1. VFW Supports New VA Accountability, Whistleblower Protection Act
2. Caregivers Program Review Extended
3. Senate Appropriations Hearing on Choice
4. Senate Confirms New Air Force Secretary
5. MIA Update
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1. VFW Supports New VA Accountability, Whistleblower Protection Act: The VFW yesterday saluted Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and the leadership of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees for reaching a bipartisan deal to better protect whistleblowers and hold employees accountable for their conduct or performance. The need for action follows a federal appellate court decision this week that rendered unconstitutional the process used to fire the former director of the Phoenix VA Health Care System. VFW National Commander Brian Duffy said VA Secretary David Shulkin needs to have the authority to manage his people in a manner expected of all senior executives, public or private. “The VFW wants the secretary to weed out the nonperformers and those whose personal conduct brings doubt and dishonor upon thousands of dedicated employees, because maintaining the status quo doesn’t work for those who have borne the battle,” he said. Help the VFW get the bill passed by urging your respective members of Congress to support and quickly pass S. 1094, the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017.
2. Caregivers Program Review Extended: VA will continue to halt revocations from the Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers Program for an additional six weeks because of concerns regarding inconsistent applications of eligibility requirements for the program throughout its medical centers. The VFW has worked with VA since the first halt of revocations on April 17, 2017, to identify issues with the program that must be fixed before VA resumes revocations. Specifically, the VFW has asked VA to review previous revocations to make certain veterans who need assistance from a caregiver were not discharged from the program. The VFW has also urged VA to improve the clinical appeals process to ensure veterans who are denied eligibility have an opportunity to seek a second opinion. Contact the VFW at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have been wrongly denied eligibility for the VA caregivers program.
3. Senate Appropriations Hearing on Choice: On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies held a hearing to discuss VA community care. The main focus was reducing the burden of obtaining health care, while increasing access. Subcommittee Chairman Jerry Moran questioned the issues of consolidating community care under one account and future plans of VA Secretary David Shulkin. The secretary agreed VA needs a different approach to community care for programs such as Choice to be successful. He highlighted key elements necessary for improvement, which include changing criteria requirements for patients to use community care, increasing access to urgent care, maintaining an integrated network of providers, assisting patients in coordination and applying industry standards for metrics. Watch the hearing or read the testimony.
4. Senate Confirms New Air Force Secretary: The Senate on Monday approved the nomination of former congresswoman Heather Wilson to become the new secretary of the Air Force. Wilson, who represented New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District from 1998 to 2009, was the first woman veteran to serve out a full term in Congress. She served seven years as an Air Force officer after being a distinguished graduate of the Air Force Academy’s Class of 1982. She is expected to be sworn into office soon.
5. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains of six Americans who had been missing in action from WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:
— Navy Fireman 1st Class William H. Kennedy, 24, of Titonka, Iowa, will be buried May 12 in his hometown. Kennedy was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when Japanese aircraft attacked his ship on Dec. 7, 1941. Kennedy was one of 429 crewmen killed in the attack. Read about Kennedy.
— Army Cpl. Louis A. Damewood, 21, of Carroll County, Md., will be buried May 12 in Suffolk, Va. Damewood was a member of Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, operating near Hoengsong, South Korea. He was declared missing after his unit attacked an opposition road block on Feb. 13, 1951. Read about Damewood.
— Army Cpl. George A. Perreault, 20, of Burlington, Vt., will be buried May 13 in his hometown. 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. Read about Perreault.
— Air Force Col. William E. Campbell, 37, of McAllen, Texas, will be buried May 18 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. Campbell was assigned to the 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron. Campbell was reported missing in action on Jan. 29, 1969, when his F-4D disappeared while on an armed reconnaissance mission over southern Laos. Read about Campbell.
— Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Harry H. Gaver Jr., was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when Japanese aircraft attacked his ship on Dec. 7, 1941. Gaver was one of 429 crewmen killed in the attack. Interment services are pending. Read about Gaver.
— Army Pfc. Lonnie B.C. Eichelberger was assigned to Company I, 371st Infantry Regiment, 92nd Infantry Division — the only African-American division to fight in Europe. As part of Operation Fourth Term, Eichelberger’s regiment fought in the hills near the town of Strettoia, Italy. His regiment suffered heavy losses while attacking German defenses. Following the battle, Eichelberger could not be accounted for and was declared missing in action on Feb. 10, 1945. Interment services are pending. Read about Eichelberger.
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