On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing on the state of the VA disability claims process during the COVID-19 pandemic. VFW National Veterans Service Director Ryan Gallucci testified on how VFW Service Officers have adapted during the pandemic to continue to assist veterans with their claims using various IT resources. Gallucci stressed ongoing problems at VA that contribute to the ever-growing claims backlog, explaining that VA is measuring success by how quickly claims are processed rather than focusing on accuracy and timely access to benefits. Claims processed with speed, but which result in inaccurate ratings result in veterans filing appeals and waiting longer for their benefits. “Since Secretary Shinseki set the 125-day goal, VA has seemed obsessed with the benchmark to the detriment of the veteran experience.”
VFW Testifies on Transition Assistance Program
On Wednesday, VFW National Legislative Director Patrick Murray testified before the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity regarding the Transition Assistance Program (TAP). Murray highlighted the efforts of VFW Service Officers who helped deliver benefits briefings on military installations while the VA instructors were furloughed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Murray stated, “We believe it is extremely important for TAP offices to integrate accredited VSOs into their operations, not as a third-party entity but as an integral part of the team.”
VFW-Supported Legislation Passes House
On Wednesday, the House passed VFW-supported, H.R. 1448, PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act, and H.R. 958, Protecting Moms Who Served Act. The PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act would provide a VA pilot grant program to cover the cost of pairing a service dog with an eligible veteran diagnosed with PTSD. Also, VA would maintain certain veterinary insurance coverage for each service dog provided the veteran continues to see their physician or mental health care provider every six months. The Protecting Moms Who Served Act would structure VA’s maternity care coordination programs to provide community maternity care providers with training and support for veterans’ unique pregnancy and postpartum needs. This legislation would also require a report on maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity among veterans, infant mortality rates, and racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes.
Navy Fire Controlman 2nd Class Harold F. Trapp, 24, and Navy Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class William H. Trapp, 23, of La Porte, Indiana, were assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. The attack on the ship resulted in 429 deaths, including the Trapp brothers. They will be buried on June 15, 2021, at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
Army Cpl. Eldert J. Beek, 20, of Sibley, Iowa, was a member of Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. He was reported killed in action on Dec. 1, 1950, when his unit was attacked by enemy forces near the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea. Beek will be buried June 14, 2021, in George, Iowa.
Navy Fireman 1st Class Paul E. Saylor, 21, of Johnson City, Tennessee, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. He will be buried on Aug. 20, 2021, in his hometown.
Army Pfc. James W. White, 21, of Chester, Ohio, was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), also known as Merrill’s Marauders. White was reported to have been killed during fighting on July 2, 1944. White will be buried June 12, 2021, in Long Bottom, Ohio.
Navy Fireman 1st Class Robert J. Harr, 25, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. Interment services are pending.
Navy Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Charles D. Brown, 22, was assigned to the battleship USS West Virginia, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. Interment services are pending.
Navy Fireman 2nd Class William K. Shafer, 20, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. Interment services are pending.
Till next week, praying for all.
– Charles Castelluccio