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March / April 2009

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March / April 2009


BY JOHN MITERKO, CHAIR


G-1-03 VETERANS VOTE! Campaign: Campaign to enhance veterans’ electoral participation and civic responsibility. Status Report: In preparation for future campaigns and in concert with our Government Affairs staff, a multifaceted program geared to get veterans out to vote is part of VVA’s annual modus operandi and budgetary process. Recommendation: Retire the Resolution.

G-2-95 Legislative Coordinator Network: State Council Government Affairs Chairs Talklist, Advocates, was introduced in August 2006 to enhance communications and legislative efforts between VVA National and VVA State Council Presidents, their Government Affairs Chairs, and their State Council counterparts. This is an ongoing process and is being used successfully to present a united effort at the state level on issues of national importance. Recommendation: The network is in place, new members are added regularly, and information is distributed nationally. Retire the resolution.

G-4-97 VVA urges the President of the U.S. by executive order to extend the eligibility date for an award of the Vietnam Service Medal or an appropriate Expeditionary Medal to May 30, 1975, and urges Congress to amend the Vietnam Disengagement Act of 1973 to extend the ending date for the Vietnam conflict, as well as the Vietnam era, to May 30, 1975: There is neither interest by the Senate Armed Services Committee nor any potential individual sponsors to promote such legislation. Grassroots efforts have been minimal and ineffective. Without congressional sponsors and a strong groundswell of support from the Vietnam veterans community, nothing will happen to further this proposed legislation. Recommendation: Retire the resolution.

G-5-03 VVA urges that eligibility under Public Law 104-275 should be extended to permit Vietnam-era veterans to continue to remain eligible for Vet Center services: There have been no widespread reports or policies enacted to deny Vietnam veterans access to Vet Centers. Until either occurs, no legislative action is required. Recommendation: Retire the resolution.

G-7-99 VVA urges Congress to pass appropriate legislation to establish hepatitis C as a presumptive disability: Hepatitis C guidelines should be based on existing guidelines as found on the American Liver Foundation website. Connie Christensen submitted a detailed report in January 2008 on the emergency room conditions in Vietnam that might have put patients at risk for contracting hepatitis C. VVA needs to summarize and prioritize critical points on the rationale for having hepatitis C listed as a presumptive condition. The objective is to marshal our arguments and back them with facts and data, then seek the support of members of Congress to begin the legislative process. Realistically, any positive action will be in the 111th Congress.

G-9-03 VVA supports the efforts of veterans and veterans service organizations who seek to change the regulations that have prevented the issuance of the Combat Medevac Badge to those individuals who served as aero medical crewmembers during—and for wars since—the Vietnam War: The U.S. Army has objected to the inclusion of the new Combat Medevac Badge. The Army’s objections were that the award would be retroactive for the most part, and that any medic or Medevac crew member who is in combat now receives the new Combat Action Badge.

Therefore, there is no need to authorize a new medal specific to Medevac crews or medics assigned to other infantry units since the new Combat Action Badge is awarded for direct combat experience. Recommendation: To broaden the criteria for the badge to include Medevac crews and medics assigned to aviation units who saw combat. Action needed: Seek direction from the Committee on whether and how to proceed on this Resolution.

G-10-07 Endorsement of legislation to create minimum private sector health care coverage for uninsured and underinsured veterans and their families: It has been reported that 45 million Americans are uninsured or underinsured, including 1.5 to 1.8 million veterans. VVA is working with AARP as a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, providing AARP with input for its health care and insurance initiatives.

G-11-07 Philippine veterans: Individual members of the armed forces of the Commonwealth of the Philippines who served with either the active or guerrilla forces in support of U.S. military operations against hostile forces in World War II are not currently considered veterans for purposes of VA disability. VVA supports legislation that would recognize service in the military organizations and forces of the Commonwealth of the Philippines during the liberation of the Philippines in the same manner as if the veterans had served in U.S. forces, thereby making them eligible for benefits administered by the VA.

G-12-07 Establishment of a new National Cemetery in Valley Forge National Park: The government paid $10.5 million for the 205-acre tract that will become the Washington Crossing VA National Cemetery. Construction of the first 60-acre section will begin this spring; other construction will be phased in over 50 years. The cemetery will serve more than 580,000 veterans and their families in Philadelphia and the five-county suburban area, including Lehigh County. Recommendation: Retire the resolution.

G-13-07 Cessation and prohibition of the utilization of U.S. military personnel as non-consensual participants in the testing by the U.S. government of vaccines and other medical treatments: This issue went before Congress already. The practice is in violation of U.S. rules for human research. Congressional supporters and friends of veterans advise that to enact legislation preventing non-consensual participation in government vaccine testing is an untenable objective. The end result is military members will continue to suffer from the residual effects of the vaccines.

The resolution remains an issue for VVA. VVA will monitor the scientific reports, meet with congressional leaders, and keep this issue in the forefront with the objective of terminating non-consensual vaccinations and medical treatments for military personnel.

G-14-07 State Veterans Homes: VVA will work with the Conference of State Council Presidents to determine the status of veterans homes in each state, work with state legislatures to insure that veterans homes are properly funded, work with the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs, the National Association of State Veterans Homes, and the National Governors Association, and then determine if legislation should be recommended to increase VA support for state veterans homes.

P-9-05 In Memory Plaque: VVA is working to develop sponsorship in the Department of the Interior to resolve the problem. No action will occur before the end of the first quarter of 2009.


The Government Affairs Committee: John A. Miterko, Chair; Patrick Welch and Sandie Wilson, Vice Chairs. Members Who Chair VVA Committees: Pat Bessigano, Veterans Health Care; Marsha Four, Women Veterans; Alan Gibson, ETaBO; Tom Hall, PTSD & Substance Abuse; Terry Hubert, Veterans Incarcerated; Gary Jones, POW/MIA; Keith King, Public Affairs; Jerry Klein, Veterans Benefits; Bill Meeks, Jr., Membership Affairs; Sandy Miller, Homeless Veterans; Buzz Sawyer, Agent Orange and Dioxin; Dave Simmons, Veterans Against Drugs; Jerry Yamamoto, Minority Affairs. At-Large Members: John Bishop, Tom Burke, C.C. Christensen, Joe Jenkins, Dennis Koehler, John Margowski, and Connie Steers. CSCP Rep: George Newell. Legislative Liaison: Ric Davidge. AVVA Advisors: Elaine Simmons and Nancy Switzer. Special Advisor: Kathleen Aylward. Staff Liaisons: Rick Weidman, Tom Berger, Bernie Edelman, and Sharon Hodge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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