Written by Commander Bob Fullam Thursday, 21 August 2014 00:00
To show you the strength and power of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, members were asked to contact their representatives and encourage them to vote yes on the VA Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014. More than 16,000 messages to congressional offices demanded quick action on the bill. Our voice was heard and made a difference and reminded Congress that they must put veterans, service members and their families before budget wrangling or partisan politics.
We also want to remind you to see how your members voted. For those who voted “nay” make sure we will hold them accountable when we attend Town Hall meetings and go to the ballot box in
Before leaving town for the August recess, the House passed the bill (420-5) and the Senate followed the next day (91-3). The bill, H.R. 3230, provides $17 billion to allow veterans to seek care outside of VA if they face a long wait for an appointment or a long drive to the nearest VA facility. It also allows VA to expand its medical professional staff and building space to deliver more timely care.
In addition, VFW supported language that would grant in-state tuition to veterans attending public institutions, extend the Post-911 GI Bill to dependents of service members killed in action and improvement in MST care included. All New York's Congressional representatives—King, Israel, Schumer and Gillibrand—voted “yes.”
This bill keeps our commitment to men and woman who put their lives on the line to defend our country. It makes certain that we address the immediate crisis of veterans in need of health care. It strengthens the VA so that it will be able to hire doctors, nurses and medical personnel. It also addresses the very serious problem of accountability and makes certain that dishonest and incompetent senior officials do not remain employed at the VA.
The bill was sent to the President for his signature. The President signed the bill into law as of this writing.
Post 9/11 GI Bill Anniversary. Earlier this year we celebrated the 70th Anniversary of the original GI Bill. This week, we commemorate the 5th Anniversary of the post-9/11 GI Bill. According to the VA and DOD, more than $42 billion in benefits have helped over 1.2 million veterans, service members and their families pursue their education goals.
The Post 9/11 bill provides a generous benefit to student veterans, covering the full cost of in-state tuition at all public colleges and universities or up to $19,198 at private schools. It also provides a housing stipend and up to $1,000 per year for books and supplies. The VFW was instrumental in getting the Post 9/11 GI Bill passed, strongly believing that education is critical to insuring that service members are able to successfully transition from military to civilian life
Robert McDonald has been confirmed as the new VA Secretary and has directed that all VHA and VBA facilities hold Town Hall meetings by the end of September.
The VFW is asking all leaders, members and advocates to attend these meetings and speak up. Check in this paper for more information on the meetings as they are confirmed by the VA.