VFW Washington Weekly, June 8, 2012

In This Issue:
1. DFAS Warns of Scams
2. VFW Testifies on Vet Bills
3. Spotlight on Veterans in Upcoming Election
4. See How Your Members Vote
5. A Texas Advocate’s Point of View
6. VFW Locked Out of Education Webinar
7. Arlington National Cemetery Update
8. India Renews JPAC Recovery Operations
9. USS Liberty Attack Anniversary
10. Four MIAs Identified

1. DFAS Warns of Scams: The Defense Accounting and Finance Service is warning military members, retirees federal civilians about potentials scams seeking access into their pay accounts. If you receive emails supposedly from DFAS that you think are attempts to defraud you, call the DFAS customer service number at 1-888-332-7411 to verify if they are attempting to contact you regarding some pay-related issue. To read about current scams and what you can do to better protect yourself online, go to http://www.dfas.mil/pressroom/onlineprotection.html?utm_source=homepage&utm_medium=graphic&utm_campaign=hp_graphic_prtct_5-21-12.

2. VFW Testifies on Vet Bills: The VFW testified on seven veteran-related bills that would clarify issues regarding burial eligibility, claims processing, compensation and pension examinations, and adaptive housing benefits, among others. The House VA Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs asked VFW and other VSO panelists, as well as VA and Defense Department officials to discuss how the bill will impact our nation’s veterans. Texas VFW District 4 Senior Vice Commander Jay Sanders was on hand to speak in support of H.R. 2720, after experiencing difficulties at the Houston VA Cemetery. Some of the VFW-supported bills include:
* H.R. 2996, the Gulf War Syndrome “Presumptive Illness” Extension Act of 2011 would extend the period of time in which the VA presumes the service-connection of certain disabilities of veterans who served in the Persian Gulf War region, as well as Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn.
* H.R. 5880, the Veterans Disability Examination Access Improvement Act, would extend authority to VA to enter into contracts with private doctors to conduct medical disability exams.
* H.R. 4299, the Quality Housing for Veterans Act, would provide specially adaptive housing assistance to veterans residing temporarily in housing owned by a family caregiver.
* H.R. 2720, which is legislation that would clarify the role of VA in providing a benefit or service related to the interment or funeral of a veteran.
For complete coverage of the hearing, visit the our VFW blog at http://www.vfwonthehill.org/2012/06/watch-live-vfw-to-testify-on-veterans.html.

3. Spotlight on Veterans in Upcoming Election: The 2012 Presidential and Congressional elections are fast approaching and once again veterans are in the spotlight. Recent poll information shows that veterans are a strong voting bloc and make up about 13% of the U.S. population. Candidates for the Presidency and the House and Senate know this and are crisscrossing the country with their messages at Town Hall Meetings and other veteran-related forums. Attending these meetings is important to finding out where the candidates stand on VFW’s priority goals. It is time to ask the tough questions about what the candidates are going to do for veterans, service members and their families if they are elected or re-elected. For information on hosting or attending a Town Hall Meeting, or registering to vote, take a look at our veterans vote brochure at http://www.vfw.org/uploadedFiles/Veterans%20Vote%20Brochure.pdf. For a state-by-state election guide, go to http://vfw.capwiz.com/election/register_vote/. And for a copy of VFW’s, go to http://www.vfw.org/uploadedFiles/VFW.org/VFW_in_DC/2012%20Priority%20Goals%20Brochure.PDF.

4. See How Your Members Vote: As the 112th Congress begins to wind down, the VFW prepared a snapshot of how your House and Senate members voted on veterans’ legislation that passed their respective chambers. As in the past, several votes were taken by unanimous consent/voice vote, so individual votes were not recorded and do not appear in the roll call registry at http://capwiz.com/vfw/keyvotes.xc/?lvl=C
Since critical VFW-supported bills, like the Veterans Sexual Assault Prevention Act (HR 2074) and the Veterans Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act (HR 1407), passed the House unanimously by voice vote, we encourage you to take a look at other legislation on our website for more information on where your members stand on issues critical to the VFW and veterans. Click here for a list of bills: http://capwiz.com/vfw/issues/bills/.

5. A Texas Advocate’s Point of View: This week, retired Navy Petty Officer Hal Cleveland shared his story on why he advocates for veterans and how he recently mobilized his fellow VFW members to tell Congress to protect military retirees and their earned health care benefits. Read Hal’s story at http://www.vfwonthehill.org/2012/06/advocates-point-of-view-by-retired-navy.html. To submit an Advocate’s Point of View or a Field Report for consideration for the VFW’s Capitol Hill blog, simply fill out our online form here, or send photos and stories directly to vfwac@vfw.org.

6. VFW Locked Out of Education Webinar: This week, the interagency committee tasked with implementing the president’s recent executive order on veterans’ education planned to host a webinar for veterans’ advocates and higher education stakeholders to outline how the Departments of VA, Defense and Education planned to implement the new directive. Unfortunately, when VFW tried to log on, we were locked out, despite playing a lead role in building consensus among leaders in higher education and the veterans’ community. The VFW has now asked for a direct meeting with the committee. Read more at http://www.vfwonthehill.org/2012/06/we-were-supposed-to-do-webinar-today.html.

7. Arlington National Cemetery Update: VFW National Commander Richard DeNoyer is applauding the Army and its leadership for returning Arlington National Cemetery to the revered status that the nation expects and that those interred and their families deserve. In the wake of a June 2010 Army Inspector General report, the Army fired cemetery management and embraced technology to replace an antiquated 3 x 5-inch card recordkeeping system that was one fire away from total destruction. Each grave marker has been digitally photographed, and a new GPS-linked smartphone app due out this fall will help online visitors tour the cemetery from home. The Army also created a geospatial mapping system that allows cemetery staff to synchronize in real-time all their daily operations, to include burials, public ceremonies, and infrastructure upkeep and repair — a first for any national cemetery. Read more at http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2012-Articles/VFW-APPLAUDS-ARLINGTON-NATIONAL-CEMETERY-IMPROVEMENTS/.

8. India Renews JPAC Recovery Operations: The U.S. and India have agreed to resume remains recovery operations in parts of Northeastern India, where there are approximately 400 unaccounted-for service members from some 90 aircraft crashes that occurred while flying the Himalayan “Hump” missions of World War II. Due to local government differences and security concerns in border-contested areas, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command had not operated in India since 2009. Read more at http://www.defense.gov/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=15346.

9. USS Liberty Attack Anniversary: Today is the 45th anniversary of the unprovoked Israeli attack on the USS Liberty, which occurred June 8, 1967, in international waters off the Sinai Peninsula. American casualties would amount to 33 dead and 171 wounded. The VFW Washington Office joined 10 survivors from the USS Liberty Veterans Association at a memorial service at their mass grave headstone in Section 34 of Arlington National Cemetery at noon.

10. Four MIAs Identified: The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced the identification of remains belonging to four servicemen who had been missing-in-action from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Returned home are:
* Marine Corps Pfc. John A. Donovan, 20, of Plymouth, Mich.. Donovan was a crewmember aboard a PBJ-1 aircraft that failed to return from a night training mission over the island of Espiritu Santo, in what is known today as Vanuatu. None of the crew was recovered and in 1945 they were officially presumed deceased.
* Army Cpl. Dick E. Osborne, 17, of Brookville, Pa. On Nov. 2, 1950, Osborne and members of the 8th Cavalry, 3rd Battalion, L Company, were fighting Chinese forces near the Kuryong River in North Korea, in an area known as “Camel’s Head.” Osborne was listed as missing in action following the fight.
* Air Force Lt. Col. Edward D. Silver, 34, of Junction City, Ore., and Maj. Bruce E. Lawrence, 25, of Easton Pa. On July 5, 1968, Silver and Lawrence, were flying the lead F-4C Phantom II aircraft on a night armed-reconnaissance of enemy targets in Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam. Other pilots witnessed anti-aircraft fire striking the aircraft shortly before it crashed. No parachutes or signs of survivors were seen.
Read their individual search and recovery stories on the DPMO website at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases/.

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