Action Corps Weekly
April 15, 2016
In This Issue:
1. VFW Testifies at Two Bill Hearings
2. House Holds Hearing on IT
3. Military Construction and VA Bill Advanced by Congress
4. VA’s Commission on Care to Hold Public Meeting
5. Puerto Rican Regiment Receives Congressional Gold Medal
6. Top VFW & Auxiliary Volunteers
7. Veterans in Public Office
8. MIA Update
1. VFW Testifies at Two Bill Hearings: On Wednesday, April 13, Deputy Legislative Director Aleks Morosky presented VFW’s position on pending legislation before the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs. If enacted into law, these bills will provide special compensation to veterans who lost the use of their reproductive organs, authorize a COLA increase for 2017, improve burial benefits and protect surviving spouses from repaying VA for certain overpayments. To view this hearing click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9UOA-YJ2o8&feature=youtu.be. On Thursday, April 14, Morosky presented testimony before the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity. This bill hearing focused on legislation that will provide additional educational benefits to veterans in STEM programs, expand GI Bill usage for certain pre-apprenticeship programs, and make permanent the Vets Success on Campus program, along with other meaningful legislation. To view this hearing, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBQLbXWay8w.
2. House Holds Hearing on IT: On Thursday, April 14, the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation held a hearing to examine VA’s work to improve and implement needed improvements to its IT to support the Choice Program. The committee heard directly from VA Under Secretary for Health, Dr. David Shulkin, and Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology, LaVerne Council, on issues surrounding VA’s IT scheduling and community care provider claims processing system, as well as the new system that will support the consolidation of community care networks. To view this hearing, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEvhAk2YcMo.
3. Military Construction and VA Bill Advanced by Congress: Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee held a markup to discuss and advance the fiscal year 2017 MilConVA appropriations bill that sets funding levels for VA and DOD’s military construction accounts. The bill would provide $74.9 billion for VA’s discretionary accounts. The bill also includes two provisions that are important to VFW members. It would expand VA fertility treatment options for veterans who have lost their ability to start a family due to their military service. The bill would also prohibit VA from interfering with the medications of veterans participating in state-approved medical marijuana programs. The Senate bill’s VA discretionary appropriations are $1.4 billion above the House’s MilConVA bill’s, which was also reported out of its respective committee this week. Both bills await consideration by their respective congressional chambers. Stay tuned to the Action Corps Weekly for updates on this important legislation.
4. VA’s Commission on Care to Hold Public Meeting: VA announced that its Commission on Care will host a meeting open to the public on April 18 and 19, 2016. The commission was established by the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 and is responsible for recommending ways to better deliver health care to veterans for the next 20 years. The meeting will be held in Washington, D.C., and those who cannot attend in person can register to dial into the meeting. For more information on the meeting and how to attend by phone, visit: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/04/07/2016-07919/commission-on-care-meeting-notice.
5. Puerto Rican Regiment Receives Congressional Gold Medal: A Puerto Rican Army regiment, the 65th Infantry Regiment known as the “Borinqueneers,” was honored with the Congressional Gold Medal during a ceremony inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. The VFW-supported recognition comes more than 50 years after the unit was disbanded, and the effort was largely due to the leadership of Congressional Gold Medal Alliance chairman Frank Medina, who is a member of VFW Post 3822 in Panama. Learn more at: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2016/04/13/congressional-gold-medal-awarded-to-puerto-rican-army-regiment/.
6. Top VFW & Auxiliary Volunteers: In recognition of National Volunteer Week, the VFW is saluting two of our own for representing the VFW and the Auxiliary in the Department of Veterans Affairs volunteers of the year award. Dale Henry, of VFW Post 8884 in Vinton, Iowa, has contributed almost 2,100 volunteer hours over the past four years with the Iowa City VA Healthcare System. Mariann Hamann, of VFW Post 7546 Auxiliary in Dearborn Heights, Mich., has volunteered more than 700 hours to Ann Arbor’s VA Healthcare System, as well as serving as secretary/treasurer of the local VA Volunteer Service (VAVS) Executive Committee. From its beginning in 1946, VAVS volunteers have served alongside VA staff to provide quality care and compassionate service to all veterans. The initial group of eight national organizations has grown to more than 7,400 national and local community organizations and 75,000 active volunteers. Last year, more than 6,100 VFW volunteers donated 700,000 hours to 159 VA medical facilities, which according to the nonprofit coalition Independent Sector would equate to almost $16.5 million in salary had they been paid.
7. Veterans in Public Office: An American Enterprise Institute article released on Tuesday provides a detailed breakdown of veterans serving in federal and state elected offices. Nationally, veterans made up 72 percent of the U.S. House of Representatives and 78 percent of the U.S. Senate in 1971. Today, those percentages are 18 and 20 percent, respectively, which still doubles veterans’ representation in Congress despite being only 9 percent of the general population. Veteran status averages about 14 percent in the state legislatures, with the top five being New Hampshire (23 percent), Nevada and Alabama (22), and North Dakota and Tennessee (21), and the bottom five being Utah (5), California and Minnesota (6), and Massachusetts and Illinois (7). The article includes a political party breakdown, but does not go further into detail regarding names or congressional districts. Read more at: https://www.aei.org/publication/serving-after-serving-veterans-in-state-public-office/.
8. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has announced one burial update and the identification of remains of four sailors who had been unaccounted for since Dec. 7, 1941, when the battleship USS Oklahoma suffered multiple torpedo hits as it was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack capsized the ship, resulting in 429 casualties. Thirty-five sailors would be subsequently recovered and identified; the rest would eventually be buried as unknowns in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, better known as the Punchbowl. Being returned home for burial with full military honors on a date and location yet to be determined are Ensign Joseph P. Hittorff Jr., 25, of Westmont, N.J.; Chief Storekeeper Herbert J. Hoard; Fire Controlman 1st Class Paul A. Nash, 26, of Indiana; and Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Alfred F. Wells.
-- Army Cpl. Dudley L. Evans, 24, will be buried with full military honors on April 23 in his hometown of Greenville, Miss. He was assigned to Company G, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, engaged in a battle in the vicinity of Chipyong-ni, South Korea. It would be later learned he died in captivity after being taken prisoner on Feb. 15, 1951.
To sign up new veterans’ advocates, click here: http://capwiz.com/vfw/mlm/signup.htm.