Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney Addresses VFW Convention

Former Massachusetts Governor and Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney spoke at the 113 National VFW Convention on Tuesday. Video below begins around the 10:00 mark. A text copy of Romney’s remarks can be found here.

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President Announces New Job Initiatives for Vets

President Barack Obama addressed about 3,500 attendees at today’s Joint Opening Session in the Reno-Sparks Convention Center. He discussed various issues of importance to veterans, including: new employment and transition assistance for returning vets, VA health care, the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Afghanistan War and creation of a medals database.

Obama announced that earlier in the morning he had signed into law the Veteran Skills to Jobs Act (H.R. 4155), sponsored by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.). The law will make it easier for veterans to find jobs using skills acquired in the military by streamlining the certification process. “Veterans need to be licensed and credentialed when they get home,” he said.  Obama also told attendees that he hopes that Congress will pass the Veterans Job Corps Act (H.R. 5683), which would offer unemployed veterans or their widows or widowers jobs in forestry, for example, on public lands.

In order to prepare veterans for civilian life, Obama introduced a major interagency overhaul of the military’s transition assistance program called Transition GPS. “We’re going to set up a reverse boot camp” to enhance “career readiness,” he said. It would extend sessions up to seven days, to include financial planning, an employment workshop and a planning session in which troops can explore career options and talk to experts. The redesigned program should be complete by the end of 2013.

Obama covered several matters regarding VA health care, including the idea of vouchers. “Some have argued for [vouchers], but I could not disagree more,” Obama said to applause. “You don’t need vouchers, you need the VA care you have earned.” He vowed to continue to make veterans health care a priority.

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Governor Romney to Address VFW National Convention

The presumptive Republican candidate for this fall’s presidential election has accepted an invitation to speak before the 113th National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S., which begins July 21 at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nev. The event is closed to the public.

“We are most appreciative to Governor Mitt Romney for again taking time to address America’s oldest and largest major combat veterans’ organization,” said VFW National Commander Richard L. DeNoyer, a retired Marine and Vietnam combat veteran from Middleton, Mass. The governor spoke at the VFW’s 112th National Convention in San Antonio last August.

Governor Romney is scheduled to speak on July 24, one day after President Obama, which continues a long standing VFW tradition to provide a platform for those seeking the nation’s highest office to address issues of importance directly to veterans, military service members and their families. DeNoyer said this is especially important during a time of war and instability abroad, and economic belt tightening at home.

“We hope to hear how both candidates will take the fight to our enemies and keep America safe through strong national defense and homeland security programs,” he said. “We also want to know how they will create, enhance and protect veteran and military healthcare programs and Quality of Life initiatives, to include educational benefits and military retirement programs, as well as how they will improve veterans’ job training and employment opportunities, and eliminate veterans’ homelessness. We would also greatly appreciate hearing their commitment to returning our fallen from their battlefields.”

Up to 12,000 VFW and Ladies Auxiliary delegates are expected to represent the organization’s total membership of 2 million at the weeklong convention. Their mission is to approve new national priorities to guide the VFW as it lobbies Congress on issues important to the nation’s veterans, service members and their families. Convention delegates will also elect a new VFW national commander and recognize prominent individuals and organizations for their support of veterans, the military and the nation.

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President Obama to Address VFW National Convention

The president has accepted an invitation to speak before the 113th National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S., which begins July 21 at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nev. The event is closed to the public.

“We are very grateful to President Obama for choosing to address America’s oldest and largest major combat veterans’ organization,” said VFW National Commander Richard L. DeNoyer, a retired Marine and Vietnam combat veteran from Middleton, Mass.

The president’s appearance continues a long standing VFW tradition that provides a platform for those seeking the nation’s highest office to address issues of importance to veterans, military service members and their families. DeNoyer said this is especially important during a time of war and instability abroad, and economic belt tightening at home.

“What we hope to hear is how he will continue to take the fight to our enemies, while keeping America safe through strong national defense and homeland security programs,” he said. “We also want to know how he will create, enhance and protect veteran and military healthcare programs and Quality of Life initiatives, such as educational benefits and better job training and employment programs. We would also greatly appreciate hearing a renewed White House commitment to return our fallen from their battlefields.”

President Obama is scheduled to speak on July 23. He last spoke at the 110th VFW National Convention in Phoenix, and prior to then as a presidential candidate in 2007 and 2008.
Up to 12,000 VFW and Ladies Auxiliary delegates are expected to represent the organization’s total membership of 2 million at the weeklong convention. Their mission will be to approve new national priorities to guide the VFW as it lobbies Congress on issues important to the nation’s veterans, service members and their families. Convention delegates will also elect a new VFW national commander and recognize prominent individuals and organizations for their support of veterans and military personnel.

Awards presented will be the VFW Gold Medal of Merit to the Montford Point Marine Association; the VFW Armed Services Award to the Army’s Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany; the VFW Americanism Award to correspondent and author Joe Galloway; VFW Teacher of the Year awards to Debra Rose Howell (Monte Cristo Elementary School, Granite Falls, Wash.) and George “Bud” Zorman (Mountain Home High School, Ark.); the VFW Dwight D. Eisenhower Award to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno; the VFW Citizenship Award to “Kids Thank a Veteran” director Cherie Reid; and the VFW Aerospace Award to women’s aviation and space pioneer Wally Funk.

Also addressing the delegates will be Elizabeth Scannell of Goose Creek, S.C., the $30,000 scholarship winner of VFW’s annual Voice of Democracy program; Veterans Affairs Commission Deputy Minister Hsiao-hui Chin from the Republic of China on Taiwan; Ekaterina Priyezzheva, Russian co-chair of the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs; U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki; and Army Maj. Gen. Stephen Tom, commander of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, among many others.

The 113th VFW National Convention is closed to the general public, but everyone can watch it streaming live online at www.vfw.org beginning at 8 a.m. PDT, July 23.
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VFW Washington Weekly – June 29, 2012

In This Issue:
1. National Healthcare Upheld
2. Stolen Valor Act Overturned; What do you think?
3. VFW Supported Bills Clear Subcommittees
4. Senate Reviews Health and Benefits Bills for Vets
5. VFW Applauds State AGs for Protecting Student-Vets

1. National Healthcare Upheld: The Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act challenge on Thursday, even though a reversal would have had little to no impact on service-connected veterans served by the Department of Veterans Affairs or on military members and retirees served by military medicine or enrolled in TRICARE. This is because your VFW led the fight back in March 2010 to get Congress to recognize all VA and Defense Department health programs as meeting minimal acceptable coverage standards as required by a proposed national healthcare bill that had failed to include VA health programs for widows and disabled children, and almost 90 percent of military TRICARE programs. With the strong support of then-House Armed Service Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) and Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), and the grassroots advocacy of thousands of VFW members and supporters, the new, more encompassing legislation quickly passed Congress and was signed into law by the president on May 27, 2010. Read the high court’s ruling at http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/11-393c3a2.pdf.

2. Stolen Valor Act Overturned: The VFW was very disappointed to also learn Thursday that the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Stolen Valor Act of 2005 in a 6-3 decision. Still, the high court did mention in their decision that a more narrowly defined law in the future might perhaps survive a First Amendment free speech trial. Despite the ruling, VFW National Commander Richard DeNoyer said the “VFW will continue to challenge far-fetched stories, and to publicize these false heroes to the broadest extent possible as a deterrent to others.” Read the justices’ opinions at http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/11-210d4e9.pdf.
What do you think? Let us know what you think of the Supreme Court’s decision on Stolen Valor by taking our poll and leaving comments on the blog: http://www.vfwonthehill.org/2012/06/what-do-you-think-supreme-court.html

3. VFW Supported Bills Clear Subcommittees: This House VA Committee had a busy week of mark-ups. A list of some of the bills cleared by subcommittees is below. All of the legislation now moves to the full committee for a vote. To read about the VFW-supported legislation and to read our complete testimony on several of the measures passed, click here: http://www.vfwonthehill.org/2012/06/house-moves-series-of-vfw-supported.html

The Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigation cleared –
* H.R. 3730, Veterans Data Breach Timely Notification Act would require VA, within ten days of a data breach to notify Congress and each individual whose sensitive personal information is involved in the breach
* H.R. 5948, Veterans Fiduciary Reform Act of 2012 would provide further protections and more oversight over veteran fiduciaries to ensure the veterans’ needs are being handled properly.

The Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs cleared –
* H.R. 5735 establishes a Tomb of Remembrance at Arlington National Cemetery
* H.R. 5880 authorizes VA to contract with private companies for examinations to help in the processing of disability claims.
The Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity cleared —
* H.R. 4115, HIRE at HOME Act which requires states to consider some military training received by a veteran as valid for certification — to include a commercial driver’s license or a certification to be a nursing assistant or certified nursing assistant, a registered nurse, or an emergency medical technician.
* H.R. 4057 would direct VA to develop a comprehensive outreach and transparency policy for veterans regarding information received about higher education institutions.
* H.R. 5747 would prohibit the sale, foreclosure or seizure of property for a year after a service member is discharged or deployed by the military. It also provides credit protections and asks large mortgage companies to maintain a toll-free number for answering any financial concerns.

The Subcommittee on Health cleared –
* H.R. 3337 the Open Burn Pit Registry Act, would direct VA to create a registry of all service members who have been exposed to open air burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. As further research opens doors to new and improved treatments for health issues related to toxic inhalations, this registry will help VA target those resources to those who most need them.
* H.R. 4079, the Safe Housing for Homeless Veterans Act, will ensure housing for homeless veterans meets safe living standards.
For more information on all the bills that were cleared, visit the House VA Committee at: http://veterans.house.gov/

4. Senate Reviews Health and Benefit Bills for Vets: This week, The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a hearing to discuss over 25 health and benefit-related bills still pending. Among the legislation discussed was several VFW-supported provisions that would enhance services for homeless veterans, improve access to VA mental health care, provide reproductive services for catastrophically disabled veterans and authorize VA to include immunizations as a part of preventive medicine within VHA. Other bills included:
* S. 2259, Veterans Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act which increases the rates of disability compensation for service-disabled veterans and the rates of DIC for survivors (effective Dec 2012).
* S.1849, Rural Health Care Improvement Act legislation that requires VA to develop a 5-year plan for improving access to and quality of health care services for veterans in rural areas.
* S. 1391, legislation that would improve VA’s disability compensation evaluation procedure for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder or mental health conditions related to military sexual trauma
* S. 2320, Remembering America’s Forgotten Veterans Cemetery Act of 2012, would give the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) authority to care for Clark Cemetery.
For a complete list of all the bills considered or to view the recorded webcast, click here: http://veterans.senate.gov/

5. VFW Applauds State AGs for Protecting Student-Vets: The VFW applauded the work of 20 state attorneys general, who announced this week that the Web site GIBill.com had officially been turned over to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and that the Web site’s owner, QuinStreet, would pay $2.5 million to states as part of a settlement for fraudulent recruiting practices. To see highlights from this week’s press conference, announcing the settlement, and to learn about the VFW’s ongoing efforts to protect student-veterans, click here: http://www.vfwonthehill.org/2012/06/vfw-applauds-state-attorneys-general.html

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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)

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