VFW Action Corps Weekly February 3, 2017 In This Issue: 1. Vets Committee Holds Confirmation Hearing 2. Army Reserve VSO/MSO Roundtable 3. New Blended Retirement Training 4. DOD Increases Discharge and Records Review Outreach 5. Iraqi Translators Now Welcome 6. Veterans Day Poster Contest 7. DeCA Announces Private Labels 8. MIA Update View a printable version of the Action Corps Weekly. 1. Vets Committee Holds Confirmation Hearing: On Wednesday, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a confirmation hearing to vet Dr. David Shulkin, President Trump’s nominee to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. Shulkin has served as VA’s under secretary for health for the past 18 months and has overseen the implementation of the Choice Program. Shulkin was grilled on what still needs to be done to improve access, what tools he needs to achieve accountability within the agency, and what steps need to be taken to improve the claims process –– specifically appeals. The hearing was cordial and Dr. Shulkin acquitted himself well. The committee will likely vote next week to approve his nomination, which will send the nomination to the Senate floor for a final vote. Watch the confirmation hearing. 2. Army Reserve VSO/MSO Roundtable: The VFW participated in a veteran and military service organization roundtable on Thursday with Chief of Army Reserve Lieutenant General Charles D. Luckey, who was joined by Assistant Chief of Army Reserve Mr. Stephen Austin, Deputy Chief of Army Reserve Major General Michael Smith, as well as senior officials from the directorates of legislative affairs, private-public partnerships, communications, and the WWI commemoration. Discussions focused on readiness, finding balance between military and civilian employment demands and the future of the force. 3. New Blended Retirement Training: On Tuesday, the Department of Defense released training on the new Blended Retirement System, set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2018. The new system combines a 20-year cliff vested defined benefit, similar to the legacy high-3 system, with a defined contribution and government matching benefit. Service members on or entering active duty before Dec. 31, 2017, will be required to complete the training before deciding whether to opt-in to the new system or remain in the legacy system. Access training and additional details on the BRS. 4. DOD Increases Discharge and Records Review Outreach: The Department of Defense is renewing its efforts to make more veterans aware of military discharge and records review opportunities. In a press release, DOD said it is reviewing and consolidating all related policies to reinforce its commitment to ensuring fair and equitable review of separations for all veterans. Whether the discharge or other correction is the result of PTSD, sexual orientation, sexual assault, or some other consideration, the department is committed to rectifying errors or injustices and treating all veterans with dignity and respect. Veterans who desire a correction to their service record or who believe their discharge was unjust, erroneous, or warrants an upgrade, are encouraged to apply for the review. Learn more about the DOD’s outreach efforts. 5. Iraqi Translators Now Welcome: Defense officials this week are welcoming an administration decision to allow Iraqi translators and interpreters with special documentation to come to the United States. The move was in response to a presidential executive order to temporarily halt the flow of immigrants from seven countries until a better individual vetting process could be created. DOD said embassies and consulates overseas will continue to process and issue special immigrant visas to qualified applicants, including Iraqis who often put themselves at great personal risk by supporting U.S. forces. Read more about the decision. 6. Veterans Day Poster Contest: The 2017 Veterans Day Poster Contest is now open for submissions from all artists. The selected poster will be distributed to all VA facilities and military installations, as well as serve as the cover of the official Veterans Day program at Arlington National Cemetery. The submission deadline is April 15. Get additional submission details and submit your entry today. 7. DeCA Announces Private Labels: The Defense Commissary Agency has chosen the names “Freedom’s Choice™” for its private label –– or store brand –– food products and “HomeBase™” for its private label non-food products. Items will begin appearing on commissary shelves in May, with the number and types of items available expected to grow over the coming years. Read the full press release. 8. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains of two Americans who had been missing in action from Korea. Returning home for burial with full military honors are: — Army Cpl. Melvin R. Hill, 19, of Pomona, California, will be buried Feb. 4 in Alex, Oklahoma. In late November 1950, Hill’s unit was assembled with South Korean soldiers in the 31st Regimental Combat Team on the east side of the Chosin River, North Korea, when his unit was attacked by Chinese forces. After several days of intense fighting, approximately 1,300 members of the RCT were killed or captured in enemy territory. Hill was among those declared missing on Dec. 6, 1950. Read more about Cpl. Hill. — Army Master Sgt. Ira V. Miss, Jr., 23, of Frederick, Maryland, will be buried Feb. 8 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. Miss was a member of Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, operating in the area known as the Central Corridor in South Korea. Miss was reported missing in action on Feb. 13, 1951, after Chinese forces overran the roadblock he was manning. Read more about Master Sgt. Miss. Do you know someone who wants to help us fight for veterans? Sign up new veterans’ advocates today. As always, we want to hear your advocacy stories. Email the VFW to share your stories or photos with us.