Action Corps Weekly

November 18, 2016

In This Issue:

1. Changing Directions

2. Congress Advances Veterans’ Bills

3. White House Hosts Veteran Homelessness Summit

4. TRICARE Publications Update

5. MIA Update

1. Changing Directions: Army Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc met with VFW National Commander Brian Duffy at the VFW Washington Office on Wednesday to discuss ongoing efforts to change the direction and narrative regarding the stigma associated with seeking mental health care. The general, who commands special operations forces for U.S. Africa Command and is a member of VFW Post 1670 in Laconia, N.H., is the latest senior officer to use himself as an example to his troops that seeking care is a sign of strength, not weakness, and that admitting to having post-traumatic stress is not a career-limiter. His story was featured in a New York Times article last month. Chief Duffy and VFW Auxiliary National President Colette Bishop have made mental wellness the signature issue of their year, and have already partnered with the nation’s leading mental health providers, researchers, peer support and family caregiver organizations to help change the direction and narrative regarding seeking mental health. Read General Bolduc’s story at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/08/world/africa/donald-bolduc-ptsd.html?_r=0.

2. Congress Advances Veterans’ Bills: In its first week back from the election recess, Congress has advanced a number of veterans’ bills to expand the Veterans’ Oral History Project to gold star families, require VA to improve the Veterans Crisis Line to ensure no crisis call goes unanswered and improve VA’s Automobile Adaptive Equipment Program. H.R. 4511, the Gold Star Families Voices Act and H.R. 5392, the No Veterans Crisis Line Call Should Go Unanswered Act now await the president’s signature. Stay tuned to the Action Corps Weekly for updates on these bills and other important veterans legislation.

3. White House Hosts Veteran Homelessness Summit: The White House’s Joining Forces hosted a summit Monday, Nov. 14, bringing in leadership and mayors from across the country who have been crucial in Joining Forces’ initiative to end veteran homelessness. Since 2011, the initiative has cut veteran homelessness in half – eradicating it in 35 communities across the country as well as in two states. During the event, both First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden gave speeches. Both women highlighted that though the success has been promising, the fight to completely ending veteran homelessness will continue into the new administration come 2017. To watch the summit please visit: https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2016/11/14/together-we-can-end-veteran-homelessness. To learn more about Joining Forces’ nationwide initiative to end veteran homelessness go to: https://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/veterans/ending-homelessness.

4. TRICARE Publications Update:  DOD has redesigned TRICARE handbooks, brochures, fact sheets and guides to make them more user friendly and visually appealing. To view the updated publications, visit: www.tricare.mil/publications. Please tell us what you think of the redesign by emailing the Actions Corps at vfwac@vfw.org.

5. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains and burial updates for  four American soldiers who had been missing in action since World War II and the Korean War. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:

  -- Army Pfc. William W. Cowan, 19, of White House, Tenn., will be buried Nov. 19 in Fredonia, Ohio. On Feb. 12, 1951, Cowan was a member of Company M, 3rd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, when he was reported missing in action after his unit attacked a road block set up by enemy forces near Hoengsong, South Korea. It would be later learned he had been captured but died in captivity in a POW camp in North Korea. Read more at http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/1001386/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-cowan/.

  -- Marine Corps Pfc.Wilbur C. Mattern, 23, of Oelwein, Iowa, will be buried Nov. 21, in Arlington National Cemetery. In November 1943, Mattern was assigned to Company M, 3rd 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. After several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Mattern died on the second day of the battle, Nov. 21, 1943. Read more at http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/1004088/marine-missing-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-mattern/.

  -- Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert R. Cummings, of Schoolcraft, Mich., was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 187th Airborne Infantry Regimental Combat Team, when his unit was attacked by an estimated 200,000 Chinese soldiers near the Yalu River in North Korea. He would be declared missing in action on Nov. 29, 1950. Interment services are pending. Read more at http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1007708/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-identified-cummings/.

  -- Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Frederick W. Langhorst, 24, of Yonkers, New York, will be buried Nov. 26 in Battle Creek, Michigan. On July 17, 1945, Langhorst was assigned to the 1330 Army Air Force Base Unit, Air Transport Command, and was the co-pilot of a C-109 aircraft with three other crew members on a routine cargo transport mission from Jorhat, India, to Hsinching, China, when it crashed in a remote area. An extensive search of the area failed to identify the crash site and the crew was declared deceased on July 18, 1946, and their remains designated non-recoverable. Read more at http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/1008332/airman-missing-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-langhorst/.

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.