VFW National Legislative Associate Director Kristina Keenan testified before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on the comprehensive toxic exposure bill, H.R. 3967, the Honoring our PACT Act of 2021. “The Honoring our PACT Act is THE comprehensive solution for toxic exposures,” said Keenan. “To the members of this committee, you have the opportunity to be leaders in this historic moment. All eyes of the veteran community are on you right now.” During the hearing, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough pledged his support for the PACT Act. He commented on technical aspects of the bill and said he shared the overall goal to bring more veterans into VA.
Toxic Exposure Press Conference
The VFW participated in a press conference organized by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) regarding H.R. 3967, the Honoring our PACT Act. The event was attended by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA), veteran advocates Jon Stewart and John Feal, representatives of veteran organizations, and family and friends of burn pit victims. VFW National Legislative Associate Director Kristina Keenan expressed, “Toxic exposures have affected every generation of service members, in all conflicts, in all eras. The Honoring our PACT Act would help veterans who have been waiting far too long for benefits. Let’s work to provide VA the resources it needs to implement the PACT Act.”
House Subcommittee Holds Bill Hearing
VFW National Legislative Deputy Director Tammy Barlet testified before the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs on several pieces of pending legislation. She spoke about the importance of VA improving the PTSD claims process according to Office of Inspector General (OIG) recommendations, as well as addressing benefits automation, the definition of marriage, and expanding outreach concerning benefits to survivors of veterans and active duty members. Barlet explained that the VFW has long echoed OIG concerns about VA’s overdevelopment of PTSD claims, including those related to military sexual trauma.
Important Dates in April
April is the Month of Military Children and Military Saves Month.
April 5 – Gold Star Spouses Day
April 9 – National Former POW Recognition Day
April 14 – Air Force Reserve birthday
April 15 – Good Friday
April 17 – Easter
April 22 – Earth Day
April 23 – Army Reserve birthday
April 30 – National Military Brats Day
Navy Seaman 1st Class Wilbur F. Newton, 29, of San Leandro, California, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. He will be buried in Mound City, Missouri, on May 28, 2022.
Navy Fire Controlman 2nd Class George Gilbert, 20, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. He will be buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) in Honolulu on Jun. 6, 2022.
Army Staff Sgt. Gerald R. Helms, 29, of Chicago, was assigned to Company E, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. In 1944, he was reported missing in action near Katerbosch, Netherlands, during Operation Market Garden. Helms will be buried in Elwood, Illinois, on a date yet to be determined.
Army Pfc. William L. Groh, 22, of Tiffin, Ohio, was assigned to Company F, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division. He was reported killed in action on Nov. 20, 1944, when his unit was engaged in battle with German forces near Hürtgen, Germany. Groh will be buried in Phoenix on a date yet to be determined.
Army Pfc. Sanford K. Bowen, 26, was assigned to Company I, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division. He was reported killed in action on Jan. 20, 1945, when Company I and four other companies were engaged in battle with German forces. Interment services are pending.
Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Louis V. Girard, 20, was assigned to 68th Bombardment Squadron, 44th Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force. On Aug. 1, 1943, the B-24 Liberator aircraft on which Girard was piloting crashed. Following the war, his remains could not be identified. Interment services are pending.
Till next week, praying for all service members.
– Charles Castelluccio