VFW new leadership; Choice Program funding

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Important dates in August

The Month of August has many important days. Here are just a few: Aug. 4 is the U.S. Coast Guard’s birthday. National Purple Heart Day is Aug. 7. It honors the men and women who have been wounded or killed in military service.  Aug. 8 is Victory Over Japan Day 1945. Aug. 29 is U.S. Marine Forces Reserve’s birthday.

VFW Elects New National Leadership

The 118th VFW National Convention ended last Wednesday in New Orleans with the election of Keith E. Harman, of Delphous, Ohio, as the new VFW commander-in-chief for the year 2017-18. He said he is proud to be part of an organization that exists to take care of veterans, service members and their families and that he is honored to lead it. His theme for his year is “Service not Self.” His goals are to end sequestration, to fully fund the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, to demand better leadership, management and accountability from the Department of Veterans Affairs and to help reduce the veteran suicide crisis to zero. Also elected were Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief Vincent “B.J.” Lawrence, of Alamogordo, N.M., and Junior Vice Commander-in-Chief William J. “Doc” Schmitz, of Corning, N.Y.

Funding Agreement Reached for Choice Program and VA

Last Monday, the VFW asked its members and supporters to call their Representatives and demand they vote “NO” on S.114, which called for the gradual privatization of Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) health care. The troubling bill would have sent billions of dollars into the private sector, using veterans’ benefits to pay for it. Plus, it would have put no new resources into VA to address critical infrastructure and staffing shortages. This call to action worked and the House voted down S.114. Congress will soon pass legislation that would fix the funding shortfall of the Choice Program, make urgently needed improvements to VA’s health care system, improve hiring and training for VA doctors and authorize VA to enter into 28 leases for medical facilities. This could not have been accomplished without direct support of VFW members, its supporters and partner veterans’ organizations who also took part in the fight against VA privatization. Stay tuned for future action alerts in our fight for veterans’ rights.

POW/MIA Update

Navy Fireman 1st Class Elmer T. Kerestes, 22, of Holding Township, Minn., was buried July 29 in Holdingford, Minn.

Army Cpl. Edward L. Borders, 20, of Harrisburg, Ill., was buried July 29 in his hometown.

Navy Yeoman 3rd Class Edmund T. Ryan, 21, of Wilbraham, Mass., will be buried Aug. 2 in Arlington National Cemetery.

Army Cpl. Glen E. Kritzwiser, 19, of Piketon, Ohio, will be buried Aug. 3 in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

Marine Reserve Pvt. Alberic M. Blanchette was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, 2nd Marine Division.  Interment services are pending.

Marine Pvt. Joseph C. Carbone was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, 2nd Marine Division.  Interment services are pending.

Till next week, praying for all service members.

– Charles Castelluccio