VFW Washington Weeky - 11 Jan 07

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    VFW Washington Weekly
    January 11, 2007

    In This Issue:
    1. Traumatic Injury Insurance Expansion Proposed
    2. Con current Receipt Legislation Introduced
    3. Sign Up for the VFW Washington Weekly

    1. Traumatic Injury Insurance Expansion Proposed
    VFW-supported legislation that would benefit severely injured servicemembers and their families was introduced this week. Senate VA Committee Chairman Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Ranking Member Larry Craig (R-ID) co-sponsored the bill that would allow all traumatically injured servicemembers who served between October 7, 2001, and December 1, 2005, to be eligible for benefits.

    Current law only allows those in combat theaters to receive payments. The VFW strongly supported the legislation, entitled Wounded Warrior Insurance, in the 109th Congress. For more information, go to the SVAC website at

    http://veterans.senate.gov/ranking_member.cfm?useAction=Home.Home&id=887.


    2. Concurrent Receipt Legislation Introduced
    Legislation that will allow disabled military retirees to receive their full retirement pay and their VA disability compensation without offset was once again introduced in Congress. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), picking up where his father – Michael Bilirakis – left off, introduced the bill last week.

    HR 303, The Retired Pay Restoration Act, coincides with VFW resolution 602 and is a legislative priority goal for 2007. The bill would eliminate the current 10-year phase-in period passed in 2003 that only applied to retires with disability ratings of 50% or more. The new bill provides for the immediate full payment to all disabled military retirees, regardless of their disability ratings.


    3. Sign Up for VFW Washington Weekly
    Sign up to receive the VFW Washington Weekly legislative electronic newsletter today. By joining you will receive e-mail updates that keep you informed on what is happening with VFW legislative priority goals. You’ll learn what Congress is doing with regard to veterans and our military and the issues that affect them directly. Help us help you to become a true veterans’ advocate. Play a role in the legislative process.

    Sign up at http://capwiz.com/vfw/mlm/signup.htm.

    Let us continue being your “voice on Capitol Hill.”
  2. DonaldN

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    VFW Washington Weekly - January 26, 2007

    In This Issue:
    1. New GI Bill Legislation Introduced
    2. Military Retirees Health Protection Act
    3. Senate Holds Hearing on Seamless Transition
    4. VFW Meets with Appropriations/Budget Staff
    5. FCC Implements Call Home Act


    1. New GI Bill Legislation Introduced
    VFW-supported legislation that would offer a WWII-like educational benefit was introduced by newly elected Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA). Speaking on the floor of the Senate, Webb, who has also been appointed a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs’ Committee introduced S. 22, The Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2007. The bill would include the cost of tuition, room and board, and a monthly stipend of $1,000. Current law under the Montgomery GI Bill provides educational support of up to $1,000 per month for 36 months, or approximately $9,000 per academic year.

    The new legislation directly corresponds with VFW Resolution 625, which calls for a GI Bill for the 21st Century that would repeal the $1,200 enrollment fee and provide an educational benefit that covers the cost of tuition, housing, fees, books, and school related expenses, as well as a cost of living stipend. For more information on the provisions of the bill, go to: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:s.00022

    2. Military Retirees Health Care Protection Act
    Reps. Chet Edwards (D-TX) and Walter Jones (R-NC) reintroduced their “Military Retirees Health Care Protection Act” (H.R. 579). The new bill is virtually identical to the one they introduced last year, which gathered 164 cosponsors and helped to prevent Pentagon-proposed TRICARE fee increases for military retirees, family members, and survivors under age 65.

    This bill would remove the Pentagon’s authority to increase TRICARE fees, specifying that that authority should reside only with Congress. It would also establish certain principles in law, including: the acknowledgement that military members pay very large premiums for their future care “up front” through decades of arduous service and sacrifice; an acknowledgement that the primary offset for enduring the extraordinary sacrifices inherent in a military career is a package of retirement and health benefits that must be considerably better than that afforded civilian workers; and the principle that the percentage increase in health fees in any year should not exceed the percentage increase in beneficiaries' military compensation.

    3. Senate Holds Hearing on Seamless Transition
    The Senate Veterans Affairs’ Committee held their first hearing of the session this week. Focusing on VA and DOD’s progress in meeting the needs of returning servicemembers, the committee members grilled both VA and DOD witnesses. VA Deputy Secretary Gordon Mansfield and Under Secretary of Defense for Personal and Readiness, David S. Chu discussed their on-going efforts in providing a seamless transition for active duty service members moving over to the VA health care system.
    Members of the committee focused more on the challenges facing both agencies like the lack of mental health services available and lengthy waits for implementation of shared medical records. Both Mansfield and Chu said that the departments have more work to do to get the resources to complete the job. For more information on the hearing visit the Senate VA website at:
    http://veterans.senate.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.CurrentHearings&rID=891

    4. VFW Meets with Appropriations/Budget Committees
    VFW legislative staff has initiated meetings with House and Senate Appropriations and Budget committee members in their ongoing efforts to improve funding for VA. Currently, VA is running on a Continuing Resolution (CR) at FY 2006 funding levels which are about $3 billion dollars short on medical care alone.

    5. FCC Implements Call Home Act
    The Federal Communication Commission has quickly implemented legislation which directs DOD and the Department of State to work to reduce phone rates for Armed Forces personnel deployed overseas. “The Call Home Act,” which passed Congress last year, was strongly supported by the VFW and others. Sponsored by Sens. Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Daniel Inouye (D-HI), the legislation was enacted to provide our deployed troops and their families more affordable communications services.

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