45th Anniversary of the Signing of Paris Peace Accord

Signed on Jan. 27, 1973, the Paris Peace Accord was intended to finally end the Vietnam War, which had cost the lives of thousands of American soldiers. And even still today, many Vietnam veterans still suffer from the affects of the war – injuries, PTSD, the side effects of Agent Orange. Also millions of Vietnamese civilians were killed or injured. Initially, the Accord was negotiated in secret by National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, the lead North Vietnamese negotiator. These secret negotiations took place over the course of five years in Paris, from 1968 to 1973, but it was only in the early 70s that any real progress was made.

House Holds Veteran Homelessness Hearing

The House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittees on Health and Economic Opportunity held a hearing last Thursday aimed at discussing the current situation of veteran homelessness and the way forward. Since 2009, the rate of veteran homelessness has been reduced by nearly 50 percent. With three states and 57 communities virtually ending veteran homelessness within their borders, efforts between VA, the Department of Labor, and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have clearly been successful. Subcommittee members asked questions regarding the success of VA’s Housing First plan and the holistic nature of case workers for programs such as HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH). Witnesses agreed that such programs are highly successful in working toward a “functional zero” and in assuring veterans who overcome homelessness do not become homeless again. Also in question was VA’s intent to divert funding from the HUD-VASH program. VA assured the subcommittees that its intent was never to cut all funding to the program, but to assure more funding would be available where and when necessary.

VFW National Home for Children

Past residents are sharing their stories of how the VFW National Home for Children impacted their lives. One story about a woman named Robyn details how her grandfather’s military service gave her a new chance at life. Robyn explains, “I was imagining us homeless. We didn’t really have any family here at the time, so I didn’t have any help. I was embarrassed because I couldn’t take care of the kids.” If you know a military or veteran family that needs help, have them call the VFW National Home Military and Veteran Family Helpline at (800) 313-4200.

POW/MIA Update

Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Stanley F. Stegnerski, 25, of Chester, Pa., whose identification was previously announced, was buried Jan. 22 in Millsboro, Del.

Army Pfc. James J. Leonard, Jr., 22, of San Francisco, whose identification was previously announced, will be buried Jan. 23 in his hometown.

Navy Reserve Chief Water Tender Paul R. Wright, 41, of Meadville, Mo., whose identification was previously announced, will be buried Jan. 25 in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

Navy Seaman 1st Class John E. Savidge, 20, of Linden, N.J., whose identification was previously announced, will be buried Jan. 26 in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Ewart T. Sconiers, 27, of DeFuniak Springs, Fla., whose identification was previously announced.

Army Cpl. William C. McDowell was a member of Company D, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. Interment services are pending.

Navy Fireman 1st Class Chester E. Seaton was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. Interment services are pending.

Air Force Col. Edgar F. Davis was on a night photo-reconnaissance mission on Sept. 17, 1968, over Laos, when he and his pilot were shot down by anti-aircraft artillery fire. Davis was declared missing in action. Interment services are pending.

Till next week, praying for all service members.

– Charles Castelluccio