Sep 06

Patience Urged for Iraq Progress Report

VFW commander says 'A nation doesn't go to war to lose'

WASHINGTON (September 6, 2007) – The new national commander of America's oldest and largest organization of combat veterans is urging patience as the nation awaits the progress report next week by Army Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker.

George Lisicki, who was elected last month to lead the 2.3 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and its Auxiliaries, said the nation must carefully evaluate the report not so much for the accomplishments it will mention, but for the signs of progress and recommendations that the U.S. mission in Iraq can succeed with adequate time and resources.

"War is an ugly business that begins and ends in the political arena, but the bottom line is a nation doesn't go to war to lose," said Lisicki, a Vietnam combat veteran from Carteret, N.J.

"The critics and pundits say Iraqi politicians can't put their sectarian differences aside. I say a reliable security environment increases economic opportunities which forces politicians to work together," he explained. "That is exactly what is happening today in Iraq's largest province, Al Anbar, which a year ago was deemed a lost cause because of sectarian violence and foreign insurgents. Peace and stability breeds productivity and political reconciliation."

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Sep 06

Senate Approves Increase in VA Funding

By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – The Senate Thursday brushed past Bush administration protests and passed legislation containing big budget increases for medical care for veterans.

The Senate approved the Department of Veterans Affairs budget bill by a 92-1 vote, with conservative Jim DeMint, R-S.C., casting the sole "nay" vote. The overwhelming margin illustrated why the White House backed away from a veto threat issued in May and has signaled President Bush will sign the bill, even though it breaks his budget by $4 billion.

The bill, which also provides huge budget increases for construction at U.S. military bases, is only the second of the 12 annual spending bills for the budget year beginning Oct. 1 to pass the Senate.

It's also the only bill exceeding Bush's budget requests not laboring under a veto threat. As such, it's a potential vehicle to carry other spending bills to either evade Bush vetoes or force the president's GOP allies in Congress to cast politically difficult votes.

The bill rewards the VA with an almost 10 percent budget increase of $3.2 billion for its health care accounts next year — on top of $1.3 billion added for health care to the Iraq funding bill passed in May.

The bill adds $395 million to Bush's already whopping $8.2 billion increase for construction projects at military bases and other Defense Department facilities, including domestic bases that are being expanded to accept troops now stationed in Germany and South Korea.

Overall, the measure provides $65 billion in funds provided at lawmakers' discretion, 7 percent more than requested by Bush, and $41 billion in veterans disability benefits whose formulas are set by other statutes.

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Aug 27

National Convention Notes and Information

The nation’s largest association of combat veterans has elected George Lisicki its new national commander during the Veterans of Foreign War’s annual convention, held August 18-23 in Kansas City–home of the VFW National Headquarters. A Vietnam War veteran from New Jersey, Lisicki has been involved with the VFW for 36 years.  (Click here for bio)

In his acceptance speech, Lisicki announced his "Veterans Forever Serving" theme for his year as Commander-in-Chief  and challenged VFW members to welcome a new generation of war veterans:

"Today, Vietnam veterans stand proudly beside our combat brothers from previous wars, but I am starting to worry that my generation is now treating current war vets the same as we were first treated.

General Colin Powell once said that leadership is about solving problems … that the day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them because they have either lost confidence that you can help or have concluded that you do not care. General Powell said either case is a failure of leadership.

What signals are we sending to this new generation? We beat down their doors to get them to join … we encourage them to run in Post elections … and then we don’t listen to their ideas? That’s a sure-fire way to lose membership and participation in my book."

(Click here to read Lisicki's acceptance speech)

Other Convention notes:

  • C-Span has made available videos of the full speeches of the Presidential Candidates who spoke to delegates at the convention.  (Videos may available for only a limited time and require RealPlayer.)  Click here for the videos of Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Fred Thompson and Barack Obama.  (Click here if you have problems playing the videos.)
  • Video of President George W. Bush's speech at the convention is now available from
  • A list of actions taken on Resolutions and Bylaws is available here.  A corresponding list of resolutions is available here (.pdf).
  • A listing of photos from the convention is being maintained here in the VFW WebCOM Membership Forum.

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Aug 16

VFW Wants Candidates to Focus on Future; President Speaks to Convention Delegates Wednesday

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16, 2007–The attention of America's 24 million military veterans will be on Kansas City, Mo., next week when President George W. Bush and four leading candidates for his job in the 2008 election will address the 108th National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S.

Speaking Monday are Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and John McCain (R-AZ). Speaking Tuesday will be former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL). The president will address the audience of 5,800 VFW and Ladies Auxiliary delegates on Wednesday.

"It is unprecedented to have leading candidates address our organization before they have their respective party's nomination," said VFW Commander-in-Chief Gary Kurpius, a Vietnam combat veteran from Anchorage, Alaska.

“What we want to hear is how, if elected to our nation’s highest office, they will prosecute the war on terrorism. We want to hear how they will protect America, what their positions are on national security, military readiness and homeland security, and how they will enhance military and veteran healthcare programs, increase benefits, and expand Quality of Life initiatives,” he said.

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Aug 13

President to Speak at VFW Convention

President George W. Bush and Past VFW Commander in Chief John Furgess at the 2005 VFW National ConventionWASHINGTON, Aug. 13, 2007–President George W. Bush has accepted an invitation to speak at the 108th National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S., which starts this weekend in the hometown of the VFW’s national headquarters, Kansas City, Mo.

“It is a time-honored tradition for our nation’s leader to address the national convention of America’s oldest and largest organization of combat veterans,” said VFW Commander-in Chief Gary Kurpius, a Vietnam veteran from Anchorage, Alaska. “We are grateful to President Bush for taking the time to speak to us on issues that are vitally important to our nation.”

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Aug 09

Presidential Candidates to Address VFW Convention

WASHINGTON, Aug. 9, 2007–Four top-tier presidential candidates have accepted invitations to speak to the 108th National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S., which starts Aug. 18 in the hometown of the VFW’s national headquarters, Kansas City, Mo.

Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and John McCain (R-AZ) are scheduled to speak Aug. 20, and former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) will speak Aug. 21.

“This is the candidates’ opportunity to address the national convention of America’s oldest and largest organization of combat veterans,” said VFW Commander-in-Chief Gary Kurpius, from Anchorage, Alaska.

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Aug 07

VFW Washington Weekly – August 6, 2007

In This Issue:
1. House Passes Vets Legislation
2. VFW Testifies on GI Bill Benefits
3. Congress to Begin August Recess

1. VFW Testifies on GI Bill Benefit

The VFW testified before the Senate VA Committee on several bills which would improve current educational benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill. The proposals ranged from small enhancements to the restoration of a "World War II-style" GI Bill that would cover all costs for or training, plus a stipend for living-expenses. The VFW testified in support of all of the proposals, but has thrown its enthusiastic support behind S. 22, The Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2007, introduced by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA). S. 22 would cover the most expensive in-state institution, housing, fees, books, and provide a cost-of-living stipend. It recognizes the tens of thousands of Guard and Reserve members who actively served 24 months or more defending our nation. It would increase the "use or lose" period from 10 to 15 years, and establish a post-service benefit for Guard and Reserve members.
Click here for VFW testimony:
Click here for more information on the Senate VA Committee hearing:

2. House Passes Vet Legislation

Earlier this week, the House passed three VFW-supported bills to improve veterans' health care and housing. HR 2874 would increase care for homeless and low-income veterans, authorize a new grant for readjustment counseling, and provide transportation options for veterans living in rural or remote areas. HR 2623 would waive the co-payment for veterans receiving hospice care at home or in acute care facilities. The third bill, HR 1315, allows disabled servicemembers who are temporarily staying with a family member to be eligible for adaptive housing assistance of up to $14,000.

For more information, type the bill number into the search box at:

3. Congress in Recess

Congress is scheduled to begin their annual August recess today and will return after Labor Day. We urge you to contact your members' local district offices to urge their support for a timely VA funding package – the House has passed their version, but the Senate still has not held a floor vote. Tell your Senators to pass the budget, which includes a substantial increase for VA healthcare. We also ask you to encourage support for an enhanced GI Bill, namely S. 22, which is mentioned in item #1.
Click here for a list of VFW priority goals:
Click here for a list of Congressional offices:

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Jul 31

Frequently Asked Questions About the VFW

The Veterans of Foreign Wars National Website ( has a new feature which can answer your questions about the VFW.

The VFW's new Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section can answer many of the most common questions anyone might have about the organization.

Have a question about:

  • Eligibility?
  • Cost of Lifetime Membership?
  • Flag etiquette?
  • Appropriate time to wear your VFW cap?

Get the answers to these and nearly 400 other common questions here.

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Jul 27

VFW Washington Weekly – July 27, 2007

In This Issue:
1. Senate Hearing on VA Funding
2. House VA Committee Holds Hearings
3. Wounded Warrior Commission Recommendations
4. Military Pay Raise Update

1. Senate Hearing on VA Funding
On Wednesday, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing to discuss various funding methods for VA. VFW supports an adequate, reliable funding method to ensure timely, high quality health care for all veterans. The Partnership for Veterans Healthcare Budget Reform, of which VFW is a member, called on Congress to approve legislation that would replace the current discretionary funding mechanism with a funding system that is sufficient, predictable and reliable. Chairman Daniel Akaka (D-HI) promised to hold more hearings on the subject. “Taking care of veterans is not a commitment we can continue to subject to the whims of political wrangling and other factors. The time has come for real change in how VA is funded, because we owe that to the men and women we are sending overseas, into battle," he said.

For more on the hearing, visit the Senate VA website at:


2. House VA Committee Hearings
The House VA’ Committee and Subcommittees held several oversight hearings this week:
– The full committee held a hearing on PTSD and personality disorders and the challenges facing VA. Witnesses testified on how VA addresses personality disorders, and discussed a recent report by the Institute of Medicine on VA PTSD claims. Current estimates show that approximately one-third of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans may show signs of PTSD. A national report last year said that the number of veterans seeking help for PTSD at Vet Centers rose from 4,500 to more than 9,000 between October 2005 and June 2006.

– The Subcommittee on Health held a hearing on Gulf War exposures and what strides VA and DOD have taken to provide help to those veterans who served during 1990/91. According to several servicemembers who served in the first Gulf War, troops exposed to a host of toxic substances are experienced lasting health effects and undiagnosed illnesses. Witnesses agreed that research dollars provided to DOD and VA need to be increased to identify all possible Gulf War exposures and their health-related issues
– The Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity heard testimony on contract bundling, the consolidation of two or more contracts into one and its impact on veterans and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. The hearing is part of a series on entrepreneurship and self employment, and concerns that many federal agencies are not meeting the 3% set aside for veterans and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. VFW testified earlier this month on federal procurement in support of service-disabled small businesses.
To read our testimony, go to:

For more information on any of the hearings from this week, go to the House VA website at:

3. Wounded Warrior Commission Recommendations
The Presidential Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors announced its recommendations this week after three months of gathering information. The commission put together reports of problems after visiting 23 sites and speaking with injured servicemembers, their families, and with veterans groups and healthcare professionals. The VFW supports 5 of the 6 recommendations. For more information, click here for the VFW press release and Commission’s Report:

4. Military Pay Raise Update
This week the Senate passed HR 1585, the Wounded Warrior Act, and tacked on a 3.5% military pay raise to the bill that would go into effect Jan 1. The House Appropriations Committee also approved the FY08 defense spending measure that fully funds a 3.5% raise. The House version of the Wounded Warrior Act does not include the raise. However, this action demonstrates Congressional support to increase military pay over the President’s request of 3%.

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Jul 27

VFW Applauds 5 of 6 Commission Recommendations; Total Change to Disability System Won't Work

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2007— America's oldest and largest organization of combat veterans is applauding most of the recommendations released yesterday by the President's Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors.

The nine-member commission, co-chaired by former Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS) and former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, was created in March to examine the whole continuum of care and programs for wounded servicemembers, as well as what is needed to assure their successful return to military duty or civilian life.

Gary Kurpius, who leads the 1.7 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S., gave high marks to the commission's call for increased support for family members of the wounded.

Also lauded were information technology improvements, the need to keep Walter Reed Army Medical Center fully staffed until its scheduled closure in 2011, and the recommendations for the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to rapidly improve the awareness, diagnosis and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, and the treatment of the signature wound of this war: traumatic brain injuries.

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