Action Corps Weekly

May 6, 2016

In This Issue:

1. Progress, Promise, and Challenges in U.S. Veterans' Health Policy

2. VA Expands MyVA Communities

3. New Director of Center for Women Veterans

4. New Military Sexual Assault Report

5. Take the Military Family Survey

6. Invictus Games Begin This Weekend

7. V-E Day Commemoration

8. MIA Update

1. Progress, Promise, and Challenges in U.S. Veterans' Health Policy: On Wednesday, the Center for Strategic and International Studies hosted Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald to discuss his transformation of VA into a high performing organization. McDonald detailed his 12 priorities for 2016 which include improving a veteran’s experience when receiving VA health care, staffing critical positions that are vacant, and transforming information technology and supply chain processes. To view a video of his speech, visit: http://csis.org/event/progress-promise-and-challenges-us-veterans-health-policy.

2. VA Expands MyVA Communities: As part of Secretary McDonald’s MyVA transformation initiative, VA has established local community engagement boards, called MyVA Communities, around the country. These boards provide a feedback and input mechanism for local veterans, and bring together the local VA leadership to meet the unique needs of veterans in each community and facilitate the development of local solutions. VA has incorporated more than 50 community engagement boards into the MyVA Communities initiative and expects to have nearly 50 more by the end of the year. To learn about the MyVA Communities initiative or to find a local community engagement board, visit: http://www.va.gov/nace/myVA/index.asp.

3. New Director of Center for Women Veterans: The Secretary of VA has appointed Kayla Williams as the Director of the Center for Women Veterans. In this role, Williams will be the primary advisor to the Secretary on programs, policies and legislation that affect women veterans. Williams is an OIF veteran and is a long-time advocate for women veterans who has experienced the road to recovery with her husband who suffered a TBI while deployed in Iraq. To learn more about Williams, click here: http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/27420/kayla-williams-selected-new-director-vas-center-women-veterans/.

4. New Military Sexual Assault Report: Only 254, or four percent of nearly 6,100 sexual assaults reported by military service members last year resulted in court-martial convictions, according to the Pentagon’s latest report on military sexual assaults, which was released on Thursday. Although court-martial proceedings are still pending on 113 others, many reported assaults resulted in no punishment for an array of legal reasons that included lack of jurisdiction, lack of evidence, a commander's decision not to prosecute, or because the alleged perpetrator separated from the military. A full quarter of the complaints were filed as “restricted” reports, which meant the service member reporting the assault only sought health care or victims' support services, not a formal investigation. More than 500 cases were also resolved without a court-martial, which indicates non-judicial punishments and administrative discharges. About 20 percent of victims were men, which along with the total reports filed was consistent with the 2014 report. Learn more at: http://www.defense.gov/News-Article-View/Article/752797/program-director-military-sexual-assault-efforts-having-impact-but-hurdles-rema.

5. Take the Military Family Survey: Blue Star Families has asked the VFW to help distribute their 2016 Military Family Lifestyle Survey to active duty, Guard, Reserve and veteran families. The data collected provides real-time feedback from military members and families on issues ranging from operations tempo to pay and benefits, stress, caregiving and employment. The survey closes on May 31. Take it online now at: https://syracuseuniversity.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_73C1hBjjOK1eky9&RID=MLRP_1ZzNbz37XAfCy5T&Q_CHL=email.

6. Invictus Games Begin This Weekend: The second Invictus Games, an Olympic-style international competition for wounded warriors, will be held May 8-12 in Orlando, Florida.  Taking its name from the Latin word for “unconquered,” the mission of the Invictus Games is to use “the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women.” This year, 500 competitors representing 15 nations will compete in 10 athletic events. Television coverage will begin with the opening ceremony on Sunday, and continue throughout the week on ESPN2 and ESPN3. To learn more, visit: http://invictusgames2016.org/   For the complete broadcast schedule, visit: http://invictusgames2016.org/espn-broadcast-schedule/.

7. V-E Day Commemoration: A public ceremony to commemorate the 71st anniversary of Victory in Europe Day will be held at the National World War II Memorial in Washington on Mother’s Day, May 8, at 11 a.m. All WWII veterans are invited to attend and be recognized for their service and sacrifice. The WWII Memorial has very few disability parking spaces, and street parking could be limited since it’s the tourist season. Taxis to the memorial are plentiful and recommended. The two closest Metro stations, Federal Triangle and Smithsonian, are both about a half-mile away. Learn more about this and other events at: http://www.wwiimemorialfriends.org/.

8. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains of four American servicemen who had been missing in action from World War II and Korea. Being returned for burial with full military honors on a date and location to be announced are:

  -- Fireman 2nd Class James B. Boring, 21, of Vinton County, Ohio, Navy Fireman 3rd Class Edwin C. Hopkins, 18, of Swanzey, N.H., and Ensign Lewis B. Pride Jr., 23, of Madisonville, Ky., had been missing since Dec. 7, 1941, when the battleship USS Oklahoma they were aboard suffered multiple torpedo hits and capsized as it was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

  -- Army Sgt. 1st Class James P. Shunney, of Providence, R.I., was lost fighting in North Korea on Nov. 2, 1950. He was assigned to Company I, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division.

To sign up new veterans’ advocates, click here: http://capwiz.com/vfw/mlm/signup.htm.

As always, we want to hear your advocacy stories. To share your stories or photos with us, simply email them directly to vfwac@vfw.org.