27. August 2015 · Comments Off on VFW Appoints First Female Assistant Quartermaster General · Categories: National VFW News

image003KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) has appointed a 13-year Army and Desert Storm veteran as the first female Assistant Quartermaster General for the nation’s largest combat veteran service organization.

Debra Anderson was sworn in on August 23, 2015, before the VFW’s National Council of Administration. The announcement comes just days after a historical change to extend VFW Auxiliary membership eligibility to male spouses and male family members, solidifying the VFW’s commitment to membership equality for all military families.

“Since coming to the VFW in 2006, Debra has been dedicated to furthering the VFW’s mission at Post, District and National levels. I have no doubt that she will continue to ensure the VFW remains the top veterans’ service organization FOR VETERANS,” said John Biedrzycki, VFW national commander.

Prior to her appointment, Anderson served as director of Human Resources and Investment Coordinator where she managed all aspects of human resources for the VFW National Headquarters.

Anderson earned her VFW eligibility for service with the U.S. Army during Desert Storm and left the Army in 1993 as a Major. Among her numerous military decorations, she has been awarded the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal (2), Southwest Asia Service Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal and Parachutist Badge.

She graduated cum laude with a degree in Economics from the University of Missouri-Columbia and earned a master’s degree in Systems Management from the University of Southern California.

Anderson joined the VFW in 2006 at Post 7356 in Parkville, Mo., where she currently maintains her Gold Legacy Life membership. She has served as Voice of Democracy chair, junior vice commander, senior vice commander, All-American Post Commander, trustee and district adjutant.

(via VFW.org)

27. August 2015 · Comments Off on DOD Announces New Prescription Drug Policy · Categories: Veterans Healthcare

The DOD has announced a new TRICARE policy that will require military retirees and family members to obtain certain prescription drugs through the mail or at a military treatment facility (MTF). The change affects only maintenance medications. Acute medications such as antibiotics may still be obtained through retail pharmacies. Active duty military are exempt. Similar to the TRICARE for Life pharmacy mail order pilot program, generic formulary drugs will be free with home delivery and name brand formulary drugs will cost $16 for a 90 day supply. This is compared to $8 for generics and $20 for name brands currently charged at network pharmacies for a 30 day supply. There is no charge for drugs obtained at MTFs. DOD estimates this new policy will save $88 million a year for them, and $16.5 million a year for beneficiaries. Receiving a single name brand drug through home delivery rather than a retail pharmacy will save beneficiaries up to $176 per year. Affected beneficiaries will begin receiving letters on September 1 with additional information on the new policy and how to obtain waivers if necessary. For more information on TRICARE pharmacy copays, visit: http://www.tricare.mil/pharmacycosts.

27. August 2015 · Comments Off on Action Alert: Veterans Choice Program and Access Survey · Categories: National VFW News

Background: Last year, Congress passed and the President signed into law the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 (Choice Act) to improve access to health care for veterans and reduce VA appointment wait times. Since its enactment, the VFW has worked to ensure this important law serves the best interest of veterans. In the past year, the VFW has commissioned several surveys; compiled three reports; worked directly with VA officials and health care contractors; and testified before Congress multiple times on the state of the VA health care system and the implementation of the Choice Act, resulting in significant changes in the program to better serve veterans.

Action Needed: Take the VFW’s latest Veterans Choice Program and Access Survey to help the VFW hold VA accountable for delivering veterans timely access to high quality care. To take the survey, click here:

http://capwiz.com/vfw/utr/1/EUTAVCFUQO/LWFSVCFUYW/10968957876.

27. August 2015 · Comments Off on VFW Auxiliary Now Accepts Men · Categories: National VFW News

John A. Biedrzycki Jr., national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) [last week] added his official signature to the new congressional charter of its Auxiliary organization in a historical event solidifying the VFW’s commitment to membership equality for all military families.

The former Ladies Auxiliary VFW, founded in 1914, is the VFW’s highly regarded support organization and is considered its “Partner in Service.”

Under its former name Ladies Auxiliary VFW, membership within the organization was offered exclusively to female spouses and family members of any member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The gender-specific eligibility requirement remained for more than 100 years until July 20, 2015, when delegates to the VFW’s 116th National Convention in Pittsburgh voted to amend the dated by-law to extend the same membership opportunity to eligible males.

Appropriately, the Ladies Auxiliary VFW has changed its official name to the VFW Auxiliary.

“It’s an exciting time to be a member of the Auxiliary,” said National President Francisca Guilford. “Women comprise nearly twenty percent of our nation’s military, and this change allows all spouses, fathers, grandfathers, sons, grandsons and brothers to serve others in honor of their veteran.”

Currently, the Auxiliary has more than 465,000 members, a number that is now expected to sharply increase over the next year. Its members represent all 50 states, the District of Columbia, several foreign locations including Germany, Guam and Panama, and have made an impact in local communities around the globe.

Last year alone, its members worked to provide $4.6 million dollars in monetary aid to veterans, active duty military and their families, and volunteered nearly 800,000 hours in VA Medical Centers, hospitals, nursing and veterans’ homes. Auxiliary members also contributed greatly to cancer research, youth activities, civic patriotism and much more.

For more information about the VFW Auxiliary, please visit www.vfwauxiliary.org.

(via VFW.org)

12. July 2015 · Comments Off on VFW: Sequestration Must End! · Categories: National VFW News

WASHINGTON (July 10, 2015) — There was nothing shocking about Thursday’s force reduction announcement by the Army. The Budget Control Act of 2011 had dictated the terms by which America’s largest military service would incrementally shrink from a wartime high of 570,000 active-duty soldiers to 450,000. Still to come, however, is the return of mandatory sequestration in fiscal year 2016, which would further shrink the active Army to 420,000 soldiers, as well as drastically slash the operating budgets of all four military services.

“Sequestration is the most significant military readiness and national security threat of the 21st century, and despite almost universal congressional opposition to it, no member of the House or Senate has yet introduced any legislation to end it,” said John W. Stroud, national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. “Our military can beat any military in the world, but they can’t fight a Congress that is essentially forcing them to operate for a decade on only eight years’ worth of funding.”

Though the Army’s announced two-year plan to reduce its end strength by 40,000 soldiers and 17,000 civilians was preordained four years ago, Stroud said what’s important now is for the new Congress to act.

“We need both political parties to finally say ‘enough,’ not because a continued sequester will hurt civilian economies in certain congressional districts, but because a continued sequester weakens America, worries our allies and emboldens our enemies,” he said. “Our brave men and women in uniform will continue to perform and excel at every mission, but overtasking with inadequate resourcing will cost lives — American lives — which is an impending disaster the VFW will not allow. Sequestration must end!”

(via VFW.org)

29. April 2015 · Comments Off on VFW Calls New VA Appropriations Bill ‘Bad for Veterans’ · Categories: National VFW News, VA News

WASHINGTON — The national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States said the U.S. House of Representatives is set to penalize disabled veterans this week if it votes to reduce the Department of Veterans Affairs budget request by more than $1.5 billion.

“The nationwide crisis in care and confidence that erupted in the VA last year was caused in many ways by a lack of adequate resourcing that only Congress is authorized to provide,” said John W. Stroud, who leads the 1.9 million-member VFW and its Auxiliaries. “That’s why the VFW is demanding that the House amend this bill to appropriate a funding level that fully funds VA.”

In its current form, the fiscal year 2016 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill makes across-the-board cuts to all VA discretionary accounts, and drastically underfunds medical care, major construction and Information Technology accounts. Stroud said across-the-board cuts to discretionary spending is what Congress created back in 2011, but by another name, sequestration. Now the House wants to impose its own sequester on a federal department whose sole mission is to care for wounded, ill and injured veterans.

“The VA cannot fulfill its mission without proper funding, but the House for whatever reason now wants to ration care, eliminate infrastructure projects, and stop improving upon the programs and services that the VA was created to provide,” said the VFW national commander. “This bill is bad for veterans and any vote for it is unconscionable, which is why we want veterans and advocates everywhere to get involved by urging their elected officials to fully fund the VA.”

Make your voices heard here.

via VFW.org

Washington – The federal initiative to provide timely decisions on disability payments to Veterans has crossed a major milestone in its final sprint to eliminate the backlog of Veterans’ benefits claims.

The major transformation effort to apply new technology and process solutions has paid off at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It reduced its inventory of backlogged claims from a high of 611,000 claims in March of 2013 to fewer than 200,000 this week, while at the same time improving decision quality.

“Make no mistake, we’re not slowing down short of the finish line,” said Under Secretary for Benefits Allison Hickey. “Our goal is to eliminate the claims backlog by the end of 2015 – meaning all Veterans will receive timely and accurate decisions on their disability claims.”

Hickey credited a combination of factors for the 67-percent drop in backlog: first, the extra hours of work put in by dedicated benefits claims processors across the nation, who have worked evenings, Saturdays and Sundays to drive the backlog down; as well as procedural efficiencies backed by powerful automation tools and paperless claims processing. In addition, she cited the transformation of Veterans Benefits Administration’s training and quality assurance programs resulting in steady increases in the accuracy of decisions.

Just a few years ago, claims processors handled 5,000 tons of paper annually, an amount equivalent to 200 Empire State Buildings. In less than two years, VA converted claims processing to a 21st Century digital environment where claims for VA benefits and services can be submitted and processed, and benefits delivered, online.

Veterans increasingly are filing claims electronically from the start at https://www.ebenefits.va.gov. Veterans can submit their applications online, upload their supporting documentation, and check the status of their claim through a multi-channel Web portal boasting nearly 60 self-service features.

(via VA Press Release)

Veterans may also visit their local VFW Post for assistance with their claims process.

02. July 2014 · Comments Off on General Orders – July 2015 · Categories: General Orders

GENERAL ORDER NO. 1

2014-2015 SERIES

 

  1. Having been duly elected at the 79th State Convention on June 8, 2014 and properly installed as Commander, Department of Alabama, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, I Calvin Underwood hereby assume command.

 

  1. The following officers having been duly elected and installed will be accorded the proper recognition:

Sr. Vice Commander – Johnny Waller, Post 4572, Wetumpka, AL

Jr. Vice Commander – Walter Dempster, Post 6226, Arab, AL

Quartermaster – Charles Stephens, Post 3128, Ft Payne, AL

Judge Advocate – Wayne Dial, Post 924 Anniston, AL

Surgeon – Max Hyatt, Post 6226, Arab, AL

Chaplain – Valentin “Val” Obregon, Post 3568, Bay Minette, AL

Immediate Past Commander – Greg Usrey, Post 2702, Huntsville, AL

District 1 Commander – John Schmitz, Post 5162, S Huntsville, AL

District 2 Commander – George Jones, Post 6073, Scottsboro, AL

District 3 Commander – Martin Kiewel, Post 1762, Bessemer, AL

District 4 Commander – Alvin Morrow, Post 4758, Pell City, AL

District 5 Commander – James “J W” Vaught, Post 5180, Ft. Mitchell, AL

District 6 Commander – Luther Parden, Post 5106, Thomasville, AL

District 7 Commander – Michael Naro, Post 3073, Dothan, AL

District 8 Commander – Ronnie Doege, Post 5658, Elberta, AL

 

3       The following appointments are hereby announced:

Adjutant – Johnny Waller, Post 4572, Wetumpka, AL

Chief of Staff – Jerry Anger, Post 6173, Brookside, AL

Inspector – Stephen Connolly, Post 6837, Boaz, AL

Sgt.-at-Arms – Don Collum, Post 10774, Falkville, AL

Department Service Officer – Lorenzo Landrum, Post 10366, Montgomery, AL

Convention Committee Chairman – Charles Stephens, Post 3128, Fort Payne, AL

 

  1. All previous appointments are hereby null and void.

 

  1. All other appointments are posted on the website at www.alvfw.org. These comrades will be accorded the proper recognition.

 

  1. GENERAL ORDERS: All material in State General Orders are directive in nature and will be read to the membership at the Post regular membership meetings each month.

 

  1. ATTENTION COMMANDERS: all levels are directed to Section 703 of the National By-Laws which requires that each accountable employee and officer(s) be bonded with an Indemnity Company in the sum at least equal to the amount of liquid assets for which he/she may be accountable.

 

  1. The next Business Session of the 2014-2015 Council of Administration will be July 11, 2014 at 4:00 PM at the Birmingham Marriott. Any member having any item(s) to come before the Council should contact their representative and provide them with the information.

 

  1. ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES VISITS: All Commanders are required to notify the Department as soon as possible and no later than 72 hours after any contact by phone, letter or visit by Federal, State or Local Enforcement Officers of the ABC Board, IRS Office, local Sheriff, Police Departments or any other agencies of their visit and any violation, request noted or any information requested.

 

  1. CONTROL OF UNITS: National By-Laws Section 709 states, “No Post, County Council, District or Department and no activity, clubroom or holding company or unit sponsored, conducted or operated by, for or on behalf of any Post, County Council, District or Department may own any property jointly or in common with any individual, firm, partnership, association, corporation or other business or charitable entity, including veterans organizations nor may they participate in any arrangement whereby the funds of such Post, County Councils, District or Department or activity clubroom, holding company or unit sponsored, conducted or operated by, for or in its behalf are expended on property held by another entity for the joint used of such Post, County Council, District and Department and other individuals, firms, partnership, associations, corporation or other business or charitable entities, including veterans organizations.”

 

  1. Any VFW Post loaning, renting, leasing or allowing use of in anyway their VFW Post facilities or property to any civic, military or other Veteran’s organization will have a signed rental or lease agreement if for one (1) time or for a year with a hold harmless agreement included in the signed document. A copy of the agreement must be submitted to the State Commander at Headquarters at least seventy two (72) hours prior to the use of the facilities by the other party to insure proper compliance.

 

  1. WEARING OF HATS: Attention of Commanders, at all levels, are directed to action of the National Council of Administration prohibiting the wearing of VFW sport caps and/or western style caps at VFW meetings in place of the regulation cap of the VFW official uniform as set forth in Section 803 of the National By-Laws and Manual of Procedure. This prohibition is in accordance with previous directive of Commanders-in-Chief that it is held to be objectionable and contrary to accepted rules of order and proper decorum implicit in the ritual of the Veterans of Foreign Wars to permit the wearing of other than the official VFW caps at VFW meetings. This also applies to informal meetings.

 

  1. POST DUES RESERVE: Attention is directed to Section 218, Manual of Procedure, which mandates Post Quartermasters to maintain a dues reserve fund to which shall be credited no less than one/half of the Post’s part of the current year’s dues paid by each member prior to July 1, except dues remitted by the post. No post Quartermaster shall disburse, nor shall an obligation be incurred against this fund until after July 1, at which time it shall be transferred to the Post General Fund and be available for expenditure.

 

  1. ATTENTION OF POST COMMANDERS: are directed to Section 218, Manual of Procedure, Duty of Trustees, which states that Post Trustees shall prepare and submit quarterly, through their Post Commander, a Post Trustees Report of Audit (Supply Department Stock No. 4212) to the Department Quartermaster. The first report is due at the close of the Quarter June 2014. Post must have audit to Department Headquarters no later than 31 July 2014. Do not mail these reports to National Headquarters.

 

  1. BUDDY POPPY: 2014-2015 Buddy Poppies will cost $65.00 for 500 and $130.00 for 1,000. This includes postage. Minimum order is 500. Order early for Veterans Day. Support the disabled veterans in the VA Hospitals that make Buddy Poppies by having a great program for 2014-2015.

 

  1. A House Committee is elected to act as management for the business affairs at the club. State VFW Club Regulations for Alabama Organizations and By-Laws explains in detail their overall responsibilities.

 

  1. NOTICE: National By-Laws Article II Section 213 requires that the office of Quartermaster be bonded, that the Post be properly insured and that all trustee audits be submitted on time. Failure to comply will subject your Post Charter to suspension.

 

  1. MANDATORY: National By-Laws and Manual of Procedures Article II Section 218 (a) (1) K requires the Commander, and in his absence the Sr. Vice and in the absence of both of the them the Jr. Vice Commander to attend all properly called District meetings. There will be no exceptions to this requirement.

 

  1. The Congressional charter “An Act” Section 5 and the National By-Laws Article 1 Section 101 describe in detail the requirements for membership in the VFW and it does not allow for any type of Honorary or Associate membership, PERIOD.

 

  1. All members are required to follow the proper chain of command prior to calling or writing National Headquarters. A copy of the letter written to National must be sent to State Headquarters.

 

  1. All Posts must participate in the core programs listed in the Roster and Program book. Programs, especially membership, are the VFW and not the canteen. Without doing the programs it is not the VFW and there will be no canteen.

 

  1. National Special Order No. 324, dated June 19, 2014 ordered that Cynthia J Watson, Life member no. 9371286, Wiregrass Post No. 3073, Dothan, Alabama ordered Cynthia J Watson not be allowed to hold a Post or District office for two (2) years, a State office for three (3) years or the Office of State Quartermaster or State Adjutant for ten (10) years in the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.

 

 

BY ORDER OF:

                                                                                                            CALVIN UNDERWOOD

                                                                                                            STATE COMMANDER

            OFFICIAL:

               Johnny Waller

            JOHNNY WALLER

            STATE ADJ-QM

During today’s [Wednesday’s] testimony before a joint hearing of the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committees, the national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW) expressed the organization’s deep concern over America’s disregard for veterans.

“What concerns the VFW and patriots everywhere is that America has forgotten that OUR NATION IS STILL AT WAR,” explained William A. Thien, commander-in-chief of the VFW. “We have 38,000 men and women stationed inside Afghanistan fighting to ensure the country doesn’t become a terrorist training ground again. We have another 30,000 stationed in South Korea helping to preserve a 61-year-old ceasefire that is looking more and more tenuous.  We have tens of thousands more service members stationed abroad helping to bring peace and stability, and humanitarian assistance when and where it’s needed.”

Thien went on to address the war now being waged on American soil as well, reminding lawmakers of the ongoing veterans’ fight to retain their promised benefits and Quality of Life programs. He noted the passage of the recent COLA penalty, an initiative that VFW was adamantly against since its introduction late last year. “Some believe the cost of war ends when the last troops leave Afghanistan. We know this is not true, and that is why we need a fully funded state-of-the-art VA health care system, benefits programs and cemetery system.”

He pledged that the more than 1.9 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliaries will fight to preserve the safety and security of America and the viability of its All-Volunteer Military. He also vowed to fight attempts to force veterans, service members and their families to shoulder an unfair share of the nation’s debt, and promised to continue the fight for adequate funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as for advance appropriations for its programs.

Thien explained to Congress that the VFW’s mission is to ensure that a nation that creates veterans fulfills its sacred duty to care for them when they return home. “The VFW exists to serve veterans, and that includes representing them in Washington where the voice of one veteran is often overlooked and the voice of servicemen and women is prohibited.

“Everything the VFW wants costs money, but everything the VFW wants is for someone else—someone from every city and town in every congressional district, and in every state and territory who swore an oath of allegiance to protect and defend our great country and its Constitution,” Thien stated.

Read the entire testimony.

Click here to see full testimony plus Q&A

The winners of the VFW and Ladies Auxiliary sponsored Voice of Democracy audio-essay competition and the Patriot’s Pen essay competition were announced yesterday[Monday] during the 2014 VFW Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.

The Voice of Democracy program celebrated its 67th year with this year’s theme, “Why I’m Optimistic About Our Nation’s Future.” The first-place winner, Madison Haley, sponsored by VFW Post 777 and Ladies Auxiliary in Mount Pulaski, Ill., received an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., where she was presented with the T.C. Selman Memorial Scholarship Award in the amount of $30,000. The second-place winner, Grace Speas, sponsored by VFW Post 10097 and Ladies Auxiliary in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., received the $16,000 Charles Kuralt Memorial Scholarship Award. The third-place winner, Luke Ball, sponsored by VFW Post 2573 and Ladies Auxiliary in Wilmington, N.C., received the $10,000 VFW Scholarship Award. All other state winners received at least a $1,000 college scholarship. More than 40,000 students participated in this year’s competition.

Read Madison Haley’s award-winning essay.

See the complete list of all winners.

The Patriot’s Pen program is designed to foster patriotism by allowing students the opportunity to express their opinions on democracy based on an annual theme, this year’s being, “What Patriotism Means to Me.” The first-place winner, Alexis Canen, sponsored by VFW Post 1125 and Ladies Auxiliary in Glendive, Mont., received an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., where she received a $5,000 award. The second-place winner, Noelle Nakaoka, sponsored by VFW Post 2875 in Ewa Beach, Hawaii, will receive a $4,000 award. The third-place winner, Olivia Leising, sponsored by VFW Post 9357 in Cambridge, Neb., will receive a $3,500 award. More than 111,000 students participated in this year’s competition.

Read Alexis Canen’s award-winning essay.

See list of all winners.

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