Erie VA to Host Resource Fair, Veterans Health Fair

The Erie Veterans Affairs Medical Center will be holding information meetings. The first one will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9. at the American Legion, located at 120 W. 4th St., in Waterford. Veterans and their families can meet VA health experts, Eligibility and Enrollment, VA Behavioral Health Clinic staff, VA Dietitians, Erie Vet Center staff and local community resources. Also on Tuesday, Feb. 12, the Erie VA will be holding its Veterans Health Fair. It will be held in the VA’s 2nd Floor Conference Rooms from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Veterans and their families are invited to learn about a variety of VA health programs and services at the annual Erie VAMC Health Fair. Meet with VA Health Experts on site including Eligibility and Enrollment, Care Giving Support, Smoking Cessation, Move, My Healthy Vet, Peer Support Specialist, Women Veterans programs, Hospice Palliative Care, Transitional Care, Telehealth, Vet Center and more.

VFW Blue Water Navy Vet Wins Federal Appeals Court Ruling

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed a decade-old ruling Wednesday that potentially paves the way for the return of earned disability benefits for some 90,000 so-called Blue Water Navy veterans from the Vietnam War. The VFW-supported case, Procopio v. Wilkie, was VA Secretary Robert Wilkie being sued by Navy veteran Alfred Procopio, who was denied service connection for prostate cancer and diabetes mellitus because he never stepped foot on dry land or served within Vietnam’s inland waterways. Procopio, a life member of VFW Post 6587 in Spring Lake Park, Minn., was assigned aboard the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, which was stationed inside Vietnam’s 12-mile territorial waters. Both of his illnesses are listed among the VA’s 14 presumptive diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange. The Appeals Court focused on the intent of the 1991 Agent Orange Act, which was to grant a presumption of service connection for certain diseases to veterans who “served in the Republic of Vietnam.” At issue was whether service within territorial waters constituted service “in the Republic of Vietnam.” By a 9-2 decision, the Appeals Court ruled it did. “Although very pleased with the ruling, the VFW isn’t quite ready to celebrate,” said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence. “That’s because the VA can always appeal the ruling and Congress has yet to pass a Blue Water Navy bill. But, it is very encouraging to now have a court of law support Blue Water Navy veterans along with the court of public opinion. We need to get this done and reinforce to tens of thousands of veterans that our nation does have your back when you come home from war. The VFW now calls on VA to make Blue Water Navy veterans whole as soon as possible, and we stand ready to assist VA in doing so.” Keep the pressure on Congress. Call your Congress person and tell them to pass the Blue Water Navy Bill today.

POW/MIA Update

U.S. Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Howard T. Lurcott was a member of the 38th Bombardment Squadron, 30th Bombardment Group, stationed at Hawkins Field, Betio Island, Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands. On Jan. 21, 1944, the B-24J bomber aircraft he was piloting crashed into Tarawa Lagoon shortly after takeoff. Lurcott and the nine other servicemen aboard the aircraft were killed. Interment services are pending.

Navy Seaman 1st Class Frank A. Hryniewicz was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. Interment services are pending.

Navy Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Eugene K. Eberhardt was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. Interment services are pending.

Till next week, praying for all service members.


– Charles Castelluccio