Action Corps Weekly

January 13, 2017

In This Issue:

1. VA Secretary Nominated

2. Veterans Committees Leadership Changes

3. Camp Lejeune Contaminated Water Vets Get Relief

4. DOD Authorizes Online Shopping for Vets

5. VFW-SVA 2017 Student Veterans Fellowship Class

6. MIA Update

1. VA Secretary Nominated: On Wednesday, President-elect Donald Trump announced that Dr. David Shulkin, VA’s current under secretary for health, has been nominated to be the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Shulkin has served as under secretary for 18 months and has been a leading force in VA’s health care reform. He will bring continuity to VA as it continues to improve its delivery of health care. After the announcement on Wednesday, VFW Commander-in-Chief Brian Duffy had this to say regarding the selection, “The VFW is proud to support the nomination of Dr. David Shulkin as the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and we are most appreciative of his willingness to continue serving veterans and making the VA better.”

2. Veterans Committees Leadership Changes: At the start of the 115th Congress, the Senate and House Committees on Veterans’ Affairs have changed three of their four top leadership positions. On the Senate committee, Senator Johnny Isakson retains his position as Chairman, and Senator Jon Tester has been elected as the committee’s Ranking Member. On the House side, both leadership positions have changed hands. Congressman Phil Roe, M.D,. has been elected as Chairman and Congressman Tim Walz has been elected the Ranking Member. All four are long-term members of their respective committees as well as friends of the VFW. To learn more about the Senate and House committees, visit their websites at: http://www.veterans.senate.gov/; and https://veterans.house.gov/.

3. Camp Lejeune Contaminated Water Vets Get Relief: The Obama administration has agreed to pay more than $2.2 billion over the next five years to the nearly 900,000 Marine Corps veterans and their families who were stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C. between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987 and who suffer with one of the following medical conditions: Adult leukemia, aplastic anemia, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Parkinson’s disease. We will provide an update as we learn more about this decision.

4. DOD Authorizes Online Shopping for Vets: Today the Department of Defense announced that beginning November 11, 2017, all honorably discharged veterans will be granted online shopping privileges though the online military exchange. Veterans will now have access to all merchandise except for uniforms, alcohol and tobacco products. To read more about the program click here: https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases.

5. VFW-SVA 2017 Student Veterans Fellowship Class: The VFW and Student Veterans of America announced the names of 10 student veterans who will comprise the third legislative fellowship class. The announcement was made during the SVA's 9th National Conference and continues efforts by both organizations to train grassroots advocates. The semester-long program includes policy research and five days in Washington, D.C., for the VFW's Legislative Conference. To learn more, click here: http://www.vfw.org/news-and-publications/press-room/archives/2017/1/vfw-and-sva-announce-2017-student-veteran-fellowship-class.  

6. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains of nine Americans who had been missing in action from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:

  -- Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Sidney A. Cook was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. Cook's unit was one of those tasked with securing the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll. Encountering fierce resistance by the Japanese, almost 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and another 1,000 were wounded in the battle. Cook was killed on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1043288/marine-missing-from-world-war-ii-identified-cook/

 -- Marine Corps Cpl. Walter G. Critchley was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division. On Nov. 20, 1943, Critchley's unit landed on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll against fierce Japanese resistance. Critchley was killed on Nov. 20, 1943. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1043296/marine-missing-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-critchley/.

 -- Marine Corps Reserve 2nd Lt. Ernest Matthews was assigned to Headquarters Company, Headquarters Battalion, Division Special Troops, 2nd Marine Division. On Nov. 20, 1943, Matthews' unit landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll. Matthews was among approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors killed in the intense fighting. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1043278/marine-missing-from-world-war-ii-identified-matthews/.

 -- Marine Corps Pfc. James O. Whitehurst was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. On Nov. 20, 1943, Whitehurst's unit landed on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll against stiff Japanese resistance. Whitehurst was killed on the first day of the battle, one of approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors killed in the intense fighting. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1043282/marine-missing-from-world-war-ii-identified-whitehurst/.

 -- Marine Corps Pfc. Larry R. Roberts was assigned to Special Weapons Group, 2nd Defense Battalion, Fleet Marine Force. Roberts' unit landed on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll on Nov. 20, 1943. After five days of intense battle against the Japanese, Roberts was declared killed in action on Nov. 25, 1943. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1043285/marine-missing-from-world-war-ii-identified-roberts/.

 -- Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Charles E. Carlson was a P-47 pilot with the 62nd Fighter Squadron, 56th Fighter Group, Eighth Air Force. Carlson was shot down south of Bonn, Germany, during an air battle between American and German pilots on Dec. 23, 1944. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1046038/airman-missing-from-world-war-ii-identified-carlson/.

 -- Army Air Forces 1st Lt. William J. Gray was a member of the 391st Fighter Squadron, 366th Fighter Group. In April 1945, Gray flew his single seat P-47D aircraft on a dive-bombing mission in the vicinity of Lindau, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany. After strafing a truck, Gray's aircraft clipped a tree and crashed. Gray was declared killed in action on April 16, 1945. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1043300/airman-missing-from-world-war-ii-identified-gray/.

 -- Army Sgt. James W. Sharp was a member of Battery B, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, 31st Regimental Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division. In late November 1950, his unit was assembled with South Korean soldiers in the 31st Regimental Combat Team on the east side of the Chosin River, North Korea, when his unit was attacked by Chinese forces. Sharp was among 1,300 members of the RCT killed or captured in enemy territory and was declared missing on Dec. 6, 1950. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1047133/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-identified-sharp/.

 -- Marine Corps Reserve 1st Lt. William C. Ryan was an F-4B radar intercept officer with the Marine Fighter Attack Force 115, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Fleet Marine Force Pacific. While pulling out of a bombing pass over Savannakhet Province, Laos, Ryan's aircraft was hit by enemy fire. Ryan failed to eject and was declared deceased as of May 11, 1969. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1043272/marine-missing-from-vietnam-war-identified-ryan/

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.