January 26, 2009
Secretary of Department of Veterans Affairs to "Make the Department of Veterans Affairs a
21st century organization"
Retired Army General Eric K. Shinseki took the oath of office January 21 at the White House
as the Nation’s seventh Secretary of Veterans Affairs, assuming leadership of the Department of Veterans Affairs following
his confirmation by the Senate the day before. "The overriding challenge I am
addressing from my first day in office is
to make the Department of Veterans Affairs a 21st century organization focused on the Nation's Veterans as its clients," Shinseki
Shinseki plans to develop a 2010 budget within his first 90 days reflecting the vision of President Obama to transform
VA into an organization that is people-centric, results-driven and forward-looking. Key issues on Secretary Shinseki’s
agenda include implementation of an enhanced GI Bill education
benefit that eligible veterans will begin using next fall,
streamlining the disability claims system, leveraging information technology to accelerate and modernize services, and opening
VA’s health care system to veterans
previously unable to enroll in it, while facilitating access for returning Iraq
and Afghanistan Veterans.
James Siscel, Jan 14, 2009
Tricare for Life not on Chopping Block
A viral e-mail campaign is unsettling military retirees
over 65. Sourcing a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report, these e-mails claim that TRICARE for Life is at risk. These
distress warnings are overstated.
The report, on Budget Options, Volume 1: Health Care lists 115 options for reducing federal
spending on health care, altering federal healthcare programs, and making substantive changes to the nation’s health
insurance system. But these are not formal recommendations. The suggestion for TRICARE for Life is only Option 96 on the list.
None are formal recommendations.
A total of six proposals of the 115 might affect military health care. Other options include
increasing health care cost sharing for family members of military personnel on active duty (Option 95); increasing health
care cost sharing for military retirees under age 65 (Option 97); and copayments and
changes to enrollment for medical
care provided by the Veterans Affairs Hospitals for enrollees without a service-connected disability (Options 28, 29 and 98)
CBO report is a periodic report made every two years. The last such report was published in February of 2007 when CBO provided
250 budget cutting options to Congress on altering federal spending and revenues, of which health care and Medicare changes
were a part. What was unusual with
this year’s health care report was that it was published in a separate volume.
would like to thank those members who brought this report to our attention. The Reserve Officers Association is concerned
with legislation that might affect the military health readiness, and deny earned health benefits and will continue to track
this issue. ROA leadership has been in discussions with other military and veteran associations and the consensus
currently there is no serious risk. At this point there are no fires needing to be put out.
VFW Washington Weekly
January 23, 2009
1. Senate Confirms Two Key Cabinet Members
2. Committee Assignments Begin
3. VFW Says Closing GITMO Not Prudent
1. Senate Confirms Two Key Cabinet
Members: The Senate signed off on
many of President Obama's cabinet members this week. Among those confirmed were
VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Shinseki has promised to begin work on several high
priority items during his first days in office. Among them is the implementation of GI Bill benefits, streamlining disability
claims, and modernizing the delivery of benefits, to include working with DOD on seamless transition for newly discharged
2. Committee Assignments Begin: Congress began organizing committees
and naming members for its 111th session. The House VA Committee chairman and ranking member remains the same -- Bob
Filner (D-CA) and Steve Buyer (R-IN), respectively. Likewise, the Senate VA Committee retained Daniel Akaka (D-HI) as
its chairman and Richard Burr (R-NC) as the ranking member. The Senate Armed Services Committee leadership stayed the same
with Carl Levin (D-MI) as chairman and John McCain (R-AZ) as its ranking member. The only change was in the House Armed
Services Committee. Ike Skelton (D-MO) is still chairman, but John McHugh (R-NY) takes over as ranking member after
retirement of California's Duncan Hunter. Subcommittee chairmanships for all of the committees including the Military/VA
Appropriations have yet to be named.
3. VFW Says Closing GITMO Not Prudent:
VFW National Commander Glen Gardner said yesterday's presidential decision to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay
is not a prudent course of action during a time of war because the facility is a valuable tool in the fight against terrorism
that provides useful intelligence information and keeps our enemies off the battlefield. President Obama's executive
order will begin an immediate case-by-case review of 245 remaining detainees, and close the detention facility within a year.
The decision is being applauded by human rights organizations and criticized by the families of 9/11 victims, who know that
admitted 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed is one of the detainees. Gardner, who traveled to Guantanamo in November
2007 to witness a trial as an objective observer, wants the administration to thoroughly examine its real options, because
the executive decision generates more
questions than answers. Some of the questions concern how and where will remaining
detainees be kept while awaiting trial, how to make convictions stick, and how to ensure those released do not return to the
battlefield. To read the VFW press release, go to:
December 5, 2008
The new PH License plate will have the bigger and bolder
PH with the white stripe down each side. DMV will notify us when the plate is ready for review--- they will send to
us to critique---if the plate meets our approval, they will start production in 5 to 6 weeks.
BELOW ARE MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE
ON VETERANS AFFAIRS AND IMAGES OF THE HONOR MEDAL TO BE GIVEN TO ALL VETERANS OF LOUISIANA..
TUESDAY, NOV. 4TH IS THE DAY TO EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT AS
AN AMERICAN CITIZEN, PLEASE GET OUT AN VOTE.
HOPE TO SEE YOU AT THE MID-WINTER CONFERENCE, NOVEMBER 7TH
AND 8TH 2008.
COMMANDER RICHARD GARNER
MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON VETERANS AFFAIRS
OCTOBER 31, 2008
John Bel Edwards, Chairman
District 72 (Amite)
District 102 (New
James Armes III
District 30 (Leesville)
Jerry “Truck” Gisclair
District 54 (Baton Rouge)
Elbert Guillory District
District 82 (New Orleans)
District 16 (Monroe)
District 94 (New Orleans)
District 62 (Jackson)
District 57 (LaPlace)
District 101 (New Orleans)
District 77 (Covington)
District 8 (Bossier City)