Action Corps Weekly

 
 October 20, 2017

In this issue:
1. Defense Health Agency Working Group
2. VFW to Testify on VA Health Care, Choice Program
3. VA Women Veterans Summit Webinars
4. Expect a 2 Percent COLA Increase
5. Desert Storm War Memorial Site Selection Update
6. WWII Commemorative Coin Act
7. MIA Update

1. Defense Health Agency Working Group: On Friday the VFW participated in a veterans and military service organization working group led by Mr. Guy Kiyokawa, deputy director of the Defense Health Agency (DHA). Discussions focused on implementation of the National Defense Authorization Act TRICARE changes, and the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Interim Final Rule (IFR), released Sept. 28. The IFR explains how DOD plans to implement changes and outlines the details of the new calendar year billing system, the requirement for an annual enrollment period, as well as the conversion from TRICARE Standard and Extra to TRICARE Select. The IFR also outlines the new proposed cost-share system for Select. Instead of the current percent-of-services-used model, they have implemented a flat rate model that results in higher co-pays for currently serving active-duty family members and retirees than for those individuals that enter service after Jan. 1, 2018. You can find a summary of the changes in DOD’s press release here and can find complete details here

2. VFW to Testify on VA Health Care, Choice Program: Tuesday, Oct. 24, at 10 a.m. EDT, the VFW will testify before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, alongside Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. David Shulkin. Where we will testify on the future of VA’s Choice Program and how Congress must consolidate VA’s community care programs into one program with veteran-centric eligibility criteria on when and where veterans can receive their care. Other health care legislation regarding organ transplants, nursing homes, sexual trauma and suicide will also be discussed. The hearing can be watched live on Tuesday at 10 a.m. EDT on the Committee’s YouTube page

3. VA Women Veterans Summit Webinars: After Hurricane Harvey forced Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to cancel the majority of their Women Veterans Summit in Houston for safety purposes, VA will be hosting live webinars for the discussions and panels which were cancelled. The webinars will be available to watch and/or livestream from VA’s website beginning Oct. 23. Topics covered will focus on areas ranging from employment, health care, local and federal resources and more. Click here to see the webinar schedule or to learn more.

4. Expect a 2 Percent COLA Increase: Social Security and VA compensation recipients, federal and military retirees, and their survivors should expect a 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment in their January pay, according to data released by the Social Security Administration last Friday. This will be the highest COLA since 2012. Last year’s was 0.3 percent, the year before was zero, and 2013-2015 averaged 1.6 percent.

5. Desert Storm War Memorial Site Selection Update: The Commission on Fine Arts met yesterday to further narrow the number of potential sites for the new National Desert Storm War Memorial. The process began with 18 possible sites, which was whittled to six and then three. It was anticipated that yesterday’s meeting would reduce the number to two, but the commissioners voted to keep the number at three, and require even more site feasibility research. Of the three potential sites, one is along the Potomac River and the other on E Street between the White House and State Department. The preferred site, which the VFW and the memorial foundation supports, is in a vacant corner section of Constitution Avenue and 23rd Street, NW. This location is adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial and its yet-to-be-built Vietnam War Educational Center, and is within easy walking distance of the District of Columbia’s World War I Memorial, the National WWII Memorial and the Korean War Memorial. The VFW’s support of the Desert Storm War Memorial is through the passage of Resolution 305 at the 115th VFW National Convention in St. Louis. To date, the VFW is the only national veterans organization to contribute significant financial support toward its construction, a pledged $500,000.

6. WWII Commemorative Coin Act: This week the VFW supported H.R. 4044, the 75th Anniversary of the End of World War II Commemorative Coin Act, which would authorize the creation and minting of commemorative coins in 2020 recognizing the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII. The bill was introduced by House of Representatives Republican Whip Steve Scalise and would authorize the United States Mint to produce and sell up to 50,000, $5 gold coins; no more than 500,000 silver dollars; and as many as 750,000 clad half-dollars that will depict a representation of the WWII Victory Medal, as well as other images that are representative of the sacrifices made by the millions of Americans who contributed to the war effort during WWII. A portion of the proceeds generated from the sale of the coins will go to fund the National WWII Museum’s educational mission of telling the story of the United States’ experience in WWII. The Senate companion bill, S.1718, was introduced by Senator John N. Kennedy (R-LA) earlier this year.

7. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has announced identifications of remains and burial updates of nine American servicemen who had been missing in action from World War II and the Korean War. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:

  -- Army Sgt. Philip J. Iyotte, 21, of White River, S.D., whose identification was previously announced, will be buried Oct. 25 in his hometown. Iyotte was a member of Company E, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, assigned under 8th Army. From Jan. 25 - Feb. 1, 1951, Iyotte’s unit participated in Operation Thunderbolt, a reconnaissance mission stretching 30 miles from 8th Army’s front to the south bank of the Han River. Iyotte could not be accounted for after the operation and was declared missing in action as of Feb. 9, 1951. It was later determined that he was captured by Chinese forces and moved to Camp 1 and Changsong, where he later died. Read about Iyotte.

  -- Navy Signalman 3rd Class Charles E. Nix was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, when Japanese aircraft attacked his ship on Dec. 7, 1941. Nix was one of 429 crewmen killed in the attack. Interment services are pending. Read about Nix.

  -- Marine Corps Pfc. Francis E. Drake was a member of Company C, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division. On Oct. 9, 1942, Drake’s unit participated in the main offensive action in the Battle of Guadalcanal. Drake was killed during the two-month-long battle and buried atop Hill 73 with two other Marines. Interment services are pending. Read about Drake.

  -- Marine Corps Reserve Cpl Raymond A. Barker was assigned to Company C, 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. On Nov. 20, 1943, Barker's unit landed on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll against stiff Japanese resistance. Barker 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 about Barker.

  -- Marine Corps Pvt. Edwin W. Jordan was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force. On Nov. 20, 1943, Jordan's unit landed on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll against stiff Japanese resistance. Jordan 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 about Jordan.

  -- Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Albert Strange was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. On Nov. 20, 1943, Strange's unit landed on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll against stiff Japanese resistance. Strange 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 about Strange.

  -- Marine Corps Pfc. Donald R. Tolson was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division. On Nov. 20, 1943, Tolson's unit landed on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll against stiff Japanese resistance. Tolson 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 about Tolson.

  -- Marine Corps Cpl. John V. McNichol was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force. On Nov. 20, 1943, McNichol’s unit landed on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll against stiff Japanese resistance. Over several days of intense fighting, approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were. McNichol was killed on Nov. 21, 1943. Interment services are pending. Read about McNichol.

  -- Marine Corps Sgt. Elden W. Grimm was assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 18th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force. On Nov. 20, 1943, Grimm's unit landed on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll against stiff Japanese resistance. Over several days of intense fighting, approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed. Grimm was killed on Nov. 25,1943. Interment services are pending. Read about Grimm

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