VFW Action Corps Weekly – September 2, 2016

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In This Issue:

  1. Potential 1.6% Military Pay Raise in 2017
  2. Veteran Homelessness Nearly Halved
  3. VA Awards $300 Million More in Grants to End Veteran Homelessness
  4. Study Finds Potential Biomarkers for Gulf War Illness
  5. Women Veterans Social Media Campaign
  6. MIA Update
  1. Potential 1.6% Military Pay Raise in 2017: The president announced plans this week to cap military pay raises at 1.6 percent next year. In a letter to Congress, Obama used his executive powers to set the increase a half-percent below the expected increase in private sector wages, as measured by the Employment Cost Index (ECI). Unless changed by Congress — the House wants a 2.1 percent increase — the amount would mark the fourth consecutive year military pay failed to keep pace with their civilian peers. VFW National Resolution 408 calls on Congress to maintain military base pay comparability by matching annual ECI increases. Congress erased the double-digit pay gap of the 1990s by directing military pay raises from fiscal years 2000-2006 to be a half-percent above private sector wage increases, and raises from FY 2007-forward to match the ECI, although more could be authorized. However, the Department of Defense, in its continuing campaign to slow the growth of military compensation due to budget constraints and the sequester, keeps recommending that future pay increases be limited, despite knowing it could lead to another pay gap similar to the past. The last time a military pay raise matched the ECI was a 1.7 percent increase in FY 2013. Congress reconvenes after Labor Day to take up this issue, as well as all the federal government’s major funding bills.
  1. Veteran Homelessness Nearly Halved: The Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, along with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, announced last month that the number of veterans experiencing homelessness in the United States has been cut nearly in half since 2010. While the government did not meet its goal to end veterans’ homelessness by the end of 2015, all agencies can be credited with dropping the total number of homeless veterans down from 76,000 to around 40,000 on any given night nationwide. The achievement is largely attributed to more government attention and better public-private partnerships at the local level. Learn more at: http://www.defense.gov/News/Article/Article/881729/veteran-homelessness-drops-nearly-50-percent-since-2010/source/GovDelivery.
  1. VA Awards $300 Million More in Grants to End Veteran Homelessness: On Aug. 30, VA awarded another $300 million in grants to the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program to assist extremely low-income veteran families who are in need of permanent housing. SSVF funding supports outreach, case management and other assistance to prevent veteran homelessness or to re-house veterans who do become homeless. For more information, click here: http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2812. To better understand SSVF, please visit: http://www.va.gov/homeless/ssvf/index.asp.
  1. Study Finds Potential Biomarkers for Gulf War Illness: Researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs in Minneapolis performed a study on 85 Gulf War veterans that resulted in the development of a tentative panel of blood biomarkers that could possibly verify a diagnosis of Gulf War Illness with 90 percent accuracy. The study will go on to a larger population of participants for validation of the methods used. For more information, click here: http://www.research.va.gov/currents/0716-1.cfm.
  1. Women Veterans Social Media Campaign: In an effort to raise awareness of women veterans’ contributions to the military and society, VA has partnered with Women Veterans Interactive for a new social media campaign. The campaign launched Sept. 1 and will continue through Veterans Day weekend. To learn more about the campaign, visit: http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2814.
  1. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains of one sailor and a soldier who had been missing in action from World War II and Korea. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:

— Navy Water Tender 1st Class Walter H. Sollie, of Alabama, died on Dec. 7, 1941, while stationed aboard the USS Oklahoma, which capsized after receiving multiple torpedo hits as it was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The battleship suffered 429 casualties that day, second only to the losses aboard the USS Arizona. Interment services are pending. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/927315/sailor-killed-in-world-war-ii-accounted-for-sollie/.

— Army Cpl. Curtis J. Wells, 19, of Ubly, Mich., will be buried Sept. 10 in nearby Harbor Beach. In late November 1950, Wells was assigned to Company C, 65th Engineer Combat Battalion, 25th Infantry Division, when his company joined with Task Force Wilson to fight in the vicinity of Unsan, North Korea. The task force was overwhelmed and by Nov. 27, 1950, began to extricate themselves south. Wells would be reported missing after his unit regrouped. Read more at: http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/Article/932875/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-wells/.

To sign up new veterans’ advocates, click here: http://capwiz.com/vfw/mlm/signup.htm.

As always, we want to hear your advocacy stories. To share your stories or photos with us, simply email them directly to vfwac@vfw.org.