House Passes Bill to Expand Veteran Homeless Program

Last week, the House overwhelmingly passed the VFW-supported Veteran HOUSE Act of 2020. This bill would expand eligibility for the Department of Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program to veterans discharged under other-than-honorable (OTH) conditions. Veterans with OTH discharges make up only 3% of the veteran population, but they compose 15% of the homeless veteran population. The bill was introduced by Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) who is working to get more veterans off the streets. “Expanding housing assistance and services to these men and women would allow homeless veterans who have slipped through the cracks access the support they have earned through their service to our country,” said Peters. The HUD-VASH program is an incredibly valuable tool for veterans who are in need of stable housing.

Military Housing Crisis

Last Tuesday, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Criminal Investigation Division raided the Tinker Air Force Base offices of Balfour Beatty Communities in connection with suspected EPA violations. The raid was the result of a subpoena on behalf of the EPA in connection with the removal of asbestos flooring in September 2019. Last fall, Balfour Beatty received a stern warning in a letter from the Air Force indicating if “prompt and substantial improvement” is not noted, formal action against the company will begin. In a related matter, Navy Admiral Charles A. Williams (Ret.), who has 40 years of real estate experience and who has been nominated to serve as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations, and Environment, told lawmakers during his confirmation hearing that he is “livid” about the housing conditions of some sailors and their families. Williams said, if confirmed, his first priority will be to tackle problems with Navy privatized housing.

POW/MIA Update

Veteran remains identified that were part of the 55 boxes returned.

Army Cpl. William J. McCollum, 19, of Anderson, South Carolina, was a member of Company D, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, 31st Regimental Combat Team. He was reported missing in action Dec. 2, 1950, in the vicinity of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when his unit was attacked by enemy forces. Following the war, his remains could not be recovered until June 2018, when North Korea turned over 55 boxes, purported to contain the remains of American service members killed during the Korean War, which included McCollum’s remains. McCollum will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. The date has yet to be determined.

Army Pfc. Junior C. Evans, 20, of Hall County, Texas, was a member of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on Dec. 12, 1950, in the vicinity of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea. Evans will be buried in Gilmer, Texas. The date has yet to be determined.

Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Lowell S. Twedt, 27, of Le Grand, Iowa, was a pilot assigned to the 71st Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Group. On Oct. 20, 1944, he piloted a P-38J “Lightning” aircraft as part of an escort for a B-17 “Flying Fortress” bombing mission targeting oil storage tanks in Regensburg, Germany.  Twedt’s remains were never recovered. Twedt will be buried in Fernly, Nevada. The date has yet to be determined.

Marine Corps Pfc. Louis Wiesehan, Jr., of Richmond, Indiana, was a member of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Wiesehan was killed on the second day of battle, Nov. 21, 1943. Wiesehan will be buried April 18, 2020, in his hometown.

Air Force Maj. Neal C. Ward, 23, of College Station, Texas, was a member of the 602nd Special Operations Squadron, as the pilot of an A-1H aircraft, leading a flight of two on an armed reconnaissance mission in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Ward will be buried in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. The date has yet to be determined.

Till next week, praying for all service members.


– Charles Castelluccio