VMF Caucus News

News from DC - May 31, 2020

CONGRESS

Sen. Duckworth (D-IL) introduced S. 3791, the National Guard COVID-19 Response Stability Act. The bill is currently pending in the Senate Armed Services Committee. The bill would empower governors to extend federal deployments of their Guard units through the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. [Bill text not yet publicly available.]

  • The House version of this bill is H.R. 6980, introduced by Rep. Kuster (D-NH-2), and is currently pending in the House Armed Services Committee. [Bill text not yet publicly available.]

On June 3rd, the following hearings will take place:

  • Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on: “Fiscal Year 2021 Budget and 2022 Advance Appropriations Requests, and Fiscal Year 2020 Enacted CARES Act Supplemental Appropriations for the Department of Veterans Affairs”
  • House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health will hold a virtual hearing: “Mission Readiness: VA’s Preparedness for Natural Disasters During a Pandemic”

Video: Last week, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction & Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing on: “Department of Veterans Affairs - Response to COVID-19” (video begins at 3 minutes, 54 seconds)

Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the following three bills by simple voice vote:

  1. H.R. 6168 – the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act, introduced by Rep. Luria (D-VA-2). This bill would direct the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to increase, as of December 1, 2020, the rates of veterans’ disability compensation, additional compensation for dependents, the clothing allowance for certain disabled veterans, and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children. The percentage increase in benefits would be the same as the cost-of-living increase for Social Security recipients. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.
  2. S. 3414 – the Major Medical Facility Authorization Act, introduced by Sen. Moran (R-KS). This bill would authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs’ to carry out specified major medical facility projects during FY2020. There are seven projects: West LA, CA; San Diego, CA; Livermore, CA; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Manhattan, NY; Alameda, CA; Louisville, KY. The bill now moves to the White House for Trump’s signature into law.
  3. S. 3084 – A bill to modify the limitation on pay for certain high-level employees and officers of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, introduced by Sen. Moran (R-KS). This bill amends title 38 of the U.S. Code to modify the limitation on pay for certain employees and officers of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The bill now moves to the White House for Trump’s signature into law.

Details: Upcoming webinar with IAVA’s Jeremy Butler and U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) to discuss veterans’ access to health care and programs to assist veterans in need

RECENT ISSUE:

  • Video: Trump administration cuts National Guard deployment a day short of benefits accrual
  • House Letter Calling on Trump to Extend National Guard Activation to Combat COVID-19

RESPONSE:

  • Bipartisan, bicameral letter from members of Congress to Trump regarding National Guard benefits for COVID-19 response
  • American Legion press release
  • Letter to DoD regarding states and the National Guard

House Armed Services Committee press release: Statement in response to the Navy granting its first waiver to allow a transgender service member to remain in uniform

Article: Sam Johnson, Vietnam POW who became a Texas congressman, dies at 89

Article: New Mexico senator presents veterans' histories to Library of Congress

Article: Sen. Booker renews effort to get 74 sailors' names added to Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Article: Veterans Affairs budget hearing represents first steps toward normal operations for Congress

Video: Congressman Lieu (D-CA-33) speaks to Democrats Abroad

Article: Lawmakers call on VA to provide more data on minority veterans affected by COVID-19

Video: Last week, the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs held a virtual forum on: “Virtual Forum: Veterans' Disability Examinations in the Time of COVID-19: A Way Forward” (video begins at 8 minutes, 16 seconds)

Video: the Women Veterans Task Force held a virtual roundtable on: “Resilience and Coping: Mental Health of Women Veterans” (video begins at 3 minutes, 47 seconds)

Video: Two weeks ago, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman spoke with Jose Ramos, Wounded Warrior Project’s (WWP) Vice President of Government and Community Relations, to discuss the unique challenges faced by women veterans during the pandemic and veterans’ ability to access healthcare while unemployed

Tweet: For Memorial Day, Rep. Lamb (D-PA-17) paid respect at a memorial service

Tweet: For Memorial Day, Rep. Pappas (D-NH-1) attended local observances

Tweet: For Memorial Day, Rep. Levin (D-CA-49) attended a local event

Instagram: For Memorial Day, Rep. Underwood (D-IL-14) paid respect at a military cemetery

Letter from the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Secretary urging VA to fully and fairly implement paid sick leave and telework policies and procedures after hearing that some VA employees had been unfairly denied these key benefits that keep them safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic

Two weeks ago, the leaders of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees sent a joint letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the use and management of the emergency relief funds that were appropriated to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs following passage of the CARES Act.

Statement from Sen. Tester (D-MT) on Memorial Day

Statement from the Speaker on Memorial Day

Sens. Tester (D-MT), Rounds (R-SD), Reed (D-RI), and Hoeven (R-ND) introduced S. 3788, the Veterans Cemetery Grants Improvement Act.  This bill would double the current $5 million limit on vet cemetery grants. The bills is currently pending in the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. The House version of this bill is H.R. 5487, introduced by Del. Sablan (D-NMI).

House floor speech by Rep. Wilson (R-SC-2) on the National Guard

ELSEWHERE IN GOVERNMENT

Article: Latinos are fastest growing population in US military, but higher ranks remain out of reach

  • Artículo: Los militares de EEUU son más diversos que nunca pero los latinos no están siendo ascendidos a oficiales

Article: VA says employees have masks and coronavirus tests, but Congress sees inconsistencies

Article: Live nuclear testing could resume in ‘months’ if needed, official says

DoD Article: Military Medical Experts Explore Psychological Impacts of COVID-19

Article: Coronavirus delays new child care priority system, but good news for Coast Guard military families

Article: VA-led research effort shows how medical devices can have well-known seal of approval

Article: Amid criticism, Secretary Wilkie won’t commit to removing Nazi headstones from VA cemeteries

Trump remarks: Rolling to Remember Ceremony: Honoring our Nation’s Veterans and POW/MIA

Trump remarks: Memorial Day Ceremony in Baltimore

Article: DoD launches financial site for Military spouses

Article: Air Force fails to deal with racial disparities in military justice, report says

Article: Telework capacity quadruples during pandemic, VA says

Article: VA says onboarding changes made during the pandemic will ‘change the way we hire forever’

Article: New changes to the VA Home Loan

Article: How the Pandemic Is Helping The Military Prep For World War III

VA press release: VA conducts deep-dive study into effects of COVID-19 on Veterans

Article: VA Union Seeks Injunction Against Impasses Panel

Article: Senate Confirms Braithwaite as Next SECNAV

New CRS report: Full Practice Authority for VA Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) During the COVID-19 Pandemic

New CRS report: Delivery of VA Telehealth Services During COVID-19

New GAO report: Defense Health Care: Additional Information and Monitoring Needed to Better Position DOD for Restructuring Medical Treatment Facilities

Article: Social Security Honors Our Military Heroes

Article: Trump’s Decision to Freeze WHO Funding Worries the US Military

OTHER

Op-ed: James Mattis: Let’s honor the fallen by protecting our fragile experiment in democracy

Editorial: Why Does the U.S. Military Celebrate White Supremacy?

Article: Military families need—and can’t get—mental health care

Opinion piece: Supporting the mental health of military families

Article: German auction house sells historic Medal of Honor despite US opposition

Editorial: Never forget

Editorial: Memorial Day is every day right now

Editorial: Our national shame: COVID-19 in nursing homes

Editorial: Returning favor for veterans

Editorial: Remember the sacrifice of our fallen

Editorial: Military base becomes a COVID-19 black hole

American Legion press release: Illinois post makes smooth transition to virtual world

Opinion piece: Advocate for military families' right to vote this Memorial Day

Article: Military Families Have Been Pushed To The Brink By COVID-19

Photos: Veterans who died of coronavirus honored in powerful photographs

Article: COVID-19 delays Congressional Gold Medal for many Chinese-American WWII vets

Article: Suicide risk for veterans could grow as coronavirus crisis winds down

Op-edHonor those who serve our country at home and abroad

Op-Ed: We’ve learned to thank those who serve, whether it’s in war or during a pandemic

Op-ed: What happens to veterans’ healthcare post-COVID-19?

Article: Tax incentives and reliefs for US military and veterans

Article: For some vets who have died during pandemic, military honors must wait

Article: Veterans disability exams to resume at some sites as backlog hits 114,000, nearly doubling in six months

Opinion piece: Why War Powers Matter to Military Families | Opinion

DA-V&MFC web site post: Remembering the Fallen on Memorial Day

DA Global Chair web site post: Statement on Memorial Day

DNC Chair web site post: Statement on Memorial Day

Article: Military families share Memorial Day with nation mourning coronavirus losses

Video: Recognizing the service of Native American veterans

Article: This unique community is a haven for military families

Article: The forgotten history of Memorial Day

 


Remembering the Fallen on Memorial Day

LEST WE EVER FORGET

 Memorial Day was indeed different this year. The staff at several US military cemeteries in France performed a small ceremony and afterwards laid the wreaths  of Democrats Abroad France on the graves of mostly Afro-American soldiers.  We were thus still able to honor the men and women who lost their lives defending our freedoms. Meredith Wheeler was able to be present to honor the two OSS Commandos downed in the Tarn. 60% of the WW1 soldiers buried in Suresnes had died in the Spanish Flu pandemic.

Private Mitchell Davis, Suresnes Cemetery, a Howard University Law Graduate and an Afro-American soldier who died of the Spanish Flu pandemic in 2018, is one of the few highly educated African-Americans that are being cared for at the cemetery.  He even wrote a book entitled One Hundred Choice Quotations by Prominent Men and Women of the Negro Race.

"Through avalanches of prejudices; industrial barriers; professional intrigues; legal technicalities; diplomatic effronteries, and political buffetings, the American Negro has, at last arrived before the public eye, as a factor not easily to be evaded" 
~Mitchell Davis, 
One Hundred Choice Quotations by Prominent Men and Women of the Negro Race, 1917.

Read more

Memorial Day 2020

LEST WE EVER FORGET

Quarantine won't stop us from remembering the fallen on Memorial Day

Memorial Day will be different this year. There may not be any large gatherings or services but we can still honor the men and women who lost their lives defending our freedoms.
For virtual ceremonies and more information, you can check our Facebook page:
here.

Picture1.png

Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest
On this Field of the Grounded Arms,
Where foes no more molest,
Nor sentry's shot alarms!

Ye have slept on the ground before,
And started to your feet
At the cannon's sudden roar,
Or the drum's redoubling beat.

Decoration Day by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

ß2.pngDemocrats Abroad France will be sending wreaths to be laid by the cemetery staff during small ceremonies around the country: at the Lafayette Monument and in Suresnes, Belleau Wood, Oise-Aisne, Meuse-Argonne, St. James. Meredith Wheeler will by taking flowers to the graves of the two OSS Commandos downed during WWII in the Tarn. We do ask you to consider making a donation to help cover the costs of the wreaths, so you may click here for a one time donation.

ß5.pngAfter the ceremonies, the wreaths will be placed on the graves of those who died during World War I. At Suresnes, it will be Private Mitchell Davis, a Howard University Law Graduate and one of the Afro-Americansoldiers who died of the Spanish Flu”pandemic in 2018. He is one of the few highly educated African-Americans that are being cared for at the cemetery and he even wrote a book entitled « One Hundred Choice Quotations by Prominent Men and Women of the Negro Race »:

« Through avalanches of prejudices; industrial barriers; professional intrigues; legal technicalities; diplomatic effronteries, and political buffetings, the American Negro has, at last arrived before the public eye, as a factor not easily to be evaded » ~Mitchell Davis, One Hundred Choice Quotations by Prominent Men and Women of the Negro Race, 1917.

At the Lafayette Monument it will be Carter Ovington, a pilot who wasdowned and was never recovered.  He has a tomb in the crypt but is a bit special in that he is MIA as well. 

ß3.pngAt Belleau Wood, it will be PVT Hercules Grays from the 369thInfantry Regiment also known as the Harlem hellfighters and you can find more information on this unit here.

ß6.pngAnother Afro-American, Private William Cuff will be honored at Oise-Asne.  He is a recipient (Posthumous) of the American Distinguished Service Cross and the French Croix de Guerre with Bronze Star. 

Now is a great time to use social media. Consider posting pictures of those you wish to honor and remember on Memorial Day or ask those who were going to participate in a service to record a message from their home.

 

Thank you for remembering,
Anna Marie Mattson
Veterans and Military Families Caucus

 


Advocate for 3 hot topics

 

Call your Senators and House Representatives, Rapid Response needed on three hot topics:

(1) Ask for Congressional Sponsors to support Tammy Duckworth’s initiative in pushing the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) to include veterans abroad in the CARES Act. Script here and see Duckworth's Letter here.


(2) Advocate to cancel the in-person West Point Graduation Ceremony on June 13th to keep our cadets and their families safe from the Covid virus. Scripts to use when calling and writing Congress here.


(3) Destroy the Post Office, and you destroy democracy. We must take action to save the USPS here at the same time. “Simply put, if you hate the Post Office then you hate America.... We need to all lean on our members of Congress — regardless of party — to lean on the White House to save our Post Office before September.”


Latest News

 

CONGRESS

Article: “Congresswoman, Navy vet calls for cheaper prescriptions for military families, retirees”

Article: “Senate Armed Services shelves 'paper hearing' plans”

Article: “House Democrats Call for Answers on VA’s Mask Supplies”

New CBO score of H.R. 5284, the Vet OUTREACH Act (introduced by Rep. Khanna (D-CA-17)).

New CBO score of S. 524, the Department of Veterans Affairs Tribal Advisory Committee Act (introduced by Sen. Tester (D-MT)).

New CBO score of H.R. 2847, No Passport Fees for Heroes’ Families Act (introduced by Rep. Mitchell (R-MI-10)).

Op-ed from Rep. Barr (R-KY-6): “Congress taking action to help with COVID-19”

Rep. Barr (R-KY-6) introduced H.R. 6493, the Veterans Benefits Fairness and Transparency Act.

According to the congressman, “This legislation would protect veterans applying for VA disability benefits by requiring the VA to continue to make available on its website disability benefits questionnaires (DBQs) that medical providers and others assisting veterans use to submit evidence supporting disability claims. In addition, the bill cuts down on bureaucratic inefficiencies by requiring the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) to accept a veteran’s DBQ for one year after it is completed and filed with the VBA, regardless if the VBA updates or changes the form. Veterans in Kentucky have reported receiving denial of disability claims to which they are legally entitled solely because the VBA changed its forms without their knowledge.

[bill text not yet publicly available]

Press release/podcast: “Rep. Gabbard Addresses Coronavirus Concerns From Military Families in Latest Tele-Town Hall”

House Ways & Means Committee Republican news bulletin: “No Extra Paperwork for Veterans, Beneficiaries to Get Relief Payments”

Article: “Gottheimer, Pascrell Praise Urgent Aid to Veterans Homes”

Article: “Thornberry wants $6 billion this year to launch counter-China fund”

House Armed Services Committee Chairman’s press release: “Statement on One-Year Anniversary of Trump’s Discriminatory Transgender Ban”

Recent letter from bipartisan group of senators to the Departments of Treasury and VA regarding veterans and the CARES Act

Recent letter from Rep. Axne seeking assistance, clarity for veterans during coronavirus outbreak

Earlier this week, H.R. 4771 (now P.L. 116-137), the VA Tele-Hearing Modernization Act (introduced by Rep. Cunningham (D-SC-1), was signed into law. As a reminder, the new law requires the Board of Veterans’ Appeals to allow veterans with pending appeals to appear before the Board remotely from their personal computers.

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman’s press release calling on Treasury and IRS to automatically distribute stimulus checks to the most vulnerable veterans

Sen. Gillibrand letter to Senate Majority and Minority leader calling for voting protections in the next round of coronavirus stimulus payments

Elsewhere in Govt

Article: “The Pentagon is quietly pushing to roll back recent anti-lobbying restrictions”

Article: “Retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins, Medal of Honor Recipient from Opelika, Dies after COVID-19 Illness”

Article: “VA, Treasury still working to get stimulus checks to potentially overlooked veterans”

Article: “Army Decides a Pandemic Is a Good Time to Give GOP Donors $569 Million to ‘Build the Wall’”

Article: “VA Instructs Coronavirus-Exposed Staff to Continue Working, Places Those Who Don’t in AWOL Status”

Article: “Trump’s War on Veterans”

Article: “Pentagon Worries Social Distancing Could Impede America’s Deterrent”

Article: “It's Official: Most Zoom Versions Now Off-Limits to the Military”

Article: “Veterans Affairs denies reports of face mask shortages at hospitals”

VA offering live virtual training to service women: learn to enroll, receive women-specific VA health care

Article: “Veterans’ remote mental health appointments skyrocket amid coronavirus outbreak”

DoD letter to service-members on wearing masks to protect against COVID-19

TV news clip: “Veterans outraged about new VA policy”

Article: “The Space Force is ready to launch”

Article: “Internal memos call into question VA’s still-rising coronavirus count”

TRICARE Pharmacy update: COVID-19 Myths vs. Facts

USAF press release: “Air Force Salutes campaign to honor those working front lines”

USN press release: “Navy Ups the Ante on Reenlistment Bonuses”

Results of Special and General Court-Martial Navy cases convened in February 2020

Results of Special and General Court-Martial Marine Corps cases convened in February 2020

Blog: “The Military’s Pandemic Response—Supporting Civil Authorities”

Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs press release: “VA, Facebook and American Red Cross provide Portal video calling devices to Veterans, caregivers and families”

New CRS report: “U.S. Role in the World: Background and Issues for Congress”

New CRS report: “Infertility in the Military”

USPS press release: “U.S. Postal Service Tops List Again as Americans’ Favorite Government Agency”

Article: “For veterans who missed out on COVID stimulus cash payouts, VA and IRS have a quick fix”

Article: “No quick exit: US military plans for 'new normal' in COVID era”

Article: “Should GI Bill benefits be extended to civilian medical workers fighting coronavirus?”

Article: “VA secretary refuses to answer questions about COVID-19 supply shortages, lawmakers say”

USAF press release: “Air Force Academy prepares for historic graduation”

FYI: On Wednesday, April 22, at 1 p.m. EST, USMC’s "The President's Own" will release its 2020 Marine Big Band concert as an online streaming event. You can watch here

Other

Article: “For Young Military Families, The Financial Effects Of The Pandemic Can Be Severe”

Op-ed: “Trump needs to cover all veterans, their families and VA employees during COVID”

DNC comunicado de prensa: “Declaración del DNC sobre el presunto nominado demócrata”

Article: “Millions of veterans to get letters this week on potential reimbursements for medical costs”

Article: “Your 2020 Guide to Military Benefits”

Article: “A Complete Guide For Military Families Considering Adoption”

Article/video: “Hiring our Heroes president: Military spouse employment is ‘critical to national security’”

Article: “How millions of veterans could miss out on coronavirus stimulus checks”

Article: “Germany arrests IS suspects plotting attacks on US bases”

Article: “Tillis challenger Cunningham raises nearly $4.4M in first quarter”

^Related poll from earlier this week (Question #7):

If the candidates for US Senate this fall were Democrat Cal Cunningham and Republican Thom Tillis, who would you vote for?

Cal Cunningham 47%

Thom Tillis 40%

Not sure 13%

Article: “Fired as acting Navy secretary, Modly is now stuck in COVID-19 quarantine”

Article: “Glenna Goodacre, Renowned Sculptor Who Created Vietnam Women’s Memorial, Dead At 80”

Interview/podcast: “A new initiative to prevent veterans suicide during self-isolation”

FYI: to find military hospitals and clinics abroad, click here and then “More Search Options” to view

Recorded webinar: The US military's role in response to COVID-19

Article: “The Spanish 'Star-Spangled Banner' Is Being Used to Honor Hispanic Workers Fighting COVID-19. Here’s the History Behind the Lyrics”

Article: “VFW Urges Congress to Pass the Major Richard Star Act to Ease the Financial Burden of Medically-Retired Veterans During COVID-19 Pandemic”

Op-ed: “Helping Student Veterans Amid the Coronavirus Crisis”

Article: “Veterans group continues legal battle over discharge records”

Friendly reminder: This is what happens to your letter when you contact a member of Congress who doesn’t represent you.

Letter to the editor: “Be sure to give thanks and support to our veterans”

Op-ed: “World War III isn't what the strategists thought it would be”

Op-ed: “Honoring ‘Military Brats,’ their sacrifices for family”

Letter from military families organizations to Congress urging for exclusion of the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) from being counted as income when calculating eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other federal nutrition assistance benefits

Article: “Veterans education program adapts to virtual world”


Last Call to Run for Delegate to the DA Regional and Global Conventions

 

Dear Democrats in the Global Veterans and Military Families Caucus,

Hope you are all taking good care of yourselves in these strange times and keeping your spirits up. We have plenty of work to do in order to win in November, so if you have any extra time, please let us know!

Last call to send in your Candidacy form to run as a Delegate of Democrats Abroad for the DNC Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where the next President and Vice-President will be nominated. Also, last call to run as DNC member for Democrats Abroad.

This Delegate Candidate nomination form must be returned by Friday, April 17th. It is online. In this form you are required to write a 150-word candidacy statement. Our Chair, Julia Bryan will submit these candidacy forms to the campaigns who will vet our list. So you are encouraged to target your message to the campaigns in order for you to be included.

You may run as a Regional Delegate in all or any of the Regional Conventions May 16-17 and as a Global Delegate for the Convention June 6th-7th. These Conventions will be held on-line so no travel expenses required. At the Regional Conventions 4 Delegates will be elected for Biden and 9 for Sanders. At the Global Convention, 4 Delegates will be elected for Sanders.

Workshops will be recorded and made available here.

Any DA member is eligible to run to be one of the Delegates and DNC members who will comprise the 21-person delegation that Democrats Abroad will send to the Democratic National Convention this August (13 Elected Delegates + 8 DNC members). In particular, those from historically marginalized groups are encouraged to run to Delegate: Women, African American, Hispanic American/Latinx, Native American, Asian American and Pacific Islander, LGBT, Persons with Disabilities, and Youth (Under 36). More information here from our Affirmative Action Team.

Again, the DEADLINES are:
Delegate Candidate nomination form must be returned by Friday, April 17.
DNC Member Candidate nomination form must be returned by Monday, April 20. Information about running to become a Democrats Abroad DNC member.

Questions? Please email  delegate-help@democratsabroad.org

More information can also be found here Briefing for Delegates

 

All the best, Keep healthy,

Anna Marie Mattson on behalf of the Steering Committee

Global Veterans and Military Families Caucus


Latest News

 

CONGRESS

* * * Letter from Democratic senators to the Veterans’ Affairs Secretary requesting that VA act swiftly to cover the costs of COVID-19 treatment under the VA’s Foreign Medical Program (FMP) for veterans living and traveling abroad

As a reminder, the VA web site currently states this:

As a Veteran living or traveling abroad, you can receive medical care for VA service-connected disabilities through our VA Foreign Medical Program. Under this program, we assume payment responsibility for the necessary treatment of service-connected disabilities. You can visit our Foreign Medical Program page for more information. There are regional toll-free phone numbers on this page that you can call for additional assistance.”

Op-ed: “Sen. Martha McSally has quarantined herself in Trump's pocket”

Letter from Democratic senators to the Dept. of Treasury, Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs, and the Social Security Administration regarding CARES Act stimulus payments to veterans

Article: “Lamborn Urges DoD To Help Struggling Military Families”

Article: “House Armed Services chairman calls for removal of Navy chief”

New CBO score for H.R. 4153, the Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act

Statement: “House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman & Subcommittee Chairwoman’s statement regarding VA’s delay of the Electronic Health Record Modernization project”

Press release: “Ohio’s Senators Applaud Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Approving Extension for Filing of Claims and Appeals for Veterans’ Benefits”

Statement by Rep. Thornberry, Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, on the resignation of Acting Secretary of the Navy Modly

 

Elsewhere in Govt

Article: “Acting secretary of the Navy resigns after calling ousted aircraft carrier captain 'stupid'”

Article: “Trump Orders VA to Stop Withholding Money from Veterans”

Article: “Veterans Affairs Hospitals Facing ‘Serious’ Shortage of Protective Gear, Internal Memos Show”

Report: “OIG Inspection of Veterans Health Administration’s COVID-19 Screening Processes and Pandemic Readiness”

Artículo: “Los veteranos tienen acceso a pruebas de COVID-19 a través del VA o Tricare”

Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs press release: “CARES Act helping VA boost protections for Veterans”

Article: “With Camp Casey infection, coronavirus spreads to nearly every major U.S. base in South Korea”

News from MN: “Walz announces $6.2 million in coronavirus grants for Minnesota veterans”

Article: “Seven VA health care workers dead from coronavirus as cases mount”

Article: “4th US aircraft carrier hit with coronavirus”

News from WI: “Gov. Evers suspends many Assistance to Needy Veterans Grant program provisions”

Statement from the White House: “Proclamation on National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day, 2020”

Article: “VA Gets New Acting No. 2 Official After Predecessor's Firing”

Article: “Trump says voting by mail is bad. US troops do it all the time”

News from the Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs: “File a pre-discharge claim while overseas”

Article: “VA COVID-19 update: over 3,500 cases, 174 patient deaths as officials downplay equipment shortage concerns”

New CRS report: “Protecting Military Whistleblowers”

 

Other

American Legion Auxiliary April Newsletter: The pandemic can exacerbate feelings of isolation, economic despair, and depression. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Veterans Crisis Line are experiencing an increase in calls.

Editorial from Virginia: “Deterring veteran suicide remains a Virginia priority”

Report: The U.S. Military’s Role In Response To COVID-19

Op-ed: “Treasury is needlessly requiring millions of veterans, seniors to file taxes to receive stimulus checks”

Editorial: “Veterans Affairs has the country’s largest health system. It might prove useful against COVID-19”

Editorial: “Failing to protect those who protected us”

Article: “What Americans Don’t Know About Military Families”

Article: “Veterans and Gold Star families mobilize to battle coronavirus isolation                                                          

Article: “”VFW Lobbied For ‘Star-Spangled Banner’”

VVA press release: “VVA Calls on President to Reverse the VA’s Removal of the ‘48-Hour Review Policy’”

IAVA press release: “As Veterans Seek Vital Information in Time of Crisis, VA’s Disjointed Communication is Reckless, Counterproductive, Says IAVA CEO”

Joint VSO Letter to Secretary Mnuchin and Secretary Wilkie on Recovery Rebates

Op-ed: “The U.S. Should Fight COVID, Not Venezuela”

Article: “Letter from President Maduro as U.S. threatens Venezuela with war”

Article: “'Trump,' 'chaos,' 'money:' What Mexico and Canada said when asked for one word to describe US”

Article: “Steve Carell to launch Netflix comedy Space Force in May


News and Updates

CONGRESS

Upcoming Congressional Hearings:

House Armed Services Committee – none scheduled.

Senate Armed Services Committee – none scheduled.

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee – “Resilience and Coping: Mental Health of Women Veterans” – POSTPONED until further notice. Otherwise, none scheduled.

Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee – “Final Recommendations and Report of the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service” – POSTPONED until further notice. Otherwise, none scheduled.

Last week, the U.S. Senate passed by voice vote H.R. 4771, the VA Tele-Hearing Modernization Act, first introduced by Rep. Cunningham (D-SC-1). The bill would require the Board of Veterans’ Appeals to allow veterans with pending appeals to appear before the Board remotely from their personal computers.  The bills is now pending on the president’s desk for signature into law.

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 6322, the Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act. The bill addresses issues like canceled classes, veterans who don’t have broadband Internet to attend online classes, and aims to bridge the gap to ensure those veterans also keep their full benefits through the current public health emergency - including work-study income for veterans who’ve lost their work-study jobs. This bill is now pending in the U.S. Senate. Chairman and Ranking Member’s joint press release here.

Statement: House Armed Services Committee’s Democratic leaders’ statement on the Navy’s dismissal of U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt Captain   

Last week, the U.S. Senate passed S. 3587, the Department of Veterans Affairs Website Accessibility Act, first introduced by Sen. Casey (D-PA). The bill would ensure that individuals with disabilities, including blindness, can access VA web pages in accordance with existing federal law. Background: Under current law, the Rehabilitation Act requires federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to individuals with disabilities. Unfortunately, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) has not made all of their websites accessible for individuals who are blind or have vision impairments. This creates an extra burden for blind veterans, as well as blind family members of veterans, who may wish to use online or electronic resources through the VA. This bill would address this issue by requiring the VA to examine all of their websites to determine if they are accessible to people with disabilities. It will also require the VA to submit a report Congress detailing which web sites are not accessible to people with disabilities, along with a plan to make them accessible and a description of existing barriers to doing so. The VA would also be required to review the accessibility of kiosks at VA medical facilities. Kiosk accessibility is critical, as many VA medical centers use them for patient check in and management. Unfortunately, many of these kiosks do not currently use technology that would make them accessible for blind veterans. The bill is now pending consideration in the House of Representatives.

Last week, Representatives Thornberry (R-TX-13) and Kelly (R-MS-1) released their proposal on the topic “of military families’ readiness” that they intend to call for a vote on in inclusion of the upcoming FY21 National Defense Authorization Act.

Joint letter from Democratic committee chairs: “Neal, Takano, Davis Urge Treasury and IRS to Automatically Issue Economic Impact Payments to Supplemental Security income and Veterans Affairs Recipients”

Joint letter from U.S. representatives to Navy officials to express concern for the health and safety of American sailors and Marines embarked on Navy vessels and facing the spread of COVID-19

Rep. Dean (D-PA-4) introduced H.Res. 912, a resolution expressing support for the designation of March 29, 2020, as “Vietnam Veterans Day.”

Rep. Panetta (D-CA-20) introduced H.R. 6280, the Reservist Pay Equity Act, to encourage more employers to pay the salary of employees that are members of the National Guard and Reserves when activated. Background: Employers who hire military reservists and National Guard members are not required to pay those service-members when they are deployed.  However, employers may receive a tax credit for paying their employed military reservists and National Guard members differential wages, which directly help these service-members offset financial challenges while they are activated.  This bill increases the tax credit employers receive from 20% to 50%.      

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA-17) introduced H.R. 6353, the Increasing Access for Veterans and Their Survivors Act. This bill directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide for the availability of prompts and services of certain Department of Veterans Affairs toll-free telephone numbers and business lines in Spanish. The bill would ensure that transitioning service-members, veterans, and their survivors have prompts and options in Spanish when calling the VA’s toll-free benefits number.

Op-ed: “Katherine Clark wants recreational pot shops open to serve veterans amid coronavirus outbreak”

Article: “Rose to VA: Open hospitals to civilian patients”

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High-Need items during the Coronavirus for the Landstuhl US Regional Medical Center

Dear Fellow Democrats,

 

A Chaplain has updated us on the situation at the US Military Hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. As many of you already know, Democrats Abroad has been actively supporting the wounded warriors program since 2006 https://www.democratsabroad.org/wounded_warriors.

Picture1.png The hospital continues to operate and is under high protection security against the Coronavirus.  It has been upgraded from C Charly to B Bravo level.  So the ill, injured and PTS/TBI wounded warriors continue to be treated and the ambulance planes continue to fly in and out of Ramstein. The hospital is also serving the military community during the Coronavirus by testing patients with symptoms and hospitalizing them when necessary.

No Chaplain or visitor is allowed to visit so the only “social” contact patients have is with the nurses, doctors and caregivers in the wards.  The outpatients are left to their own in their barracks.  The gym is closed.  The USO is working with a very minimal staff and is “still serving the Medical Transient Detachment (MTD) patients by providing sodas, coffee and snacks (lots) in their lounge area. We go over there twice a day to ensure they have snacks for their rooms and hopefully putting a smile on their faces”.

Service members evacuated to the hospital come with very little, a small backpack at most and of course their uniform and boots, so they rely on the Chaplain’s Closet for clothes. Besides sending a card, letter or even chocolates to comfort and cheer up the caregivers and patients, here is the latest list of items needed:

Picture2.png

High need items*:

Crocs & sneakers size 10 & 12, sweatpants (no string) for medical reasons

Light weight winter jackets , urgent: zipped hoodies with fleece XL , mouthwash

“Please do not sent 2 XL or 3 XL sizes”!!!

TOP REQUESTED ITEMS

  • Military Duffle bags medium/large / Black Duffle bags ( no logos)
  • Unisex sweatshirts/hoodies (medium/large, X-large), (no logos)
  • Unisex sweatpants (small/medium/large)
  • Polyester shorts/briefs (all sizes)
  • Run T-shirts/ sportswear*,(all sizes)
  • Comfortable light T-shirts (all sizes)
  • T-Shirts color, (small/medium/large), (no logos, no white)
  • Keurig coffee pods, DARK roast (K-cup)
  • Crocs, size 9-12 / Sneakers, 9-12
  • Baseball caps
  • Scarfs
  • Light weight Winter Jackets, Beanies, Gloves

Postal address:

Landstuhl Regional Medical Center
ATTN: Chaplains office
Kirchberg Geb. 3765
Landstuhl, 66849 Germany

Thanks for caring, We know how much they appreciate this,

Jim Moss and Anna Marie Mattson on behalf of
Democrats Abroad Global Veterans and Military Families Caucus
veteranscaucus@democratsabroad.org

The Chaplain’s Clothes Closet (CCC) at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) started in October 2001 at the onset of Operation Enduring Freedom.  The CCC provides a variety of new essential clothing and comfort items for our deployed U.S. Service Members, DOD employees, coalition partners, and US contractors as they are evacuated to LRMC for treatment.  Since the Chaplain’s Closet is a non-funded humanitarian entity within the Department of Defense, we rely on the generous donations of fellow Americans and others.  We truly appreciate the efforts of each and every person willing to share “hugs from home” and words of encouragement with those who have given so much.


March 2020 VMF Newsletter

To all Veterans and Military Families,

We hope you and your families are all keeping safe and healthy.  Our hearts and thoughts go out to the first responders and caregivers, doctors, nurses who are coping with this situation as best they can. Our first concern as a Caucus is also to reach out to our community in solidarity during these uncertain times so we are phonebanking all our members.

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