VFW Testifies Before Senate

VFW National Legislative Director Pat Murray testified before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on pending legislation. Twenty-one bills were discussed, including expansions for Guard and Reserve troops, student veteran protections, VA claims improvements, and provisions to improve the Office of Inspector General. Murray stated, “Knowing which specific veterans are and are not utilizing VA would help inform stakeholders about any and all gaps in veterans’ care.” Many of the bills discussed at this hearing were supported by the VFW and we are hopeful they will be swiftly passed into law.

VFW Testifies Before House Subcommittees

The House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, and Subcommittee on Health, held a joint hearing on disability claims related to military sexual trauma (MST). “It is imperative that the Department of Veterans Affairs provides support for MST survivors and delivers benefits and services with dignity and respect at the forefront,” said Keenan. She also stressed the need for mental health examiners to receive MST-specific training, as well as training on military culture.

Congress Passes Veterans Legislation

Congress passed four VFW-supported bills –– S. 796, S. 894, S. 1031, S. 1095 –– that would improve maternal health care, increase coordination for hiring veteran health professionals at VA, study racial and ethnic disparities in VA claims, and establish tuition fairness for those utilizing the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance program. These bills were previously passed by the Senate and now head to the president’s desk for signature.

House Passes Several Veterans Bills

The House passed nine veterans bills, including three supported by the VFW. H.R. 147, H.R. 4233, and H.R. 4626 would ensure services and benefits for separating service members and veterans with respect to apprenticeship programs, require VA to furnish counseling including Vet Center access to those using specified DOD or VA educational assistance benefits, and require VA at least once every 10 years to enter into a contract for a private sector entity or entities to conduct an independent assessment of all medical services and care furnished by VA.

Thanksgiving Day

This Thursday, Nov. 25, is Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States. In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers, an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith, and other individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in The New World. After the crossing from England that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the pilgrims, as they were called, began to work on establishing a village at Plymouth. In November 1621, after the Pilgrims first corn harvest proved successful. Gov. William Bradford organized a celebratory feast. Which lasted three days. The rest is history.

Holiday Overseas Mail Deadlines Approaching

The U.S. Postal Service is preparing for more gifts to be mailed this year than usual as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to force many families to spend holidays apart. In order to ensure overseas packages are delivered before Dec. 25, it 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).

POW/MIA Update

Army Cpl. Leon E. Clevenger, 21, of Durham, North Carolina, was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on July 11, 1950, while involved in combat operations against the North Korean People’s Army. Clevenger will be buried on Dec. 11, 2021, in his hometown.

Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Charles McMackin, 26, of Boston, was assigned to 68th Bombardment Squadron, 44th Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force. On Aug. 1, 1943, the B-24 Liberator aircraft on which McMackin was serving as a bombardier crashed as a result of enemy anti-aircraft fire during Operation TIDAL WAVE in Ploiesti, north of Bucharest, Romania. McMackin will be buried on April 14, 2022, in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.

Army Sgt. Howard R. Belden, 19, of Hague, New York, was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on Dec. 1, 1950, when his unit was attacked by enemy forces near the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. The date has yet to be determined.

Army Air Forces 1st Lt. John J. Heffernan, Jr., 24, was assigned to 490th Bomb Squadron, 341st Bomb Group, 10th Air Force. On Feb. 22, 1944, the B-25G Mitchell bomber on which Heffernan was serving as a navigator burst into flames and crashed near Letpadaung. Following the war, his remains could not be identified. Interment services are pending.

Army Tech. Sgt. Ross H. Thompson, 50, was assigned to the Finance Department, U.S. Army Forces Far East, when Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands in December 1941. Interment services are pending.

Till next week, praying for all service members.


– Charles Castelluccio