Mar 21, 2013
Network Admin

VFW Now Accepting Entries into 2013-2014 Scholarship Competitions

Kansas City, Mo. – VFW announces it is now accepting entries into next year’s Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen scholarship competitions. The announcement comes just two weeks after students from across the globe took home their share of nearly $3 million dollars in scholarships and awards from last year’s competitions.

VFW’s Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen essay competitions are dedicated to promoting patriotism among our nation’s youth. Students are asked to submit an essay in response to a question or statement on a subject which prompts them to consider how democratic ideals and principals apply to their lives.

This year’s Voice of Democracy theme asks students to explain, “Why I’m Optimistic About Our Nation’s Future.” The Voice of Democracy scholarship competition is an audio-essay competition open to students in grades 9-12. Students are asked to record their statement in response to the theme and submit their entry to their local Posts. The national winner will receive the $30,000, T.C. Selman Memorial Scholarship Award. Click here for more information.

The Patriot’s Pen competition is open to students in grades 6-8. This year, students are asked to reflect on the statement, “What Patriotism Means to Me.” The national winner will receive a $5,000 award. Click here for more information.

The deadline for submissions is November 1, 2013.

Mar 1, 2013
Network Admin

VFW Says President Is Keeping His Promise

Hamilton and Obamam smallThe national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. left the Oval Office this [yesterday] morning knowing that President Obama shares his same concerns for properly caring for military veterans, service members and their families.

“It was a very positive meeting and we’re grateful for the opportunity,” said John E. Hamilton, a combat wounded Vietnam Marine Corps rifleman from St. Augustine, Fla., who is in Washington for the VFW’s annual legislative conference, which includes presenting the organization’s top legislative priorities before a joint hearing of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees on Tuesday.

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Feb 22, 2013
Network Admin

VFW Washington Weekly – February 22, 2013

In This Issue:

1. Sequestration a Week Away
2. Others Want New Medal Ranked Lower
3. VFW Attends DOL Update
4. IB Lays Out VA Budget Needs
5. Nominate a Woman Veteran
6. VFW Discusses Student-Veterans in Higher Ed

1. Sequestration a Week Away: The Defense Department is pulling no punches in letting Congress and the American public know the serious impact mandatory sequestration will have on the force. With very exceptions, 800,000 DOD civilians will be forced to take a three-week furlough beginning in late April. That roughly means one day a week, per week, through the end of the current fiscal year, which will lower civilian pay by 20 percent. The mandatory sequester will kick in March 1, and barring a last minute agreement by Congress it will force the Pentagon to cut more than $46 billion in current year spending by Sept. 30, just seven months away. The automatic cuts would be in addition to the $487 billion in planned defense spending reductions over the next 10 years, as mandated by the Budget Control Act passed in 2011. As mentioned previously, planned reductions include:
* Slashing noncombat flying, sailing and driving hours.
* A hiring freeze and cut back on installation, facility and contract maintenance.
* Requesting a 1 percent military pay raise for fiscal year 2014 instead of the planned 1.7 percent.
* Requesting another base realignment and closure round.
* And possibly increasing military dependent and retiree Tricare health program fees, and changing the current military retirement system for future generations.
DOD is guaranteeing, however, that deployed forces will be protected, but forces in garrison and not “on deck” to deploy will be impacted. Read more about the potential furlough at http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=119337.

2. Others Want New Medal Ranked Lower: More veteran and military service organizations have joined with VFW in opposing the placement of the new Distinguished Warfare Medal, which if left unchanged will rank it the ninth highest in the order of precedence—higher than the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. The VFW has been joined in our call to lower the ranking by the Military Order of the Purple Heart, National Association of Uniformed Services, and the Military Officers’ Association of America, among others. The new medal, announced by Defense Secretary Panetta on Feb. 13, would be awarded to drone pilots and cyber warriors who are having a significant impact, but who are not required to be physically present on the battlefield. “The VFW fully concurs that those far from the fight are having an immediate impact,” said VFW National Commander John Hamilton, “but medals that can only be earned in direct combat must mean more than medals awarded in the rear.” The VFW continues to urge the Department of Defense and now the White House to reconsider the new medal’s placement in the military order of precedence.

3. VFW Attends DOL Meeting: This week, VFW attended a Department of Labor Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS) update for VSO’s on how the agency is working to deliver employment resources to veterans. Newly-confirmed Assistant Secretary of Labor for VETS, Keith Kelly discussed how he wants to improve VETS by soliciting feedback from veterans’ advocates like the VFW to make sure the agency’s programs succeed. The meeting also included briefings from other senior VETS leaders on programs like Jobs for Veterans State Grants, or JVSG, enhanced outreach to separating service members, data-sharing agreements with DOD, unique challenges for female veterans in the workforce, Family Medical Leave Act provisions for veterans, and usage of the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program. VFW will continue to monitor DOL resources for veterans, to stay up to date, click here for the blog posting: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2013/02/department-of-labor-hosts-veterans.html

4. IB Lays Out VA Budget Needs: The VFW, along with its three Independent Budget (IB) partners- PVA, DAV, and AMVETS – have released what we believe to be the necessary funding for VA to continue to offer consistent high quality health care and services to all eligible veterans, their families and survivors. The comprehensive budget highlights the needs of older veterans and those young men and women returning from active duty to join civilian life. Funding information is provided after careful review of medical and administrative costs within VA which form the foundation of the recommendations. The Administration and Congress are expected to release their FY 2014 budget proposals sometime in March. Will continue to update you here as the budget and appropriations cycle moves along in the 113th Congress. We will continue to ask Congress and the Administration to provide sufficient funding to meet the health care and benefit needs of veterans in a timely and predictable manner.
IB Recommendations for FY 2014 include:
* $58.8 billion total for health care—$1.3 billion more than what the Administration recommended ($57.5 billion) in their advance appropriation last year.
* $2.4 billion for the Veterans Benefits Administration—approximately $226 million more than the expected FY 2013 appropriated level.
* $2.25 billion for all construction programs—approximately $900 million more than the expected FY 2013 appropriated level, and well below the true funding needs of construction projects.
* $611 million for medical and prosthetic research, approximately $28 million more than the expected FY 2013 appropriated level.
For the full FY 2014 Independent Budget recommendations, http://www.independentbudget.org/

5. Nominate a Woman Veteran: The White House Champions of Change program highlights the stories of citizens across the country who are moving their communities forward. This March, they want to highlight the many contributions made by women veterans, especially those who served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Examples of their work within the veterans’ community may include:
* Improving healthcare services available to women and children;
* Helping women veterans transitioning into the workforce;
* Leading programs to improve the well-being of young women;
* Developing a program to support victims of domestic violence or trauma;
* Helping engage and support Wounded Warrior transitioning;
* And providing services and support to eliminate homelessness, among many others.
There is no limit to the number of women veterans you can submit, but all nominations must be received by midnight, February 26. For more information or to nominate, go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/champions.

6. VFW Discusses Student-Veterans in Higher Ed: This week the New York Times published an op-ed by VFW Deputy Legislative Director Ryan Gallucci, highlighting the good work of student-veterans on college campuses across the country, but also explaining why potential student-veterans need to be armed with quality information before choosing a school. To read the full story, click here: http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/13/how-to-help-veterans-succeed-in-college/. Your VFW has standing invites to contribute these kinds of issue-based narratives to the Times and other major military and general news media outlets. If you would like to share a story of yours, please send it to vfwac@vfw.org.

Uncategorized
Feb 13, 2013
Network Admin

VFW To Stream Live from the Nation’s Capital

Each year hundreds of VFW leaders converge on the Hill, taking the voice of America’s veterans directly to congressional dignitaries and lawmakers during the VFW Legislative Conference.

Armed with the VFW’s Legislative Priority Goals for 2013, VFW advocates plan to visit with every congressional office, explaining in detail the VFW’s stance on a variety of veterans’ issues like access to VA benefits, military quality-of-life programs, economic opportunity and health care.

The week culminates with the testimony of VFW Commander-in-Chief John Hamilton before a special joint hearing of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees on March 5, where Hamilton will lay out the VFW’s legislative agenda for the year.

VFW’s live stream of the conference will begin on March 3 at 6:00 p.m. (EST) with the annual Voice of Democracy Parade of Winners, followed by streaming video of VFW Commander-in-Chief John Hamilton’s testimony on the afternoon of March 5.

Visit http://www.vfw.org/vfwconference to access the stream directly.  If you miss the live feed, you can catch the excitement through the “on-demand” feature at your leisure.

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Dec 4, 2012
Network Admin

Year End Message from VFW Commander-In-Chief John Hamilton

[youtube]http://youtu.be/8bAiaQdkfSs[/youtube]

VFW Talking Paper on Sequestration

Nov 12, 2012
Network Admin

Mojave Cross Stands Again

A war memorial cross that once stood on a rocky hilltop in a national park before being deemed unconstitutional and ordered removed was resurrected on Veterans Day at the stunningly stark Mojave desert site, capping a landmark case for veterans fighting similar battles on public lands.

Henry Sandoz, who cared for the original 1930s cross as part of a promise to a dying World War I veteran, rededicated a new, 7-foot steel cross on the same hilltop before more than 100 people. The site is now in private hands as part of a land swap with the National Park Service that ended the longstanding legal dispute, which had become entangled in the thorny issues of patriotism and religion.

“Judges and lawyers may have played their roles, but it was the veterans who earned this memorial, and it is for them it rises once more,” said attorney Hiram Sasser of the Texas-based Liberty Institute, which represented veterans in the legal fight.

The settlement approved by a federal judge in April permitted the Park Service to turn over the acre of land known as Sunrise Rock to a Veteran of Foreign Wars post in Barstow and the Veterans Home of California-Barstow in exchange for five acres of donated property elsewhere in the 1.6 million acre preserve, about a four hour-drive east of Los Angeles.

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(Photo via Liberty Institute Press Release)

Nov 7, 2012
Network Admin

Join VFW in Supporting Inaugural Working Wounded Games

More than 20 wounded warriors will converge on CrossFit Rubicon in Vienna, Va., this Saturday for the first-ever Working Wounded Games. Hosted in conjunction CrossFit Walter Reed and volunteers from other metro area CrossFit affiliates, the Working Wounded Games will allow veterans with combat-related disabilities to compete in an open-style competition that will benefit two new wounded warrior charities. The VFW is proud to serve as an inaugural sponsor for the event, which coincides with the 237th birthday of the Marine Corps and Veterans Day.

“I know first-hand the physical challenges our heroes face when they return home,” said VFW National Commander John E. Hamilton, a triple Purple Heart recipient from Vietnam. “The VFW is proud to support the games and the wounded athletes competing this Saturday, and the new programs that will help wounded warriors discover new ways to stay fit, while reclaiming their independence and a sense of accomplishment.”

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Oct 2, 2012
Network Admin

Fall Legislative Priorities: Make Your Voice Heard

Congress still has work to do …

Last month, 70 members of the VFW National Legislative Committee convened in Washington to urge the 112th Congress to finish strong for veterans.

Joining the committee was VFW National Commander-in-Chief John Hamilton, Senior Vice Commander Bill Thien and Junior Vice Commander John Stroud. ??Their agenda included meetings and briefings with VA, the Defense POW/MIA Office, the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment at Quantico, Army Reserve Affairs, the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserves, and with the Student Veterans of America organization.

Key issues discussed are of great importance to veterans, service members and their families. The issue areas were:

Budget: Avoiding across-the-board defense cuts that will adversely affect our troops, and protecting VA medical care from cuts that would affect access to benefits and care.

Healthcare: Combating military and veteran suicides, ensuring the VA continues to improve access and services to women veterans, providing effective mental healthcare, commissioning a National Burn Pit Registry, and stopping the Pentagon from arbitrarily raising TRICARE fees and copayments on military families and retirees.

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Sep 4, 2012
Network Admin

VFW Washington Weekly – August 31, 2012

In this issue:

1. VFW Applauds White House Effort to Combat Suicide
2. VFW Active at Republican Convention
3. VA Increases Vets Retraining Assistance Program
4. Combating Veterans’ Homelessness
5. VFW Hears from Marine Corps Commandant
6. Army and NFL Discuss TBI
7. Five MIAs Return Home

1. VFW Applauds White House Effort to Combat Suicide: Today, the President signed an executive order designed to curb military and veteran suicide and improve the delivery of mental health resources to our nation’s heroes. The executive order, “Improving Access to Mental Health Services for Veterans, Service Members and Military Families,” which President Obama is scheduled to announce during a visit to Fort Bliss in Texas, includes nearly a dozen specific initiatives designed to improve mental health resources and intervention tools. National Commander John E. Hamilton, noted the VFW support for the president’s vision to prevent military suicides and improve mental health care delivery, but also expressed concerns about potential funding shortfalls to accomplish the president’s goals. Click here for the VFW’s Press release: http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2012-Articles/VFW-Applauds-White-House-Efforts-to-Stop-Military-Suicide/

2. VFW Active at Republican Convention: VFW Representatives attending the Republican National Convention (RNC) listened to key note speakers and spoke with delegates on critical issues like veterans mental and behavioral health, accurate claims processing and helping service members secure educational, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. The VFW will also be represented at next week’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte to ensure the voice of veterans, service members and their families remains a key priority during Campaign 2012. Leading both delegations will be VFW Legislative Director Ray Kelley. Stay informed throughout by reading blog postings at: www.vfwonthehill.org/

3. VA Increases Vets Retraining Assistance Program: This week, VA announced that have filled 36,000 of the 45,000 job training openings available under the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) passed as a part of the VOW to Heroes Act. An additional 55,000 openings will be available October 1, 2012. VRAP provides up to $1,473 a month in GI Bill benefits for those taking full-time courses to learn the skills necessary to land a job. VFW was instrumental in getting the provision passed as a part of the comprehensive jobs bill and encourages veterans eligible to apply online. Click here for more information: http://www.benefits.va.gov/VOW/

4. Combating Veterans’ Homelessness: Veterans’ homelessness is a national problem that is best solved at the local level. As such, the VA recently launched a new online ordering portal for communities and national partners to order free informational material and promotional items ranging from brochures and posters to wallet cards, drawstring bags and hygiene kits, among other items. Share the portal link with your VFW members and Posts and with others in your community to help spread the word. For more information or to place an order, go to http://www.va.gov/homeless/materials_center.asp.

5. VFW Hears from Marine Corps Commandant: This week, VFW attended a Press Club event where Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos spoke on a number of issues important to the Corps. Leading the list was the continuing success of combat operations in Afghanistan and the transfer of responsibilities over to Afghan national security forces. Following his remarks, Amos fielded questions from the audience on a variety of military quality-of-life and force readiness issues ranging from fiscal responsibility and budget constraints on the Marines Corps, to women serving in combat, suicide, and sexual assault. When asked about potential across-the-board cuts to the Defense budget, Amos said he believed the Marine Corps would be hit disproportionately hard, considering the size of the force and the value it delivers to the U.S. military. Amos also said that the greatest challenge for the Corps moving forward would be ensuring the force remains balanced through a period of fiscal austerity. To learn more about Amos’ remarks and to view C-SPAN’s full coverage of the event, click here: http://www.vfwonthehill.org/2012/08/vfw-hears-from-marine-commandant.html?m=1

6. Army and NFL Discuss TBI: Earlier this week, Army representatives hosted NFL leaders at West Point to discuss how they can affect positive change surrounding Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and concussions. The military, alongside the NFL have continued conversations regarding the Soldier-Athlete commitment to education and awareness of these serious injuries. To watch the discussion, click here: http://www.dvidshub.net/webcast/2578#.UD5iiqCoz1l.

7. Five MIAs Return Home: The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office recently announced the identification of remains belonging to one airmen and four soldiers who had been missing in action since World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Returned home are:
* Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Harry W. Eck, of Minot Ward, N.D. On Sept. 13, 1944, Eck and eight other crewmembers were aboard a B-17G Flying Fortress that crashed near Neustaedt-on-the-Werra, Germany. Only one of the nine crewmen is known to have successfully parachuted out of the aircraft before in crashed.
* Army Cpl. Kenneth R. Block, 22, of Ann Arbor, Mich. In late November 1950, Block and elements of the 31st Regimental Combat Team, known as “Task Force Faith,” were advancing along the eastern banks of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea when they came under attack. On Dec. 3, Block and many other Americans would be listed as missing in action as a result of the heavy fighting.
* Army Sgt. 1st Class William T. Brown, 24, of La Habra, Calif.; Sgt. 1st Class Donald M. Shue, 20, of Kannapolis, N.C.; and Sgt. 1st Class Gunther H. Wald, 25, of Palisades Park, N.J. On Nov. 3, 1969, the men and six Vietnamese soldiers were part of a Special Forces reconnaissance patrol that was ambushed while operating in Quang Tri Province near the Vietnam-Laos border.
Read more about their recovery and identification at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases/.

Aug 9, 2012
Network Admin

2012 Year in Review

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