In This Issue:
1. Defense Bill Includes TRICARE Increases
2. New Vet Employment-Transition Bill
3. House Hearings
4. Korean War MIA Identified
1. Defense Bill Includes TRICARE Increases: The House Armed Services Committee approved its version of the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act this week. The $533 billion defense bill (H.R. 1540) provides a 1.6-percent military pay increase, reduces the SBP-DIC offset for survivors, and would increase TRICARE fees for working-age military retirees. Beginning with FY 2013, the committee voted to link future TRICARE increases to annual cost-of-living-adjustments, or COLAs, which has been zero for military retirees for the past two years. The committee did not vote to prohibit a fee increase for FY 2012, which now opens the door for DOD to raise TRICARE fees by 13 percent this fall. The VFW will continue to oppose all TRICARE fee increases. Military retirees paid for their healthcare through long and faithful service; for their children being uprooted repeatedly from school; for their spouses not being able to have full careers; for their homes accumulating no equity; and for some, for not being fully marketable because they served so many years in uniform. The House, then the Senate, have to agree on the bill before it goes to the president for his signature. The VFW urges you to redouble your efforts and get your representatives to reject the TRICARE increase when the bill comes up for a floor vote, and to contact your senators to reject the proposal if it makes it through the House. To take action against the proposed TRICARE increase, go to http://capwiz.com/vfw/issues/alert/?alertid=46437541.
2. New Vet Employment/Transition Bill: Senate VA Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced VFW-supported legislation to aggressively improve the unemployment rate among veterans. S.951, the Hiring Heroes Act of 2011, would require the Departments of Defense, VA and Labor to work together to improve the Transition Assistance Program and to identify barriers in translating military jobs into civilian employment. The bill hopes to offer unique job skills training, create new direct federal hiring authority, and improve veteran mentorship programs in the private sector. According to Labor Department statistics, about 27 percent of veterans ages 20-24 are currently unemployed. Read the committee press release at http://veterans.senate.gov/press-releases.cfm?action=release.display&release_id=1fc27742-327f-437d-9544-04058da51d3d.
3. House Hearings: The House VA Committee cleared several VFW-supported bills, which now move to the House floor for a vote. They include:
* HR 1383, Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act of 2011, to grandfather veterans attending private schools who were adversely affected by the changes made in the GI Bill last Congress. It also increases the cap to $27,000 from $17,500 for students already enrolled in private schools under Chapter 33.
* HR 1657, legislation that would improve VA's enforcement of service-disabled, veteran-owned small business contracting.
* HR 1441, a bill to ban reserving burial and interment locations at Arlington National Cemetery, and clears the way for a memorial on Chaplains Hill to honor Jewish chaplains who died defending our country.
* HR 1407, The Veterans Cost of Living Adjustment Act of 2011, would provide a cost-of-living increase to veterans' disability compensation rates and other benefits. It would also provide a five-year extension to VA adaptive grants program for severely wounded veterans residing in a family member's home.
For more information visit the committee website at http://veterans.house.gov/.
4. Korean War MIA Identified: The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced identification of remains belonging to Army Cpl. Primo C. Carnabuci, of Old Saybrook, Conn. On Nov. 1, 1950, Carnabuci's unit, the 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, was forced to conduct a fighting withdrawal from their position along the Kuryong River, near Unsan, North Korea. He was among almost 600 men to be reported missing from the battle. Read more at http://www.defense.gov/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=14484