In this issue:
1. VFW Applauds White House Effort to Combat Suicide
2. VFW Active at Republican Convention
3. VA Increases Vets Retraining Assistance Program
4. Combating Veterans' Homelessness
5. VFW Hears from Marine Corps Commandant
6. Army and NFL Discuss TBI
7. Five MIAs Return Home
1. VFW Applauds White House Effort to Combat Suicide: Today, the President signed an executive order designed to curb military and veteran suicide and improve the delivery of mental health resources to our nation's heroes. The executive order, "Improving Access to Mental Health Services for Veterans, Service Members and Military Families," which President Obama is scheduled to announce during a visit to Fort Bliss in Texas, includes nearly a dozen specific initiatives designed to improve mental health resources and intervention tools. National Commander John E. Hamilton, noted the VFW support for the president's vision to prevent military suicides and improve mental health care delivery, but also expressed concerns about potential funding shortfalls to accomplish the president's goals. Click here for the VFW's Press release: http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2012-Articles/VFW-Applauds-White-House-Efforts-to-Stop-Military-Suicide/
2. VFW Active at Republican Convention: VFW Representatives attending the Republican National Convention (RNC) listened to key note speakers and spoke with delegates on critical issues like veterans mental and behavioral health, accurate claims processing and helping service members secure educational, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. The VFW will also be represented at next week's Democratic National Convention in Charlotte to ensure the voice of veterans, service members and their families remains a key priority during Campaign 2012. Leading both delegations will be VFW Legislative Director Ray Kelley. Stay informed throughout by reading blog postings at: www.vfwonthehill.org/
3. VA Increases Vets Retraining Assistance Program: This week, VA announced that have filled 36,000 of the 45,000 job training openings available under the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) passed as a part of the VOW to Heroes Act. An additional 55,000 openings will be available October 1, 2012. VRAP provides up to $1,473 a month in GI Bill benefits for those taking full-time courses to learn the skills necessary to land a job. VFW was instrumental in getting the provision passed as a part of the comprehensive jobs bill and encourages veterans eligible to apply online. Click here for more information: http://www.benefits.va.gov/VOW/
4. Combating Veterans' Homelessness: Veterans' homelessness is a national problem that is best solved at the local level. As such, the VA recently launched a new online ordering portal for communities and national partners to order free informational material and promotional items ranging from brochures and posters to wallet cards, drawstring bags and hygiene kits, among other items. Share the portal link with your VFW members and Posts and with others in your community to help spread the word. For more information or to place an order, go to http://www.va.gov/homeless/materials_center.asp.
5. VFW Hears from Marine Corps Commandant: This week, VFW attended a Press Club event where Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos spoke on a number of issues important to the Corps. Leading the list was the continuing success of combat operations in Afghanistan and the transfer of responsibilities over to Afghan national security forces. Following his remarks, Amos fielded questions from the audience on a variety of military quality-of-life and force readiness issues ranging from fiscal responsibility and budget constraints on the Marines Corps, to women serving in combat, suicide, and sexual assault. When asked about potential across-the-board cuts to the Defense budget, Amos said he believed the Marine Corps would be hit disproportionately hard, considering the size of the force and the value it delivers to the U.S. military. Amos also said that the greatest challenge for the Corps moving forward would be ensuring the force remains balanced through a period of fiscal austerity. To learn more about Amos' remarks and to view C-SPAN's full coverage of the event, click here: http://www.vfwonthehill.org/2012/08/vfw-hears-from-marine-commandant.html?m=1
6. Army and NFL Discuss TBI: Earlier this week, Army representatives hosted NFL leaders at West Point to discuss how they can affect positive change surrounding Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and concussions. The military, alongside the NFL have continued conversations regarding the Soldier-Athlete commitment to education and awareness of these serious injuries. To watch the discussion, click here: http://www.dvidshub.net/webcast/2578#.UD5iiqCoz1l.
7. Five MIAs Return Home: The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office recently announced the identification of remains belonging to one airmen and four soldiers who had been missing in action since World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Returned home are:
* Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Harry W. Eck, of Minot Ward, N.D. On Sept. 13, 1944, Eck and eight other crewmembers were aboard a B-17G Flying Fortress that crashed near Neustaedt-on-the-Werra, Germany. Only one of the nine crewmen is known to have successfully parachuted out of the aircraft before in crashed.
* Army Cpl. Kenneth R. Block, 22, of Ann Arbor, Mich. In late November 1950, Block and elements of the 31st Regimental Combat Team, known as "Task Force Faith," were advancing along the eastern banks of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea when they came under attack. On Dec. 3, Block and many other Americans would be listed as missing in action as a result of the heavy fighting.
* Army Sgt. 1st Class William T. Brown, 24, of La Habra, Calif.; Sgt. 1st Class Donald M. Shue, 20, of Kannapolis, N.C.; and Sgt. 1st Class Gunther H. Wald, 25, of Palisades Park, N.J. On Nov. 3, 1969, the men and six Vietnamese soldiers were part of a Special Forces reconnaissance patrol that was ambushed while operating in Quang Tri Province near the Vietnam-Laos border.
Read more about their recovery and identification at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases/.
In This Issue
1. Pentagon Unveils New Strategic Guidance
2. TSA to Ease Military Screening
3. VA Expands Mobile Vet Centers
4. Korean War MIA Identified
1. Pentagon Unveils New Strategic Guidance: President Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey unveiled new strategic guidance at the Pentagon yesterday for a U.S. military of the future that will be smaller and leaner, but still agile, flexible, ready, and technologically advanced to respond to global threats. Initial plan details won't be known until the FY 2013 budget request is unveiled in a few weeks, but the president did say the defense budget will continue to grow over the next 10 years, albeit at a slower pace, now that today's wars are ending. Eight principles will help set funding levels and priorities as DOD must reduce its overall budget by $487 billion over the next decade. The eight principles are:
1. Maintain a broad portfolio of military capabilities to counter terrorism and irregular warfare; deter and defeat aggression; project power; counter weapons of mass destruction; operate in space and cyberspace; maintain a secure and effective nuclear deterrent; defend the homeland and support civil authorities; provide a stabilizing presence abroad; conduct stability and counterinsurgency operations; and conduct humanitarian and disaster relief assistance.
2. Differentiate between those budget investments that should be made today and those that can be deferred to tomorrow.
3. Maintain a ready and capable force, even as we reduce overall capacity.
4. Reduce the cost of doing business, to include reductions in the growth of compensation and healthcare costs, while still keeping faith with those who serve, and especially to the 46,000 wounded and families of the 6,200 who lost their lives.
5. Examine how this strategy will influence existing campaign and operational contingency plans.
6. Examine the proper mix of Active Duty and Reserve Component forces to best suit the new strategy.
7. Retain and build upon key advancements in networked warfare, which over the past decade has produced a truly interdependent and interoperable joint force.
8. Maintain an adequate industrial base and investment in science and technology.
To read a PDF copy of the Defense Strategic Guidance, go to: http://www.defense.gov/news/Defense_Strategic_Guidance.pdf
2. TSA to Ease Military Screening: President Obama signed into law this week the Risk-based Security Screening for Members of the Armed Forces Act, which gives the Transportation Security Administration six months to develop and implement a plan to expedite the airport screening of service members traveling on orders and in uniform. TSA also seeks to accommodate family members who would like to accompany a deploying service member to the boarding gate or greet them upon their return. Family members should contact airline representative at the airport about local procedures to receive passes into enter the secure area. Read more at http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=66674.
3. VA Adds 20 Mobile Vet Centers: The VA announced an additional 20 Mobile Vet Centers will be on the road to help increase counseling service access to veterans and their families residing in rural or underserved communities. Almost 200,000 veterans and their families made more than 1.3 million visits to a VA Vet Center in FY 2011. For more information or to find a Vet Center near you, go to www.vetcenter.va.gov.
4. Korean War MIA Identified: The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced the identification of remains belonging to Army Sgt. Joseph A. Bowen, 19, of Augusta, Ga. On Nov. 30, 1950, Bowen was assigned to the 31st Regimental Combat Team when it was attacked by Chinese forces on the east side of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. Bowen was one of more than 1,000 soldiers reportedly killed, missing or captured during the battle. Read more at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases/.
The VFW joined President Barack Obama and leaders in veterans' advocacy at the White House yesterday [Monday] to sign the VOW to Hire Heroes Act into law. This comprehensive piece of veterans' jobs legislation passed both houses of Congress with unanimous bipartisan support before reaching the president's desk thanks in large part to the advocacy of the VFW on the issue of veterans' unemployment.
Over the last few years, the VFW has consistently passed a resolution at the VFW National Convention calling on Congress to address the ever-growing unemployment crisis among veterans, particularly the men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. VFW then testified in support of comprehensive veterans' jobs legislation before both the House and Senate in the lead-up to the compromise bill that the president signed yesterday [Monday].
Both Republican and Democratic leaders, like House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash., joined the president, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden at the White House to mark the bipartisan victory that will help veterans become more marketable employees in a cut-throat jobs market.
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