Senate passes veterans legislation

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Last week, the Senate passed two pieces of House legislation supported by the VFW – H.R. 3949, the VALOR Act, and H.R. 1545, the VA Prescription Data Accountability Act 2017. H.R. 3949 amends existing law in order to simplify how non-federal apprenticeship programs based in more than one state are certified. H.R. 1545 directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to disclose information about an individual – currently about a veteran or the dependent of a veteran – who is dispensed medication prescribed by a VA employee or by a non-VA provider authorized to prescribe such medication by VA to a state-controlled substance-monitoring program to the extent necessary to prevent misuse and diversion of prescription medicines.

Honoring World War I Memorials Act of 2017

This week, U.S. Representative and VFW Life member Tulsi Gabbard introduced H.R. 4328, the Honoring World War I Memorials Act of 2017. This piece of legislation would authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide $50 million in grants to rehabilitate and restore WWI memorials that have fallen into a state of disrepair. The VFW endorses this legislation and believes that on the eve of the centennial anniversary of the close of WWI, this is an important step in ensuring that the monuments built to honor the sacrifices of the more than 4.7 million service members who served during “The Great War” are restored to their original condition.

Online Exchange Shopping a Winner

The military exchanges opened their online shopping doors to honorably discharged veterans over Veterans Day weekend. The Army and Air Force Exchange Service said their online weekend sales more than doubled over the same time frame last year. Details were not available from the Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard exchange systems, but the new VFW-supported veterans benefit came out of the gate a winner. To shop online at any or all the military exchanges, you must first verify your eligibility through VetVerify.org. Regarding Amazon comparisons, here’s an article written by CBS Radio’s “Connecting Veterans” host Eric Dehm, a member of VFW Post 1469 in Huntington Station, N.Y. Of note is Amazon does not split its profits with military MWR programs.

POW/MIA Update

Army Sgt. Gerald J. Mueller, 20, of Saint Paul, Minn., whose identification was previously announced, was buried Nov. 8 in Fort Snelling, Minn.

Marine Cpl. Anthony G. Guerriero, 22, of Boston, whose identification was previously announced, was buried Nov. 14 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C.

Marine Corps Pvt. Vernon P. Keaton, 18, of Lubbock, Texas, whose identification was previously announced, was buried Nov. 16 in Lula, Okla.

Marine Corps Reserve Assistant Cook Frank L. Masoni, 21, of Gilroy, Calif., whose identification was previously announced, was buried Nov. 18 in his hometown.

Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Homer A. Spence, 22, of Manteca, Calif., whose identification was previously announced, was buried Nov. 18 in his hometown.

Marine Corps Sgt. William D. Ball, 21, of Hollywood, Calif., whose identification was previously announced, will be buried on the 74th anniversary of his death, Nov. 21, in Arvin, Calif.

Navy Fireman 2nd Class Martin A. Gara was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  Interment services are pending.

Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. William H. Harth, Jr., was a bombardier assigned to the 329th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 93rd Bombardment Group (Heavy), which was known as “The Traveling Circus.”  Interment services are pending.

Till next week, have a happy Thanksgiving.

– Charles Castelluccio