VFW Action Corps Weekly – December 16, 2016
This is the last issue of the year. The next Action Corps Weekly will be on January 6, 2017.
In This Issue:
- Congress Passes Major Veterans Bill
- National Defense Authorization Act Clears Congress
- Military BAH Rates Set To Increase
- Army VSO/MSO Roundtable
- SECAF Holds Facebook Town Hall
- WWI Centennial Commission
- MIA Update
- Congress Passes Major Veterans Bill: This week Congress sent major veterans legislation to the president for his signature. H.R. 6416, the Jeff Miller and Richard Blumenthal Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2016, included numerous provisions related to several VFW resolutions. The bill expands eligibility for grave marker medallions to be issued by VA to include those veterans who died before November 1990. Another section of the bill provides for researching how the health of children of veterans exposed to toxic substances is impacted. Changes that make uniform the definition of homelessness were also included in the bill. These important provisions were 2016 Priority Goals for the VFW and their enactment into law would fully accomplish VFW Resolution 620, and partially accomplish Resolutions 619 and 621 which were approved at the 117th VFW National Convention. Additional legislation to require VA to pilot a self-scheduling program, to authorize VA to partner with non-governmental agencies to finance VA facilities, and to pay back money withheld from veterans discharged after January 17, 1991 who received severance pay also cleared Congress and awaits the president’s signature. This concludes the 114th Congress. The VFW looks forward to working with the 115th Congress to ensure the VFW’s 2017 Priority Goals are accomplished. To view the VFW’s 2017 Priority Goals, visit: www.vfw.org/advocacy/national-legislative-service.
- National Defense Authorization Act Clears Congress: Legislation providing $618.7 billion and a 2.1 percent pay raise for the military cleared Congress and was sent to the White House this week. The bill also includes a number the VFW’s 2016 Priority Goals, such as requiring DOD to formulate a process by which veterans who received Less-Than-Honorable discharges due to misconduct resulting from the effects of Post-traumatic stress disorder, Military sexual trauma (MST) and Traumatic brain injury are given a fair shake when appealing for discharge upgrade; calculating the military retirement owed to a former spouse based on the rank at time of divorce instead of at time of retirement; and improved reporting and treatment of service members who are victims of MST. The passage of this important bill also fully accomplishes VFW Resolutions 416 and 418 and partially accomplishes Resolution 410, which were approved at the 117thVFW National Convention.
- Military BAH Rates Set To Increase: This week, the Pentagon announced that there will be a 2.4 percent increase to the Basic Allowance for Housing it pays service members. The average increase will be $41 per month, which is also dependent on the rank of the service member and whether they have dependents. While not all regions will see an increase, there will be no decrease for those living in a region that does not get an increase. Further, this marks the third of a five-year plan that will increase the amount of burden that the service member would be responsible for when paying for housing. In an attempt to reduce personnel costs –– something directly caused by sequestration –– the average service members will have to pay three percent of housing costs out-of-pocket in a design which will increase to 5 percent by fiscal year 2019. The VFW continues to be strongly opposed to this plan as part of our larger opposition to sequestration. For more information on the BAH rate increase, go to: http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/news.cfm?ID=73.
- Army VSO/MSO Roundtable: The VFW participated in a veteran and military service organization roundtable on Wednesday with Under Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy, who was joined by senior officials from Manpower, Force Development, Army Review Board, Army Wounded Warrior Program and Soldier for Life. Discussions focused on the “Meet Your Army” campaign, discharge review boards, “Soldier 2020” gender integration, the future of the force and transition topics.
- SECAF Holds Facebook Town Hall: Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James held a Facebook town hall on Dec. 12 to discuss concerns expressed during the October Air Force Spouse and Family Forum. Topics included the hiring of additional family support coordinators; an increase in respite care hours allowed under the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP); quarterly EFMP-related webcasts starting Jan 12; an increase in months of leave without pay available to spouses during moves; the expansion of parental leave per the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act; and additional steps being taken to address other childcare and spouse employment challenges. Read more at: http://www.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/223/Article/1027513/secaf-shares-developments-with-spouse-and-family-programs-at-townhall.aspx
- WWI Centennial Commission: The World War I Centennial Commission was created by Congress to commemorate America’s significant role during the “war to end all wars,” as well as the subsequent rebuilding of war-torn Europe afterwards. Approximately 4.7 million American men and women served during World War I, with 2 million deploying “over there.” Sadly, 116,516 paid the ultimate price. The commission is engaging with communities across the nation, partnering with the History Channel and the Smithsonian museums, and designing a new National World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C. The VFW is fully supportive of commission initiatives, which include naming Quartermaster General Debra Anderson as a commissioner, identifying those Posts that are named after fallen WWI soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, publicizing America’s contributions in the VFW magazine, and supporting the 100 Cities/100 Memorials matching grant challenge. Learn more at: http://www.worldwar1centennial.org/index.php.
- MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains of 12 Americans who had been missing in action from World War II and Korea. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:
— Navy Seaman 2nd Class Floyd F. Clifford was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, when Japanese aircraft attacked his ship on Dec. 7, 1941. Clifford was one of 429 crewmen killed in the attack. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1030547/sailor-missing-from-world-war-ii-identified-clifford/.
— Navy Fireman 3rd Class Kenneth L. Holm was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, when Japanese aircraft attacked his ship on Dec. 7, 1941. Holm was one of 429 crewmen killed in the attack. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1030832/sailor-missing-from-world-war-ii-identified-holm/.
— Navy Seaman 1st Class Harold W. Roesch was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, when Japanese aircraft attacked his ship on Dec. 7, 1941. Roesch was one of 429 crewmen killed in the attack. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1030550/sailor-missing-from-world-war-ii-identified-roesch/.
— Navy Yeoman 3rd Class Edmund T. Ryan was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, when Japanese aircraft attacked his ship on Dec. 7, 1941. Ryan was one of 429 crewmen killed in the attack. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1026982/sailor-missing-from-world-war-ii-identified-ryan/.
— Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Byron H. Nelson was a nose gunner aboard an American B-24G Liberator bomber with the 721st Bomb Squadron, 450th Bomb Group, 15th Air Force. During a bombing run near Varese, Italy, on April 25, 1944, Nelson’s aircraft and two others were separated from the formation due to dense clouds and later attacked by German fighters. Of the 10 crewmen, six parachuted from the aircraft and escaped capture, two parachuted and were captured by German forces, and two perished in the crash. Nelson was reported to be one of the two who perished. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1027977/airman-missing-from-world-war-ii-identified-nelson/.
— Army Air Forces Capt. Albert L. Schlegel, of Cleveland, Ohio, disappeared Aug. 28, 1944, while piloting his P-51D Mustang on a ground strafing mission near Strasbourg, France. In his final communication, the fighter “ace” radioed he’d been hit by heavy anti-aircraft fire and would need to bail out. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1027011/airman-missing-from-world-war-ii-identified-schlegel/.
— Army Cpl. Gerald I. Shepler was the lead scout on a reconnaissance patrol for Company K, 3rd Battalion, 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, near Hajoyang-ni, North Korea, when his patrol was ambushed by enemy forces. Shepler was unaccounted for after the mission, and the U.S. Army declared him deceased on Nov. 29, 1950. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1027031/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-identified-shepler/.
— Army Sgt. Homer R. Abney was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, when his unit was engaged in heavy fighting with Chinese forces on the road from Kunu-ri to Sunch’on, North Korea — later named “The Gauntlet.” After several days of fighting, his regiment declared Abney missing on Nov. 30, 1950. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1027019/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-identified-abney/.
— Army Cpl. James T. Mainhart served with Company I, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, part of the 31st Regimental Combat Team deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. The RCT was attacked by an overwhelming number of Chinese forces in late November, 1950. Mainhart was among 1,300 members of the RCT killed or captured in enemy territory. He was reported missing as of Nov. 30, 1950. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1027973/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-identified-mainhart/.
— Army Cpl. Edward Pool was reported missing in action on Nov. 30, 1950, while serving with 31st Heavy Mortar Company, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. His unit was part of the 31st Regimental Combat Team deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. Pool could not be accounted for after several days of intense fighting. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1027047/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-identified-pool/.
— Army Cpl. Jules Hauterman was a medic with the Medical Platoon, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, attached to the 31st Regimental Combat Team deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. The RCT was attacked by an overwhelming number of Chinese forces in late November, 1950. Mainhart was among 1,300 members of the RCT killed or captured in enemy territory. He was reported missing as of Dec 2, 1950. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1030834/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-identified-hauterman/.
— Army Cpl. George A. Perreault was part of Support Force 21, assigned to Headquarters Battery, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, near the Central Corridor in South Korea. While supporting Korean-led attacks on Chinese forces, they were caught in a massive Chinese counterattack on Feb. 11, 1951. Perreault was declared missing on Feb. 13, 1951. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1029293/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-identified-perreault/.