VFW to Celebrate 119th Birthday Sept. 29

The Veterans Of Foreign Wars will celebrate their 119th year Saturday, Sept. 29. It was established by James C. Putnam on Sept 29, 1899, in Columbus, Ohio. The organization’s membership consists of veterans who, as soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, and coast guardsman, served the United States in wars, campaigns, and expeditions on foreign soil or in hostile waters. The VFW, since its inception, has been instrumental in the establishment of the Veterans Administration; the creation of the national cemetery system; and passage of the G.I. Bill. It has since grown to be the nation’s largest group of combat veterans.

Senate to Pass Blue Water Navy Bill

On Wednesday, the VFW joined other veterans service organizations in sending a letter to the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, urging the Senate to pass H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2018.  The act would provide long-overdue benefits to Blue Water Navy and Korean DMZ veterans. It would also expand benefits to the children of veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange in Thailand and commission more research on Gulf War Illness. The VFW calls on its members and supporters to contact their senators and urge them to pass this bill.

Trump Signs Bill to Fund Veterans Programs

President Trump has signed the first appropriations bill of the year. The $147.5 billion package includes full-year appropriations for VA to start implementation of the VFW-supported VA MISSION Act of 2018; streamline the process for appealing decisions on benefit claims; reduce the rate of suicide among veterans; and modernize its electronic health care record. Full-year appropriations for veterans programs was one of several important issues the VFW National Legislative Committee urged members of Congress to finish before the end of the year, during the VFW’s Fall Legislative Conference.

VA to Hire 50 Veterans Justice Outreach Specialists

The Department of Veterans Affairs will hire 50 additional Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO) specialists as part of the Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act of 2018, which was recently signed by Trump. The law requires VA to hire these specialists within one year at eligible VA Medical Centers. “By signing this bill into law, President Trump is demonstrating VA’s commitment to supporting America’s veterans, particularly those who may be navigating difficult chapters in their lives,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “Since incarceration is often linked to homelessness, mental health issues and substance abuse, the VJO specialists will help facilitate these veterans’ access to numerous VA programs and resources.” Created in 2009, the program currently funds 314 VJO specialists across the United States.

Gold Star Families Remembrance Week

On Sept. 6, 2018, the Senate passed S. Res. 522, which designates Sept. 23 through Sept. 29, 2018, as Gold Star Families Remembrance Week to honor and recognize “the sacrifices made by the families of members of the Armed Forces who have made the ultimate sacrifice.” All Americans are encouraged to observe Gold Star Families Remembrance Week by performing acts of good will and celebrating the families of those who gave their lives for our freedom.

POW/MIA Update

Marine Corps Pfc. Roger Gonzales, 20, of San Pedro, Calif., whose remains were previously identified, was buried Sept. 21 in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. Gonzales was a member of Company F, 2nd Battalion.

Army Cpl. Morris Meshulam, 19, of Indianapolis, whose remains were previously identified, was buried Sept. 23 in his hometown. Meshulam was a member of Battery D, 82nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion (Automatic Weapons), 2nd Infantry Division. Meshulam was reported missing in action on Dec. 1, 1950.

Army Pfc. Willard Jenkins, 27, of Scranton, whose remains were previously identified, will be buried Sept. 26 in his hometown. Jenkins was a member of Company C, 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division near Nijmegen, Netherlands. On Sept. 20, 1944, while participating in Operation Market Garden, his unit was ordered to cross the Waal River to make an amphibious attack. Jenkins was wounded in the chest by enemy fire. Because of the enemy activity in the area, a search could not be conducted and he was declared missing in action on Sept. 20, 1944.

Army Pvt. Charles G. Kaniatobe was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. Interment services are pending.

Army 1st Lt. Seymour P. Drovis was a member of Company A, 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division. In July 1944, his unit was engaged against enemy forces in Achugao Village, Saipan Island, Northern Mariana Islands.  Interment services are pending.

Army Staff Sgt. Karl R. Loesche was a member of the 3rd Pursuit Squadron, 24th Pursuit Group. On Dec. 8, 1941, Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands and forced the surrender of the Bataan peninsula on April 9, 1942.  Interment services are pending.

Navy Seaman 1st Class Robert W. Headington was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, on Dec. 7, 1941. Interment services are pending.

Army Pfc. William H. Jones, of Nash County, N.C., was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. In November 1950, his unit engaged in attacks against the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces near Pakchon, North Korea. Interment services are pending.

Army Master Sgt. Charles H. McDaniel, of Vernon, Ind., was a medic with the 8th Cavalry Regiment Medical Company supporting the regiment’s 3rd Battalion. Interment services are pending.

Till next week, praying for all service members.


– Charles Castelluccio