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Author Topic: VFW Washington Weekly - Jan 25, 2008  (Read 1811 times)

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VFW Washington Weekly - Jan 25, 2008
« on: January 25, 2008, 03:28:21 pm »
VFW Washington Weekly,
January 25, 2008

In This Issue:
1. Senate Veterans' Disability Compensation Hearing
2. Edwards to Receive VFW Congressional Award
3. VFW Testifies to Improve GI Bill
4. House Health Care Bill Hearing
5. Military Retiree Alert
6. Defense Bill Cleared for Second Time


1. Senate Veterans' Disability Compensation Hearing: The VFW testified this week on behalf of the Independent Budget on the findings and recommendations of the Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission. The hearing was the first of several that the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee plans to hold on the VA's current disability ratings schedule. VFW testimony focused on proposals made by the VDBC in three critical areas: the schedule for rating disabilities, quality of life, and individual unemployability. The four VSOs who make up the IB believe that any changes to the current rating schedule should be made after a thorough review by experts in a variety of disciplines, and any change should benefit all veterans. For our testimony and more from the hearing, visit the Senate VA website at: http://veterans.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?pageid=16&release_id=11504
 
2. Edwards to Receive VFW Congressional Award: The VFW has selected Texas Rep. Chet Edwards (D-17th) to receive its 2008 Congressional Award for his outstanding service to veterans, servicemembers and their families. The congressman, who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, will be presented the award March 3 at the annual VFW Community Service and Legislative Conference in Washington. For the VFW Press Release, go to: http://www.vfw.org/index.cfm?fa=news.newsDtl&did=4419
 
3. VFW Testifies to Improve GI Bill: VFW testified last week before the House VA Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity on legislation designed to improve and enhance education benefits for veterans. The House and Senate have indicated that they intend to move forward on legislation to update the current GI Bill this session. The VFW remains committed to a WWII-like education bill, one that would cover tuition, housing, fees, books, and provide a cost-of-living stipend. Both S. 22, introduced by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), and HR 2702, introduced by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), accomplishes those goals. During the hearing, we also made our top five recommendations for a GI Bill that meets the needs of today's military and veterans. For the VFW's complete testimony and more on the hearing, go to the House VA Committee website at: http://veterans.house.gov/
 
4. House Health Care Bill Hearing: VFW also testified on a host of health-care related bills before the House VA Subcommittee on Health. VFW testified in support of several healthcare initiatives designed to improve access to veterans living in rural areas in need of mental health care. We also applauded a comprehensive bill improving care to female veterans, which requires the VA to study the barriers to care for women veterans. Other supported legislation included a bill asking VA/DOD to complete a study on the physical and mental health care needs of OEF/OIF veterans, and for a suicide prevention study. All of the witnesses agreed that the focus of the legislation is to close gaps in VA services, and that Congress should pass the bills quickly. For more on the hearing and our testimony, visit the House VA Committee website at: http://veterans.house.gov/
 
5. Military Retiree Alert: Military retirees need to check their beneficiary information on the reverse side of their Military Retiree Account Statement. Some retirees have reported an unauthorized beneficiary name change. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service said it has no way of ascertaining whose identity may have been stolen, resulting in a beneficiary change. If this becomes a widespread issue, they most likely will put out at notice. Those retirees that have the wrong beneficiary on their statement should contact DFAS immediately to change their beneficiary, and let them know it was changed without their authorization. The DFAS number is: 1-800-321-1080.
 
6. Defense Bill Cleared for Second Time: Congress cleared a new National Defense Authorization Act (HR 4986) and sent it back to the president this week. The revised version will allow the President to exempt Iraq's post-Saddam government from legislative language giving individuals enhanced rights to sue nations designated by the State Department as sponsors of terrorism. All VFW-supported provisions, including Wounded Warrior language, concurrent receipt and military bonuses, among others, are still intact and will be retroactive to Jan. 1. For a listing of provisions in the new bill (HR 4986), visit the House Armed Services Committee at: http://www.house.gov/hasc/Conf08.shtml