In This Issue:
1. VFW Heads to Louisville for 114th National Convention
2. IB Testifies on Veterans Funding and Reporting Bills
3. House VA Subcommittee Clears Veterans’ Bills
4. VA Committee to Discuss MST Care and Treatment
5. Salute the Korean War 60th
1. VFW Heads to Louisville for 114th National Convention: Over 10,000 members are expected when the nation’s oldest and largest combat veterans’ organization convenes for their 114th VFW National Convention in Louisville, KY. All of the Convention activities will stream live beginning Sunday, July 21 and continue Monday where the Joint Opening Session will feature special award presentations to the Navy SEALs, General Peter Chiarelli and others. During the five-day long convention, you will also hear from DOD Secretary Chuck Hagel and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki as well as representatives from the Student Veterans of America. If you are attending the Convention, VFW National Legislative Service invites you to join us at our workshop on Sunday, July 21 and to stop by our booth and pick up a copy of our critical issues booklet, check out our website and Capitol Hill blog and sign-up to receive our Washington Weekly e-newsletter. Currently, we are monitoring more than 120 bills that cover a wide range of issues affecting the military and veterans’ community. For a complete schedule of events and live streaming of the convention, click here http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2013-Articles/VFW-TO-STREAM-LIVE-FROM-LOUISVILLE/
To sign up for up for our Washington Weekly e-newsletter click here: http://capwiz.com/vfw/mlm/signup.htm
2. IB Testifies on Veterans Funding and Reporting Bills: On Wednesday, The Independent Budget (IB) testified before the House VA Committee on several bills which would require new reporting requirements and fund all VA programs in advance (advance appropriations). Currently Advance Appropriations covers medical care accounts only. The IBVSO partners — AMVETS, DAV, PVA and VFW — discussed our support for H.R. 813 which would fund all VA programs in advance and also commented on HR 806 which would instruct VA to provide annual reports to Congress on the accuracy of VA health care funding. Carl Blake, PVA National Legislative Director, presented prepared remarks for the IB, explaining our hesitation on Draft legislation also under review. He commented that the IBVSOs support the idea to regularly revisit VA’s priorities and how it delivers services to veterans, but would need to consider the long-term effects of a potential Quadrennial Veterans Review on current business processes. Both the House and Senate consistently acknowledge the Independent Budget as a road map to prioritize and fund veterans’ programs. The VFW has been a proud member of the Independent Budget since its inception more than 27 years ago. To view a full list of witnesses, read their prepared remarks and view an archived webcast of the hearing, visit out blog at: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2013/07/watch-vfw-joins-house-hearing-on-va.html
For the FY 2014 Independent Budget report on VA funding, click here: http://www.independentbudget.org/
3. House VA Subcommittees Clear Veterans’ Bills: On Wednesday, the House VA Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial Affairs’ cleared HR several bills that would change VA’s handling of the disability claims backlog. For complete coverage visit the House VA website at: http://veterans.house.gov/
HR 8026 would allow veterans who have claims for two or more medical conditions to receive payments for the conditions that have been adjudicated while the others are being processed. The bill was amended to the include provisions of several other bills including the WW II Merchant Marine Service Act which recognizes merchant seamen who served from Dec. 7, 1941, through Dec. 31, 1946, the bill provides burial benefits; appropriate medals, ribbons and other military decorations; and veterans status.
HR 2189 would create a commission to study the claims backlog and recommend solutions and require VA to consider those solutions. It also requires the commission to assign a subcommittee to study any anticipated surge in appeals and asks VA to implement recommendations from a January 2013 VA strategic plan so that by Memorial Day 2015, each claim is approved or denied within 125 days.
HR 2423 extends VA’s ability to use private physicians under contract to conduct disability physicals. It also sets priorities within the disability claims process, with priority given to veterans who are age 70 or older; terminally ill; have life-threatening illnesses; are homeless, Medal of Honor recipients or former prisoners of war; or whose claims are being reviewed again in relation to a previously denied claim for military sexual trauma.
4. VA Committee to Discuss MST Care and Treatment: On Friday, the House VA Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing entitled “Safety for Survivors: Care and Treatment for Military Sexual Trauma. Joy Ilem, Deputy National Legislative Director for DAV will present testimony on behalf of the Independent Budget. Members of the committee have been vocal in their support for improving the care and treatment that VA and DOD provide survivors of military sexual trauma. We continue to express our hope that incidence of sexual assault are being effectively addressed by DOD. The testimony being given mirrors articles in the IB that advocate for greater collaboration between VA and DOD to identify best practices related to health care delivery and claims processing for conditions associated with MST. The hearing will air live at 10 am EST here: http://veterans.house.gov/legislation/hearings
For witness statements or to view the recorded webcast, visit the House VA website at: http://veterans.house.gov/
5. Salute the Korean War 60th: VFW Posts nationwide can help commemorate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice by hosting a “Pancakes for Patriots”-type event on July 27 to salute the service and sacrifices made by so many of our VFW members and their families. The 10 a.m. (Eastern) ceremony at the Korean War Veterans Memorial will be carried live on the national networks, with coverage of pre-ceremony events beginning as early as 8 a.m. on the Pentagon Channel, as well as stream live on their website at http://www.pentagonchannel.mil/. The Korean War Commemoration Committee is especially interested in VFW Posts hosting the breakfast events in Washington, D.C.; the Hampton Roads area of Virginia; La Crosse, Wis.; and in Austin, Birmingham, Louisville, Minneapolis, Nashville, San Antonio and Tucson. A breakfast planning guide is on the VFW website at http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2013-Articles/Attention-VFW-Posts–Honor-Korean-War-Veterans/. More information about the 60th anniversary is at http://www.koreanwar60.com/