Friday, March 28, 2014

VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY March 28, 2014

VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY
March 28, 2014
 
In This Issue:
1. Senate Hears Military Compensation, Benefits Proposals
2. Busy Week for House VA Committee 
3. VFW Calls for VRAP Extension
4. Purple Heart Survey
5. TBI App Now Available
6. D-Day 70th Anniversary Planning
7. National Memorial Day Concert Seeks D-Day Vets
8. Three Korean War MIAs Identified

1. Senate Hears Military Compensation, Benefits Proposals: The Pentagon's FY 2015 budget submission came under fire at a Wednesday hearing by the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel. At issue is the negative impact the proposed compensation and quality of life program changes could have on a military still at war, proposals that include another 1 percent pay raise, reduced housing allowances, increased TRICARE health and pharmaceutical fees on dependent families and retirees, and creating economic conditions that could force some stateside military commissaries to close, among others. The VFW will be submitting testimony for the record, but as stated previously, VFW National Commander Bill Thien blames the continued threat of sequestration for forcing the Defense Department to continue to shrink the size of the military and their benefits to meet ever-declining budgets. "Sequestration jeopardizes readiness and modernization programs and the continued viability of the All-Volunteer Force, which is why the VFW will redouble our efforts to work with Congress and the administration to end the sequester and help bring financial stability to a military that is still at war, and who will still be required to operate in a very dangerous and unpredictable world." Watch video of the subcommittee hearing at http://www.armed-services.senate.gov/hearings/active-guard-reserve-and-civilian-personnel-programs_03/26/14

2. Busy Week for House VA Committee: The House Veterans' Affairs Committee had a busy week of hearings with all four House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittees hosting hearings to discuss pending legislation under their jurisdiction. The VFW was on hand to testify at all four of the hearings. Below are some of the bills that were under consideration: 

* H.R. 2527 which would allow VA to provide veterans with counseling and treatment for sexual trauma that occurred during inactive duty training.
* H.R. 3387, Classified Veterans Access to Care Act, legislation would require VA to develop standards and disseminate guidance to ensure that veterans who participated in sensitive missions or were assigned to sensitive units are able to access mental health services.
* H.R. 3593, VA Construction Assistance Act would reform VA's construction process by coordinating with others in the industry to include design/build architectural experts and the Army Corps of Engineers.
* H.R. 3671, provides a cost-of-living increase to recipients of veterans' disability compensation, and dependency and indemnity compensation at the same rate as Social Security benefits. 
* The COLA is tied to the annual CPI and social security index increases which are .
* H.R. 4037, Improving Veterans' Access to Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Act of 2014 would ensure that VA's VR&E program provides rehabilitative services to veterans in need. It also calls for more accurate metrics to measure successes within the program. 
* H.R. 4038, Veterans Benefits Administration Information Technology Improvement Act of 2014, 
* demands that VA prioritizes the completion of its information technology (IT) solution for processing VA education benefit claims.
* H.R. 4151, Veterans Education Survey Act of 2014, legislation that would capture statistical information from student veterans currently using their GI Bill benefits.
* H.R. 4191, Quicker Veterans Benefits Delivery Act requires VA to accept private medical evidence as credible for use during the disability claims process for rating purposes.
For highlights from this week's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing, click here:http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2014/03/vfw-testifies-on-va-construction.html 
For highlights from this week's Economic Opportunity Subcommittee hearing, click here:http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2014/03/vfw-testifies-on-education-employment.html 
To view a list of witnesses and read the VFW's prepared remarks from this week's Health Subcommittee hearing, click here: http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/%E2%80%9Clegislative-hearing-on-hr-183-hr-2527-hr-2661-hr-2974-hr-3508-hr-3180-hr-3387-hr-3831-hr
To view a list of witnesses and read the VFW's prepared remarks from this week's Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee hearing, click here: http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/legislative-hearing-on-hr-2018-hr-2088-hr-2119-hr-2529-hr-3671-hr-3876-hr-4095-hr-4102-hr 

3. VFW Calls for VRAP Extension: This week the VFW joined Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA) and other veterans' advocates for a press conference on Capitol Hill, calling on Congress to extend the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP). VRAP is an education benefit program for older unemployed veterans that was commissioned through the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, but is scheduled to expire on March 31. The VFW has heard student veteran advocates praise the program, but also share concerns about some of its restrictions. For highlights from the press conference and to see how the VFW is working to extend and improve VRAP, click here: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2014/03/vfw-calls-on-congress-to-extend-vrap.html

4. Purple Heart Survey: The VFW was asked by the Pentagon to comment about whether the Purple Heart eligibility criteria should be changed to include service members who are injured or killed by acts of violence, regardless of where they are stationed. We discovered a lot of VFW members have yet to take the Purple Heart Survey because it's in a "members only" section of the VFW website that they either didn't know about or know how to access. We have since added a link to the log-in section on our homepage atwww.vfw.org. Your VFW membership number is required to gain entry. The survey closes on Monday, March 31.

5. TBI App Now Available: Traumatic Brain Injuries extend far beyond combat veterans, and to meet the needs of veterans and others who have suffered mild to moderate concussions, the VA has developed "Concussion Coach," a mobile application that provides tools to assess symptoms and facilitate the use of coping strategies. The app is intended to support, not replace professional treatment or rehabilitation therapies. The app is available for Apple mobile devices at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/concussion-coach/id713590872?ls=1&mt=8, and will be made available for Google Play later this year.

6. D-Day 70th Anniversary Planning: According to the U.S. Embassy in Paris, France is offering to provide D-Day veterans and a guest with roundtrip transportation from Paris to Normandy, and lodging, meals and transportation while in Normandy for the 70th anniversary of Operation Overlord this June 6. Travel to/from Paris is an individual responsibility. Paris-based VFW Benjamin Franklin Post 605 is assisting by collecting the names of VFW and other D-Day veterans planning to attend. Please e-mail the following information as soon as possible to Chuck Steiner at VFW Post 605 at cjsteiner@aol.com.
* Full name, age and home address of veteran (include home/cell phone and e-mail, too).
* Indicate if a D-Day veteran, Normandy campaign, or WWII veteran.
* Escort or guest's name (if more than one, so indicate).
* Special needs (e.g., wheelchair).
* Dates of planned attendance (arrival to and departure from France).
If unable to send by e-mail, address regular mail to: Chuck Steiner, VFW Benjamin Franklin Post 605, 4 rue du General Leclere, 92130, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France. Other WWII veterans who plan to attend should forward this information, too, as the French Government may also extend similar support to them. Be advised, however, that the in-country support is subject to revision.

7. National Memorial Day Concert Seeks D-Day Vets: The 2014 National Memorial Day Concert will commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day with a special tribute. Concert organizers are looking for a small, representative group of D-Day veterans who could attend and participate in the program on Sunday, May 25, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. In addition, there will be a limited number of seats at the concert reserved for WWII veterans. Contact Events Manager Anne Maginnis at 202-554-4620 oramaginnis@capitalconcerts.org. This is a correction to what they provided for last week's Washington Weekly.

8. Three Korean War MIAs Identified: The Defense POW/MIA Office has announced the identifications of remains belonging to two Marines and one soldier who had been missing and unaccounted-for since the Korean War. Identified are:
* Marine Corps Cpl. William F. Day, Company H, 3rd Battalion, 11th Regiment, 1st Marine Division, was lost Dec. 2, 1950, in North Korea. He was accounted for on March 6 and will be buried with full military honors on April 5 in La Center, Ky.
* Army Pfc. Arthur Richardson, Company A, 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, was lost on Jan. 1, 1951, in South Korea. He was accounted for on March 21. A burial date has yet to be set.
* Marine Corps Cpl. William S. Blasdel, Company H, 3rd Battalion, 11th Regiment, 1st Marine Division, was lost Oct. 28, 1953, in North Korea. He was accounted for on March 10 and will be buried with full military honors this spring in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.


**Special thanks to Junior Vice Commander-in-Chief John Biedrzycki for a successful month of signing up new advocates to join our Action Corps team! Great job and keep up the good work!


As always, we want to share your advocacy stories on the VFW Capitol Hill blog. To share your stories either fill out our online form by clicking here, http://www.vfw.org/Forms/Capitol-Hill-Blog-Submissions/, or simply email photos and stories directly to vfwac@vfw.org






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 Sean Eagan


 Life Member VFW NY Post 53
 American Cold War Veterans, Inc.
Web: http://americancoldwarvets.org/
Blog: Cold War Veterans Blog
Email: Sean.Eagan@gmail.com
Phone:  716 720-4000 
Network: My Fast Pitch! Profile
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