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Posted at 01:59 PM on Friday, October 26, 2007 by post2706
In This Issue
1. House Passes Veterans' Bills
2. Senate VA Committee Hearing
3. House VA Subcommittee Hearings
4. Medal of Honor Presented Posthumously
5. Congress Ignores New War Funding Request
1. House Passes Veterans' Bills: The House passed several VFW-supported bills that target mental health care for veterans, condemn recent damages to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and encourage greater participation on Veteran Day.
HR 327 - "The Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act," would develop and implement a comprehensive program to help reduce suicide among veterans.
H Res 680 - Condemns the actions on Sept. 7 when an individual(s) splashed an unknown liquid on several panels of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
H Res 237 - Supports and encourages greater support and participation for Veterans Day.
HR 1808 and HR 2408 - Would rename VA facilities in Georgia for former Rep. Charlie Norwood and in Wisconsin for Battle of the Bulge hero Milo C. Huempfner.
For more information on any of the bills, visit the Thomas website and type the bill number in the box under current Congress: http://thomas.loc.gov/.
2. Senate VA Committee Hearing: The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on health-related legislation this week. Two of the pending bills, the Mental Health Improvements Act of 2007 (S. 2162), and the Veterans Pain Care Act of 2007 (S. 2160), were introduced by Chairman Daniel Akaka (D-HI).
S. 2162 - Would expand substance abuse treatment within VA, establish a pilot program for contracting mental healthcare in rural areas, and establish "centers of excellence" in treating PTSD.
S. 2160 - Would enhance VA's pain management program on a national level, calling for better clinical practices, research and professional education.
Other bills discussed included S. 38, the Veterans Mental Health and Outreach Act, and S. 2004, Epilepsy Centers of Excellence in VHA. VFW supports all the above mentioned legislation. For more on the hearing and the bills, go to: http://veterans.senate.gov
3. House VA Subcommittee Hearings:
Wednesday: The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation held a hearing on the status of DOD and VA in creating a shared electronic medical records system. Recent commission reports and Congress both have called on VA and DOD to speed up their implementation, but despite considerable accomplishments that have been made in the past two years, the two agencies still cannot electronically share vital patient care information.
Thursday: The Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity held an oversight hearing on the Department of Labor Veterans' Employment Training Services and the role of DVOPs and LVERs within the program. The hearing was a follow-up to several other hearings held in the 109th Congress and one held on March of this year. The hearings focused on VSO concerns about funding levels, DVOP/LVER training, accountability and priority of service for our veterans.
4. Medal of Honor Presented Posthumously: President Bush presented the nation's highest medal to the parents of Navy SEAL Lt. Michael Murphy, of Patchogue, New York, who sacrificed his life in an attempt to save fellow SEALs during a fierce battle with Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. On June 28, 2005, Murphy's four-man SEAL team was searching for a key terrorist commander when it came under attack by some 50 Taliban fighters. The lieutenant is credited with risking his own life to save the lives of his teammates, according to a summary of action published by the Navy. Murphy is one of three servicemembers to receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for gallantry in action during the war on terror. The other two recipients were Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith and Marine Cpl. Jason L. Dunham, both of whom were killed-in-action in Iraq.
5. Congress Ignores New War Funding Request: On Monday, President Bush requested $196.4 billion to purchase 7,200 new mine-resistant vehicles, fill equipment shortfalls, repair damaged equipment, enhance roadside bomb countermeasures, fund military construction projects, and improve medical and rehabilitation programs for wounded Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. The media is reporting that House and Senate leadership will wait until next year before advancing the president's new request, the bulk of which would go to DOD. The request is in addition to the Defense Department's fiscal year 2008 budget, which is among the 12 major spending bills that the House and Senate have approved separately but have yet to consolidate for the president's signature.
The federal government's new fiscal year began Oct. 1. VFW Commander-in-Chief George Lisicki is not happy with Congress' nonchalant attitude towards President Bush's war funding request. "Our nation is at war, yet congressional leaders would rather continue to debate the administration's policies than fulfill their obligation to support the troops with adequate and timely funding."