VFW National Convention 2011 in San Antonio Brings Opportunity to Discuss Priority Goals

Saturday August 27th, 2011 I will be leaving the great state of Missouri and heading to sunny San Antonio, Texas for the 2011 VFW and Ladies Auxiliary National Convention.

While many veterans and sisters will be enjoying some of the beautiful sights and historical events (our organization’s visit coincides with the 175th anniversary of the Battle of the Alamo), the main focus is to discuss ways to implement priority goals.

To give you an idea how hard the Veterans of Foreign Wars works, read the list of 2011 priority goals taken from the March 2011 issue of Ladies Auxiliary Magazine….

The VFW 2011 priority goals are:

VA HEALTH CARE

*Provide sufficient funding for the VA so that the highest quality care is available for all veterans.

*Ensure that this nation meets the many health care and benefits challenges facing Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, including increased funding for suicide prevention, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and other related disabilities.

*Expand programs that improve specialized care for women veterans and ensure that they have equal access to all VA’s health care services.

*Provide necessary training for gender-specific care and mental health care services for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), military sexual trauma and other needs.

*Improve outreach so that all veterans – especially female, minority and rural veterans – are aware of the health care services and benefits they have earned.

VA BENEFITS AND COMPENSATION

* Reduce the backlog of pending claims.

*Encourage the Congress to use its vital oversight authority to provide real accountability within the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA).

* Call on Congress and VA to conduct further studies to determine which disabilities, and level of disability, adversely affect a veteran’s quality of life.

*VA and Congress should adjust the Rating Schedule to ensure that veterans are adequately compensated.

*Call on Congress to pass legislation that offers workable solutions, not quick fixes, to the VBA system.

SEAMLESS TRANSITION

*Demand a seamless transition for those men and women serving in uniform who are transferring from Department of Defense to VA, including a truly integrated electronic medical record that travels from duty stations to VA or other health care facilities.

* Call on Congress and the Administration to improve the transition services and benefits provided to our veterans to ensure a steady and safe return to civilian life, including timely benefit processing, viable training, employment and education programs.

MILITARY QUALITY OF LIFE

* Call on Congress to remain fully committed to improving the quality of life for all active duty and Reserve Component members and their families.

* Fully fund all programs that enable our troops to succeed in their mission.Ensure our service men and women are provided increased pay, affordable health care, and adequate housing and work facilities for themselves and their families.

EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT

* Congress must immediately address the highest unemployment rates among veterans in recent history by enhancing the Post 9/11 GI Bill, including allowing the benefit to be utilized for vocational training, on-the-job training and apprenticeships.

* Ask Congress to pass legislation that will strengthen the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and reverse legal decisions that tended to favor employers.

* Urge Congress to mandate that all agencies reach the 3% government-wide procurement goal for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, and be required to report their procurement levels and be held accountable if they fail to meet that goal.

MILITARY AFFAIRS

* Seek to improve the quality of life for all active and Reserve Component members and their families.

* Provide a military base-pay raise to restore full comparability with private sector wages.

*Support efforts to lower the Reserve Component retirement pay age to 55.

* Oppose any Tricare fee increases.

DEFENSE AND HOMELAND SECURITY

* Support U.S. troops and their mission to prosecute the war on terrorism around the world.

* Ensure defense funding is at a level to fully support personnel initiatives, troop end-strength requirements, and needed weapons programs.

* Halt the development and/or proliferation of nuclear weapons or material, and urge the continued development and deployment of ballistic missile defense system.

* Secure U.S. borders, shorelines and all ports of entry.

POW/MIA

* Achieve the fullest possible accounting of all U.S. military personnel missing from our nation’s wars.

Note: For a full listing of the VFW’s 2011 Priority Goals, go to www.vfw.org/VFW-in-DC

Starbucks CEO “Cuts Off” Washington: No Political Donations

Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, is cutting off political contributions to Washington and recruiting other CEOs to join him.

In a letter given to the Nasdaq and the NYSE, Schultz wrote: “I’m asking that all of us forgo political contributions until the Congress and the President return to Washington and deliver a fiscally, disciplined long term debt and deficit plan to the American people,”

Schultz’s own political donations have been largely given to the Democratic Party. Out of a total $183,650 in donations, only $1,000 went to Republican candidates.

Schultz also told CNNMoney yesterday, “All it seems people are interested in is re-election. And that re-election — the lifeblood of it is fundraising.”  He is unhappy with the current political culture that has “chosen to put partisan and ideological purity over the well being of the people.”

Schultz said his breaking point was raising the debt ceiling — and Washington’s failure to reach a long-term solution to lowering deficits.

“[Lawmakers] have stirred up fears about our economic prospects without doing anything to truly address those fears,” Schultz wrote to his fellow CEOs.

“It means reaching a deal on debt, revenue, and spending long before the deadline arrives this fall,” the letter said. “It means considering all options, from entitlement programs to taxes.”

Read Full Article >>

Women Veterans Still Struggling for VA Healthcare in U.S.

Women are the fastest growing segment of the United States Armed Forces.  Although many Americans have acknowledged the trend, others are either unaware, unprepared, or unwilling to accept the emergence of women into this typically male-dominated field of expertise.

Regardless of public awareness, opinion, or acceptance, female veterans have earned the right to VA Healthcare Benefits.  Unfortunately, after 7 years of research and studies, the VA Health Care System is still struggling to provide adequate care for women in approximately 30% of their facilities across the U.S.

Excerpt from August 16, 2011 blog post by Veterans Today:

“Our strong interest in women Veterans’ health stems from our combined clinical and research experience caring for women within the VA Health Care System. Here, women have been a historical and numerical minority with specific challenges in obtaining comprehensive care (general primary care, gynecologic or reproductive care, and mental health care).  We believe challenges to women Veterans’ health and health care can be addressed through creative, thoughtful solutions that in are in turn based on several factors.

First, whether women Veterans are seeking general primary care or mental health services, their health care preferences must be taken into consideration. Even issues that don’t seem important—such as whether a woman can see a female provider or, if needed, go to a separate women’s clinic—can have a tremendous impact on health outcomes. In some cases, such matters may make the difference between whether or not a female Veteran receives the care she needs.

Second, improving women’s care requires we first understand how VA care for women Veterans is currently organized. Over two-thirds of VA medical centers have women’s clinics, and most of the rest have designated a women’s health provider to see women Veteran patients. As researchers, it is our job to identify and study anything that stands in the way of a woman Veteran getting the best care possible!

Third, we are concerned about issues related to helping women Veterans continue a care program and sustain good health. For example, has the patient been assigned a primary care provider and/or nurse case manager? Does the patient live near a comprehensive women’s health center? Will there be follow up via telephone, Internet, or group visits? Can the patient receive timely appointments for preventive health care, such as mammography, or cholesterol screening and management?

These are a just a few of the issues we think about everyday as we work to improve access and delivery of care for women Veterans. You can imagine, then, our excitement when a national health care journal—Women’s Health Issues—recently chose to showcase VA-sponsored research in a special supplement of articles and commentaries! Titled “Health and Health Care of Women Veterans and Women in the Military:  Research Informing Evidence-based Practice and Policy,” the supplement not only shows the tremendous growth and diversity of VA women’s health research in recent years, it also exemplifies the many ways the VA is working to integrate research findings into patient care, and, of course, affirms the priority status given women across the Department.”



VFW’s New DC Blog

This week the VFW introduced its newly reinvented blog, www.vfwonthehill.org. 

The primary focus will be on the work of VFW’s National Legislative Service in Washington, D.C. Serving over 2 million members and thousands of veteran advocates, the blog is the latest tool to help engage those who are interested in making a difference for veterans from coast to coast.

Together with the efforts of the VFW Action Corps and the VFW National Legislative Committee, the new blog will help inform all who visit, in real time on the daily activities of veterans’ issues as they develop in Washington inspiring members to reach out to their representatives and take action.

T-Mobile Cuts off Military Wife’s Phone for Talking “Too Much” to Green Beret Husband Battling Cranial Gunshot Wound

This is so disgusting…I strongly resisted the urge to call T-Mobile customer service myself.   This poor woman, the wife of a Green Beret…I will NEVER use T-Mobile if they don’t make strides to correct the incredible lack of sympathy they have shown here.

Most of the Marine Corps and Navy personnel stationed in Hawaii are FORCED to use T-Mobile to connect with loved ones in the U.S.  This is due mostly to the lack of any other cellular service provider.  It is pitiful that T-Mobile REFUSED to give a few extra precious minutes to just one of the thousands of MILITARY CUSTOMERS they have.

Thank you WIVB.com for reporting this. – VFWlady

Army Wife Cut Off From Injured Husband

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Her Green Beret husband is recovering from a gunshot wound to the brain suffered in Afghanistan. So why did T-Mobile cut off a desperate Army wife’s cellphone account?

Jamie Kreiger has spent hours on the phone since learning that her Green Beret husband, Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Kreiger, was shot in the head during an ambush in Afghanistan. She’s used up all the minutes on her T-Mobile cell phone plan, and then some. Now, her family says, T-Mobile is compounding her stress by threatening to turn her phone off.

Jamie’s brother-in-law, Chris Kreiger, said, “She had explained the situation, as to why the amount of overage. That her husband was in Afghanistan, was seriously wounded, and this was her only means of communication between herself, the Army, my brother, where he’s at now. And T-Mobile didn’t want to hear it.”

Chris then tried talking to T-Mobile himself, and he also got nowhere. That’s when Dean Jackson, a personal friend and one of the directors of Kreiger’s “WNY Heroes” group, stepped in. Jackson says he talked to a T-Mobile representative who told him he could buy Jamie Kreiger extra minutes.

Jackson said, “They basically told me that if I could go get a card and pre-pay it, we’d be good to go.”

But when Jamie tried to cash in the minutes, there was another problem.

“It gives you instructions, on the back of the card, on how to make this thing work. [She] tried to do it, and [T-Mobile] said, ‘They have a different plan. You can’t use those cards,'” explained Jackson.

Chris lamented, “It was like a kick to the mouth. And as far as I’m concerned, T-Mobile… They’re allowed to be as ignorant as they are because of the soldiers who fight to defend that right. So the least they can do is give a little bit of gratitude and thanks back.”

News 4 called T-Mobile’s media relations line Wednesday night to ask them about the situation. A spokesperson said they brought the issue to their T-Mobile Executive customer care team, who will look further into the account, but that they can’t release any information about the outcome due to privacy policies.

UPDATE:  8/11/11 @ 6:55PM CST: MINUTES AFTER THIS POST WENT VIRAL, GUESS WHAT HAPPENED??……..

T-Mobile makes amends to Army wife

Updated: Thursday, 11 Aug 2011, 5:50 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 11 Aug 2011, 5:50 PM EDT

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – We have an update on a local soldier’s cell phone dispute that we first reported Wednesday night on News 4:

A local T-Mobile representative contacted News 4 on Thursday. The company plans to credit Jamie Kreiger’s account and will pay her bill for the next two months.

Copyright WIVB.com

Rally Against Closing Veterans Homes

Join me in Jefferson City, MO to stop the closing of Veterans Homes:

http://vfwlady.wordpress.com/2011/08/03/missouris-answer-to-homeless-veterans-is-to-close-veterans-homes-seriously/

If you would like to send a message to Senator McCaskill, please visit the following website: http://mccaskill.senate.gov/.

During business hours, you may reach the office immediately by calling 202-224-6154.

Thank you again for contacting the Office of Senator McCaskill. Claire McCaskill | U.S. Senator for Missouri

mccaskill.senate.gov

The American Fallen Warriors Memorial Foundation Gets Land!

The American Fallen Warrior Memorial Foundation has received a letter of intent from the City of Emporia, Kansas. Emporia is the first city to officially express a desire to become the home of the American Fallen Warrior Memorial.

Emporia is nationally recognized as the founding city of Veterans Day. The city has offered a site location near the Jones Aquatic center and an additional private land offer from the DeBauge family was also submitted.

Kansas City, Kansas Unified Government of Wyandotte County has also submitted a letter of intent for land donation to the AFWMF with 4 possible site locations in the KC area along the 1-70 corridor.   The AFWMF contacted 6 Kansas cities in March 2011 with a request for land donation of 20 acres to build the largest memorial in US history.  Kansas City Kansas, Leavenworth, Lawrence, Topeka, Manhattan/Junction City and Emporia were given the opportunity to become the home of the American Fallen Warrior Memorial.

Emporia and KCK have met the requirements and August 1, 2011 AFWMF deadline with a letter of intent and land proposal. The scoring process will now begin with the foundations project manager, Mr. Christopher Gartner and the board of directors. The AFWMF will make a decision based on the criteria given to all of the cities that have been approached to become the home of the memorial in addition to the most suitable city for this sacred place of honor.

A National press release is scheduled for 9/11/11 announcing the city of choice with an expected sign placement ceremony scheduled on 11/11/11. (Veterans Day)

AFWMF CEO/Founder, Tonya Evans states, “There couldn’t be a more exciting time for us and for Kansas! We have worked very hard to see this dream come one step closer to reality in honoring our Fallen Warriors and providing hope and healing to their families and our Nation. We are so thankful for the cities that we have worked with in the last 5 months and their desire to participate in this project and see the state of Kansas recognized as a National landmark for the American Fallen Warrior Memorial.”

The mission of the American Fallen Warrior Memorial Foundation is to honor, preserve and protect the legacies of all Fallen Warriors who have given their lives in the Gulf War, Operations Desert Storm, Operation Desert Shield, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and all peripheral operations in the War on Terror. They intend to do this by building a memorial that will contain photo plaques displaying the faces of every serviceman or woman who has given his or her life in the service of defending and protecting our country, including PTSD/Suicides from the Gulf War to the present.

The AFWMF’s secondary mission is to educate the children of a Grateful Nation about the sacrifices being made to protect our freedoms. Educating our youth is essential to ensuring that their sacrifice will not be forgotten. We believe that we must preserve the legacies of these brave men and women and teach the value of remembering their sacrifices.

The AFWMF is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization formed in 2011 and is dedicated to honoring our Fallen Warriors and to educating the students of a Grateful Nation about the sacrifices being made for our freedoms. www.facebook.com/GoldStarWall