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VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY, December 18, 2009

Posted at 09:12 PM on Friday, December 18, 2009 by Dept MO-VFW


In This Issue:

1. First Session Wrap Up

2. VA Appropriations Update

3. Secure Your Luggage



1. First Session Wrap-Up: As the 111th Congress wraps up its first
session, now is a great time to review our successes and what's ahead in
2010. Our number one priority goal, Advanced Funding for VA Health
Care, was signed into law in October (PL 111-81). VA will now know its
medical care funding a year in advance, making it possible to plan ahead
and provide the best care for all veterans. Several other critical
bills which have now been rolled into larger omnibus packages have
passed the House and Senate and are in conference committee. These
bills are:

* S. 1963, The Caregiver and Veterans Omnibus Health Services
Act of 2009, includes six VFW-supported bills that would provide
caregiver support for family members taking care of severely injured
veterans, child services for veterans seeking treatment at VA,
improvements for women veterans including mental health services and
studies on access to care. The bill would also provide programs to
reduce homelessness among veterans, allow catastrophically disabled
veterans to use emergency care outside VA, and expands care in rural
areas.

* S.728, The Veterans' Benefits Enhancement Act of 2009,
includes a host of other VFW-supported bills that would improve veteran
insurance programs, update burial plot allowances, increase housing,
automobile and adaptive grant programs, enhance disability compensation
for disabled veterans having difficulties with prosthetics and those
suffering from TBI, and clarify certain provisions under USERRA.

The VFW Washington Office could not have accomplished these improvements
without your legislative advocacy in your communities and states! We
look forward to working with you in the New Year as we continue to fight
for America's veterans, servicemembers and their families. For a list
of bills and our 2010 priority goals, visit the VFW website and click on
the National Legislative Service link at
http://www.vfw.org/index.cfm?fa=caphill.levelc&cid=3692&tok=1.



2. VA Appropriations Update: The House and Senate agreed on a final VA
funding package that would provide $47.5 billion for FY 2010 medical
care and $48.2 billion in advanced funding for FY 2011. The budget is
$747 million more than the administration requested and meets what The
Independent Budget-coauthored by VFW, AMVETS, DAV and PVA-requested to
provide for veterans using the VA system. With the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan, the VA estimates an increase in disability claims and
patients using medical centers across the country. This budget will
help ensure returning vets get the care and services they need and
deserve. VFW applauds the conferees and all members of Congress for
their work in providing a robust budget that includes advanced funding
for VA. For the conference summary press release, go to
http://appropriations.house.gov/pdf/FY10_Milcon-VA_Conference_Summary.pd
f.



3. Secure Your Luggage: An article in the Dec. 18 issue of The Wall
Street Journal warns air travelers that luggage theft is on the rise, up
as much as 50%, according to one airport spokesman. Baggage handlers as
well as Transportation Security Agency agents have been caught stealing,
and no one-to include military traveling with duffle bags-is immune.
Airline officials say it is imperative that travelers hand-carry their
valuables, such as jewelry, cash, laptop computers and medicines. This
is especially important because airlines assume little liability for
checked luggage, and will only reimburse up to a certain amount. To
read the article, go to
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870358120457459995347591354
2.html. For more travel tips, go to
http://www.airsafe.com/issues/baggage/bag_tips.htm.



**The Washington Weekly will return in January when Congress reconvenes
for the second session of the 111th Congress. Wishing all of you a
safe, warm and wonderful Holiday Season.**


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