Jul
12

VFW: Sequestration Must End!

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)

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post10141/national-vfw-news/vfw-sequestration-must-end/

Jun
22

VFW Salutes New Agent Orange Decision

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United is saluting today’s [last week’s] decision by the Department of Veterans Affairs to begin accepting disability claims from veterans potentially exposed to Agent Orange-contaminated aircraft in the post-Vietnam era. The decision by VA Secretary Bob McDonald could now benefit as many as 1,500 to 2,100 Air Force and Air Force Reserve personnel who might suffer from any of 14 presumptive medical conditions that have been determined to be related to Agent Orange exposure.

The VA secretary made the decision to expand benefits following a 2015 report by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine on Post-Vietnam Dioxin Exposure in Agent Orange-Contaminated C-123 Aircraft. The report found evidence that those who served aboard or worked on the C-123 aircraft were exposed to the herbicide, both during and after Vietnam, when many of the aircraft remained in service for aeromedical transportation or in a mosquito abatement role back in the U.S.

“The VFW has been pushing for this decision for years,” said VFW National Commander John W. Stroud, “because something inside these aircraft was making people sick years after the plane last flew a defoliating mission in Vietnam. We thank the Institute of Medicine for determining a contributing link between exposure and the 14 medical conditions, and Secretary McDonald for making a quick call to care for more veterans.”

All airmen who were assigned to flight, ground or medical crew duties at Lockbourne/Rickenbacker Air Force Base in Ohio (the 906th and 907th Tactical Air Groups or 355th and 356th Tactical Airlift Squadrons), at Massachusetts’s Westover AFB (the 731st Tactical Air Squadron and 74th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron), or with the 758th Airlift Squadron in Pittsburgh, during the period 1969 to 1986, and who may have developed an Agent Orange-related disability, are encouraged to file a disability compensation claim through the VA’s eBenefits web portal (https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/), or to seek the free and expert assistance of a national VFW Service Officer at http://www.vfw.org/NVS/.

Read more about the today’s [last week’s] decision at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/20825/va-expands-disability-benefits-for-air-force-personnel-exposed-to-contaminated-c-123-aircraft/.

(via VFW.org)

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post10141/va-news/vfw-salutes-new-agent-orange-decision/

Apr
29

VFW Calls New VA Appropriations Bill ‘Bad for Veterans’

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

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post10141/va-news/vfw-calls-new-va-appropriations-bill-bad-for-veterans/

Apr
02

VA Makes Strides on Reducing Claims Backlog

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.

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post10141/va-news/va-makes-strides-on-reducing-claims-backlog/

Oct
05

VFW FL HQ Responds to Tragedy at VFW Post 5045

October 4, 2012

Dear Comrades and Sisters:

As I am sure most of you have heard a very unfortunate incident occurred at Post 5405 in
Winter Springs this past Sunday. There were three people shot in the parking lot of the
Post by some individuals from a motorcycle club. This incident did not have anything to
do with the VFW. There was a charity bike run to take place beginning at the parking lot
at Post 5405 and did not include any VFW members. We have been cooperating with the
various Sheriff’s units and Police units while they are doing their investigation. They have
apprehended four of the people involved in the shooting. All of the law enforcement
agencies involved in this believe this was an isolated incident but they will continue to
monitor all of the activities in and around our VFW Posts in that area.

We thank all of our members for their concern and I assure you that We Will continue to
monitor this situation so as to maintain the safety of all of our members and auxiliaries.

“No One Does More for Veterans”

Respectfully,

Wayne Carrignan
State Commander

Attest:

William J “Joe” Gault
State Adjutant/Quartermaster

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Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post10141/department-news/vfw-fl-hq-responds-to-tragedy-at-vfw-post-5045/

Jun
05

VFW: MIA Searches in Vietnam ‘Great News’

(via AP) Joe Davis, the Director of Public Affairs for the VFW, said Monday that the three new sites being opened in Vietnam to search for MIA remains is great news for the families of missing soldiers waiting for closure three decades later. (video)

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post10141/vfw-national-news/vfw-mia-searches-in-vietnam-great-news/

Jun
02

New Initiative a Positive Step for Transitioning Military

The nation’s oldest and largest major combat veterans’ organization is calling President Obama’s new “We Can’t Wait” initiative an extremely positive step that will help thousands of service members with manufacturing and other high-demand skills receive civilian credentials and licenses.

Today’s announcement tasks the Defense Department’s new Military Credentialing and Licensing Task Force to focus on industries and career fields that have an identified need for more skilled workers, such as in manufacturing, emergency response, healthcare, information technology, transportation and logistics. Within a year, the Task Force will identify military specialties that can readily transfer to these high-demand jobs; work with civilian credentialing and licensing associations to address gaps between military training programs and civilian credentialing and licensing requirements; and provide service members with greater access to necessary certification and licensing exams.

“This will be extremely beneficial for transitioning service members and hopefully their spouses, too,” said Richard L. DeNoyer, a retired Marine and Vietnam combat veteran, who leads the 2 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and its Auxiliaries.

Continue reading

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post10141/vfw-national-news/new-initiative-a-positive-step-for-transitioning-military/

Apr
23

VFW Washington Weekly, April 20, 2012

In This Issue
1. Soldier to Receive Posthumous MoH
2. VFW Testifies on Disability Claims Process
3. VFW Testifies on VeteranIs’ Health Bills
4. House Subcommittee Clears Vets’ Bills
5. VOW Act Website Launched
6. Two Korean War MIAs Identified

1. Soldier to Receive Posthumous MoH: Army Spc. 4 Leslie H. Sabo Jr., a rifleman with the 101st Airborne Division during the Vietnam War, will posthumously receive the Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony next month. Sabo is credited with saving the lives of several of his comrades in Company B, 3rd Battalion, 506th Infantry, when his platoon was ambushed near the Se San River in eastern Cambodia on May 10, 1970. Sabo shielded a comrade from an enemy grenade and silenced a machine-gun bunker before he was killed. Sabo’s unit nominated him for the Medal of Honor, but the paperwork was lost until a fellow veteran and writer for the Screaming Eagle Association magazine came across a thick file on Sabo while on a research trip to the National Archives military repository in College Park, Md. Read more at http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=67965.

2. VFW Testifies on Disability Claims Process: This week, the VFW testified as part of a panel of experts on the role of veterans’ representatives throughout the VA disability claims process. Speaking before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, our remarks centered on the importance of having a claim representative help veterans obtain benefits from VA. Currently, VFW has 1,300 accredited individuals providing assistance to veterans and survivors.
We also spoke about our VA accredited training program and the critical need for a thorough understanding of the complexities of the disability claims process and rating system.
Other panelists included DAV, the American Legion, VA and a local law firm that does litigation on behalf of veterans. To learn more about the hearing and to view the archived webcast, click here: http://www.vfwonthehill.org/2012/04/watch-live-vfw-to-testify-on-va-claims.html.

3. VFW Testifies on Veterans’ Health Bills: On Monday, VFW testified before the House Subcommittee on Health on an array of veterans health care related bills. The Committee appeared most interested in H.R. 3279, legislation which clarifies a serious illness as being eligible for caregiver benefits and H.R. 1460, which would direct VA to automatically enroll service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan into the VA health care system. The VFW also testified on H.R. 3016, which requires VA and DOD to operate a joint Federal Recovery Coordination Program, H.R. 3337, which establishes a burn pit registry for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who may have been exposed to toxins overseas and others. For our complete testimony and listing of all the bills, or to view the recorded webcast visit: http://www.vfwonthehill.org/2012/04/icymi-vfw-testifies-on-veterans-health.html.

4. House Subcommittee Clears Vets’ Bills: The House VA Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial Affairs cleared several VFW- supported bills out of committee. They now move to the full committee for a vote. They included:
H.R. 4142, which would automatically adjust the cost-of-living increase for veterans to the same percentage as social security COLA, thereby eliminating the need for legislation every year.
H.R. 2051, which provides burials for unclaimed veteran remains identified by the Missing in America project.
For a listing of all of the bills, visit the House VA Committee website at: http://veterans.house.gov/markup/markup-of-hr-4114-ans-to-hr-4142-ans-to-hr-2377

5. VOW Act Website Launched: On April 17, VA launched the VOW to Hire Heroes Act website. VFW played a critical role in getting this critical employment legislation passed into law. The site provides comprehensive information on all aspects of the VOW Act to include details about the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP), tax credits for employers, vocational rehabilitation services, the transition assistance program, and Department of Labor resources for veterans. Qualified veterans will be able to apply for the VRAP program which offers 12 months of retraining assistance directly from the site starting on May 15, 2012. VFW highlighted the new website on our blog, which you can read about here: http://www.vfwonthehill.org/2012/04/va-introduces-vow-to-hire-heroes-act.html. For more information on the new programs and benefits, click here: http://www.benefits.va.gov/VOW/

6. Two Korean War MIAs Identified: The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced the identifications of remains belonging to two soldiers who had been missing in action since the Korean War. Returned home are:
* Army Pfc. Richard E. Clapp, 19, of Seattle, Wash. On Sept. 2, 1950, Clapp and C Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, came under fire near Yulchon, South Korea. Clapp was killed in action, but the Army was unable to identify his remains at the time, and he was buried as “Unknown” in a military cemetery on the Korean Peninsula, then reinterred in “The “Punchbowl” National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.
* Army Cpl. James N. Larkin, 34, of Kirkwood, Mo. On Feb. 11, 1951, Larkin and his unit, known as “Support Force 21″ from the 2nd Infantry Division, were attacked by Chinese forces near Changbong-ni, South Korea. Following the battle, Larkin was listed as missing in action. It was later learned he had died in April 1951 from battle wounds and malnutrition while held captive in the Chinese operated POW camp known as “Bean Camp” located in North Korea.
Read more at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases/.

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post10141/general/vfw-washington-weekly-april-20-2012/

Mar
16

New VFW Promotional Video

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.

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post10141/general/new-vfw-promotional-video/

Nov
23

What Does Super Committee Failure Mean to VFW?

 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

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post10141/general/what-does-super-committee-failure-mean-to-vfw/

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