VFW National Legislative Assistant Director Kristina Keenan provided a statement for the record for a Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing on VA’s implementation of the Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022. She included observations made by VFW Service Officers who have been assisting veterans with their VA disability claims for toxic exposure conditions. “About one-third reported that they have already seen PACT-Act-related claims adjudicated and some being granted by VA, primarily for Vietnam War veterans with hypertension and for those who served in Thailand,” said Keenan. She added that while VA has reported a large increase in claims since the passage of the PACT Act, VA is also processing claims faster at nearly the same rate as the increase. She stated that the VFW recommends that VA maintains its overtime staffing in order to continue managing the increased claims workload.
New Toxic Exposure Screening for Veterans
If you are a veteran enrolled in VA health care, you can now receive the toxic exposure screening at VA medical centers and clinics across the country. If you are not enrolled in VA health care, you will be eligible for the screening once you complete the enrollment process. These screenings will become a regular part of your medical appointments and, if you believe that you experienced toxic exposure during your military service, you will be connected to support and resources.
Holiday Overseas Mail Deadlines Approaching
The U.S. Postal Service is preparing for the holiday season as many families spend holidays apart due to military service. In order to ensure overseas packages are delivered before Dec. 25, USPS has provided the following deadlines: Dec. 9 for all Air/Army Post Office (APO), Fleet Post Office (FPO) and Diplomatic Post Office (DPO) addresses with AE zip codes using Priority Mail and First-Class Mail; and Dec. 16 for APO/FPO/DPO addresses using USPS Priority Mail Express (excluding zip 093). USPS offers a free “military care kit,” which consists of the items most often requested by military families.
Army Cpl. Tommie T. Hanks, 27, of Fort Worth, Texas, was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. On Nov. 26, 1950, he was reported missing in action while his unit was attempting to withdraw from east Ch’ongch’on River near Anju, North Korea. Hanks will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on a date yet to be determined.
Army Pfc. Francis P. Martin, 25, of Scranton, Pennsylvania, was assigned to Company D, 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division. His unit was engaged in battle with German forces near Lichtenberg, France. Martin will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on a date yet to be determined.
Army Staff Sgt. James Rotunno, 27, of Brooklyn, New York, was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division. His unit was engaged in the Battle of Reipertswiller in France. He will be buried in Rutherford, New Jersey, on a date yet to be determined.
Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Walter Nies, 23, of Eureka, South Dakota, was assigned to 96th Bombardment Squadron, 2nd Bombardment Group, 15th Air Force. On Jan. 24, 1944, the B-17F Flying Fortress bomber on which he was serving as a tail gunner was shot down by enemy fighters. He will be buried in Eureka, South Dakota, on a date yet to be determined.
Till next week, praying for all service members.
– Charles Castelluccio