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VFW Washington Weekly - Nov. 2, 2007

Posted at 05:46 PM on Friday, November 2, 2007 by vermont

NATIONAL LEGISLATIVE SERVICE
1. President Nominates New VA Secretary
2. VFW Testifies on VA Construction
3. SVAC holds USERRA Hearing

NATIONAL SECURITY & FOREIGN AFFAIRS
1. JPAC International Toll Free Number
2. Vietnam War MIAs Identified
3. Reserve Component Mobilization


NATIONAL LEGISLATIVE SERVICE

1. President Nominates New VA Secretary: President Bush nominated former
Army Surgeon General and combat-wounded veteran Dr. James Peake to head
the Department of Veterans Affairs. Based on his record of
accomplishments in uniform and in the private sector, VFW
Commander-in-Chief George Lisicki hopes Dr. Peake will be a strong
veterans' advocate. "We hope he will bring that same level of passion
and drive into the VA, because he certainly has the prerequisite
credentials and organizational skills to lead the second largest federal
department." To read the VFW Press release, go to:
http://www.vfw.org/index.cfm?fa=news.newsDtl&did=434.

2. VFW Testifies on VA Construction: The VFW testified Thursday before
the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health on the VA s
construction process. The VFW testified in support of full funding for
VA's construction priorities so that veterans can have first-rate health
care in clean, modern facilities. The VFW also pointed out the need for
more funding for maintenance to prevent conditions at VA's aging
infrastructure from deteriorating. For testimony and more on the
hearing, go to the House VA website at
http://veterans.house.gov/hearings.

3. SVAC holds USERRA Hearing: The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held
a hearing this week on the Uniformed Services Employment and
Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), a law that provides broad employment
and re-employment rights to members of the military. The committee
asked witnesses to speak specifically on the number of USERRA claims
being filed by returning servicemembers in connection with their
employment in the federal workforce. Chairman Akaka (D-HI) referenced a
recent law (P.L. 108-454), which provided a pilot program that gave the
Office of the Special Counsel authority to receive and investigate
federal sector USERRA claims. Older federal and private claims were
handled by the Department of Labor's Veterans Employment and Training
Service (VETS). GAO also reported to Congress the results of their
recent investigation on all federal sector USSERA claims being handled
by Labor or the Office of Special Counsel. GAO found the latter to be
better equipped to handle USERRA claims. For more on the hearing, visit
the Senate VA website at: http://veterans.senate.gov/public.

NATIONAL SECURITY & FOREIGN AFFAIRS

1. JPAC International Toll Free Number: The Joint POW/MIA Accounting
Command unveiled another method to connect with those around the world
who may have information about missing service members: an international
toll-free telephone number. The new number, 1-866-913-1286, allows
those overseas to call JPAC free of charge, and talk to historians and
military intelligence analysts about possible leads pertaining to
missing and unaccounted-for Americans. The new method provides another
option, along with JPAC's online site reporting form and email on the
JPAC website at http://www.jpac.pacom.mil. All calls will initially be
routed to JPAC's Public Affairs Office. The office will then forward
calls and messages to the appropriate section. Information gathered
from private citizens will be used to hopefully generate new case leads.
JPAC has linguists for most countries where MIAs are believed to be
located to interpret for callers who do not speak English. JPAC's
mission is to achieve the fullest possible accounting of missing service
members from past U.S. conflicts. There are approximately 88,000
unaccounted-for since World War II.

2. Vietnam War MIAs Identified: The Defense POW/Missing Personnel
Office announced that the remains of five U.S. Navy servicemen, missing
in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be
returned to their families for burial with full military honors. They
are Lt. j.g. Norman L. Roggow, of Aurelia, IA; Lt. j.g. Donald F. Wolfe,
of Hardin, MT; Lt. j.g. Andrew G. Zissu, of Bronx, NY; Chief Petty
Officer Roland R. Pineau, of Berkley, MI; and Petty Officer 3rd Class
Raul A. Guerra, of Los Angeles. On Oct. 8, 1967, Zissu and Roggow were
the pilots of an E-1B Tracer en route from Chu Lai Air Base, Vietnam,
back to the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany. Also on board were Wolfe,
Pineau and Guerra. Radar contact with the aircraft was lost
approximately 10 miles northwest of Da Nang, Vietnam. Adverse weather
hampered immediate search efforts, but three days later, a search
helicopter spotted the wreckage of the aircraft on the face of a steep
mountain in Da Nang Province. The location, terrain and hostile forces
in the area precluded a ground recovery. In 1993 and 1994, human
remains were repatriated to the United States by Vietnam, with
information that linked the remains to unassociated losses in the same
geographical area as this incident. Between 1993 and 2004,
US/Vietnamese teams, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command,
investigated the incident more than 15 times. In 2004 and 2005, the
joint teams surveyed and excavated the crash site, where they recovered
human remains and crew-related items. .

3. Reserve Component Mobilization: The total number currently on active
duty in support of the partial mobilization for the Army National Guard
and Army Reserve is 73,034; Navy Reserve, 5,895; Air National Guard and
Air Force Reserve, 7,033; Marine Corps Reserve, 7,589; and the Coast
Guard Reserve, 347. This brings the total number of mobilized Guard and
Reserve personnel to 93,898, an increase of 927 from last week.

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