On Mar 11, 2016 3:32 PM, "Ann Markel" <email@example.com> wrote:
March 11, 2016In This Issue:1. Senate Military Personnel Hearing2. Veterans Given a Year to Close Incomplete VA Enrollment Applications3. Full Week of Testifying Ahead4. Senate Appropriations Hearing on VA Budget1. Senate Military Personnel Hearing: The VFW testified Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee regarding the Pentagon's fiscal year 2017 budget submission as it applies to military personnel posture. The VFW can support a lot of initiatives currently on the table, such as Force of the Future, and better suicide and sexual assault prevention and response programs. Some initiatives we want tweaked, such as matching military pay raises to the Employment Cost Index, increasing the government's Thrift Savings Plan contribution to 6 percent and extending it through retirement. Some initiatives the VFW opposes, such as starting the government's TSP match in Year 5 instead of Year 3, dismantling TRICARE on the promise that better service will follow after enrollment fees are first created or increased, and anything that impacts morale, such as the continuation of sequestration, which remains the law of the land. Watch video of the hearing and read the VFW's prepared statement at: http://www.armed-services.senate.gov/hearings/16-03-08-military-personnel-posture.2. Veterans Given a Year to Close Incomplete VA Enrollment Applications: This week, VA announced that it will conduct intensive outreach to the 545,000 veterans with pending incomplete enrollment applications. In a year, VA will close incomplete applications, meaning veterans would have to reapply if they are not able to complete their applications within a year. The VFW will work with VA to ensure veterans who have incomplete applications are contacted and given the opportunity to complete their applications. If you would like to confirm the status of your enrollment application or would like to apply for VA health care, contact the VA Health Eligibility Center at: 1-877-222-VETS (8387).3. Full Week of Testifying Ahead: The VFW will testify before Congress at three separate hearings next week. On March 15, at 10:30 a.m., Deputy Director, National Legislative Service, Aleks Morosky will testify before the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, and Oversight and Investigations, at a joint hearing entitled "Twenty Five Years After the Persian Gulf War: An Assessment of VA's Disability Claim Process with Respect to Gulf War Illness." To watch this hearing, click here: http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/twenty-five-years-after-the-persian-gulf-war-an-assessment-of-va-s-disability-claim-process. Later that day at 2:15 p.m., Senior Legislative Associate, Carlos Fuentes will testify before the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee regarding proposed legislation to improve access to VA health care, the disability appeals process and accountability. To watch this hearing, click here: http://www.veterans.senate.gov/hearings/pending-legislation03152016. On Wednesday, March 16, at 2:00 p.m., Fuentes will testify before the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittees on Health and Economic Opportunity to discuss draft legislation to improve VA's hiring and retention of physicians. The hearing can be viewed here: http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/legislative-hearing-on-draft-legislation-to-improve-the-authority-of-the-secretary-of.4. Senate Appropriations Hearing on VA Budget: On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs held a hearing to discuss VA's fiscal year 2017 budget request. During the hearing committee members discussed a number of issues facing VA, including issues with the Choice Program, accountability, and the recent investigation regarding misconduct by VA officials. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald detailed his plan to reform the department and asked the Senate to confirm Mike Missal, who has been nominated to become the next VA Inspector General. To view a video of the hearing, visit: http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/hearings/hearing-to-review-the-fy17-and-fy18-budget-requests-for-the-department-of-veterans-affairs.To sign up new veterans' advocates, click here: http://capwiz.com/vfw/mlm/signup.htm.As always, we want to hear your advocacy stories. To share your stories or photos with us, simply email them directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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