Action Corps Weekly

June 10, 2016

In This Issue:

1. VFW Testifies before DNC Platform Committee 

2. Commission on Care Meets to Discuss Final Report

3. House Oversight Hearing on VA Academic Affiliations

4. Senate Passes Female Veteran Suicide Prevention Act

5. MIA Update

1. VFW Testifies before DNC Platform Committee: On Thursday, the director of national legislative service, Raymond Kelley, testified before the Democratic National Committee’s Platform Committee. The role of the Platform Committee is to develop policy positions for the Democratic Party. In his three minute testimony, Kelley spoke of the impact sequestration and budget caps have on fully funding VA, the future of VA health care and the need to reform the disability appeals process. Kelley’s testimony can be viewed, starting at the 6:37:40 mark, here: https://demconvention.com/platform/. On Monday, June 13, the VFW will present the same concerns to the Republican National Committee’s Platform Committee. 

2. Commission on Care Meets to Discuss Final Report: On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Commission on Care, which was chartered by Congress to recommend changes to the VA health care system, met to discuss recommendations it intends to send Congress and the president at the end of the month. The VFW has been monitoring the Commission’s work and warned them that it would denounce any recommendation that would lead to privatization of the VA health care system. To read the agenda and a summary of possible recommendations, visit: https://commissiononcare.sites.usa.gov/june-7-8-2016/.

3. House Oversight Hearing on VA Academic Affiliations: On Tuesday, the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing to discuss the relationship between VA and its academic affiliates. VA Chief Academic Affiliations Officer Dr. Robert Jesse discussed how VA’s more than 70-year relationship with its academic affiliates has assisted VA in expanding access to care for veterans, training America’s health care workforce and conducting groundbreaking research. Members of the Subcommittee discussed recent Government Accountability Office reports on issues between VA and its academic affiliates, including overpayments for health care services. To view a webcast of the hearing, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aa-zbpx6gsM.

4. Senate Passes Female Veteran Suicide Prevention Act: On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill to direct the Department of Veterans Affairs to identify mental health care and suicide prevention programs and metrics specific to women veterans. The bill was introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) after a study released by VA showed a striking increase in suicide among female veterans. The Senate bill will now go to the House for a final round of voting.

5. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains and burial updates of eight U.S. servicemen who had been previously listed as missing in action from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:

   -- Army Sgt. Harold Sparks, 21, of Seattle, will be buried June 16 in Kent, Wash. In early November 1950, Sparks was assigned to Company L, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, which was deployed near Unsan, North Korea, when enemy forces compelled the unit to withdraw. Sparks would be declared missing in action as a result of the battle that occurred Nov. 2, 1950.

   -- Marine Pfc. John F. Prince, 19, of New York City, will be buried June 17 in Calverton on Long Island. In November 1943, Prince was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Prince reportedly died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943.

   -- Army Cpl. George G. Simmons, 27, of Hamilton, Mont., will be buried June 18 in Corvallis, Mont. On Dec. 8, 1941, Simmons was assigned to Battery H, 60th Coast Artillery Regiment on the Philippine Island of Corregidor when the Japanese invaded. After the fall of Corregidor, it would be later learned Simmons had died in captivity on Nov. 19, 1942.

   -- Navy Ensign Joseph P. Hittorff Jr., 25, of Collingswood, N.J., and Navy Ensign Lewis B. Pride Jr., 23, of Madisonville, Ky., were stationed aboard the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, when the ship capsized after sustaining multiple torpedo hits on Dec. 7, 1941. Both men will be buried on June 18 –– Hittorff in South Kent, Conn., and Pride in Providence, Ky.

   -- Army Sgt. Bailey Keeton, 20, of Scott County, Tenn., is scheduled to be buried June 25 in Oneida, Tenn. In late November 1950, Keeton was assigned to Company D, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, which was deployed east of the Chosin River in North Korea, when they were attacked by an overwhelming number of Chinese forces. He would be reported as missing in action on Dec. 2, 1950.

   -- Army Air Forces Pvt. Evans E. Overbey, is scheduled to be buried July 15 in Johnston City, Tenn. In December 1941, he was assigned to the 93rd Bombardment Squadron, 19th Bombardment Group at Clark Field in the Philippines, when the Japanese attacked. It would be later learned he died in captivity on Nov. 19, 1942.

   -- Air Force Col. Patrick H. Wood, 36, of Kansas City, Mo. On Feb. 6, 1967, then-Major Wood was piloting an HH-3E Jolly Green Giant on a search and rescue mission near the Mu Gia Pass in North Vietnam when it was shot down, killing three of the four-man crew. He was assigned to Det. 5, 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron. The date and location of his burial has yet to be announced.

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