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VFW Washington Weekly, April 1, 2010

Posted at 09:38 AM on Friday, April 2, 2010 by Dept MO-VFW

In This Issue:
1. National Healthcare Update
2. VFW Supports Legal Aid Fund
3. Gulf War Report Released
4. Internet Crime Complaint Center
 
1. National Healthcare Update: The VFW is leading the fight to ensure all DOD and VA healthcare programs are recognized as meeting minimum essential coverage standards under the new national healthcare law, but we still need your help.  With Congress in recess for another week, the VFW is asking members, families and friends to contact their representatives and senators in their home offices and urge them to support two bills to protect the integrity and viability of all DOD and VA healthcare programs. 
  • The U.S. House of Representatives needs to support S. 3162, which was introduced by Senate VA Committee Chairman Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) to protect VA healthcare programs. It passed the Senate unanimously on March 26.
  • The U.S. Senate needs to support S. 3148, which was introduced by Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee Chairman Jim Webb (D-Va.) to protect all military Tricare programs as well as non-appropriated fund health plans. S. 3148 is a companion bill to H.R. 4887, which was introduced by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) and approved March 20 by a vote of 403-0.
Tell your representatives to pass S. 3162 and your senators to pass S. 3148 when they return to Washington.  To contact them, go to http://capwiz.com/vfw/dbq/officials/.  A VFW press release is at http://www.vfw.org/index.cfm?fa=news.newsDtl&did=5425.
 
2. VFW Supports Legal Aid Fund: Forty states and the federal government have enacted laws to restrict members of the Topeka, Kan., Westboro Baptist Church from spewing their hatred of homosexuals at military funerals.  Now a lawsuit won by a grieving father against the church, then taken away, is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder died in combat in Iraq and was buried in 2006 in Westminster, Md.  The church protested at his funeral, caring signs that read "God Hates You" and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers."  The Marine's father, Albert Snyder, filed suit, and a Baltimore jury awarded his family more than $10 million in damages.  A district judge cut the amount in half, and then the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond, Va., threw out the entire verdict and award, citing First Amendment protections.  Now the court is ordering Snyder to reimburse the church $16,510 in court costs.  The VFW now wants to help the father.  "It is absolutely wrong for the court to order him to shoulder a financial burden on top of everything else," said VFW National Commander Thomas J. Tradewell Sr.  "This is a travesty at best and borders on the obscene."  A special fund has been set up to help pay the court costs, with none going to attorneys, who are representing him pro bono.  To contribute, go to www.matthewsnyder.org, or send a check payable to "Al Snyder Fund" to: Barley Snyder LLC, 100 East Market Street, York, PA 17401.  To read the VFW press release, go to http://www.vfw.org/index.cfm?fa=news.newsDtl&did=5428.  The Supreme Court case is Snyder v. Phelps. 
 
3. Gulf War Report Released: Yesterday, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki released the Gulf War Illness Task Force Report.  The report addresses concerns of veterans who deployed during the 1990-91 Gulf War, and makes recommendations to VA how they can improve care and services delivered to those veterans.  The report will be available today in the Federal Register, and be open for public comment for 30 days.  Task Force members identified seven areas where VA needs to improve services and outreach to Gulf War veterans.  According to Gulf War veteran John Gingrich, Task Force Chairman and VA Chief of Staff, "Reaching out to Gulf War veterans is not only essential to our transformation of VA, for many of us it is also personal."
 
4. Internet Crime Complaint Center: Stories abound about people getting scammed on the Internet.  Now you can complain to the the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which was established in partnership with the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center to receive Internet-related criminal complaints and refer them for law enforcement officials to investigate.  The IC3 website also lists ongoing Internet scams.  To file a complaint or more information about ongoing schemes, go to http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.

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