In This Issue:
1. Arlington National Cemetery Hearing
2. House VA Commitee Hearings
3. Two Korean War MIAs Identified
4. Congress on Recess
1. Arlington National Cemetery Hearing: The House Armed Services Committee held a hearing Wednesday on the Army Inspector General's report of mismanagement at the cemetery. More than 200 gravesites were discovered to be improperly marked or not marked at all. According to Army Secretary John McHugh, progress is being made to address the managerial problems, but he said Arlington will not examine all 330,000 gravesites until they fully automate their current recordkeeping system, which is on 3x5-inch index cards.
2. House VA Committee Hearings:
* Wednesday: The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations met to evaluate the VA General Counsel Office's ability to provide legal advice and representation for all aspects of VAs program and management responsibilities. The VA General Counsel has more than 700 employees in Washington, DC, and in field offices across the country.
* Thursday: The Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs reviewed several bills to improve veterans' benefits and compensation. The VFW testified in support of HR 3407, a comprehensive bill that would increase aid and attendance and adaptive grant enhancements for severely injured veterans; HR 3787, to recognize Guard and Reservists who serve 20 or more years; and HR 5064, The Fair Access to Veterans Benefits Act of 2010, which would provide more flexibility in filing claims before the Board of Veterans Appeals.
For more information or to watch the recorded hearing, visit the House VA Committee website at http://veterans.house.gov/
To read VFW testimony, go to http://www.vfw.org/index.cfm?fa=caphill.leveld&did=3702
3. Two Korean War MIAs Identified: The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced that the remains of Navy Ensign Robert W. Langwell of Columbus, IN, and Army Pfc Charles H. Higdon of Akron, OH, have been identified. On Oct. 1, 1950, Langwell was aboard the minesweeper USS Magpie when it struck an enemy mine. Twelve crewmen were rescued, but Langwell was one of 20 lost at sea. In 2008, South Korean officials came upon an elderly fisherman who remembered burying an American in 1950 after his body was caught in his fishing net. Dental comparisons were used to indentify Langwell's remains. In November 1950, Higdon was occupying a defensive position when the enemy collapsed their perimeter. Almost 400 men were reported MIA or KIA from the battle. Following the war, it was learned that Higdon and nine others were captured and taken into a field and shot. Three of the 10 survived, though one later died, but detailed information on the incident location and the identities of the other soldiers was obtained. In May 2004, a joint U.S.-North Korean team excavated a mass grave where an elderly civilian reported witnessing the shooting and burial. Higdon was identified using dental comparisons and mitochondrial DNA, which matched that of his sister.
4. Congress on Recess: Members of Congress will be in their district offices during the Independence Day recess, and will return to Washington on July 12. Now is a great time to schedule a visit to discuss the VFW legislative priority goals, especially our number one priority, which is to fix the claims backlog problem. We also encourage you to discuss veterans' employment and rural health care initiatives with your elected members. Challenge them by asking what they are doing for veterans, for servicemembers and for their families. For a list of VFW priority goals, visit the VFW Capitol Hill webpage at http://www.vfw.org/index.cfm?fa=caphill.leveld&did=3694