Action Corps Weekly

September 23, 2016

In This Issue:

1. A Day to Change Direction

2. Subcommittee Hearing on VA Procurement

3. Congress Advances Veterans Legislation

4. House Committee Advances Several Veterans Bills

5. Opioid and Heroin Awareness Week Discussion

6. Male Military Sexual Assault Prevention

7. Nominate a Military Child of the Year

8. MIA Update

1. A Day to Change Direction: The VFW Mental Wellness Campaign, sponsored by National Commander Brian Duffy and Auxiliary National President Colette Bishop, is continuing to move forward. On Saturday, Oct. 8, VFW Posts and Auxiliaries everywhere have been asked to participate in community service projects, as well as to host discussions on mental wellness and mental health to help reduce the stigma of seeking care for veterans and non-veterans alike. VFW is partnering with Give an Hour (www.giveanhour.org) to host “A Day to Change Direction.” As such, the VFW National Headquarters wants to know all of the great things happening at VFW Posts and Auxiliaries that day. In addition to sharing “A Day to Change Direction” photos on social media using #changementalhealth and #VFWPostPride, please e-mail photos and contact information to Janie Dyhouse at jdyhouse@vfw.org. We look forward to publicizing the great work of our VFW Posts and Auxiliaries!

2. Subcommittee Hearing on VA Procurement: On Tuesday, the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing to identify some of the issues plaguing VA and its ability to obtain resources for its health care providers. Currently, VA has multiple suppliers from which it obtains medical resources and medications. Witnesses testified that a single source provider of resources would greatly improve the care and efficiency VA offers its patients. Subcommittee Chairman Mike Coffman (R-CO), tasked VA with providing a plan moving forward that will allow for a single provider of supplies and a more efficient way of tracking them by 2017. To view the hearing, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lQl9c8gF1g.

3. Congress Advances Veterans Legislation: This week the Senate advanced four veterans bills that were recently passed by the House. The bills include H.R. 5936, the Veterans Care Agreement and West Los Angeles Leasing Act of 2016, to authorize VA to enter into needed leases in West Los Angeles; H.R. 1475, the Korean War Veterans Memorial Wall of Remembrance Act to authorize the construction of a wall of remembrance at the Korean War Veterans Memorial; H.R. 5985, the VA Expiring Authorities Act of 2016 to extend a number of important veterans programs set to expire this year and provide relief for veterans impacted by the closure of ITT campuses around the country; and H.R. 5937 to authorize the American Battle Monuments Commission to acquire, operate and maintain the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial in Marnes-la-Coquette, France. H.R. 1475 was amended by the Senate and must be reconsidered by the House before being sent to the president. The other three bills now await the president’s signature.

4. House Committee Advances Several Veterans Bills: On Wednesday, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a markup of 11 bills, which would authorize VA employees to work flexible hours and expand operating hours of VA medical facilities; authorize headstone medallions for Medal of Honor recipients buried in private cemeteries; authorize the spouses of veterans to retain their residency for tax purposes; and require VA to provide veterans information on the transferability of credits for educational programs authorized under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill program. To learn about all the bills advanced by the committee, visit: https://veterans.house.gov/legislation/markups/pending-legislation-3.

5. Opioid and Heroin Awareness Week Discussion: The Department of Justice hosted a discussion panel on Tuesday for Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week. The discussion was veteran specific and focused on exploring the intersections of substance use, mental health, homelessness, suicide and how veteran treatment courts are positively affecting those in need. Among those in attendance were Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert A. McDonald, Principle Deputy Associate Attorney General William J. Baer and Michael Botticelli, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. The panel discussions focused on tackling the difficulties stemming from opioid and heroin use in a holistic manner and on exploring how opioid and heroin use actually affects and causes difficulties such as incarceration and homelessness. For more information visit: https://www.justice.gov/opa/blog/opioid-abuse-awareness-veterans-treatment-courts-focus-roundtable-discussion.

6. Male Military Sexual Assault Prevention: The Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus held a briefing on Wednesday to discuss male sexual trauma victims. Co-chaired by Representatives Mike Turner (R-OH) and Niki Tsongas (D-MA), the two aimed at better informing Congress of sexual assaults on members of the military who are male. While female service members suffer from Military Sexual Trauma (MST) in alarmingly higher numbers than their male counterparts, male service members suffer from MST at a higher ratio and men who are assaulted are much less likely to come forward. This results in possible untreated mental health conditions which many are worried can lead to suicide. To read more about the briefing, please visit: https://turner.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/turner-and-tsongas-host-briefing-on-male-military-sexual-assault-to-give.

7. Nominate a Military Child of the Year: The military family-oriented nonprofit Operation Homefront is now accepting Military Child of the Year nominations through Dec. 5, 2016. The annual awards program, now in its 9th year, will recognize six outstanding young people ages eight to 18 with $10,000 each, new laptops, and will be flown with a parent or guardian to attend an awards gala April 6 in Washington, D.C. Nominations are also being accepted for a Military Child of the Year Award for Innovation, for youth age 13-18. The winner of this category will receive $5,000, mentorship by award sponsor Booz Allen Hamilton, as well as be flown with a parent or guardian to Washington for the gala. Operation Homefront received 502 nominations last year, with the winners ranging in age from nine to 18. For more information, go to: http://www.militarychildoftheyear.org/.

8. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has announced the identification of remains of two pilots and five soldiers who have been missing in action since World War II and Korea. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:

  -- Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Robert W. Ward, 22, will be buried Oct. 1 in his hometown of Pontiac, Mich. On Dec. 23, 1944, Ward was co-piloting a B-26C Marauder with eight other crew members when it was shot down by enemy fire while on a bombing mission near Philippsweiler, Germany. Ward and one other were reported killed in action. He was assigned to the 559th Bombardment Squadron, 387th Bombardment Group, 9th Air Force. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/906008/airman-missing-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-ward/.

  -- Army Cpl. William H. Smith will be buried Oct. 7 in Elmira, N.Y. In late November 1950, Smith was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, which was forced into a fighting withdrawal from Unsan, North Korea. He would be reported missing in action on Nov. 28, 1950. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/949853/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-smith-william/.

  -- Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Ben B. Barnes will be buried Oct. 15 in Miller, S.D. On Dec. 5, 1944, Barnes was piloting a P-51D Mustang on a bomber escort mission to Germany when he was shot down by enemy fighters northeast of Berlin. He was a member of the 361st Fighter Squadron, 356th Fighter Group. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/952187/airman-missing-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-barnes/.

  -- Army Cpl. Donald R. Hendrickson will be buried Oct. 15 in Janesville, Wis. In late November 1950, Hendrickson was a member of Headquarters Battery, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, 31st Regimental Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, when it was forced into a fighting withdrawal from east of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. He would be reported missing in action on Dec. 6, 1950. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/939146/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-hendrickson/.

  -- Army Pfc. William V. Giovanniello was a member of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, when on April 25, 1951, he would be declared missing in action after his unit was forced into a fighting withdrawal from Chorwon, South  Korea. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/949412/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-giovanniello/.

  -- Army Pfc. Everett E. Johnson was a member of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, when on Sept. 3, 1950, he was killed by enemy fire as his company was forced into a fighting withdrawal from Taegu, South Korea. Interment services are pending.

  -- Army Cpl. Roy C. Fink, 20, from New York, was assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when his unit was forced into a fighting withdrawal. Fink would be reported missing in action on Dec. 2, 1950. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/953602/soldier-killed-in-korean-war-accounted-for-fink/.

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.