VFW National Convention

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The Veterans of  Foreign Wars and its Auxiliary will be holding their National Convention on July 22-26 in New Orleans. The Memorial Service will be held Sunday morning starting at 7:30 a.m. You can watch the memorial service and the convention via the internet. Go to www.vfw.com to get information for connections and apps. During the convention, resolutions will be gone over for approval or rejection. Many awards will be given out with guest speakers. It wraps up on the July 26 with the nominations and elections of VFW National Officers.

VFW Testifies Before House on Gulf War Illness Claims Processing

On Thursday, VFW National Veterans Service Deputy Director Michael Figlioli testified before a joint hearing of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittees on Oversight and Investigations and Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs regarding VA’s processing of Gulf War Illness (GWI) claims. The hearing focused on the approval rates of veterans seeking compensation and the training required for medical examiners and claims processors. Last year, a similar hearing was held in which the VFW strongly advocated for VA to develop a single Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) for Gulf War Illness that would assist in empirically establishing service-connection. Despite this advocacy and suggestions by members of the committee, the VA’s Office of Disability Assistance has yet to report any progress regarding the development of a new DBQ, and veterans suffering from these chronic conditions continue to have their claims denied.

VFW Supports Declassification of Exposure Testing, Will Continue Fight

The VFW spoke outside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in support of a defense bill amendment to declassify portions of a Vietnam era project that exposed approximately 6,000 service members to some of the world’s deadliest chemicals and biological agents – VX, Sarin gas and E. coli bacteria. The land and shipboard tests were carried out between 1962 and 1974. Many surviving participants of Project 112 and Project SHAD (Shipborne Hazard and Defense) suffer from debilitating health conditions associated with the exposure, but the veterans are unable to prove a service-connection for their disabilities because the Defense Department has yet to declassify the documents to prove that the tests even took place. The amendment sponsor is U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, a VFW Life member of Post 768 in Windsor, Calif. Cosponsoring it are U.S. Reps. Walter Jones from North Carolina and Don Young of Alaska. Introducing a similar amendment in the Senate will be Jerry Moran of Kansas. Unfortunately, the amendment was not allowed to come to a vote as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, but the VFW will continue working with Rep. Thompson on this important issue

POW/MIA Update

Army Cpl. John Lane, Jr., 18, of El Monte, Calif., was buried July 17 in Mountain Home, Tenn. Lane  was reported missing in action as of July 31, 1950.

Air Force Reserve Capt. Joseph S. Smith, 25, of Assumption, Ill., was buried July 17 in his hometown.  Smith was listed as missing in action as of April 4, 1971.

Navy Fire Controlman 3rd Class Robert L. Pribble, 19, of St. Petersburg, Fla., will be buried July 18 in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Richard M. Horwitz was a member of the 716th Bomber Squadron, 449th Bombardment Group. Interment services are pending.

Army Sgt. William A. Larkins was a member of Battery A, 503rd Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division. Interment services are pending.

Till next week, praying for all service members.

– Charles Castelluccio