The National Veterans of Foreign Wars has unveiled their first video in their new “No One Does More For Veterans” campaign. ¬†Click below to view it.

 The congressional Super Committee has thrown in the towel and admitted they cannot reach a bipartisan agreement to cut a minimum of $1.2 trillion from the federal budget over the next decade.  Under the law passed this summer, mandatory cuts will now take place across all federal departments and agencies beginning January 2013.   

Where and how much, however, is still to be determined. 

Each cabinet secretary will decide where the cuts will be made after the White House Office of Management and Budget identifies which, if any, programs are exempt.  Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare have been mentioned as being exempt, as have veterans programs, but no one has yet identified which veterans programs. 

The VFW believes that veterans’ healthcare programs and benefits will be exempt from any cuts.  Questions remain, however, about increased co-payments for visits and prescriptions, as well as charging VA category 7 and 8 veterans an annual enrollment fee.  We will continue to monitor and report any new developments as they occur. 

Over at the Defense Department are recommendations to change the pay and benefits of those currently serving and military retirees.  The threats include changing the military retirement system for future enlistees, limiting retiree healthcare program enrollment, and imposing or increasing healthcare fees on all TRICARE programs, regardless of age.  These proposals are in addition to possible reductions in force and cuts to other quality of life programs.  The budget crisis has also forced defense hawks to choose between supporting people programs and new weapon systems development.  Sadly, some have forgotten that it still takes people to occupy territory and to operate their shiny new aircraft, ships and tanks. 

Our nation hollowed out its force after Vietnam and again after the first Gulf War.  If the past 10 years have proven anything, it is that the All Volunteer Force works, but it comes with a price and a promise to maintain the quality of life programs for those few who serve.  Since 9/11, many of the less than 1 percent of the population who volunteered to serve their nation have been deployed into the fight numerous times.  The service-connected disabilities thousands have already received will require a strong and viable military healthcare system to return them to duty, and a strong and viable VA healthcare system to meet their lifetime care needs.   

Traumatic Brain Injury, Post-Traumatic Stress, amputations, and the risk of suicide are predominate issues of a military force at war.  The preservation of military and veteran benefits, improved quality and accessible healthcare, and continued medical research into alternative treatments is how our nation can properly repay those who go into harm’s way.   

Over the next year, many in Congress as well as thousands of registered lobbyists will be working hard to protect their special interests and programs.   We must all work hard to protect the Department of Veterans Affairs health, benefits and cemetery administrations, as well as all military quality of life programs for the troops, their families and military retirees. 

I ask each of you to contact your respective members of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to demand that these programs be protected.  State Commanders and members of the National Legislative Committee must arrange individual face-to-face meetings with every member of their Congressional Delegation to alert them to our concerns.  These meetings should be in addition to your visits to your Congressional delegations during the March 2012 Legislative Conference.  I also ask that you report the responses you receive back to the VFW Action Corps at vfwac@vfw.org.  

These meetings will be in addition to a massive outreach campaign to the entire U.S. Congress that I ask National Legislative Committee members to spearhead in each state and department.  We need Congress to be flooded with letters and phone calls to protect veterans’ programs and military quality of life programs from any cuts.  This is an obligation of every member of the VFW and their families to keep the faith with our comrades who need us to be their collective voice in Washington.  Please refer to the VFW website for constant updates and the "10 for 10" issues we have raised, along with sample letters for your use.   

The VFW needs you to make your voice heard now, because the most powerful message Congress can receive is from the folks who employ them — their voting constituents.  

Thank you for your continued support of America’s heroes. 

ROBERT E. WALLACE 
Executive Director 
VFW Washington Office

The VFW joined President Barack Obama and leaders in veterans’ advocacy at the White House yesterday [Monday] to sign the VOW to Hire Heroes Act into law. This comprehensive piece of veterans’ jobs legislation passed both houses of Congress with unanimous bipartisan support before reaching the president’s desk thanks in large part to the advocacy of the VFW on the issue of veterans’ unemployment.

Over the last few years, the VFW has consistently passed a resolution at the VFW National Convention calling on Congress to address the ever-growing unemployment crisis among veterans, particularly the men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. VFW then testified in support of comprehensive veterans’ jobs legislation before both the House and Senate in the lead-up to the compromise bill that the president signed yesterday [Monday].

Both Republican and Democratic leaders, like House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash., joined the president, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden at the White House to mark the bipartisan victory that will help veterans become more marketable employees in a cut-throat jobs market.

Continue reading at VFW On The Hill

Membership recruitment video shot at the 112th National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars August 27-September 1, 2011. Our thanks to all who participated in the production. Please share this video with all of your friends and veterans on your social networks. And of course, if you have not yet joined the VFW, click here to join today!

Several headlines from the Department of Veterans Affairs in recent days.  Click the links to read the full stories.

Statement from Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki on the American Jobs Act – Shinseki comments on the proposed Act which includes support for veteran jobs.

VA Announces Expansion of Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it will expand its pilot for the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER), which enables sharing of Veterans’ health records.

VA Streamlines Online Applications for Health Benefits Renewal – Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has automated its online Health Benefits Renewal (10-10EZR) form as part of its ongoing effort to streamline access to benefits.

VA Posts Online List of Ships Associated with Presumptive Agent Orange Exposure – Veterans who served aboard U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships operating on the waters of Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, may be eligible to receive Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation for 14 medical conditions associated with presumptive exposure to Agent Orange.

America’s largest organization of combat veterans has elected a Vietnam War veteran to head the 1.5 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.

Richard L. DeNoyer, a resident of Middleton, Massachusetts, was elected VFW Commander-in-Chief on September 1, 2011, during the 112th VFW National Convention, held August 27 – September 1, in San Antonio, Texas.

Click here to read DeNoyer’s acceptance speech.

Also elected were John Hamilton, Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief, of
St. Augustine, Florida, and William Thien, Junior Vice Commander-in-Chief, of Georgetown, Indiana.

Several major measures affecting the operation of the Veterans of Foreign Wars were also approved during the business sesssion.  Click here to read a summary by North Carolina VFW Member Ken Sellers.  For more information on convention events, visit the VFW.org Summary page.

And finally, watch the slideshow below for some random photos from the convention.

Dear VFW, Ladies Auxiliary and Supporters:

The president this afternoon signed congressional legislation to raise the federal debt limit and reduce government spending. The larger question is now how this all impacts veterans, service members, their families and survivors.

The measure passed by the Senate today and in the House yesterday will raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion. An additional $500 billion could come in the fall, provided two-thirds of Congress approves. The final increase, expected early next year, would provide the Treasury enough borrowing power to pay its bills into 2013.

The deal also calls for sharp cuts in agency spending — about $917 billion over the next decade — starting with a $25 billion reduction in fiscal year 2012, which begins Oct. 1, with a second set of reductions coming later this year via a special committee charged with wringing at least $1.2 trillion more over the next decade. If the committee fails to act — or if Congress does not adopt its recommendations by Dec. 23 — government spending would be cut across the board by the same amount, with the reductions split 50:50 between security and non-security programs.

Either way, many DOD and VA programs and services could be negatively impacted, which would counteract everything the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. has worked hard to create over the past 112 years. The VFW and our supporters cannot let this happen.

On the VFW website is a list of 10 services and programs the organization believes are most vulnerable to being cut or curtailed in order to help pay for 10 years of war. The “10 for 10” list will form the basis of VFW’s legislative efforts and calls to action to its membership and grassroots supporters. Now is the time to re-engage with your members of Congress.

Yours in Comradeship,

ROBERT E. WALLACE
Executive Director
VFW Washington Office


VFW Checkpoint Magazine Mar/April 2011

In This Issue:
1. VFW Legislative Conference Wrap-up
2. Caregiver Hearing
3. GITMO Trials to Resume
4. VFW Invited to Buckles Funeral
5. Five WWII MIAs Identified

1. VFW Legislative Conference Wrap-up: More than 600 VFW and Ladies Auxiliary members attended the annual VFW Legislative Conference in Washington, DC. Highlights ranged from the selection of Kelsey Woo from California as the 2011 Voice of Democracy winner to presentations from VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Gen. James Cartwright, USMC, as well as VFW members meeting with their U.S. representatives and senators. VFW National Commander Richard Eubank hosted 100 wounded warriors and their families to dinner, and met with the Coast Guard Commandant and Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, and with the Marine Corps Commandant and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, before testifying Tuesday before a joint hearing of the House and Senate VA Committees. He met with President Obama on Wednesday to discuss issues important to America’s veterans, servicemembers and families.

Continue Reading Washington Weekly

For more information, and other video, go to www.vfw.org.