Pennsylvania VFW 28th District Meeting Slated

The district meeting will be held Sunday, March 8, at Meadville VFW Post 2006. The post is located at 1045 South Morgan St. in Meadville. The business session begins at 2 p.m. The Auxiliary will meet at the same location. The 28th District covers the counties of Erie, Crawford and Mercer. All members in good standing are encouraged to attend.

VA Update on Caregivers and Agent Orange

On Thursday, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie testified before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs to discuss the fiscal year 2021 budget request for VA. Committee members asked Wilkie when VA will expand the caregiver program and whether it will add bladder cancer, Parkinsonism, hypertension, and hyperthyroidism to the list of conditions presumed to be associated with exposure to Agent Orange. Wilkie indicated that VA would release its plan to expand the caregiver program next week and indicated that his father is impacted by Agent Orange exposure so he is working hard to make it right. VFW National Legislative Service Director Carlos Fuentes testified alongside the VFW’s Independent Budget (IB) partners DAV (Disabled American Veterans) and Paralyzed Veterans of America. The IB’s budget recommendation is more than $4 billion higher than the administration’s request.

VA Launches Solid Start Program for Newly Transitioned Veterans

The Solid Start program is a transition program recently launched to proactively contact newly separated veterans by phone during the critical first year of transition from military service. The goal is to provide them valuable benefits information such as health care services, mental health services, home loan information, and veteran employment services. The first year of transition is critical and creates significant stress and pressures. The VA hopes the Solid Start program will ease those stressors on veterans and families while making them aware of the benefits and services readily available to them.

Legislation Introduced to Study Toxic Exposure at Karshi Khanabad

On Tuesday, Reps. Mark Green (R-Tenn.) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) introduced H.R. 5957, the K2 Veterans Toxic Exposure Accountability Act of 2020. This important legislation would require DOD to conduct a study on toxic exposure at Karshi Khanabad Air Base (K2) in Uzbekistan. The legislation would also establish a K2 toxic exposure registry and a framework for providing presumptive benefits for veterans who developed a health condition associated with toxic exposure at K2. A December 2019 McClatchy article reported that K2 was contaminated with enriched uranium, radiological residue from chemical weapons, and other hazards. On Thursday, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on National Security held a hearing to discuss hazardous exposures at K2 and their effects on service members. The VFW thanks Rep. Green and Rep. Lynch for introducing this legislation and for their efforts to expand health care and disability benefits for veterans.

House Passes Five Veterans’ Bills

Last week, the House passed five pieces of veterans’ legislation. They range from protecting veteran-owned small business from losing contracts due to loopholes, to giving student veterans more information on GI Bill-eligible schools. The bills that passed are: H.R. 561, Protecting Business Opportunities for Veterans Act; H.R. 2227, Gold Star Spouses and Spouses of Injured Servicemembers Leasing Relief Expansion Act; H.R. 3749, Legal Services for Homeless Veterans Act; H.R. 4613, VA Reporting Transparency Act; and H.R. 4852 G.I. and Veterans Education Empowerment (GIVE) Act.

Important Dates in March

March 3 – U.S.Navy Reserve birthday

March 8 – Change to daylight savings time

March 13 – K-9 Veterans Day

March 15 – American Legion birthday

March 19 – National Day Of Honor

March 25 – National Medal of Honor Day

March 29 – Vietnam Veterans Day

POW/MIA Update

Navy Fireman 1st Class James C. Webb, 23, of Hobart, Arkansas, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft on Dec. 7, 1941. Interment services are pending.

Army Sgt. David C. Sewell, 30, of Walker, Minnesota, was a member of Company M, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on Nov. 28, 1950, in the vicinity of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea. Sewell will be buried in Anoka, Minnesota. The date has yet to be determined.

Navy Seaman 2nd Class Everett G. Windle, 20, of Kansas City, Missouri, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island Pearl Harbor. He will be buried in Honolulu. The date has yet to be determined.

Naval Reserve Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Paul H. Gebser, 39, of San Diego, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. The date and location have yet to be determine.

Till next week, praying for all service members.


– Charles Castelluccio