VFW Action Corps Weekly – January 29, 2016
In This Issue:
1. Winter Storm Impacts Congressional Schedule
2. Draft Registration for Women?
3. Force of the Future Update
4. Desert Storm Memorial Update
5. WWI Memorial Design Selected
1. Winter Storm Impacts Congressional Schedule: Winter storm Jonas caused federal offices to be closed during part of this week forcing Congress to postpone several congressional hearings. The VFW will update you when the hearings are rescheduled.
2. Draft Registration for Women? The VFW attended a press conference today with Selective Service System Director Lawrence Romo, who confirmed that the Pentagon has yet to make a recommendation to Congress to consider changing the registration requirement, but he did give it a 50:50 chance of occurring, now that the combat exclusion clause on women has been eliminated. With few exceptions, all 18 to 25-year-old American male citizens, as well as documented and undocumented immigrants, are required to register. Failure to do so is a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, as well as being rendered ineligible for federal student loan grants, federal government employment, and employment with many state and local governments. The Selective Service System is a small, 124-employee independent agency within the Executive Branch. Right now, 16 million 18 to 25-year-old American males are registered; adding women would more than double their workload, but Roma said, if tasked, they could handle the additional workload with about 40 new employees and a slight increase to their $23 million annual budget. Learn more about the Selective Service System at: https://www.sss.gov/.
3. Force of the Future Update: Defense Secretary Ash Carter yesterday took another step toward building a Force of the Future in order for his department to maintain a competitive edge in attracting top talent. This latest announcement focuses on eight military family quality of life initiatives, some of which requires congressional legislation. The new initiatives are:
– Create 12-Week Paid Maternity Leave Standard: This would double the current leave and immediately put DOD in the top tier of institutions nationally. More than 200,000 women currently serve in uniform, comprising 14.8 percent of enlisted personnel and 17.4 percent of officers.
– Expand Paternity Leave to 14 Days: The initiative would increase the current 10-day paternity leave to 14.
– Expand Adoption Leave: DOD currently authorizes three weeks adoptive leave to one parent. For the 84,000 military-to-military marriages, this initiative would provide two weeks of leave for the second parent, as well.
– Extend CDC Hours to 14 Hours Minimum: Nearly half of all military families have to rely on an additional provider to meet their childcare needs outside the hours provided by military Child Development Centers. This initiative will extend CDC hours to overlap normal working shifts by at least two hours to ensure consistency with the daytime work patterns of the majority of military members.
– Standardize Mothers’ Rooms: To help transition from maternity leave, DOD will require Mothers’ Rooms at all facilities with more than 50 women assigned. This will result in the improvement or establishment of 3,600 rooms throughout the military.
– Examine Additional Childcare Options: The three service secretaries will assess childcare options to improve access and usability. To be evaluated are: expanding current capacity at those Child Development Centers where waiting lists exceed 90 days, allowing families to get on waiting lists upon receipt of orders instead of after arriving at new duty stations, creating a universal CDC waiting list application, and to better train CDC directors about interim off-base care resources, new parent mentorship networks, home-based child care, as well as to establish parent advisory boards.
– Allow Longer Assignments for Family Reasons: DOD will seek an amendment to existing Title 10 authorities to permit service members to remain at current duty stations longer when it is in the best interests of their families. Examples cited were children in their senior year of high school, spouses about to graduate from a local university, and the need to care for a nearby ailing parent. In exchange, service members would incur additional active duty service commitments commensurate with the extension.
– Provide Egg and Sperm Cryopreservation: The department will cover the cost for active duty members to freeze their sperm or eggs through a pilot program within the current governing rules of TRICARE. One purpose of the pilot is to understand the costs and potential recruiting and retention benefits for providing this medical service. After two years, the pilot may be renewed or service members can pay for additional storage out of pocket. Learn more details about the eight initiatives at: http://www.defense.gov/News/Special-Reports/0315_Force-of-the-Future.
4. Desert Storm Memorial Update: The VFW spoke before the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission yesterday in support of the proposed National Desert Storm Memorial. The VFW fully supports its creation, as authorized by Resolution 305, which was approved by delegates attending the 115th VFW National Convention in St. Louis, Mo. Getting commission approval is another step in a multilayered process that’s required for any new monument or memorial in Washington, D.C. The eight commissioners were in agreement that the Desert Storm Memorial should be located in Area 1, which encompasses a large portion of the National Mall, as well as across the Potomac River heading towards Arlington National Cemetery. Whether or not the new memorial will be permitted to be built within the portion identified as “The Reserve” is still to be determined. The Reserve is the most coveted area, as it currently encompasses the Vietnam, Korea, World War II, and the District’s World War I monuments.
Learn more about the Desert Storm Memorial at: http://www.ndswm.org/.
5. WWI Memorial Design Selected: The World War I Centennial Commission announced the winning design for a new national memorial. “The Weight of Sacrifice,” created by 25-year-old Joe Weishaar, a 2013 University of Arkansas graduate who now works in Chicago, and New York-based sculptor Sabin Howard, was selected out of five finalists from 350 total entries. The design met the challenge of creating a concept to appropriately honor the service and sacrifice of the nearly 5 million Americans who served, and the more than 116,000 who died. The new national memorial is hoped to be dedicated on Veterans Day 2018, the centennial of the end of “The Great War.” It will be built a block away from the White House in Pershing Park, and include the existing statue of Army Gen. John J. “Blackjack” Pershing, commander of American Expeditionary Forces, and member of VFW Post 27, which was formerly located in the Philippines. See the winning design at: http://www.defense.gov/News-Article-View/Article/644632/officials-announce-winning-design-concept-for-national-wwi-memorial?source=GovDelivery.