1. Join the VFW in Opposing GI Bill Tax on Troops: The VFW adamantly opposes a proposed tax on military service members to pay for the GI Bill. “We are still a nation at war. We have troops actively engaged in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and now in Syria,” said VFW National Commander Brian Duffy. “The war on terrorism is not over! Congress’ focus should be on defeating our enemies and ending the war, not cutting the benefits of those who are fighting it.” With impending changes to TRICARE and retirement benefits, this proposed tax on troops would force the brave men and women who join the military to choose between health care, retirement and education benefits. As Congress looks to tax junior military service members to pay for their post-military educational benefits, the VFW needs every member and supporter to get involved and help protect the GI Bill. Join the discussion by using the hashtag #NoTaxOnTroops on your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.
2. President Signs VFW-Supported Bill: On Wednesday, VFW Adjutant General Robert E. Wallace was at the White House to join President Trump as he signed a VFW-supported bill to expand and improve the Choice Program into law. S. 544 will authorize VA to continue the Choice Program for an additional eight months. It would also improve the Choice Program by ensuring veterans are not billed for Choice Program care and streamlining medical record sharing to expedite the Choice Program scheduling process –– two issues the VFW had identified and asked Congress to fix. Learn more about the VFW’s concerns about the Choice Program and other VA community care programs.
3. VFW Base Visit: VFW Director of National Security and Foreign Affairs Sarah Maples and Assistant Director for Field Operations Gregg Orto visited our partners at Fort Campbell, Ky., this week. In addition to observing the Benefits Delivery at Discharge claims process, they also toured the installation’s new Army Community Service’s building and met with the Transition Service Manager, VA Benefits Advisors, the DOD/VA Liaison, Wounded Warrior Battalion Coordinators, the Chief, Medical Boards, and VA Military Services Coordinator from the Integrated Disability Evaluation System process. The VFW provides claims assistance to transitioning service members at Fort Campbell, and VFW leaders routinely conduct site visits to see firsthand how the military is working to successfully transition service members back to civilian life.
4. VA to Review Caregivers Program: On Monday, VA announced that VA medical centers around the country will not discontinue or graduate veterans from the VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers for the next three weeks. Secretary of Veterans Affairs David J. Shulkin announced that VA will take the three weeks to evaluate the “consistency of revocations in the program and standardize communication with Veterans and caregivers nationwide.” Resources and information for veteran and military caregivers can be found at Hidden Heroes.
5. First of Five VA Public-Private Construction Projects Announced: This week, VA established partnership with an Omaha, Neb., based non-profit group which would enable VA to save taxpayer money by combining federal funds and $30 million for the Veterans Ambulatory Center Development Corporation to fund a new $86 million VA clinic. The Omaha initiative is the first of five approved by Congress using public and private monies. “This trailblazing project represents another example of the bold changes happening at VA,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs David J. Shulkin said in a statement. The VFW has long supported the idea of public-private partnerships between VA and community groups to spread-load the cost of new facilities and expedite how long it takes for VA to build new facilities. This is a major step forward and a great template for improving how VA expands services to our nation’s veterans.
6. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains of ten Americans who had been missing in action from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:
— Army Pfc. Kenneth R. Miller, 23, of East Cleveland, Ohio, will be buried April 21 in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. Miller was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. On April 23, 1951, his unit was forced to withdraw from their position while fighting Chinese forces. Miller was reported missing following the withdrawal. Read more about Miller.
— Navy Fireman 1st Class Michael Galajdik, 25, of Joliet, Ill., will be buried April 22 in Elwood, Ill. Galajdik was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when Japanese aircraft attacked his ship on Dec. 7, 1941. Galajdik was one of 429 crewmen killed in the attack. Read more about Galajdik.
— Navy Ensign Verdi D. Sederstrom, 25, of Montevideo, Minn., will be buried April 26, in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C. Sederstrom was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when Japanese aircraft attacked his ship on Dec. 7, 1941. Sederstrom was one of 429 crewmen killed in the attack. Read more about Sederstrom.
— Seaman 1st Class Milton R. Surratt was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when Japanese aircraft attacked his ship on Dec. 7, 1941. Surratt was one of 429 crewmen killed in the attack. Interment services are pending. Read about Surratt.
— Army Air Forces Pvt. Harold S. Hirschi was assigned to Headquarters Squadron, 19th Bombardment Group. Hirschi died Nov. 19, 1942, in the Philippines. Interment services are pending. Read about Hirschi.
— Army Cpl. Leslie R. Sutton was assigned to Battery C, 99th Field Artillery Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. Sutton was reported missing in action on Nov. 2, 1950, while fighting in Korea. Interment services are pending. Read about Sutton.
— Army Pfc. Richard A. Lucas was assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. Lucas was reported missing in action on Nov. 26, 1950, while fighting in Korea. Interment services are pending. Read about Lucas.
— Army Sgt. 1st Class Richard G. Cushman was assigned to Company A, 72nd Medium Tank Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division. Cushman was reported missing in action Dec. 5, 1950, while fighting in Korea. Interment services are pending. Read about Cushman.
— Army Pvt. Walter F. Piper was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. Piper was reported missing in action on Feb. 13, 1951, while fighting in Korea. Interment services are pending. Read about Piper.
— Air Force Col. William E. Campbell was assigned to the 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron. Campbell was reported missing in action on Jan. 29, 1969, while operating in Laos. Interment services are pending. Read about Campbell.