VFW Action Corps Weekly – February 5, 2016
In This Issue:
1. House Hearing on Choice Eligibility
2. House Hearing on VA Research
3. Is Pentagon Budget Request Enough?
4. SEAL to Receive Medal of Honor
5. VFW Supports KW Wall of Remembrance
6. Vietnam Memorial Wall of Faces Update
7. Korean War MIA Identified
1. House Hearing on Choice Eligibility: On Tuesday, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing to discuss VA’s proposal to consolidate its community care programs. Specifically, the committee heard testimony from VA and veterans organizations on how the private sector should be integrated into the VA health care system and when veterans are eligible to access care through private sector providers. VFW Senior Legislative Associate Carlos Fuentes submitted testimony urging the committee to eliminate arbitrary wait time and driving distance requirements and allow the veterans and their doctors decide how long veterans are able to wait or travel for their care. To read the VFW’s testimony, click here: http://docs.house.gov/meetings/VR/VR03/20160202/104342/HHRG-114-VR03-20160202-SD003.pdf. To view a video of the hearing, visit: http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/choice-consolidation-evaluating-eligibility-requirements-for-care-in-the-community.
2. House Hearing on VA Research: On Wednesday, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing to discuss how VA protects and uses products invented by VA medical researchers. The committee members were concerned that VA was unable to profit from a cure for Hepatitis C that was invented by a VA doctor. Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson informed the committee that VA would conduct a thorough review of its medical research to ensure VA is properly protecting and profiting from its intellectual property. To view a video of the hearing, visit: http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/lost-opportunities-for-veterans-an-examination-of-va-s-technology-transfer-program.
3. Is Pentagon Budget Request Enough? Defense Secretary Ash Carter discussed portions of a $582.7 billion defense budget earlier this week that is expected to be a main part of the president’s upcoming federal budget submission for Fiscal Year 2017. The main question for Congress to debate is if the amount is enough, given that it’s more than $20 billion less than FY 2016, yet U.S. forces are staying in Afghanistan, reinforcing Iraq and Europe, fighting Islamic terrorism, while trying to reconstitute and modernize our conventional and strategic forces and equipment at home. On the personnel side will be a recommendation to raise military pay by 1.6 percent, which will mark four consecutive years the Pentagon failed to at least match the Employment Cost Index, which could lead to another double digit military-civilian pay gap that hurt recruiting and retention efforts in the recent past. The military received a 1.3-percent increase this year. Read more at: http://www.defense.gov/News-Article-View/Article/648373/carter-previews-fy2017-defense-budget-request.
4. SEAL to Receive Medal of Honor: The White House has announced that President Obama will award the Medal of Honor to a Navy special warfare operator on Feb. 29. Senior Chief Petty Officer Edward Byers, 37, of Ohio, will receive the nation’s highest valor award for his actions while serving as part of a team that rescued an American civilian being held hostage in Afghanistan in December 2012. The 17-year Navy veteran, who has seven combat tours, is a graduate of the Hospital Corpsman School, Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Course, and Special Operations Combat Medic Course. A Defense Department press release surprisingly contained no details of the action; not so with this USA Today article: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2016/02/02/navy-seal-edward-byers-medal-of-honor-taliban-hostage-rescue-afghanistan/76977748/.
5. VFW Supports KW Wall of Remembrance: The VFW this week added its support to H.R.1475, the Korean War Veterans Memorial Wall of Remembrance Act of 2015, which would authorize a Wall of Remembrance to be added to the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C. The new addition would memorialize the names of more than 33,700 American battle deaths, and at the VFW’s recommendation, include the names of the 2,835 non-battle but still in-theater deaths. The bill, which has more than 280 cosponsors, was introduced by Korean War veterans Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas), Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.).
6. Vietnam Memorial Wall of Faces Update: Hawaii this month became the eighth state to find photos of all their Vietnam fallen. The addition of Army Sgt. 1st Class Felicisimo Hugo of Wahiawa now means all 277 fallen service members from Hawaii have a photo on the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Foundation’s Virtual Wall of Faces. The other states who have submitted photos for all their Vietnam fallen are Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming. More than 45,000 photos have been received, but another 13,000 still need to be collected to ensure there’s a picture for every name inscribed on The Wall. Learn more about the initiative and how you can help at: http://www.vvmf.org/news/article=Hawaii-Becomes-Eighth-State-To-Find-Photos-For-Their-Fallen.
7. Korean War MIA Identified: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains belonging to Army Cpl. Dudley L. Evans, 24, of Greenville, Miss., who died in captivity after being taken prisoner in South Korea on Feb. 15, 1951. He was assigned to Company G, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division.