In This Issue:
1. Fort Hood Shooting
2. VA Appropriations Clears Subcommittee
3. VA Health Subcommittee Discusses FDA Safeguards
4. House Discusses VA Responses to Congress
1. Fort Hood Shooting: "Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and their loved ones and the entire Fort Hood family after yet another senseless and tragic shooting," said VFW National Commander Bill Thien, after a soldier shot and killed three and wounded 16 others before turning the weapon on himself Wednesday afternoon. "We may never know why this soldier did what he did, but if for mental health reasons, it's important in the days ahead that our nation's military and political leaders don't use the medical community as their scapegoat. The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs provide some of the nation's very best mental healthcare, but providing that care first takes someone to voluntarily seek it." The Chief also offered the mentorship of VFW members to everyone serving in uniform. "We are not trained mental health professionals, but as fellow comrades-in-arms who have been to war and returned, we can relate." Read his statement at http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2014-Articles/VFW-Statement-on-Fort-Hood-Shooting/
2. VA Appropriations Clears Subcommittee: Yesterday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Constructions and Veterans Affairs cleared their draft funding bill for FY 2015. The bill matches the Administration's budget proposal for VA which is significantly below what the Independent Budget (IB) called for to meet the health care and benefit needs of veterans. Among the critical concerns for VFW and its IB partners are the serious underfunding of construction, IT and medical services accounts to include Advance Appropriations for FY 2016. Total funding calls for $71.5 billion in discretionary funds for VA and military construction accounts. The full Appropriations Committee will take up the legislation next week. For the House Appropriations press release click here: http://appropriations.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=374940
For complete IB funding levels, click here: http://www.independentbudget.org/
3. VA Health Subcommittee Discusses FDA Safeguards: This week, the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Health discussed safeguards used when identifying recalled tissue products at VA medical facilities. The safety of products used to repair skin, restore broken bones or improve function and feeling from other wounds was the topic of a recent GAO report. The report, released on Wednesday, identified concerns with the completeness and accuracy of VHA's inventory and their ability to accurately identify all recalled products within medical inventories. VA Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health and Administrative Operations Philip Matkovsky, testified that VA can significantly improve how they track inventory of tissue and other biological implants and have established a work team to identify improvements and is expected to complete its review and recommendations toward the end of FY 2014. For more information about the hearing, click here:
4. House Discusses VA Responses to Congress: This week the House Veterans' Affairs Committee hosted a hearing to address long wait times for VA to respond to Congressional requests. VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson was the only witness before the committee, outlining his plan to improve communication between his agency and Congress. Gibson had to answer difficult questions from the committee, which is concerned that the average inquiry to VA takes 143 days to receive a response. To learn more about the hearing and to view it in its entirety, click here: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2014/04/house-discusses-vas-response-time-to.html
A special thanks to the VFW Departments that have almost doubled the number of Action Corps members in their states. Since the 2013 National Convention, the Departments of Arizona, California, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington have grown the most. Work to be the first Department to double their number of advocates. District elections and Department Conventions are great opportunities to enlist more Action Corps members, but don't stop there. When you return to your Post, take a sign-up sheet, and then mail it to us. All we need is a name, email and zip code to start. Having a strong grassroots voice, letting your member of Congress know the views of the VFW is critical in enacting pro-veteran/pro-military personnel legislation. Need more information, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Teresa Morris at 202-608-8363.
To sign up new veterans' advocates, click here: http://capwiz.com/vfw/mlm/signup.htm.
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 email@example.com.
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