmed every day that the shutdown continues. Shinseki tried to clarify how many employees are furloughed, or will be furloughed, when their current funding runs out before the end of the month. He also stressed that critical payments to veterans and survivors will be impacted as well as the processing of disability claims for compensation, pension, education, vocational rehabilitation and employment benefits. Once mandatory funds are depleted at the end of this month, nearly 5,600 veterans a day will not receive a decision on their disability claims and VA regional offices will be closed. The VFW urged Congress to pass a full-year Fiscal Year 2014 appropriations bill without delay, and to clear legislation (H.R. 813 and S. 932) that will ensure veteran programs and services are not disrupted in the future.After a firestorm of heated language from the VFW, veterans and military organizations as well as the public, the President signed legislation to reinstate military death and funeral benefits, just hours after the Senate cleared the measure. Funds provided by the bill, HJ Res 91, will be available until December 15 or until an appropriations law is enacted, whichever comes first. The legislation passed the House 425-0 on Wednesday, and is the first targeted stopgap measure to be sent to the president's desk since the government shutdown began. For details on the bill,
- Marine Corps Capt. Henry S. White, 23, of Kansas City, Mo., and Staff Sgt. Thomas L. Meek, 19, of Lisbon, La. On July 21, 1943, White and Meek were crewmembers aboard an SBD-4 Dauntless dive-bomber that departed Turtle Bay Airfield on Espiritu Santo Island, New Hebrides, on a night training mission and failed to return. The aircraft reportedly crashed into a coral cliff on nearby Mavea Island. A September 1947 investigation of the crash site recovered no remains. In 2012, a Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command team excavated the site and did recover remains and non-biological evidence that correlated circumstantially to White and Meek. Since no individual identification was possible, both will be buried in a single casket on Oct. 18 at Arlington National Cemetery.
- Army Air Force 1st Lt. Robert G. Fenstermacher, 23, of Scranton, Pa. On Dec. 26, 1944, Fenstermacher was piloting a P-47D Thunderbolt on an armed-reconnaissance mission when his aircraft crashed near Petergensfeld, Belgium. An American officer witnessed the crash and was able to recover Fenstermacher's identification tags from the burning wreckage, but no remains or aircraft wreckage were recovered at the time. In 2012, a group of local historians excavating a private yard recovered human remains and aircraft wreckage consistent with a P-47D, which were turned over to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command. He is scheduled to be buried on Oct. 18 in his hometown.
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