1. VFW Offers Emergency Assistance Grants to Westech Veterans
2. VA Launches New Wait Time Transparency Site
3. Thousands Pre-Enroll for VA National Cemetery Interment
4. Help Build DS Memorial on National Mall
5. Pentagon VSO/MSO Roundtable
6. Army Secretary Nominee a VFW Life Member
7. VA Seeks Under Secretary for Health
8. VFW Supports Second Division Memorial Modification Act
9. VFWNational Home for Children
10. VFW Posts Host Congressional Town Halls
11. Doolittle Raid 75th Anniversary Commemoration
12. MIA Update
1. VFW Offers Emergency Assistance Grants to Westech Veterans: The VFW is offering up to $5,000 in emergency assistance grants to each of the nearly three dozen student veterans who once attended Westech College, a now defunct for-profit vocational school in southern California. “The affected student veterans were receiving a monthly stipend to go to school, but with Westech’s sudden closure, they are now left without a school and without an income, yet the bills keep coming,” said VFW National Commander Brian Duffy. “These student veterans are in a financial crisis through no fault of their own, which is exactly why the VFW Unmet Needs program was created — to help veterans and military families through temporary emergency situations.” Since its inception in 2004, the VFW Unmet Needs program has distributed $6.75 million in emergency grants to more than 4,300 families, to include nine student veterans when ITT Tech suddenly shut down last summer. The program is funded by the generous donations of patrons and 62 Burger King franchise owners in 36 states. “The VFW is working with Congress to restore their lost GI Bill benefits, but the needs of these student veterans are too immediate to wait for Congress to act,” said Duffy. “I encourage them to contact VFW Director of Programs Lynn Rolf at 1-800-VFW-1899, or to logon to VFW’s Unmet Needs program to learn more and to apply.”
2. VA Launches New Wait Time Transparency Site: The Department of Veterans Affairs rolled out a new website this week that will enable veterans to track which VA facility has the shortest appointment wait times, as well as to compare the quality of care between different VA facilities and private-sector providers. Veterans who reside in urban areas will benefit more from the new online comparison tool than veterans in rural areas simply because they have more VA facilities from which to choose, provided they are willing to travel the extra distance. VA also responded to questions regarding data accuracy, since everything listed is compiled from information received from the field, and no veteran nor the department wants a repeat of the secret waiting lists debacle from three years ago. VA gave assurances that there is only one tracking system now, which is constantly measured. The new VA site is expected to be improved over the coming weeks.
3. Thousands Pre-Enroll for VA National Cemetery Interment: Since first announced last December, more than 10,000 eligible veterans have taken advantage of a new VA benefit that allows them to pre-enroll for interment in a VA national cemetery, which means less paperwork that survivors will have to complete following their loved one’s death. Interested veterans can submit VA Form 40-10007, Application for Pre-Need Determination of Eligibility for Burial in a VA National Cemetery, and supporting documentation, such as a DD Form 214, if readily available, to the VA National Cemetery Scheduling Office by toll-free fax at 1-855-840-8299; email to Eligibility.PreNeed@va.gov; or by regular mail to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office, PO Box 510543, St. Louis, MO 63151. Learn more about eligibility determinations.
4. Help Build DS Memorial on National Mall: The Desert Storm Memorial has been approved to be built in Washington, D.C. Now the question is where, since the use of public space in Washington is always subject to intense scrutiny. The memorial foundation is seeking the VFW’s help to convince the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission that the best placement would be in the vacant corner section of Constitution Avenue and 23rd Street, NW, which would be adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial and Vietnam War Memorial, and within easy walking distance of the District of Columbia’s World War I Memorial, the National WWII Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, and the yet-to-be-built Vietnam War Educational Center. VFW support of the Desert Storm Memorial is through the passage of Resolution 305 at the 115th National Convention in St. Louis. To date, the VFW is also the only national veterans organization to contribute money toward its construction, a pledged $500,000. Help get the Desert Storm Memorial built in the corner of Constitution Avenue and 23rd Street, NW, by writing: Mr. Peter May, NCMAC Chairman, 1100 Ohio Drive, SW, Room 220, Washington, D.C. 20242.
5. Pentagon VSO/MSO Roundtable: On Wednesday, the VFW participated in the first quarterly veteran and military service organization roundtable hosted by Secretary of Defense (SecDef) James Mattis. He was joined by Deputy Secretary Robert Work, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Tony Kurta, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Paul Selva, as well as senior officials from the Resources and Acquisition and Public Affairs directorates. In addition to hearing about the potential impact of a year-long continuing resolution on force readiness and modernization and the SecDef’s priorities, the VFW had the opportunity to personally present the key concerns of our membership to Secretary Mattis.
6. Army Secretary Nominee a VFW Life Member: The president last week nominated Dr. Mark E. Green to be the next secretary of the Army. Dr. Green, a Life member of VFW Post 11160 in Clarksville, Tenn., is the CEO of Align MD, an emergency staffing company for 47 hospitals in nine states. He is also the Tennessee State Senator for District 22. He graduated from West Point in 1986 as an infantry officer, and would serve as a rifle platoon leader, scout platoon leader, and airborne rifle company commander with the 82nd Airborne Division. As an Army physician, he served in the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and made three combat tours to the Middle East. A Senate confirmation hearing date has yet to be set.
7. VA Seeks Under Secretary for Health: On Monday, VA announced that there will be a commission to identify the best candidate for the position of under secretary for Health from a pool of applicants. The under secretary is responsible for the nation’s largest integrated health care system, with more than 1,200 sites of care and more than 9 million enrolled beneficiaries. The commission, with yet-to-be-appointed members, is expected to make a recommendation by May 22. The recommendation goes to the president for consideration and any candidate would then have to be confirmed by the Senate.
8. VFW Supports Second Division Memorial Modification Act: On Wednesday, the VFW announced its support for S. 907, the Second Division Memorial Modification Act. The Second Division Memorial was originally constructed to memorialize the United States Army Second Division’s dead from World War I. Introduced by Senator Murkowski of Alaska, S. 907 would authorize the modification of the existing Second Division Memorial by adding three new benches to honor the three areas of conflict the Second Division has fought in since its last upgrade –– the Korea DMZ, the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan.
9. VFW National Home for Children: The VFW National Home for Children was created to help veteran families in your community. Active duty military families, veteran families, and the families of VFW and Auxiliary members may qualify for the program. If there is a struggling veteran family in your area, please refer them to the VFW National Home or tell them to call toll free at 1-800-313-4200 to learn more about this life changing opportunity.
10. VFW Posts Host Congressional Town Halls: As spring arrives, VFW Posts across the country are opening their doors to members of Congress for town hall events. Often focusing on the needs of veterans and the military, these are awesome opportunities for our elected officials to hear exactly what the VFW’s positions are on these issues. Posts are encouraged to host these events and the VFW Action Corps can help you prepare. Ensure you inform your state headquarters when events are scheduled at your Posts and email us at email@example.com with any questions.
11. Doolittle Raid 75th Anniversary Commemoration: Visitors to Washington, D.C., next Tuesday are invited to attend the 75th commemoration of the Doolittle Raid. The event will be held at noon, April 18, at the Air Force Memorial, which overlooks the Pentagon. The wreath-laying ceremony will feature two wreaths –– one for the 80 airmen who flew the historic mission, and one for the estimated 200,000 Chinese civilians who were executed for helping the Raiders after they landed on the east coast of China. The ceremony will also feature a 20-foot Doolittle Raiders Wall of Honor with photos of the airmen, of whom only one remains, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” Cole, now 101. No reservations are necessary to attend the commemoration.
12. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains of seven Americans who had been missing in action from WWII and Vietnam. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:
— Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Marvin B. Rothman, 21, of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, will be buried April 19 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. Rothman, a P-47D Thunderbolt pilot, was assigned to the 311th Fighter Squadron, 58th Fighter Group. On April 11, 1944, Rothman flew on a bombing escort mission with 15 other Thunderbolts to Wewak, Territory of New Guinea. Rothman was attacked by enemy fighter aircraft and failed to return from the mission. He was officially declared deceased as of Feb. 6, 1946. Interment services are pending. Read about Rothman.
— Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Don O. Neher was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when Japanese aircraft attacked his ship on Dec. 7, 1941. Neher was one of 429 crewmen killed in the attack. Interment services are pending. Read about Neher.
— Navy Reserve Ensign William M. Thompson was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when Japanese aircraft attacked his ship on Dec. 7, 1941. Thompson was one of 429 crewmen killed in the attack. Interment services are pending. Read about Thompson.
— Army Technician 4th Grade John Kovach, Jr. was assigned to Company C, 192nd Tank Battalion. He died Nov. 19, 1942, while stationed in the Philippines. Interment services are pending. Read about Kovach.
— Marine Corps Capt. John A. House, II, was assigned to HHM-265 Marine Aircraft Group 16. On June 30, 1967, House’s CH-46A Sea Knight helicopter crashed after being hit by enemy fire while attempting to insert a Marine reconnaissance team into hostile territory in Thua Thien-Hue Province, Vietnam. While most of the reconnaissance team survived, House and four others were killed. Interment services are pending. Read about House.
— Lance Cpl. John D. Killen, III, was assigned to Company A, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. On June 30, 1967, Killen was onboard a CH-46A Sea Knight helicopter attempting to insert his Marine reconnaissance team into hostile territory in Thua Thien-Hue Province, Vietnam, when it was struck by enemy fire and crashed. While most of the reconnaissance team survived, Killen and four others were killed. Interment services are pending. Read about Killen.
— Cpl. Glyn L. Runnels, Jr. was assigned to Company A, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. On June 30, 1967, Runnels was onboard a CH-46A Sea Knight helicopter attempting to insert his Marine reconnaissance team into hostile territory in Thua Thien-Hue Province, Vietnam, when it was struck by enemy fire and crashed. While most of the reconnaissance team survived, Runnels and four others were killed. Interment services are pending. Read about Runnels.