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VFW Washington Weekly, May 9, 2008

Posted at 07:50 PM on Friday, May 9, 2008 by Dept MO-VFW

In This Issue
1. GI Bill Call to Action
2. House Holds Veteran Suicide Hearing
3. Senate Holds Hearing on Benefit Bills
4. Senate Committee Boosts Pay, Rejects Fees


1. GI Bill Call to Action: The VFW still needs you to urge your senators to support S. 22, and your representatives to support H.R. 5740, so that the VFW goal of creating a new GI Bill for the 21st century becomes a reality. As of this morning, 57 senators are supporting S. 22, a number that is unchanged from last week. Introduced by Jim Webb (D-VA), S. 22 has strong bipartisan support from fellow senators such as Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and John Warner (R-VA). Its companion bill in the House, H.R. 5740, increased by 27 to 293 co-sponsors, or 67% of the House. Introduced by Harry Mitchell (D-AZ), it, also has strong bipartisan support from fellow congressmen such as Bill Young (R-FL) and Chris Smith (R-NJ). America's newest Greatest Generation needs your help to bring educational benefits back in line with current day tuitions. Use this link to contact your members: http://capwiz.com/vfw/dbq/officials/.


2. House Holds Veteran Suicide Hearing: The House Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on suicides among America's veterans. It was part of their continuing attempts to understand the size and scope of the problem among the veterans community. This is an important issue and even one loss of life is a tragedy. With the number of returning service men and women who have been diagnosed with a mental health issue, it is something that VA is going to have to actively manage to ensure that veterans receive the proper treatment and care.
For more on the hearing visit the House VA website at: http://veterans.house.gov/


3. Senate Holds Hearing on Benefit Bills: The VFW testified before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee this week on a host of veterans' benefit legislation. Chief among them was legislation to create a new GI Bill for the 21st century, or S. 22, a comprehensive bill that would cover the full cost of education at the highest in-state rate, to include room and board, fees and a cost of living stipend. VFW has long advocated for legislation that mirrors the original WWII GI Bill and sees S. 22 as fulfilling that priority. Other bills discussed included annual cost-of-living adjustments, compensation for veterans and their survivors, adjudication reform for the veterans' disability benefits system, burial enhancements, and insurance increases for veterans. For the VFW's testimony and information on all the bills, visit the Senate VA Committee website at: http://veterans.senate.gov/public/


4. Senate Committee Boosts Pay, Rejects Fees: The Senate Armed Services Committee approved a 3.9% pay raise last week for all military personnel in their first draft of the FY 2009 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The pay raise is 0.5% above what defense officials requested, and is designed to further close the gap between military and private sector wages. SASC Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) hopes the bill will come up for a full Senate vote before Memorial Day. The committee also rejected an Administration proposal to increase Tricare premiums and other fees. In related news, the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee also included in its markup a 3.9% military pay raise and also rejected Tricare fee increases. The full House committee is scheduled to markup the NDAA next week. The VFW is working with Congress to close the pay disparity, which stands at about 3.4 percent, and opposes any Tricare premium or other fee increases.

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