Congress must include the Major Richard Star Act as an amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023. The VFW firmly believes that DOD retired pay and VA service-connected disability compensation are fundamentally different benefits, earned for different reasons. Purple Heart recipients deserve to receive all the benefits they earned. Now is the time to move this legislation forward. Contact your members of Congress and demand they include the Major Richard Star Act as an amendment in the FY23 NDAA.
New 988 Veterans Crisis Hotline
VA announced veterans now have the option to Dial 988 then Press 1 to connect with caring, qualified responders for 24/7 crisis assistance. “During a crisis, every second counts,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “This new, shorter number makes it easier for veterans and those who care about them to reach lifesaving support without having to be enrolled in VA benefits or health care.” While this is a new option for contacting the Veterans Crisis Line, the original number, (800) 273-8255 and press 1, remains available, and individuals can make contact via chat at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat or by texting 838255.
Transition Assistance Resources After Service
Many individuals need help navigating their benefits when they leave the military, either immediately or years later. Veterans, family members, and caregivers can access online DOD Transition Assistance Program (TAP) materials and courses at any time following separation from service. With topics including managing transition, financial planning, and VA benefits for spouses and children, veterans can access the broad TAP curriculum as their needs and goals change over time.
Marine Corps Reserve Cpl. William R. Ragsdale, 23, of Nashville, Tennessee, was assigned to Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division. He will be buried on Aug. 6, 2022, in his hometown.
Army Pvt. Alevin A. Hathaway, 20, of Hinesburg, Vermont, was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 109th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on Nov. 6, 1944, when his unit was engaged in battle with German forces near Hürtgen, Germany. He will be buried in his hometown on a date yet to be determined.
Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Moses F. Tate, 23, was assigned to 415th Bombardment Squadron, 98th Bombardment Group, 9th Air Force. On Aug. 1, 1943, the B-24 Liberator aircraft on which Tate was a gunner crashed as a result of anti-aircraft fire during Operation Tidal Wave. Interment services are pending.
Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Pharis E. Weekley, 21, was assigned to 329th Bombardment Squadron, 93rd Bombardment Group, 9th Air Force. On Aug. 1, 1943, the B-24 Liberator aircraft on which Weekley was a navigator crashed as a result of anti-aircraft fire during Operation Tidal Wave. Interment services are pending.
Army Pvt. Felix M. Yanez, 19, was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. He was killed in action on July 16, 1950, while fighting the North Korean People’s Army along the Kum River, north of Taejon. Interment services are pending.
Army Pfc. Melvin J. Little Bear, 21, was assigned to Able Battery, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division. On Feb. 13, 1951, he was reported missing in action after his unit was attacked by the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces near Changbong-ni, South Korea. Interment services are pending.
Army Pfc. John L. Ferguson, 20, was assigned to 28th Material Squadron, U.S. Army Air Forces, when Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands in December 1941. Intense fighting continued until the surrender of the Bataan peninsula in 1942. Ferguson was among those captured. Interment services are pending.
Army Pfc. John W. Gordon, 32, was assigned to Company G, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division. On Jan. 17, 1945, Gordon was killed while his unit was engaged with German forces during the Battle of Reipertswiller in France. His body could not be recovered due to the ongoing battle. Interment services are pending.
Army Air Forces Sgt. Zelwood A. Gravlin, 21, was assigned to 343rd Bombardment Squadron, 98th Bombardment Group, 9th Air Force. On Aug. 1, 1943, the B-24 Liberator aircraft on which Gravlin was the armorer-gunner was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire and crashed during Operation Tidal Wave. Following the war, his remains could not be identified. Interment services are pending.
Army Pfc. Donald Hofman, 19, was assigned to Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division. Elements of his unit were supporting five companies attempting to secure terrain near Reipertswiller, France. Interment services are pending.
Navy Shipfitter 2nd Class Claude R. Garcia, 25, was assigned to the battleship USS West Virginia, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. Interment services are pending.
Navy Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Keith W. Tipsword, 27, was assigned to the battleship USS West Virginia, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. Interment services are pending.
Till next week, praying for all service members.
– Charles Castelluccio