Jul 06

Tiger Salutes Military

World famous professional golfer Tiger Woods salutes members of the military in his golf tournament this week.  Woods is hosting the Earl Woods Pro-Am in honor of his father, a former Green Beret.  The Pentagon Channel has more:

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/tiger-salutes-military/

Jun 18

VFW Washington Weekly – June 18, 2007

VFW Washington Weekly
June 18, 2007

In This Issue:
1. Senate Appropriations Bill Update
2. VFW Testifies on Healthcare Bills
3. Senate Hears Servicemember Employment Concerns
4. Mullen to Succeed Pace as JCS Chairman
5. VFW Assists with Tricare Survey

1. Senate Appropriations Bill Update
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Military Construction and VA Funding approved their version of the fiscal year 2008 funding bill this week. The bill includes a record $43 billion for VA, which is $6.5 billion above last year's funding level.

Included in the bill:
**$29 billion for Medical Care, with money set aside for polytrauma care, mental health services, and specialized treatment for TBI and PTSD.
**$1.3 billion for the Veterans Benefits Administration to allow for the hiring of more than 500 new disability claims processors to tackle the backlog of compensation claims.
**$1 billion above the President's request for minor construction and nonrecurring maintenance of VA hospitals and facilities to avoid the same type of deterioration as at Walter Reed.

The bill is before the full Senate Appropriations Committee, and if cleared there, would move to the full Senate for a vote. If approved, the Senate bill would then need to be matched up with the version moving through the House to resolve differences before presenting it to the President for his signature. The House version has similar funding levels.

2. VFW Testifies on Healthcare Bills
VFW testified before the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health on several bills designed to expand healthcare options for veterans. Included among the VFW-supported bills is HR 2005, which would require VA to create centers of excellence for veterans living in rural areas, would establish a grant program for groups that help transport veterans from rural areas to medical centers, and would increase the mileage reimbursement for travel to/from VA medical facilities that would be equal to the rate provided to federal employees.
Other bills include grants to organizations for a suicide prevention hotline targeted and staffed by veterans and armed forces personnel (HR 2219), and legislation (HR 1488) that would require VA to develop and implement a system to measure data about its healthcare facilities. For complete coverage of the hearing and our testimony, go to: http://veterans.house.gov/hearings/schedule110/june07/06-14-07/witness.shtml

3. Senate Hears Servicemember Employment Concerns
The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing focusing on employment concerns of current servicemembers. The hearing, the third in a series focusing on seamless transition, looked at the collaborative efforts between VA, DOD and the Department of Labor to serve the employment needs of returning veterans. The Committee referenced recommendations made in the Task Force Report to the President on the Returning Global War on Terror Heroes. For more, go to the Senate VA website at:

http://veterans.senate.gov/

4. Mullen to Succeed Pace as JCS Chairman
Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced last Friday that he has recommended Adm. Mike Mullen, currently the Chief of Naval Operations, to replace Marine Gen. Peter Pace as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gates said he had originally intended to seek another two-year term for Pace, but concluded that would have resulted in a divisive Senate confirmation focusing on the Iraq War. Mullen, a 1968 Naval Academy graduate, was the Vice CNO from 2003 to 2004 before taking over the top Navy position two years ago. His last operational assignment was as the commander of U.S. Naval Forces in Europe. Pace, who also served as the vice chairman from 2001 to 2005, indicated he would retire when his two-year term expires on Sept. 30.

5. VFW Assists with Tricare Survey
The VFW has been asked by a fellow Military Coalition member to assist with a web-based survey to investigate whether or not TRICARE beneficiaries are having difficulties in finding doctors who will accept TRICARE, or in the case of TRICARE for Life beneficiaries, doctors who will accept Medicare. The goal is to use the data to work with DOD and Congress to improve beneficiary access at problem locations around the country. The survey is being conducted by the Military Officers Association of America, and they hope to receive survey input from tens of thousands of TRICARE beneficiaries, who are military retirees, servicemembers and eligible family members. To take the survey, go to: http://www.moaa.org/tricaresurvey.

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/vfw-washington-weekly-june-18-2007/

Jun 14

VFW Wants Movement on New G.I. Bill Proposal; National Commander Urges Members to Petition U.S. Senate

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2007–The national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is asking his entire membership to contact their U.S. senators and urge them to support S. 22, the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2007.

The bill, which was introduced in January by Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), would mirror the original World War II G.I. Bill by providing modern-day educational benefits such as full tuition, books, room and board, and a monthly stipend for living expenses. The bill would also eliminate the $1,200 enrollment fee for active-duty troops, extend the “use or lose” window from 10 to 15 years, and include Guardsmen and Reservists who are activated for a 24-month aggregate period.

Read more

Action Alert: Contact your US Senators

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/vfw-wants-movement-on-new-g-i-bill-proposal-national-commander-urges-members-to-petition-u-s-senate/

Jun 14

VA Moves to Strengthen Suicide Prevention

Nicholson: Move Bolsters Strong Mental Health Program

WASHINGTON — To strengthen one of the nation’s largest mental health programs and continue providing world-class health care to the nation’s veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced plans to hire suicide prevention counselors at each of its 153 medical centers.

“Many veterans have paid a high price for their service to our nation and have earned world-class mental health care,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson. “Every suicide is a tragedy that sends ripples of pain throughout families and communities.  VA health care professionals are committed to provide timely, compassionate intervention, which might help prevent this needless suffering.”

The new suicide prevention counselors will join the 9,000 mental health professionals already employed by VA.  The Department spends nearly $3 billion a year for mental health services.  About 1 million VA patients have a mental health diagnosis.

Read more

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/va-moves-to-strengthen-suicide-prevention/

Jun 14

Flag Day and National Flag Week, 2007

 A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

The American Flag represents freedom and has been an enduring symbol of our Nation's ideals since the earliest days of our Nation. Wherever it flies, we are reminded of America's unity and in the great cause of liberty and justice for all.

Two hundred and thirty years ago, the Second Continental Congress officially made the Stars and Stripes the symbol of America. The Founders declared that the 13 stars gracing the original flag represented "a new constellation," just as America embodied new hope and new light for mankind. Today, our flag continues to convey the bold spirit of a proud and determined Nation.

Americans have long flown our flag as a sign of patriotism and gratitude for the blessings of liberty. We also pledge allegiance to the flag as an expression of loyalty to our country and to the belief in the American creed of freedom and justice. By displaying and showing respect for the flag, we honor the ideals upon which our democracy rests and show appreciation for the freedoms we enjoy today. Flying the flag can also be an expression of thanks for the men and women who have served and sacrificed in defense of our freedoms — from the early patriots of the Continental Army to the courageous Americans in uniform who are defending those freedoms around the world today.

During Flag Day and National Flag Week, we honor Old Glory and reflect on the foundations of our freedom. As citizens of this great Nation, we are proud of our heritage, grateful for our liberty, and confident in our future.

To commemorate the adoption of our flag, the Congress, by joint resolution approved August 3, 1949, as amended (63 Stat. 492), designated June 14 of each year as "Flag Day" and requested that the President issue an annual proclamation calling for its observance and for the display of the flag of the United States on all Federal Government buildings. The Congress also requested, by joint resolution approved June 9, 1966, as amended (80 Stat. 194), that the President issue annually a proclamation designating the week in which June 14 occurs as "National Flag Week" and calling upon all citizens of the United States to display the flag during that week.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim June 14, 2007, as Flag Day and the week beginning June 10, 2007, as National Flag Week. I direct the appropriate officials to display the flag on all Federal Government buildings during that week, and I urge all Americans to observe Flag Day and National Flag Week by flying the Stars and Stripes from their homes and other suitable places. I also call upon the people of the United States to observe with pride and all due ceremony those days from Flag Day through Independence Day, also set aside by the Congress (89 Stat. 211), as a time to honor America, to celebrate our heritage in public gatherings and activities, and to publicly recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-first.

GEORGE W. BUSH

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/flag-day-and-national-flag-week-2007/

Jun 12

VFW Washington Weekly – June 8, 2007

In This Issue:
1. VA Appropriations Increase Clears House Committee
2. GI Bill Update
3. VA Subcommittee Examines Adaptive Housing

1. VA Appropriations Increase Clears House Committee
The House Appropriations Committee approved a $109 billion Military Construction and Veterans Affairs spending bill by a 56-0 vote. The Appropriation now moves to the full House, where a vote is expected next week. The bill includes $64.7 billion in discretionary funding, $43.2 of which is directed at VA. For VA, that is an historic, $6.7 billion increase, and meets what the VFW and the three other authors of the Independent Budget were calling for.
It includes funding for:

* Five polytrauma centers and three Centers of Excellence for PTSD and mental Health to care for those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

*Substantial increases in grants for homeless veterans.
* Maintenance and upkeep of VA facilities at a record funding levels.
*Increases prosthetic and medical research.
* Funding to hire 1,000 new disability claims adjudicators to help reduce the backlog of almost 850,000 claims.

The VFW salutes the strong leadership of those on the Appropriations Committee, especially Subcommittee Chairman Chet Edwards (D-TX). We urge those in the House to quickly pass this bill, and VFW members should call their representatives to urge them to support the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations.

Contact your House member at: http://www.house.gov/writerep. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee is set to pick up their version of the bill next week

2. GI Bill Update
This week VFW called on senators to support legislation that would offer a WWII-like educational benefit. The bill, S.22, was introduced in January by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA). The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2007 would include the cost of tuition, room and board, and a monthly stipend of $1,000.

Current law under the Montgomery GI Bill provides educational support of up to $1,000 per month for 36 months, or approximately $9,000 per academic year. The legislation directly corresponds with VFW Resolution 625, which calls for a GI Bill for the 21st Century that would repeal the $1,200 enrollment fee and provide an educational benefit that covers the cost of tuition, housing, fees, books, and school related expenses, as well as a cost of living stipend.

Currently there are only 14 co-sponsors – we ask you to contact your senators and urge them to support this VFW priority goal. Contact your senators at: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm.

For more information on the provisions of the bill, go to: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/D?d110:2:./temp/~bdGKHo::|/bss/d110query.html| .

3. VA Subcommittee Examines Adaptive Housing
The House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity held a hearing to examine VA’s adaptive housing program. Currently, veterans who apply for adaptive housing grants receive up to a maximum of $50,000 for the cost of building, buying or remodeling adaptive homes. VA may also approve a grant of up to $10,000 for the actual cost for adaptations to a veteran’s residence that are determined by VA to be necessary. The grant may also be used to help veterans acquire a residence that already has adaptations for the veteran’s disability.

Independent Budget representatives testified that increases and adjustments made to the program over the years were inconsistent, and therefore did not keep pace with construction costs. Congress needs to make annual adjustments so that veterans can properly benefit from this program.

For more on the hearing, go to the House VA Committee website at: http://veterans.house.gov/hearings/schedule110/june07/06-07-07/witness.shtml

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/vfw-washington-weekly-june-8-2007/

Jun 12

BPG gives another million to VFW National Home

EATON RAPIDS — The VFW National Home for Children received a $1 million donation May 31 from the Buick-Pontiac-GMC (BPG) Division of General Motors. BPG General Manager Jim Bunnell presented the check at a dedication ceremony for a new duplex that was built with a portion of a $3.5 million donation that came from last year's BPG Memorial Day Dealership Campaign.

"It's just the right thing to do," said Bunnell. "For all the military men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice, what a better way to step up and say 'The American people think about you, they care for you and they want to say thank you'."

The million dollar donation is a part of BPG's "A Million Thanks" Memorial Day and National Military Appreciation Month campaign. The auto division teamed up with A Million Thanks, a letter-writing, military-support campaign to help raise awareness of the unseen sacrifices of military men and women.

(Click photo to enlarge)

Read more

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/bpg-gives-another-million-to-vfw-national-home/

Jun 12

VFW Radio Program Expanding to Talk Radio Network

KANSAS CITY, Mo., June 8, 2007–The VFW talk-radio program, The National Defense, has joined forces with Talk Radio Network Entertainment (TRN).

The National Defense radio show highlights important issues and hot topics of vital importance to our country that until now have only been discussed by talk show hosts who have little or no connection to the United States military. The hour-long weekly show, which is produced in Kansas City, Mo., is hosted by Vietnam War veteran Jerry Newberry, VFW communications director. Co-hosting the show is Kansas City radio personality Randy Miller.

According to Newberry, The National Defense's hard-hitting approach to important issues will fill a void in talk radio because of the show’s military focus and dedication to championing relevant issues and causes affecting the nation’s uniformed forces.

Read more

Note: The National Defense can be heard anytime through your VFW WebCOM Departmental toolbar.  Get yours now.

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/vfw-radio-program-expanding-to-talk-radio-network/

Jun 07

Soldier's Dog Tag Returns Home on D-Day

HUNTINGDON, Tenn. – The family of Pvt. William Bernice Clark never had a funeral for him, never got to say goodbye and never really accepted his fate among the fallen during the Normandy D-Day landings in World War II.

That was until a piece a him, his dog tag discovered in the sands of Omaha Beach in France, was returned to his native Tennessee on Wednesday — exactly 63 years after that tragic day.

“This feels like an ending,” said the soldier’s first cousin, 79-year-old Lota Park, who along with another cousin accepted the dog tag at a ceremony in the small town of Huntingdon, about 90 miles west of Nashville.

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Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/soldiers-dog-tag-returns-home-on-d-day/

Jun 04

VFW Emphasizes Official Position on Kokesh Situation

WASHINGTON, June 3, 2007–Much is being made of our news release [VFW to Corps: Don’t Stifle Freedom of Speech] news release last Friday on protecting the free speech rights of demonstrators against the war in Iraq as partnering with Mr. Adam Kokesh in his argument against the Marine Corps leadership and as the VFW now supporting the anti-war movement. Neither premise is correct.

Our release and my statements were simply espousing what we felt was a stretching of the regulations by the Marine Corps concerning Mr. Kokesh’s partial wearing of military camouflage clothing as a retaliatory measure. By doing so, it is our belief that it is a form of first amendment rights suppression. We see little difference between what Mr. Kokesh was doing than that of individuals though while in coats and ties, are leaders of a pack of retired generals (including Marines) appearing regularly on Sunday talk shows strongly condemning the war in Iraq. Retired military certainly have at least an equal status under the Uniform Code of Military Justice as does individuals in the Individual Ready Reserve, as Mr. Kokesh is presently classified.

Read more

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/vfw-emphasizes-official-position-on-kokesh-situation/

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