Action Corps Weekly – July 31, 2015
In This Issue:
1. Arming Troops at Home
2. Longtime Advocate Nominated
3. Senate Vets Committee Holds Homelessness Hearing
4. Whistleblower Hearing
5. Important Veterans Bills Passed This Week
6. Space-A Eligibility Eases for Families of Deployed
7. Spirit of ’45 Wreath Laying
8. Three MIAs Recovered
1. Arming Troops at Home: Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Wednesday ordered the military services to develop new policies that could potentially arm more military personnel who are not regularly engaged in law enforcement responsibilities. Entitled “Force Protection Recommendations Following the Chattanooga Shooting,” the secretary’s memorandum orders the services to review their force protection and security policies, programs and procedures, particularly for the military’s 7,000 off-base facilities located on college campuses, in leased shopping mall office space, and elsewhere. His memo focuses on a review of DOD Directive 5210.56, in which the arming of personnel not regularly engaged in security or law enforcement could be extended to qualified personnel based on the threat and immediate need to protect DOD property and lives. Also under consideration could be the application of the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004, which in 2013 was extended to allow credentialed military personnel who actively work in law enforcement to conceal carry while off duty in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It does not, however, authorize them to conceal carry while on duty, unless their military duties require it. The service secretaries have until Aug. 21 to submit their courses of action. Read Carter’s memo at:
2. Longtime Advocate Nominated: On Thursday, the president nominated former member of Congress, Michael Michaud, to be the next assistant secretary of the Department of Labor-Veterans Employment and Training Service. Michaud has been a longtime veterans’ advocate and was the ranking member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee before leaving Congress in 2014. Michaud has been a longtime friend of the VFW, and we support his nomination and look forward to working with him again in the advancement of veterans’ issues. To read more about Mr. Michaud and what local veterans think of the nomination, click here: http://bangordailynews.com/2015/07/30/politics/obama-taps-mike-michaud-for-veterans-employment-post/.
3. Senate Vets Committee Holds Homelessness Hearing: On Wednesday, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a hearing to better understand current veterans homelessness initiatives and to find ways to reach the ultimate goal of ending veterans homelessness. To watch the hearing or to read witness testimony, click here: http://www.veterans.senate.gov/hearings/ending-veteran-homelessness07292015.
4. Whistleblower Hearing: To commemorate National Whistleblowers Appreciation Day, the Senate MilConVA Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing to receive testimony from VA whistleblowers Dr. Katherine Mitchell and Dr. Lisa Nee who discussed concerns regarding whistleblower protections and unresolved issues at the Phoenix Health Care System and Edward Hines Jr. VA Medical Center. Subcommittee members discussed the VA Office of Inspector General’s (VAOIG) performance in handling whistleblower complains. Deputy Inspector General Linda Halliday informed the Subcommittee of challenges the VAOIG faces and recent initiatives she has implemented to address concerns. To view a video of the hearing, visit:http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/hearings-and-testimony/milcon-va-subcommittee-whistleblower-claims-us-department-veterans-affairs.
5. Important Veterans Bills Passed This Week: Several bills the VFW supports have advanced this week. The House has passed H.R. 1994, which would give the Secretary of Veterans Affairs increased authority to hold wrongdoers accountable. The House also passed an important bill to relax evidentiary standards necessary to establish service connection for mental health disorders resulting from military sexual trauma and a bill that would provide a cost-of-living adjustment for veterans’ benefits. The VFW has testified in support of all three bills and calls for their swift consideration by the Senate.
This week, the Senate passed the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act of 2015, which would provide up to 104 hours of sick leave for service-connected disabled veterans who need to receive health care for their disabilities within the first year of their federal employment. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has advanced the House version of the bill and it currently awaits floor consideration. The Senate also confirmed General Dunford to be the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Also this week, Congress passed and the president signed H.R. 3236, which will ensure VA is able to address a $2.5 billion budget shortfall for Fiscal Year 2015. This important bill also includes needed improvements to the Veterans Choice Program and eliminates an inequity in current law that precluded veterans from saving for their future health care needs. The president also signed H.R. 2499, which waives upfront fees for veterans who apply for entrepreneurship loans through the Small Business Administration. Stay tuned to the Action Corps Weekly for updates as these bills move through Congress, and for updates on the implementation of newly enacted laws regarding the Veterans Choice Program and entrepreneurship opportunities for veterans.
6. Space-A Eligibility Eases for Families of Deployed: More military families are now authorized to fly Space-Available aboard military transport aircraft thanks to a VFW-supported recommendation made by the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission. Previously, a service member had to have been deployed 120 days or longer in order for families to fly Space-A unaccompanied. Now it’s 30 days. Dependents must still have a letter from their sponsor’s commander to verify the deployment. More information about this change and other helpful hints for flying Space-A are available at: www.amc.af.mil/amctravel.
7. Spirit of ’45 Wreath Laying: In support of the 70th Anniversary Commemoration of the end of World War II, the Spirit of ’45 organization is asking if all veterans/military service organizations could sponsor wreath-laying ceremonies on Aug. 16 at every American veterans cemetery across the country and overseas. Aug. 16 is a historically significant date because that’s when the Emperor of Japan ordered his forces to immediately cease hostilities. A simple ceremony is all that’s requested to salute those who served and fell, and Bugles Across America (www.BuglesAcrossAmerica.org) can also be contacted to play Taps. To register your event or to learn more about the Spirit of ’45, go to: www.Spiritof45.org.
For a list of U.S. national, state, tribal and territory cemeteries, go to: http://www.vfw.org/uploadedFiles/VAcemeteriescontactlist.pdf. For a list of overseas American cemeteries, go to: https://www.abmc.gov/.
8. Three MIAs Recovered: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains belonging to two Army Air Forces pilots lost during World War II, and a soldier lost during the Korean War. Recovered are:
– Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Edward F. Barker, 21, of Herkimer, N.Y., will be buried Aug. 1 in his hometown. On Sept. 30, 1944, Barker was piloting a P-47D Thunderbolt that failed to return from a training mission in Papua New Guinea. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/NewsReleases/tabid/10159/Article/610776/airman-missing-from-wwii-accounted-for-barker.aspx.
– Army Air Forces 1st Lt. William O. Pile, 24, of Aideville, Ohio, was piloting a B-26C Invader on a mission near Bastogne, Belgium, when he was shot down by enemy fighters on Dec. 23, 1944. He was assigned to the 559th Bombardment Squadron, 387th Bombardment Group, 9th Air Forces, and will be buried with full military honors on a date and at a location yet to be determined.
– Army Pfc. George L. Rights, 23, of Winston-Salem, N.C., will be buried Aug. 9 in his hometown. In Feb. 1951, rights and elements of Battery B, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, were supporting the Republic of South Korea when the 15th FA was attacked by Chinese forces near Hoengsong, South Korea. Following the battle, Rights was reported as missing in action. Read more at:http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/NewsReleases/tabid/10159/Article/611671/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-rights.aspx.