Tag Archives: Congress

Sequestration, Budget, Veterans Top VFW Legislative Agenda

image003WASHINGTON (September 25, 2015) — More than 70 members of the national legislative committee of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States met with their members of Congress this week to end sequestration, to pass a new budget, and to ensure that a nation that creates veterans properly takes care of them when they return home.

“Sequestration is the most significant threat to military readiness and national security of the 21st century,” exclaimed VFW National Commander John A. Biedrzycki Jr., “and despite almost universal congressional opposition to it, no member of the House or Senate has yet introduced any legislation to end it, which makes zero sense to veterans, service members or their families. The return of mandatory sequestration in fiscal year 2016 has to be dealt with by a Congress that created it,” he said, “just as Congress must continue to properly care and treat generations of wounded, ill and injured veterans that our government created.”

Along with sequestration, the VFW national commander is very concerned that Congress has yet to pass any funding bills for the government’s new fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1, which could trigger another government shutdown similar to last year. “Congress must fund the government and remove the forced sequester provision of the Budget Control Act to ensure that the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and other agencies that support veterans have the resources needed to defend our nation and to care for those who do the defending,” said Biedrzycki.

Also high on the week’s VFW legislative agenda was ensuring the effective implementation of the Veterans Choice Act to ease access to care issues by VA and non-VA providers, employee accountability, the claims backlog, and eliminating the one-percent Cost-of-Living Adjustment penalty, which jeopardizes the success of every proposal to modernize the current military retirement system.

VFW legislative committee members also delivered advance copies of the organization’s latest report regarding veterans’ options, preferences and expectations when seeking health care. Entitled “Our Care,” the nationwide survey of 1,847 members revealed that where veterans choose to receive their care depends on the number of options they have available, but with all factors being equal, they prefer to use the VA because the continuity and continuum of care they receive is unmatched anywhere in the private sector. Read more about “Our Care” at http://www.vfw.org/uploadedFiles/VFW.org/VFW_in_DC/VFWOurCareReport2015.pdf.

While in Washington the VFW national commander had the opportunity to discuss veterans’ issues with VA Secretary Bob McDonald and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, as well as receive update briefings by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, and meet with Acting Undersecretary of Defense, the Deputy Undersecretary of the Navy, the Senior Enlisted Advisors of the Joint Chiefs and Navy, and the directors of the Marine Corps and Joint Staffs.

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VA accountability isn’t too much to ask

IAVAJust one year ago, Americans learned of secret VA wait lists, whistleblower retaliation and veteran patients dying while waiting to see a doctor. Despite these revelations, few VA employees have been held accountable for their negligence.

We need your help to bring about true reform at the VA.

Later today, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on H.R. 1994, the VA Accountability Reform Act, which will streamline the process for removing or demoting VA employees for poor performance or misconduct, and enhance protections for whistleblowers who expose negligence.

In addition, Congress will soon consider a bill that provides the VA increased spending flexibility to better meet the health care needs of our nation’s veterans while keeping hospitals from closing. In the interest of our veteran members facing urgent health care needs, we urge Congress to support the funding measure.

Please call your members of Congress TODAY and encourage them to support increased staff accountability at the VA and budget flexibility to keep hospitals open.

Passing VA accountability reform is the next step in IAVA’s eight-point “Marshall Plan for Veterans” issued last year to restore confidence in the VA. We still have a long way to go but we hope this bill will help heal the rift created between the VA and our veterans.

IAVA is a non-partisan organization founded and led by post-9/11 veterans. For more information about IAVA’s policy priorities, visit: http://iava.org/campaigns/

One team. One fight.

Team IAVA

Sequestration Must End!

image003VFW says inadequate military resourcing will cost lives — American lives

WASHINGTON (July 10, 2015) — There was nothing shocking about Thursday’s force reduction announcement by the Army. The Budget Control Act of 2011 had dictated the terms by which America’s largest military service would incrementally shrink from a wartime high of 570,000 active-duty soldiers to 450,000. Still to come, however, is the return of mandatory sequestration in fiscal year 2016, which would further shrink the active Army to 420,000 soldiers, as well as drastically slash the operating budgets of all four military services.

“Sequestration is the most significant military readiness and national security threat of the 21st century, and despite almost universal congressional opposition to it, no member of the House or Senate has yet introduced any legislation to end it,” said John W. Stroud, national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. “Our military can beat any military in the world, but they can’t fight a Congress that is essentially forcing them to operate for a decade on only eight years’ worth of funding.”

Though the Army’s announced two-year plan to reduce its end strength by 40,000 soldiers and 17,000 civilians was preordained four years ago, Stroud said what’s important now is for the new Congress to act.

“We need both political parties to finally say ‘enough,’ not because a continued sequester will hurt civilian economies in certain congressional districts, but because a continued sequester weakens America, worries our allies and emboldens our enemies,” he said. “Our brave men and women in uniform will continue to perform and excel at every mission, but overtasking with inadequate resourcing will cost lives — American lives — which is an impending disaster the VFW will not allow. Sequestration must end!”

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Congress OKs new ID cards for all veterans

By Leo Shane III, Staff Writer, Military Times, 1:20 p.m. EDT July 8, 2015
Congress on Tuesday approved plans to offer new veteran ID cards to honorably discharged service members, in an effort to more easily prove their military service.

The measure passed through the Senate and House without objection, but took several years to get through Congress. The Obama administration has expressed reservations about the need for the new IDs, but has not threatened to veto the legislation.

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., would create official VA cards for all veterans, instead of only those who qualify for certain health care and financial benefits.

Supporters called it a simple move to honor the sacrifice and service of veterans.

“This legislation will assist veterans in proving that they are indeed veterans,” said Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif. “The majority of service members leave before retirement … and are sometimes challenged to provide proof of their honorable service. This is a simple way to resolve this issue.”

The cards would not replace medical IDs or official defense retiree IDs for veterans, and could not be used as proof of eligibility for obtaining federal benefits.

But they would serve as easy proof of military service for many veterans who complain they have to carry around copies of their discharge paperwork to get discounts or services at a host of private businesses.

Buchanan argued that practice is at best cumbersome and at worst unsafe, given the personal information included on those official documents.

Veterans requesting the IDs would have to pay a small fee, to be determined by Veterans Affairs officials. That fee would cover the cost of the program.

The measure heads to the White House to be signed into law. No time frame has been established for when the first ID cards might be issued.