In This Issue:
1. Defense Bill Strengthens Sexual Assault Provisions
2. VA Funding Clears House
3. VFW Joins Monster.com Veterans Jobs Summit
4. Senate VA Committee Discusses Medication Alternatives
5. VFW Joins PBS Screening of “Coming Home”
6. Eight WWII Vets to Receive POW Medal
1. Defense Bill Strengthens Sexual Assault Provisions: This week, the House Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee marked up their section of the FY 2015 defense bill by renewing their support to strengthen sexual assault reporting and prosecution among the services. Included in the bill are provisions that would improve DOD’s Sexual Assault and Response Program while actively monitoring their implementation of reforms already in place. Other provisions include requiring the Pentagon inspector general to review all discharges of members who had reported sexual assault and directing DOD to provide a detailed report to Congress on implementation of all provisions enacted into law since 2012. Subcommittee members did not discuss any changes to TRICARE benefits or the 1.8 percent pay raise for military personnel.
For more on the mark-up to include Subcommittee Chairman Joe Wilson’s (R-SC) press release, click here:
2. VA Funding Clears House: On Wednesday, the House passed (416-1) their FY 2015 VA and Military Construction Appropriations bill. The bill provides $159 billion for all VA accounts. $94 billion would go to fund compensation and pension payments and other mandatory accounts, while $65 billion would fund discretionary accounts like medical care, veterans benefits and construction. The bill falls short by nearly $4 billion of meeting the Independent Budget discretionary accounts request. The most glaring shortfalls are the lack of funding for construction accounts and medical facilities, both accounts support VA’s infrastructure which is critical to providing and delivering services to veterans. The Senate is expected to take the bill up sometime before Memorial Day.
For the House Appropriations Committee Press Release, click here: http://appropriations.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=378371
For our VA funding recommendations, visit the Independent Budget website at: http://www.independentbudget.org/
3. VFW Joins Monster.com Veterans Jobs Summit: The VFW joined Monster.com and Military.com this week for a summit to discuss the national employment situation for veterans. Monster brought together leaders in business, government and veterans’ service to discuss ways in which the nation can better prepare transitioning service members for post-military employment and share promising practices. The summit also featured a stirring keynote address from Medal of Honor recipient Sal Giunta. For highlights from the summit, click here:
4. Senate VA Committee Discusses Medication Alternatives: The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee held an oversight hearing on VA chronic pain management. The major concern was the overuse of addictive and potentially dangerous opioid pain medications and the effectiveness of alternative therapies that can be used to manage pain. The Committee acknowledged that opioid medication overuse is a national problem, however, the veterans’ community is particularly affected since veterans are far more likely to experience chronic pain than civilians. VA testified that they are taking steps to improve pain management safety and effectiveness with a national directive requiring all VAMCs to closely monitor opioid prescriptions and educate veterans and providers on the risks-benefit ratios of these powerful medications. VA has also created several Centers of Innovation at various VAMCs to pilot and examine the effects of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for pain management, including yoga, meditation, massage, chiropractic care, and acupuncture which are receiving positive feedback. For the full testimony transcript, click here: http://www.veterans.senate.gov/hearings/overmedication-problems-and-solutions
5. VFW Joins PBS Screening of “Coming Home”: The VFW joined PBS at the U.S. Capitol this week for a special screening of the new documentary “Coming Home with Wes Moore.” The three-part documentary chronicles the experiences of Post-9/11-era veterans coming back home and takes a candid look at the struggles and triumphs associated with military service and reintegration. For highlights from the screening and to learn more about “Coming Back,” click here: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2014/05/vfw-joins-pbs-screening-of-coming-back.html
6. Eight WWII Vets Receive POW Medal: Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark A. Welsh presented the POW Medal to eight WWII U.S. Army Air Forces personnel in a pentagon ceremony on Wednesday. Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James authorized the award to 143 USAAF airmen who were interned in the Wauwilermoos, Switzerland prison camp during World War II. The names of those who received the award are listed here: http://www.defense.gov/Advisories/Advisory.aspx?AdvisoryID=3603