Last Wednesday, the VFW NVS Veterans Casework Consultant for Health, Meggan Thomas, participated in the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (HVAC) Women Veterans Task Force Roundtable. The roundtable was comprised of veteran organizations, including the VFW, and members of Congress. It was led by HVAC Subcommittee Chair Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Calif.), who also chairs the Task Force. The Task Force raises visibility on issues affecting women veterans and solicits input and solutions from VSOs. This meeting focused on health care, particularly the availability of and access to reproductive health services through VA. The VFW shared the need for parity in contraceptive benefits with other commercial and government-sponsored health care programs and plans, as well as the need for a more inclusive benefit for in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Currently, VA will cover limited IVF services for men and women, but only if donors have their own sperm and eggs. With the prevalence of urino-genital injuries from the Global War on Terror, this option is not always available and the VFW believes that VA should consider all the factors that affect a veteran’s need for IVF. The VFW also advocates that VA must cover the partners involved in IVF, not just services for the veterans eligible for VA care. The VFW also highlighted the need for coordination of services and ways to provide the best care possible to the growing number of women veterans eligible for VA care.
VA Now Processing Blue Water Navy Claims
On Jan. 1, VA began processing claims under the VFW-championed Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019. The act restores VA benefits to thousands of Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans who had their disability benefits taken away in 2002 after arbitrary regulatory changes. It benefits veterans exposed to Agent Orange while serving along the Korean DMZ with an earlier start date to encompass the time frame when various defoliants were tested — to Sept. 1, 1967, instead of April 1, 1968 — and expands benefits to children born with spina bifida due to a parent’s exposure in Thailand, coverage that already exists for the children of Vietnam and Korean DMZ veterans. You must file a claim with a credited organization to get your claim started. (VFW, American Legion, DAV, County Veterans Service Officer, etc.)
Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Arthur B. Summers, 27, was a member of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Interment services are pending.
Navy Seaman 2nd Class Lloyd R. Timm, 19, of Kellogg, Minnesota, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft on Dec. 7, 1941. Timm will be buried May 25, 2020, in Wabasha, Minnesota.
Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. William J. McGowan, 23, of Benson, Minnesota, was a pilot serving with the 391st Fighter Squadron, 366th Fighter Group, 9th U.S. Air Force. On June 6, 1944, he was killed when his P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft crashed while on a mission near the city of Saint-Lô, France. McGowan will be buried June 26, 2020, at the Normandy American Cemetery in France.
Marine Corps Reserve 1st Lt. Justin G. Mills, 25, of Galveston, Texas, was a member of Company C, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Mills was killed on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Mills will be buried April 29, 2020, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
Army Pfc. John A. Shelemba, 19, of Hamtramck, Michigan, was a member of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. Shelemba was reported missing in action while defending Taejon, South Korea, on July 20, 1950. Shelemba will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. The date has yet to be determined.
Army 1st Lt. Robert C. Styslinger, 28, a Korean War veteran of Pittsburgh, served with Battery B, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, 7th Infantry Division. His remains could not be recovered. Styslinger will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. The date has yet to be determined.
Army Sgt. Maximiano T. Lacsamana, 37, of the Philippines, a veteran of the Philippine Scouts during World War II, was a member of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 31st Regimental Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division. During the Korean War. Lacsamana will be buried in the spring of 2020 in the Philippines. The exact date and location have yet to be determined.
Till next week praying for all service members.
– Charles Castelluccio