Recent Items of Interest November 11th, 2019


*** Article: “Clock ticks down on defense policy bill” 

*** Article: “Construction, bonuses, and maintenance could be first cuts to military without NDAA funding”

Last week, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing on pending nominations for Judge Of The U.S. Court Of Appeals For Veterans Claims. Video of the hearing + witness testimonies can be viewed here.

Upcoming hearings in the Senate Committee on Armed Services:

  • Date: Tuesday, December 3, 2019. “GAO on Privatized Housing Findings to Include Responses from the Military Services on Ongoing Reports of Substandard Housing Conditions and Services.”
  • Date: Wednesday, December 4, 2019. “Servicemember, Family, and Veteran Suicides and Prevention Strategies.”

This week on Wednesday, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will hold a hearing on “Hijacking our Heroes: Exploiting Veterans through Disinformation on Social Media.”

Last week, Sen. Schumer (D-NY) introduced S. 2815 [bill text not yet publicly available], a bill to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of the National Purple Heart Honor Mission. More specifically, it would require the U.S. Department of the Treasury to issue $5 gold coins, $1 silver coins, and 50¢ clad coins in honor of New Windsor’s National Purple Heart Hall of Honor and in honor of all the soldiers—past and present—who have fought bravely to defend American freedom and been wounded or killed in action. All proceeds from the sale of the coins will contribute to the National Purple Heart Honor Mission.

Last week, Sen. Duckworth (D-IL) introduced four bills:

  • S. 2821, the Access to Contraception Expansion for Veterans (ACE Veterans) Act [bill text not yet publicly available]. This bill would require providers at the Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs to inform patients of their option to request a full-year of contraception at the time of prescription being issued.
  • S. 2825, the Veteran Employment and Child Care Access Act [bill text not yet publicly available]. This bill would expand a VA pilot program modeled after the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ “Tiny Boots” program to help ensure Veterans seeking employment training have access to, which is especially important for low-income Veterans on the cusp of homelessness or those already homeless.
  • S. 2822, the Post 9/11 Veteran Suicide Prevention Counseling Act [bill text not yet publicly available]. This bill would require the Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) to work with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to develop training specific to suicide prevention and the use of lethal means for Post-9/11 Veterans. This training would be for all providers at VA to utilize – not just mental healthcare providers. The legislation would also require VA, working with the same experts, to develop a standard form of counseling on suicide prevention and lethal means for Post-9/11 Veterans.
  • S. 2797, the Military Family Parole in Place Act [bill text not yet publicly available]. This bill would permit the Secretary of Homeland Security to maintain discretionary authority to deny parole to family members of service-members and veterans, but such action would require the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Veterans Affairs to also approve the parole denial. The agencies would then be required to publicly post online all such denials, including a detailed justification for each denial (excluding personally identifiable information).

o   Related article: Army veteran Duckworth introduces Senate bill to protect troops’ families from deportation

o   Related op-ed: Veterans Day disgrace: Stop deporting immigrants who served, make them American citizens

Last week, Del. Sablan (D-NMI) introduced H.R. 5024 [bill text not yet publicly available], a bill to expand health care coverage provided by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs during the transition of members of the Armed Forces from service in the Armed Forces to civilian life.

Last week, Sen. Warren (D-MA) introduced S. Res. 415, a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that the United States Postal Service should issue a commemorative postage stamp series honoring women veterans of the Armed Forces and that the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee should recommend to the Postmaster General that such a stamp series be issued.

Last week, Sens. Cassidy (R-LA) and Warren (D-MA) introduced S. 2811, a bill to protect student veterans from losing their housing benefits in the event a natural disaster. Under current law, veterans’ housing benefits could end if a natural disaster closes a school for longer than a month. The Strengthening Disaster Assistance for Student Veterans Act grants the Veterans Affairs secretary the authority to extend those benefits.

Last week, Sen. Smith (D-MN) introduced S. 2810, the Veterans Hearing Benefit Act. The bill would provide presumption for hearing loss and tinnitus to veterans who served in combat or in a military specialty where they were exposed to repeated loud noises, such as those who worked around heavy artillery, thus making it easier for veterans to establish service-connection and get the benefits they’ve earned.

Last week, Rep. Waters (D-CA-43) introduced H.R. 5028 [bill text not yet publicly available], the Protecting Benefits for Disabled Veterans Act. This bill would codify and make permanent the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Individual Unemployablity (IU) program.  The IU program compensates veterans who are unable to maintain gainful employment because of a service-connected disability.

Last week, Rep. Watkins (R-KS-2) introduced two bills:

  • H.R. 5029 [bill text not yet publicly available], a bill to require the Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs to staff each medical center of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs with at least one suicide prevention coordinator.
  • H.R. 5030 [bill text not yet publicly available], a bill to direct the Comptroller General of the United States to take certain actions regarding suicides by veterans and mental health care furnished by the Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs.

[Sen. Warren (D-MA)] Press release: “National POW/MIA Flag Act Signed into Law”

Article: “An old law bars military members from suing for malpractice. Congress wants to change it.”

[Del. Radewagen (R-AS)] Press release: “Amata Highlights Birthday Of The Marine Corps”

[Dems] Committee press release: “Chairman Takano Announces Roundtable To Discuss H.R. 3495, the Improve Well-Being For Veterans Act”

[Sen. Cortez Masto (D-NV)] Press release: “Roundtable With Military Spouses”

Article: “Surprise retirement shakes up defense spending in Congress”

WaPo online discussion with 2 senators: “Veterans In America”

Op-ed (by a GOP representative): “By funding the U.S. military with a stop-gap measure, we are failing our soldiers”

To be voted on this week by the full U.S. House of Representatives:

  • H.R. 4625– Protect the GI Bill Act
  • H.R. 4477– Reducing High Risk to Veterans and Veterans Services Act
  • H.R. 4771– VA Tele-Hearing Modernization Act
  • H.R. 4360– VA Overpayment Accountability Act
  • H.R. 4356– Protecting Families of Fallen Servicemembers Act
  • H.R. 4162– GI Bill Planning Act
  • H.R. 3996– VA Design-Build Construction Enhancement Act
  • H.R. 1424– Fallen Warrior Battlefield Cross Memorial Act
  • H.R. 3224– Deborah Sampson Act
  • H.R. 4803– Citizenship for Children of Military Members and Civil Servants Act
  • H.R. 3537– Veteran Entrepreneur Training Act
  • H.R. 499– Service-Disabled Veterans Small Business Continuation Act
  • H.R. 3734– SERV Act
  • H.R. 1615– VA-SBA Act 


In FL: “Mold in homes still impacting military families”

In FL: “Governor Signs Veterans Day in Florida Proclamation”

In NM: “Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham Proclaims November ‘Veterans & Military Families Month’

In MN: “November Is Military Family Month In Minnesota”

In PA: “Equipping military kids with the tools they need to succeed”

In TX: “Eight Military Families in Texas Sue Housing Company over Alleged Water Leaks, Mold and Bugs”

In TX: “Texas National Guard deployment to Mexico border will end next week”

In SC: “Air Force official says company in charge of SC base housing is failing military families”

In RI: “Governor signs bill to help gay veterans get vets benefits”

In NMI: “Veterans Week proclamation

In NE: “Honoring Nebraska’s Veterans

In NE: “Nebraska National Guard launches first infantry unit in two decades”

In AZ: “McSally, Biggs want to rename Gilbert VA clinic after fallen Army staff sergeant”

In CT: “Prison veterans getting help from horses” 


DA-Philippines event for Nov. 11th

DA-France event for Nov. 11th

Article: “Elizabeth Warren releases new plan for military service members and veterans, emphasizing education”

Article: “Esper: ‘Robust’ conversation with Trump about proposed pardons for SEAL, two soldiers”

Article: “President Trump declares November National Veterans and Military Families Month”

Article: “Trump ordered to pay $2 million after his charity moved money raised for veterans to his political campaign”

Article: “The National Guard is shoring up to fight 2020 election hacking”

Article: “Veterans can now access their VA medical records through their iPhones”

Op-ed: “The legacies of military families”

Article: “VA Hospital Problems: Staffing Issues, Low Pay Among Reasons Workers Feel Betrayed By Trump Administration”

Article: “Veterans Day and Remembrance Sunday marked in the UK and Europe

Article: “Veteran Suicide and Moral Injury”

1-min. video: Secretary of the Navy wishes the Marine Corps a Happy Birthday

GAO blog: “Helping Serve Those Who Have Served”

Podcast/Video (via Android Podcasts): Interview with DA VMF/DNC VMF member John Eastwood on the topic of world patent scams

Article: Starbucks CEO: We’ve met goal of hiring 25,000 vets and spouses, now plan to hire 5,000 annually

Op-ed: “Increasing Access To Medical Cannabis For Veterans Can Be  A Matter Of Life And Death”

Article: “Most veterans believe the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan weren’t worth fighting”