House Passes Blue Water Navy Act

By a vote of 410-0, the House on Tuesday unanimously passed H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019. “The VFW salutes the united support of the House,” said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence. “Your vote will positively impact thousands of lives, and it once again proves that taking care of veterans and their families is a nonpartisan issue.” Once signed into law, H.R. 299 will restore VA benefits to thousands of so-called Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans who had their disability eligibility taken away after regulatory changes. Veterans exposed to Agent Orange while serving along the Korean DMZ will have an earlier start date to encompass the time frame when various defoliants were tested. The current start date of April 1, 1968, will be changed to Sept. 1, 1967. Benefits will expand to include children born with spina bifida due to a parent’s exposure in Thailand, as well as require VA to report on research being conducted on a broad range of conditions possibly related to service in Southwest Asia. The bill now moves to the Senate, which “failed to pass H.R. 299 in the previous Congress,” said Lawrence. “We cannot allow this to happen again, which is why I am urging every veteran, family member and advocate to contact their U.S. senators to get this bill passed and signed into law. Now is the time to get in touch with your U.S. Senator and tell them to pass this bill.

Fiscal Year 2020 Defense Funding Bill

On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee released their first draft of the 2020 defense funding bill. In total, the proposal would provide $690.2 billion in new discretionary funds for the Department of Defense, an increase of $15.8 billion above fiscal year 2019. Of that total number, $622.1 billion would be allocated for base funding, an increase of $15.6 billion above fiscal year 2019, and $68.1 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations funding, an increase of $165 million. Other provisions in the bill include a prohibition on transferring F-35s to Turkey and $21.7 billion for 11 Navy ships. Additionally, it would provide funds for the advance procurement of the first Columbia-class submarine and three Virginia-class submarines.

Memorial Day, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day to remember and honor those service men and women who have died and have worn the uniform as a military service member. Waterloo, N.Y., was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966. Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor the dead. It was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868, by General John Logan, national commander of The Grand Army of The Republic, in his General Order No. 11: “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.” On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there. It is now observed in almost every state on the last Monday in May with Congressional passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L.90-363). It is a Federal Holiday. Let us remember and never, never forget those that have served so we can enjoy all our freedoms.

POW/MIA Update

Army Cpl. Charles S. Lawler, a member of Company M, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, engaged against enemy forces near Unsan, North Korea. Interment services are pending.

Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Toney W. Gochnauer was a member of the 425th Bombardment Squadron, 308th Heavy Bombardment Group, 14th Air Force, where he served as a copilot of a B-24J bomber aircraft. Interment services are pending.

Army Pvt. Roy Brown, Jr., was a member of Company I, 126th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Division, when he was reported missing in action following engagement with enemy forces near Buna, Papua New Guinea. Interment services are pending.

Till next week, praying for all service members.


– Charles Castelluccio