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VFW Washington Weekly - August 31, 2012

Posted at 10:32 AM on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 by Dept MO-VFW

In this issue:

1. VFW Applauds White House Effort to Combat Suicide
2. VFW Active at Republican Convention
3. VA Increases Vets Retraining Assistance Program
4. Combating Veterans' Homelessness
5. VFW Hears from Marine Corps Commandant
6. Army and NFL Discuss TBI
7. Five MIAs Return Home

1. VFW Applauds White House Effort to Combat Suicide: Today, the President signed an executive order designed to curb military and veteran suicide and improve the delivery of mental health resources to our nation's heroes. The executive order, "Improving Access to Mental Health Services for Veterans, Service Members and Military Families," which President Obama is scheduled to announce during a visit to Fort Bliss in Texas, includes nearly a dozen specific initiatives designed to improve mental health resources and intervention tools. National Commander John E. Hamilton, noted the VFW support for the president's vision to prevent military suicides and improve mental health care delivery, but also expressed concerns about potential funding shortfalls to accomplish the president's goals. Click here for the VFW's Press release: http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2012-Articles/VFW-Applauds-White-House-Efforts-to-Stop-Military-Suicide/

2. VFW Active at Republican Convention: VFW Representatives attending the Republican National Convention (RNC) listened to key note speakers and spoke with delegates on critical issues like veterans mental and behavioral health, accurate claims processing and helping service members secure educational, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. The VFW will also be represented at next week's Democratic National Convention in Charlotte to ensure the voice of veterans, service members and their families remains a key priority during Campaign 2012. Leading both delegations will be VFW Legislative Director Ray Kelley. Stay informed throughout by reading blog postings at: www.vfwonthehill.org/

3. VA Increases Vets Retraining Assistance Program: This week, VA announced that have filled 36,000 of the 45,000 job training openings available under the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) passed as a part of the VOW to Heroes Act. An additional 55,000 openings will be available October 1, 2012. VRAP provides up to $1,473 a month in GI Bill benefits for those taking full-time courses to learn the skills necessary to land a job. VFW was instrumental in getting the provision passed as a part of the comprehensive jobs bill and encourages veterans eligible to apply online. Click here for more information: http://www.benefits.va.gov/VOW/

4. Combating Veterans' Homelessness: Veterans' homelessness is a national problem that is best solved at the local level. As such, the VA recently launched a new online ordering portal for communities and national partners to order free informational material and promotional items ranging from brochures and posters to wallet cards, drawstring bags and hygiene kits, among other items. Share the portal link with your VFW members and Posts and with others in your community to help spread the word. For more information or to place an order, go to http://www.va.gov/homeless/materials_center.asp.

5. VFW Hears from Marine Corps Commandant: This week, VFW attended a Press Club event where Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos spoke on a number of issues important to the Corps. Leading the list was the continuing success of combat operations in Afghanistan and the transfer of responsibilities over to Afghan national security forces. Following his remarks, Amos fielded questions from the audience on a variety of military quality-of-life and force readiness issues ranging from fiscal responsibility and budget constraints on the Marines Corps, to women serving in combat, suicide, and sexual assault. When asked about potential across-the-board cuts to the Defense budget, Amos said he believed the Marine Corps would be hit disproportionately hard, considering the size of the force and the value it delivers to the U.S. military. Amos also said that the greatest challenge for the Corps moving forward would be ensuring the force remains balanced through a period of fiscal austerity. To learn more about Amos' remarks and to view C-SPAN's full coverage of the event, click here: http://www.vfwonthehill.org/2012/08/vfw-hears-from-marine-commandant.html?m=1

6. Army and NFL Discuss TBI: Earlier this week, Army representatives hosted NFL leaders at West Point to discuss how they can affect positive change surrounding Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and concussions. The military, alongside the NFL have continued conversations regarding the Soldier-Athlete commitment to education and awareness of these serious injuries. To watch the discussion, click here: http://www.dvidshub.net/webcast/2578#.UD5iiqCoz1l.

7. Five MIAs Return Home: The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office recently announced the identification of remains belonging to one airmen and four soldiers who had been missing in action since World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Returned home are:
* Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Harry W. Eck, of Minot Ward, N.D. On Sept. 13, 1944, Eck and eight other crewmembers were aboard a B-17G Flying Fortress that crashed near Neustaedt-on-the-Werra, Germany. Only one of the nine crewmen is known to have successfully parachuted out of the aircraft before in crashed.
* Army Cpl. Kenneth R. Block, 22, of Ann Arbor, Mich. In late November 1950, Block 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. 3, Block and many other Americans would be listed as missing in action as a result of the heavy fighting.
* Army Sgt. 1st Class William T. Brown, 24, of La Habra, Calif.; Sgt. 1st Class Donald M. Shue, 20, of Kannapolis, N.C.; and Sgt. 1st Class Gunther H. Wald, 25, of Palisades Park, N.J. On Nov. 3, 1969, the men and six Vietnamese soldiers were part of a Special Forces reconnaissance patrol that was ambushed while operating in Quang Tri Province near the Vietnam-Laos border.
Read more about their recovery and identification at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases/.

VFW Washington Weekly, October 7, 2011

Posted at 02:37 PM on Sunday, October 9, 2011 by Dept MO-VFW

In This Issue:
1. Afghanistan, 10 Years Later
2. House VA Committee Hearings
3. Stop Loss Back Pay Deadline
4. TRICARE Fee Increase
5. One Million Thanks Yous
6. Four Korea, Vietnam MIAs Recovered

1. Afghanistan, 10 Years Later: America's longest war started 10 years ago today to retaliate against Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network for the 9/11 attacks. A decade later, bin Laden is dead along with most of his foreign fighters, but a threat still exists from the Taliban, who ceased power in their country following the 1989 exit of the Soviet Union, and who provided a safe haven for al-Qaeda to operate. U.S. troop strength is at its highest at 98,000, though about 30,000 are scheduled to redeploy by next summer. The challenge for U.S. and coalition forces now is to continue to degrade the Taliban while helping the Afghan government to build national confidence and unity. The Pew Research Center this week released the results of a new national survey, entitled "The Military-Civilian Gap: War and Sacrifice in the Post-9/11 Era." It portrays post-9/11 veterans as proud of their service but convinced the American public has little understanding of the problems and challenges wartime service creates for military members and their families. To read the survey http://pewresearch.org/pubs/2111/veterans-post-911-wars-iraq-afghanistan-civilian-military-veterans.

2. House VA Committee Hearings: The House VA Committee held two hearings this week.
* The Subcommittee on Health discussed the lack of coordination between the VA's Federal Recovery Coordination Program and DOD's Recovery Coordination Program when making critical decisions for seriously disabled veterans and their families. A March 2011 GAO report found that both programs seem to be operating independently, which creates confusion about roles and responsibilities. During testimony, veterans' organizations identified three areas in need of improvement: continuity of care, care coordination, and program awareness. The VFW believes that our severely wounded warriors should have the best possible care without needless duplication and failures to coordinate efforts. For the GAO report click, go to http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d11250.pdf.
* The Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs reviewed the progress made at Arlington National Cemetery to ensure the recommendations made by the Army IG were being followed, as it pertains to management, contracting, IT development, and recordkeeping. The Army is moving out smartly to restore Arlington's reputation. Only with Congress, the VFW will continue to monitor their progress, as well.
For more information on any of the hearings, visit the House VA Committee website at http://veterans.house.gov/.

3. Stop Loss Back Pay Deadline: After a half dozen extensions, Oct. 21 will be the last chance to apply for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay. The reimbursement is $500 for each month or partial month served in a Stop Loss status between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009. The average benefit has been more than $3,500, but you won't get paid unless you apply. Click here for more details: http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2010/0710_stoploss/

4. TRICARE Fee Increase: Annual TRICARE Prime fees for new working-age military retirees increased by 13 percent on Oct. 1. The new single rate is $260 and family rate is $520. Survivors of active duty deceased sponsors and medically retired service members and their dependents are exempt from the increase, and retirees enrolled in the program before Oct. 1 will not pay the new rate until next year Oct. 1, 2012. More "modest annual increases" are planned in the future, said a Pentagon spokeswoman.

5. One Million Thanks Yous: From the first shots of the Revolutionary War to the men and women serving today, the nation owes an immeasurable debt of gratitude to our veterans. Join the National WWII Museum in New Orleans this Veterans Day to raise one million voices to say "Thank you for my freedom." For more click here information click here: http://www.myveteransday.org/

6. Four Korea, Vietnam MIAs Recovered: The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced the identification of remains of four soldiers lost during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. They are:
* Army Cpl. Edward M. Pedregon of El Paso, Texas. In late November 1950, Pedregon and his Heavy Mortar Company of the 31st Regimental Combat Team were overrun by Chinese forces near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. Pedregon was reported missing in action on Nov. 30, 1950.
* Army Master Sgt. Charles V. Newton of Canadian, Texas; Sgt. 1st Class Douglas E. Dahill of Lima, Ohio; and Sgt. 1st Class Charles F. Prevedel of St. Louis, Mo.. On April 17, 1969, the men and three Vietnamese soldiers were on a long-range reconnaissance patrol when they were ambushed near the Laotian border. Search and rescue teams reached the site the next day but over the next week found no signs of the men.

VFW Washington Weekly, September 9, 2011

Posted at 03:36 PM on Friday, September 9, 2011 by Dept MO-VFW

In This Issue:
1. Tenth Anniversary of 9/11 Attack
2. VA Committee Clears Vet Bills
3. Super Committee Begins Work
4. VFW Invites You to Join Us on Twitter
5. Tax Incentives for Hiring Heroes in White House Plan
6. VA Expands List of Agent Orange-Exposed Ships
7. POW/MIA Recognition Day
8. Two Vietnam MIAs Identified

1. Tenth Anniversary of 9/11 Attack: New VFW National Commander Richard DeNoyer is calling for America to return to the nationwide unity and pride that resulted from the vicious attacks upon our country 10 years ago this Sunday. He also warns that Americans have grown so complacent to the distant wars that they have forgotten about almost 40 successful or thwarted attempts inside American since then. "Just because America is planning to redeploy the great majority of its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan over the next few months and years doesn't mean the enemy will stop trying to kill Americans," he said. Only a fool would believe they wouldn't have killed 30,000 or 300,000 had they had the means 10 years ago."

2. VA Committee Clears Vet Bills: The House Veterans Affairs' Committee cleared several bills VFW supported in testimony. They now move to the House floor for a vote.
H.R. 2074, Veterans Sexual Assault Prevention Act was amended to include provisions from three other committee bills, including directing VA to develop and implement a centralized and comprehensive policy on reporting and tracking sexual assaults and other safety incidents at medical facility, clarifying VA's regulation on service dogs , providing for increased flexibility on rates for reimbursement of state veterans' homes and offering better TBI treatment by focusing on an injured veteran's independence and quality of life.
H.R. 2433, Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011 will strengthen tuition benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill, offer job-training programs for transitioning servicemembers, enhance work-leave protections under USERRA and provide for retraining grants for homeless veterans.
H.R. 1263 would amend current law to include foreclosure protections to the spouses of servicemembers who die while in the military and whose death is service-connected.
For more on the mark-up visit the House VA website at: http://veterans.house.gov/
For our testimony on several of the bills go to: http://stage.vfw.org/VFW-in-DC/Congressional-Testimony/

3. Super Committee Begins Work: Yesterday the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (aka "Super Congress") met for their introductory meeting. The committee was created with the mandate to eliminate at least $1.5 trillion dollars from the budget over the next 10 years. The VFW has and will continue to advocate for veterans, military retirees, and their families as the committee continues its difficult work. To learn more about the committee's schedule and this week's introductory meeting visit www.vfwonthehill.org.
4. VFW Invites You to Join Us on Twitter: Join the VFW's Quick Reaction Force (QRF) by signing up with us on Twitter. VFW recently launched a new advocacy tool using Twitter to help provide immediate and effective constituent engagement with Capitol Hill to protect veterans' priorities. The object is to get followers to communicate VFW's message to their elected officials and Senators on key issues upon receiving a voluntary text message from the VFW QRF twitter feed. Follow these very simple steps we shared with attendees at the 112th National Convention and you can begin making a difference for our veterans and their families. Learn more and join the effort by clicking here: http://stage.vfw.org/uploadedFiles/VFW.org/VFW_in_DC/VFW%20QRF%20Instructional.pdf

5. Tax Incentives for Hiring Heroes in White House Plan: President Obama's American Jobs Act includes tax credits of up to $5,600 for companies who hire unemployed veterans and up to a $9,600 tax credit for those who hire veterans with service-connected disabilities that have been looking for a job six months or longer. With unemployment among OIF/OEF veterans at record high levels, VFW applauds these provisions and looks to Congress to enact jobs legislation for veterans quickly.

6. VA Expands List of Agent Orange-Exposed Ships: The VA has expanded its list of Navy and Coast Guard ships whose crews may be eligible for disability compensation as a result of exposure to the chemical defoliant Agent Orange. Many of the additions are landing vessels or destroyers that operated near the shore and inland waterways, or may have docked in Vietnam. VA officials say the ship list is not static; more vessels could be added based on additional documentation such as deck logs and cruise books, as well as records kept in the National Archives. The VA has already paid out $2.2 billion in benefits to 89,000 Vietnam veterans or survivors who qualified for compensation under a ruling last fall that added three new presumptive illnesses to the list of health conditions presumed to be related to Agent Orange exposure. Read more about the new ships and presumptive conditions click here: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/shiplist/index.asp

7. POW/MIA Recognition Day: Next Friday, Sept. 16, is National POW/MIA Recognition Day in honor of more than 140,000 former American POWs and to remember our nation's 83,000 MIAs---73,000 from WWII, 8,000 from Korea, 1,680 from Vietnam, 120 from the Cold War, and one each in Iraq and Afghanistan. To assist VFW Posts and members who are conducting ceremonies, a suggested speech is now available for download in the Patriotic Holiday Speeches section of the members-only login section of www.vfw.org. Also of note were five VFW National Resolutions (R422-R426) that passed at the 112th VFW National Convention last week to strengthen the VFW's resolve of the Full Accounting Mission, and to protect mission personnel and funding, as well as the integrity of the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs.

8. Two Vietnam MIAs Identified: The Defense POW/MIA Office announced the identification of remains belonging to an Air Force fighter pilot and an Army Special Forces soldiers who had been missing in action for more than four decades.
* Air Force Maj. Thomas E. Reitmann, 34, of Red Wing, Minn., was assigned to the 334th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Takhli AB, Thailand, when on Dec 1, 1965; he flew an Operation Rolling Thunder strike mission against a railroad bridge northeast of Hanoi. When his flight of four F-105D Thunderchiefs approached the target area, they encountered extremely heavy anti-aircraft artillery. Reitmann's aircraft took a direct and crashed.
* Army Master Sgt. Ralph J. Reno, 36, of Chicago, took off from Kham Duc, South Vietnam, on July 3, 1966, aboard an H-34 helicopter with three soldiers from 5th Special Forces Group, three Vietnamese aircrew and nine Vietnamese passengers. The aircraft crashed in Quang Nam Province in steep mountainous terrain and dense foliage after they encountered severe air turbulence.

VFW Washington Weekly, August 25, 2011

Posted at 01:43 PM on Thursday, August 25, 2011 by Dept MO-VFW

In This Issue:
1. VFW to Stream Live from 112th National Convention
2. VFW, VA and Social Media Outreach
3. Predatory Schools and the G.I. Bill -- Share Your Stories

1. VFW to Stream Live from 112th National Convention: Starting Monday, August 29, 8 a.m. (CDT) the VFW will stream live from San Antonio, Texas for its 112th National Convention. During the general session, members will hear from guest speakers to include Governor Rick Perry, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and others. The convention is an important event where VFW membership votes on resolutions that become our mandate for lobbying issues critical to veterans, military and their families.
Join us at www.vfw.org for daily events from the great state of Texas!

2. VFW, VA and Social Media Outreach: Earlier this month, the VA invited VFW Deputy Legislative Service Director Ryan Gallucci to participate in a roundtable discussion of social media with VA public affairs officers from across the country at the VA's annual training conference in Boston, MA. Recently, the VFW reintroduced its national blog with a new focus on legislative advocacy from the National Legislative Service in Washington, DC. The NLS will continue to update the new Capitol Hill blog, www.vfwonthehill.org, throughout next week's VFW National Convention in San Antonio, while also introducing other new concepts to improve outreach and build a dialogue with members and supporters across the country. NLS is looking for feedback on these new concepts, so please take a few minutes to stop by our booth, learn a bit about our work, and tell us how you think we can improve our outreach. To learn more about VFW's participation in the VA training conference, click here: http://www.vfwonthehill.org/2011/08/social-media-and-va-what-i-learned-this.html

3. Predatory Schools and the G.I. Bill -- Share Your Stories: This week the VFW called into question certain institutions of higher learning for reaping the benefits of the robust Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, while failing to deliver quality educational outcomes for student-veterans. Since the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill rolled out in August of 2009, the VFW has heard anecdotally from student-veterans that certain schools have spent considerable time and effort recruiting students eligible for military and veterans' educational benefits, only for these students to become victims of predatory institutions with no intention of delivering on the promises of a quality education. If you or someone you know has been affected by these predatory schools, please let the VFW know through the new Capitol Hill blog. To learn more about this emerging issue, click here: http://www.vfwonthehill.org/2011/08/vfw-looks-for-accountability-in-gi-bill.html

Please note the VFW Washington Weekly will resume publication on Friday, September 9 when Congress returns to continue debating the many critical issues before them.

VFW Washington Weekly, August 19, 2011

Posted at 09:46 PM on Friday, August 19, 2011 by Dept MO-VFW

In This Issue:
1. VFW Calls on Super Congress to Protect Vets
2. Military Retirement System Threatened
3. Saving Commissaries Gains Bipartisan Support
4. US Forces-Iraq Update
5. WWII 16mm Film Sought
6. WWII and Korean War MIAs Identified
7. TRICARE Questionnaire

1. VFW Calls on Super Congress to Protect Vets: Last week, VFW Executive Director Bob Wallace sent letters to each member of the new 12-member Joint Select Committee on Debt Reduction---also known as the "Super Congress"---that's been tasked with developing a bipartisan road map to reduce the national debt over the next few months. In his letter, Wallace asked each member to preserve military personnel programs and veterans' benefits, and offered the VFW's input in the process. Read the VFW's letter and learn more about the Super Congress by visiting the VFW's Voice on the Hill blog.

2. Military Retirement System Threatened: The VFW remains very skeptical of Pentagon announcements that they have no plan to change the existing military retirement system. We believe they have embraced a Defense Business Board recommendation to end the automatic receipt of retirement and revert to a corporate 401(k)-style system that would provide more incentives for midcareer officers and NCOs to separate instead of staying 20 or more years. DOD just might be waiting to judge the amount of push-back from the military and veterans' communities. As a VFW spokesman was quoted saying Tuesday on FOX News, "this proposal is about money, not about people, and could signal an end to the All Volunteer Force, which is an expense this nation can ill afford to pay." The military retirement system is just one of 10 services and programs that the VFW believes Congress or the Administration want to reduce or eliminate to help pay for 10 years of war. Read more about the "10 for 10" plan http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/10-FOR-10--VFW-WON%E2%80%99T-STAND-FOR-BROKEN-PROMISES/

3. Saving Commissaries Gains Bipartisan Support: Reps. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and Susan Davis (D-Calif.) published a joint OpEd this week in the Washington Times explaining why maintaining the military's commissary system is critical to supporting military families. The VFW has been at the forefront of advocating to preserve military commissaries as part of our ongoing "10 for 10" campaign, and applauded Wilson and Davis for their support, and for garnering the support of more than 60 of their congressional colleagues. To learn more about the push to save commissary benefits, visit the VFW's Voice on the Hill blog: http://www.vfwonthehill.org/2011/08/bipartisan-support-to-save-military.html

4. US Forces-Iraq Update: The VFW Washington Office hosted a VSO meeting this morning to hear from Army Maj. Gen. Jeff Buchanan, the U.S. Forces-Iraq spokesman. Morale is high among the 46,000 troops currently stationed in-country, because consistently improving conditions on the ground will enable the great majority to redeploy by the end of the year. Now on his fourth tour in Iraq, Buchanan said there used to be 505 U.S. bases/operating locations to counter 145 daily attacks during the height of violence back in 2007. Today, as the overall security mission continues to transfer to Iraqi forces, the American footprint has been reduced to 46 locations and, more important, there are now only 14 daily attacks on average in a country the size of California.

5. WWII 16mm Film Sought: Towers Productions, a documentary production company for A&E, History and Discovery Channel, is working on a three-hour World War II special for the National Geographic Channel to air sometime in mid-2012. They are on the hunt for rare and possibly never-before-seen combat footage---16mm color or B&W film at the front or overseas---as well as field audio. They are currently searching through a myriad of military collections, but believe many VFW members may also have a treasure trove of film canisters tucked away in attics and basements that they recorded personally while overseas. If interested, please contact David Cottrell at Towers Productions at (312) 601-4916 or by e-mail at david.cottrell@towersproductions.com.

6. WWII and Korean War MIAs Identified: The Defense POW/MIA Office announced the identification of remains belonging to Army Pvt. Donald D. Owens, 19, of Cleveland, and Army Cpl. James S. Murray, 22, of Shinnston, W.Va.
* In late September 1944, Private Owens' unit, the 773rd Tank Battalion, was fighting its way to France's eastern border. On Oct. 9, 1944, in the final battle for control of the region, Owens and four other soldiers were attacked by enemy fire in their M-10 Tank Destroyer. Two men survived with serious injuries but three others, including Owens, were reported to have been killed.
* After the 1953 Korean War armistice, surviving POWs said Corporal Murray had been captured in January 1951 and marched north to a POW camp near Suan County, North Korea, but he died while in captivity during an allied air raid a few months later.
Read more about both recoveries http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases/

7. TRICARE Questionnaire: The TRICARE Beneficiary panel on communications and customer service is looking for feedback on how customers get their prescriptions filled to possibly help them save on medications taken regularly. Please be advised that this is a questionnaire, not a survey, and results will be shared with participants at a later date.
To participate in go here: https://tricare.inquisiteasp.com/cgi-bin/qwebcorporate.dll?idx=D9GAC7

VFW Washington Weekly, August 12, 2011

Posted at 07:51 PM on Friday, August 12, 2011 by Dept MO-VFW

In This Issue:
1. VFW Introduces DC Blog
2. President Signs GI Bill Fixes
3. Join Us in our Fight -- 10 for 10
4. Super Committee Members Named
5. WWII MIA Identified

1. VFW Introduces DC Blog: This week the VFW introduced its newly reinvented blog, www.vfwonthehill.org. The primary focus will be on the work of VFW's National Legislative Service in Washington, D.C. Serving over 2 million members and thousands of veteran advocates, the blog is the latest tool to help engage those who are interested in making a difference for veterans from coast to coast. Together with the efforts of the VFW Action Corps and the VFW National Legislative Committee, the new blog will help inform all who visit, in real time on the daily activities of veterans' issues as they develop in Washington inspiring members to reach out to their representatives and take action.

2. President Signs GI Bill Fixes: The President signed VFW-supported legislation that will preserve reimbursement rates under the Post-9/11 GI Bill for students already enrolled at private schools. The Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act (P.L.112-26), which VFW strongly advocated for, ensures that students who are already using their Chapter 33 benefits will be able to complete their degree programs without unnecessary financial constraints. To read the VA press release go here: http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2147\

3. Join Us in Our Fight -- 10 for 10: "10 for 10" is our campaign to make sure Congress keeps its promises to military personnel, retirees, and veterans. Add your voice to the effort by re-engaging with your members of Congress to ensure these proposals do not negatively affect troops, veterans or their families. Visit the VFW website for a list of 10 services and programs we believe are most vulnerable to being cut or curtailed in order to help pay for 10 years of war. These 10 principles will be a centerpiece of our efforts to protect veterans and military personnel in the budget battles yet to come. Now is the time to make your voice heard by calling, writing, or e-mailing your thoughts on any or all of the 10 for 10 items. To learn how, visit VFW's Capwiz page at http://capwiz.com/vfw/dbq/officials/.

4. Super Committee Members Named: This week, Congressional leadership announced the members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. This 12-member panel of Members of Congress from the House and Senate was created as a product of the debt ceiling negotiations to reduce federal spending by at least $1.5 trillion dollars over the next ten years. We are encouraged that Senator Patty Murray has been appointed to this influential new committee, as she has always been a stalwart supporter of veterans' issues, and will co-chair the panel alongside Congressman Jeb Hensarling. We will make our case to all the members of the committee that our veterans have sacrificed an extraordinary amount for the greater good, and we must continue to honor their contribution to the security and prosperity of our nation.

The Senators on the committee include: Patty Murray (D-WA), John Kerry (D-MA), Max Baucus (D-MT), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Rob Portman (R-OH), Pat Toomey (R-PA). The following are the members from the House: Dave Camp (R-MI), Fred Upton (R-MI) Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Xavier Becerra (D-CA), James Clyburn (D-SC), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

5. WWII MIA Identified: The Defense POW/MIA Office announced the identification of remains belonging to Army Pfc. William F. Stehlin of Dayton, KY; he was buried on August 11 in Arlington National Cemetery. On Nov. 20, 1944, Stehlin, as part of the 333rd Infantry Regiment, 84th Infantry Division, went missing near Suggerath while his unit conducted a largely successful offensive to capture towns in Western Germany. In 1951, after an extensive search, his remains were determined unrecoverable by U.S. Army Graves Registration personnel. Today, more than 73,000 are unaccounted-for from the conflict. For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO website at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call 703-699-1169.

VFW Washington Weekly, August 5, 2011

Posted at 01:48 PM on Sunday, August 7, 2011 by Dept MO-VFW

In This Issue:
1. Veterans' Job Initiative
2. Debt Ceiling Bill and Veterans
3. New Pentagon Leadership
4. MoH Recipients "Speak Out" Against PTS
5. Help Veterans "Make the Connection
6. Vietnam MIA Identified

1. Veterans’ Job Initiative:  The VFW joined President Obama when he announced a White House initiative to create more jobs for veterans. The new four-tiered initiative is the latest in a series of federal programs designed to help veterans re-enter the job market after military service. The initiative will be on providing the tools to both employers and veterans seeking jobs in the private sector, addressing key concerns that the VFW has consistently urged the administration to focus on as unemployment for young veterans soared above 13 percent this summer. The VFW has been pushing for improved veterans’ employment outreach programs since passing a resolution in 2009 acknowledging the national crisis facing unemployed veterans, particularly young veterans who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
2. Debt Ceiling Bill and Veterans: Earlier this week, the President signed legislation to raise the federal debt limit and reduce government spending.  The deal calls for sharp cuts in agency spending — about $917 billion over the next decade — starting with a $25 billion reduction in fiscal year 2012, which begins Oct. 1, with a second set of reductions coming later this year via a special committee charged with wringing at least $1.2 trillion more over the next decade.  The question now is how all of this will impact veterans, service members, their families and survivors.   Many DOD and VA programs and services could be negatively impacted, which would counteract everything the VFW has worked hard to create over the past 112 years.  The VFW and our supporters cannot let this happen.    On the VFW website at www.vfw.org is a list of 10 services and programs we believe are most vulnerable to being cut or curtailed in order to help pay for 10 years of war.  The "10 for 10" list will form the basis of VFW's legislative efforts and calls to action to its membership and grassroots supporters. Now is the time to re-engage with your members of Congress to ensure proposed fiscal reforms do not negatively affect troops, veterans or their families.
Join the effort and make your voice heard by calling, writing, or e-mailing your members of Congress.  To learn how, visit VFW’s Capwiz page at http://capwiz.com/vfw/dbq/officials/
3. New Pentagon Leadership: The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Army Gen. Martin Dempsey to become the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. James Winnefeld Jr. as JCS Vice Chairman, Gen. Raymond Odierno as Army Chief of Staff, and Adm. Jonathan Greenert as the new Chief of Naval Operations.  Dempsey, who has been the ArmyChief of Staff since April, will succeed Adm. Mike Mullen who is retiring in the fall.  Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter has also been nominated by the president to become the next deputy defense secretary, replacing William Lynn, who is stepping down this fall. 
4. MoH Recipients "Speak Out" Against PTS: A large group of Medal of Honor recipients have made public service announcements in hope to help erase the stigma and help stop the anger, drinking and impatience that are the hallmarks of post-traumatic stress, according to MoH recipient Paul W. Bucha.  "It's our mission to emphasize that seeking help takes courage, and that it's the right thing to do for you, for your family, and for your country," he said.  To view the downloadable videos, click http://medalofhonorspeakout.org/
5. Help Veterans “Make the Connection”: If you are headed to the 112th VFW National Convention and have a story about overcoming a mental health issue, the VA wants to hear from you.  Stories of hope and recovery are at the heart of the VA's new nationwide "Make the Connection"campaign, which encourages veterans to make the connection with other people, with resources, with symptoms of mental health issues, and with treatment and support.  If you sought treatment—from any source—and are in a better place today because of it, the VA wants to hear from you.  Don’t let the stigma of seeking mental healthcare prevent you or others from living more fulfilling lives.  Have your story videotaped at the National Convention for use on the "Make the Connection" website.  To share your story or to learn more, contact the VA's outreach contractor, Reingold, at SupportVets@reingold.com.
6. Vietnam MIA Identified: The Defense POW/MIA Office announced the identification of remains belonging to Army Chief Warrant Officer George A. Howes, of Knox, Ind.  On Jan. 10, 1970, Howes and three crewmembers were returning to their base at Chu Lai aboard a UH-1C Huey, but their helicopter went down due to weather.  A search was initiated for the crew, but no sign of the helicopter or crew was spotted. 

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