VFW Sets 2023 Priority Goals

The 118th Congress is now in session. Although there were significant legislative victories for veterans in 2022, there is still work to be done. The VFW 2023 Priority Goals include Budget; Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs; Education, Employment, and Transition Assistance; Health Care; Military Quality of Life; and National Security, Foreign Affairs, and POW/MIA. The VFW will continue to work diligently to ensure members of the newly seated Congress improve care and benefits for veterans, service members, and their families.

FY 2023 NDAA Signed into Law

On Dec. 23, 2022, the president signed the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023 into law. Notable provisions in the bill include a 4.6 percent pay raise for troops, broad improvements to personnel and family support policies and programs, expanded Basic Needs Allowance eligibility, and further Uniform Code of Military Justice reforms that aim to ensure crimes like sexual assault and sexual harassment are fairly investigated. Also included in this year’s NDAA were the Don Young Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2022, codification of the DOD SkillBridge Program, and VFW-supported provisions that improve Vet Centers and authorize a Survivor Benefit Plan open enrollment period for select retirees.

Omnibus Package Passes with Veteran Provisions

Before its adjournment, the 117th Congress passed a government funding omnibus package that includes appropriations bills for fiscal year 2023, and nine VFW-supported provisions that would affect veterans. Some of the included bills are the Veterans Auto and Education Improvement Act of 2022, Veterans Benefits Improvement Act of 2021, and the Improving Access to the VA Home Loan Benefit Act of 2022. The provisions will protect and safeguard many benefits earned by our veterans, process benefits and payments to survivors faster, extend education program flexibilities, and provide dignified care and support for survivors of military sexual trauma.

New TRICARE Contracts Awarded

The Defense Health Agency announced the awarding of its T-5 TRICARE Managed Care Support contracts to Humana Government Business (East Region) and TriWest Healthcare Alliance Corporation (West Region). Contracts will go into effect in 2024, at which point the following six states will move from the East Region to the West Region: Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wisconsin. Roughly 1.5 million beneficiaries will be affected by this change, but no action is required at this time.

POW/MIA Update

Navy Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Lorentz E. Hultgren, 23, of Tacoma, Washington, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. He will be buried in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Jan. 9, 2023.

Navy Seaman 2nd Class David J. Riley, 25, of Juda, Wisconsin, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. He will be buried in his hometown on May 27, 2023.

Navy Fire Controlman 2nd Class Donald R. McCloud, 21, of Monaville, West Virginia, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. He will be buried in Dingess, West Virginia, on June 24, 2023.

Till next week, praying for all service members.


– Charles Castelluccio