Jul 04

Commander-In-Chief Independence Day Message

As we celebrate the 232nd anniversary of our nation's independence, let us pause to remember the victories in battle and the blood that was shed to preserve our freedoms. Let us give thanks to our forefathers for their vision of liberty, life and the pursuit of happiness. Most importantly, let us pay tribute to our nation's greatest assets: our servicemen and servicewomen in uniform who so proudly serve our nation in peace and defend our freedoms in war. We salute you for your dedication to duty and service to country. Thank you from the 2.4 million members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and its Auxiliaries.

God bless America.

George Lisicki
VFW Commander-in-Chief

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/commander-in-chief-independence-day-message/

Jul 01

President Signs New GI Bill Into Law

KANSAS CITY, Mo., June 30, 2008 – President Bush’s signature today on a new GI Bill for the 21st Century is being hailed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. as a tremendous victory for a new generation of military servicemen and women who have been at war for almost seven years.

"This is a tremendous victory for America's veterans, military and their families," exclaimed VFW national commander George Lisicki, a Vietnam combat veteran from Carteret, N.J.

"I salute Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) for his determination to get this bill passed, the president for his strong support of our military, and the entire VFW membership for their untiring effort to get their congressional delegations to cosponsor S. 22 or its companion bill in the House, H.R. 5740.”

The new 21st Century GI Bill will pay the highest in-state public tuition rate, and provide for books, fees, and a living stipend. It eliminates the $1,200 enrollment fee, extends the use-or-lose benefit requirement from 10 to 15 years, and greatly enhances the amount paid to Guard and Reserve members. The new GI Bill automatically adjusts itself as tuitions increase, and provides a dollar-for-dollar tuition match for private colleges and universities who choose to participate in the program. A new provision added to the bill also allows reenlisting servicemembers to transfer their educational benefit to their spouse and/or children.

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Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/president-signs-new-gi-bill-into-law/

Jun 27

VFW Washington Weekly – June 27, 2008

In This Issue:
1. New GI Bill Ready for President's Signature
2. House VA Committee Hearings
3. Senate Moves Vet Bills
4. Congress on 4th of July Recess

1. New GI Bill Ready for President's Signature: One of VFW's top legislative priorities has become a reality. The Senate, in a late night vote (92-6), passed a new GI Bill for the 21st Century. The House had passed their version June 19 by a vote of 416-12. President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law next week. This legislation is a major victory for the VFW, who has been lobbying for a new GI Bill for the 21st Century for the past 10 years, and who led all veterans' service organization to ensure the passage of the legislation that Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) proposed on his first in office in January 2007.

The new GI Bill will pay the highest in-state public tuition rate, and provide for books, fees, and a living stipend. It eliminates the $1,200 enrollment fee, extends the use-or-lose benefit requirement from 10 to 15 years, and greatly enhances the amount paid to Guard and Reserve members. The new GI Bill automatically adjusts itself as tuitions increase, and provides a dollar-for-dollar tuition match for private colleges and universities who choose to participate in the program. A new provision added to the bill allows reenlisting servicemembers to transfer their educational benefit to their spouse and/or children. VFW wants to thank every National Legislative Committee member and the entire Action Corps for helping us bring this long-term goal to fruition.

To read VFW's Press Release, go to: http://www.vfw.org/index.cfm?fa=news.newsDtl&did=4614

Read more Washington Weekly

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/vfw-washington-weekly-june-27-2008/

Jun 26

VFW Says 'Thank You!' for New GI Bill

WASHINGTON, June 26, 2008 – The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is saluting Congress for the overwhelming passage of a new GI Bill for the 21st Century. The bill, S. 22, the "Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act," was attached to the war funding supplemental that the House passed June 19 and the Senate is predicted to approve this evening. President Bush is expected to quickly sign it into law.

"This is a tremendous victory for America's veterans, military, and their families," exclaimed VFW national commander George Lisicki, a Vietnam combat veteran from Carteret, N.J., "and we have Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia to thank for his rock-steady determination to get this bill passed."

S. 22 captured the VFW's immediate attention when Webb introduced it on his first day in office, Jan. 4, 2007. His bill – which increases college assistance for veterans – was overshadowed last year by increased calls to end the war in Iraq and the administration's sudden announcement to surge 30,000 additional troops into Iraq. But Webb, the former Secretary of the Navy under the Reagan Administration and a Marine Corps infantry officer who received the Navy Cross for heroism during the Vietnam War, pressed on, fortified by the challenge to get his bill heard.

He worked for more than a year to build a coalition of allies, not only within his own Democratic Party, but from across the aisle and within the House. These allies include 57 other Senate cosponsors, to include five fellow GI Bill beneficiaries: Vietnam veteran Chuck Hagel (R-NE), World War II and Korean War veteran John Warner (R-VA), and World War II veterans Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Daniel Inouye (D-HI).

S. 22's companion bill in the House, H.R. 5740, was introduced by Harry Mitchell (D-AZ) and Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL), and it garnered 302 bipartisan cosponsors, to include Korean War veteran Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Sam Johnson (R-TX), a veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam Wars, who was held as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for nearly seven years.

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Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/vfw-says-thank-you-for-new-gi-bill/

Jun 19

VFW Demands Accountability Over Chantix Issue

WASHINGTON (June 19, 2008) – "Enough is enough," said George J. Lisicki, the national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S., in response to today's Washington Times article that provides additional information about the potential lethal effect a prescribed drug is having on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder-diagnosed veterans who volunteered for a Department of Veterans Affairs smoking cessation program.

"Those in the VA who failed to properly serve America's veterans must resign their positions," said Lisicki, a Vietnam veteran from Carteret, N.J. "If not, then the VA secretary must take decisive action to terminate them."

The smoking cessation research program uses the drug Chantix, which Food and Drug Administration officials say helps people to stop smoking, but according to a Washington Times/ABC News investigative report on Tuesday, Chantix has also been linked to almost 40 suicides and more than 400 incidents of suicidal behavior. The drug's manufacturer and the FDA have recently cautioned healthcare providers about adverse side effects that could produce changes in behavior ranging from anxiety and depression to suicide.

All 940 veterans enrolled in the VA's smoking cessation program have PTSD. A test group of 143 of them were prescribed Chantix, which is also known as Varenicline.

Lisicki questions why VA clinicians who knew of Chantix's hazardous side effects would allow veterans suffering from PTSD to continue taking it, because "professional ethics and common sense just dictates that clinicians would stop their patients from taking the drug just to err on the side of safety for the veterans and their families," he said. As of May 21, the Federal Aviation Administration banned the use of Chantix by airline pilots and air traffic controllers.

The VFW national commander also questions the leadership ability of those who oversee these types of medical research programs, asks why it took the VA two more days before revealing additional details of those in the study; and wonders what other information has yet to be uncovered. Aside from Chantix, other drugs that are were reported to currently being used to treat veterans with PTSD are the anticonvulsant Divalproex, and the antidepressants Paroxetine, Mirtazapine and Citalopram, all of which carry warnings of potential suicidal side effects.

"The VA is known for quality healthcare that is delivered by highly trained and educated medical professionals and staff, but in recent weeks, the American public has read stories accusing the department of not properly taking care of veterans with mental health problems, to include veterans attempting suicide under VA care. These stories, to include the well-documented veterans' claims backlog, are having a negative cumulative effect on the overall image of the VA," said Lisicki.

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Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/vfw-demands-accountability-over-chantix-issue/

Jun 14

Happy Birthday, Army – June 14th Marks 233rd Anniversary

(via VFW.org)

This year, the U.S. Army celebrates 233 years of warrior's ethos: fearless determination and strength. Organized as the Continental Army June 14, 1775, the U.S. Army has been a formidable force in the defense of our nation and its interests worldwide. From the American Revolution to the war on terrorism, the men and women of the U.S. Army have always put duty above self, always ready for battle and always prepared to defend our nation's way of life.

From the 2.3 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliaries, we want to issue a worldwide 'thank you' to all of America's soldiers, past and present. We appreciate your courage and sacrifice and pray for your safety.

How fitting it is that it is on the day America honors her soldiers, we also honor the symbol of our freedom – the American Flag – on its special day.

George Lisicki, VFW National Commander

Listen to The National Defense VFW radio interview with Brig. Gen. Jeff Phillips, deputy chief of Army public affairs, on today's Army.

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/happy-birthday-army-june-14th-marks-233rd-anniversary/

Jun 14

VFW Washington Weekly – June 13, 2008

In This Issue:
1. VA Funding Given a Boost
2. Wounded Warrior Hearing
3. House Committee Moves Vet Bills
4. New USAF Leaders Nominated

1. VA Funding Given a Boost: The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction/VA marked up a bill that would provide the VA $4.6 billion more than last year. Included in the FY 2009 funding package are resources to hire 1,400 new claims processors, and increases to address the maintenance at VA medical facilities – an issue the VFW testified on during the budget process. The bill also provides additional caseworkers and medical services for homeless veterans, and $3.8 billion for mental health and substance abuse programs. The committee also included a provision to increase oversight on programs that provide mental illness, PTSD, suicide and military sexual trauma services to veterans. For a complete breakdown of the bill, visit the committee website at: http://appropriations.house.gov/pdf/EdwardsSubMarkup06-12-08.pdf

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Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/vfw-washington-weekly-june-13-2008/

Jun 13

VA Reaching Out to Vets with Mortgage Problems

WASHINGTON – Many home owners have found it difficult recently to pay their mortgages, but quick intervention by loan counselors at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has actually reduced the number of veterans defaulting on their home loans.

“VA is reaching out to veterans — both those who use our home-loan guaranty program and those who don’t take advantage of our guaranties — to keep people in their homes,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake. “I’m proud of our solid record of success in helping veterans and active-duty personnel deal with financial crises.”

Accounting for much of this success are VA counselors at nine regional loan centers who assist people with VA-guarantied loans avoid foreclosure through counseling and special financing arrangements.  The counselors also can assist other veterans with financial problems.  VA counselors have helped about 74,000 veterans, active-duty members and survivors keep their homes since 2000, a savings to the government of nearly $1.5 billion.

Depending on a veteran’s circumstances, VA can intercede with the borrower on the veteran’s behalf to pursue options — such as repayment plans, forbearance, and loan modifications — that would allow a veteran to keep a home.

To obtain help from a VA financial counselor, veterans can call VA toll-free at 1-877-827-3702.  Information about VA’s home loan guaranty program can be obtained at
www.homeleans.va.gov

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/va-reaching-out-to-vets-with-mortgage-problems/

Jun 07

VFW Washington Weekly – June 6, 2008

In This Issue
1. House VA Committee Reviews Health Bills
2. Senate Holds Hearing on Current VA Outcomes on PTSD
3. SECDEF Fires Air Force Leaders
4. TRICARE Bill for Reserve Retirees Introduced
5. Korean War MIA Identified

1. House VA Committee Reviews Health Bills: This week, VFW provided testimony to the House Veterans Affairs' Subcommittee on Health. The Committee reviewed five health-related bills designed to improve and enhance health care options for veterans using VA. VFW supported the following bills:
HR 4463 "The Veterans Health Care Quality Improvement Act," would enforce and ensure higher uniformed professional standards as well as addressing recruitment and retention among health care professionals within VA.
HR 5888, a bill that would allow veterans to be reimbursed for emergency medical treatment provided them outside VA facilities.
HR 6114, legislation that would simplify and update National standards for HIV testing within VA.
HR 6122, "The Veterans Pain Care Act of 2009" would direct VA to implement comprehensive policies on pain management for veterans seeking care in VHA.
To read our testimony or for more on the hearing visit the House VA website at: http://veterans.house.gov/

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Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/vfw-washington-weekly-june-6-2008/

May 28

VFW Washington Weekly – May 23, 2008

In This Issue:
1. Tough Fight Still Awaits New GI Bill
2. House Passes Vet Bills
3. Senate Healthcare Hearing
4. House Approves FY09 NDAA
5. Congress in Recess

1. Tough Fight Still Awaits New GI Bill: The Senate voted 75-22 to advance the VFW-backed GI Bill for the 21st century, but no one is celebrating yet, because S. 22 is attached to a war supplemental funding bill that also includes billions in domestic spending that the president said he would veto. Though there is still a long way to go before the 21st century GI Bill becomes reality, all VFW members should take great pride in yesterday's overwhelming affirmation in the Senate. The Senate package now goes to the House to reconcile differences. The House passed the 21st century GI Bill last week by a vote of 256-166.
Go here to see how your senator voted.
Go
here to see how your representative voted.

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Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/vfw-washington-weekly-may-23-2008/

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