August 30, 2019
In This Issue:
1. VFW Statement on U.S. Military Dependents Overseas
2. Senate VA Committee Chairman to Retire Early
3. VA to Provide On-Site Counseling to National Guard Members
4. Space Command Reestablished
5. Retirees Enrolled in TRICARE Prime May Get a Refund
6. V-J Day Commemoration
7. MIA Update
1. VFW Statement on U.S. Military Dependents Overseas: The VFW is very concerned that the dependent children of U.S. service members and government employees stationed overseas, and who are also legal permanent residents of the U.S., may face difficulty returning to the United States. The concern arose from an update published Wednesday by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) that rescinds a previous policy. The main concern to VFW National Commander William “Doc” Schmitz is that the new USCIS policy specifically targets dependent children of U.S. military personnel and U.S. government employees. “The big question is why target dependent children?” asks Schmitz. “This has a huge negative impact on the morale of those in the fight, supporting the fight, or who are projecting America’s presence around the world,” he said. “To intentionally target these children who are born to legal permanent residents minimizes the fact that their parents are serving the United States on foreign soil, and in many cases shedding their own blood so that others don’t have to. I strongly urge Acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli to rescind this policy change now!”
2. Senate VA Committee Chairman to Retire Early: Senate VA Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson of Georgia announced Wednesday that he will be stepping down from the Senate at the end of the year due to ongoing health challenges. Isakson, who will depart halfway through his third term, was presented the VFW’s 2019 Congressional Award for his unwavering support to secure the passage of numerous VFW legislative prioritygoals, to include expedited VA employee accountability, modernizing the VA appeals process, the Forever GI Bill, improving veterans’ health care through the VA MISSION Act, and expanding caregiver programs to veterans of all eras. “The VFW salutes the chairman for his decades of unwavering support to his fellow veterans, service members, their families, and survivors,” said VFW National Commander William “Doc” Schmitz. “He is a true veterans’ champion in Congress who was devoted to working with members of all parties and ideologies to keep veteran’s issues bipartisan. The VFW honors his long service to country, and wishes him a quick and full recovery.” Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas is the second in order of seniority for committee Republicans.
3. VA to Provide On-Site Counseling to National Guard Members: VA and DOD formalized a partnership on June 28, 2019, to provide Vet Center counseling, outreach staff, and other services to members during training or drill weekends. “This relationship between VA and the National Guard further advances the department’s efforts to decrease service member and Veteran suicide,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “Vet Center staff will provide counseling and referral to those who may be under stress and at risk for self-harm.” Learn more.
4. Space Command Reestablished: On Thursday, President Trump announced the official reestablishment of the United States Space Command (USSPACECOM), which will be DOD’s 11th Unified Combatant Command. Initially established in 1985, and deactivated in 2002 following the establishment of U.S. Northern Command, the primary mission of USSPACECOM is to focus on the protection of U.S. space assets and to strengthen the military’s posture in space as adversaries develop more advanced anti-satellite weapons. Initially, the command will be temporarily headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. However, DOD is looking at six possible locations for a permanent headquarters: four in Colo., one in Ala., and one in Calif. On March 22, 2019, Air Force General John W. Raymond was selected to lead the organization, and on June 27, 2019, he was confirmed by the Senate. Learn more.
5. Retirees Enrolled in TRICARE Prime May Get a Refund: On Thursday, TRICARE released a policy manual update that will be beneficial to some retirees who are enrolled in TRICARE Prime. Prior to the TRICARE reforms that went into effect in 2018, enrollment fees were included in the maximum out-of-pocket payment or catastrophic cap; after the reforms, they were no longer counted toward the cap which effectively increased the cost for some families. The new change, which is retroactive to 2018, will allow the annual enrollment payment to be counted toward the cap again. This means retirees who paid the enrollment fee and exceeded their catastrophic cap could get a refund. The update explains that the contractor will be responsible for notifying the beneficiaries who are affected by the policy change. The outreach letter will explain the credit, how the credit was applied, and the steps to request a refund. Learn more.
6. V-J Day Commemoration: Visitors to the nation’s capital this long Labor Day weekend are invited to attend the 74th commemoration of the end of World War II at 11 a.m., Sept. 2, at the National World War II Memorial. There are very few handicapped parking spots available, and the two closest Metro stops (Smithsonian and Federal Triangle) are both about a half-mile away, but there are plenty of taxis and other hired conveyances available. Learn more.
7. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has announced the identifications of six American servicemen who had been missing and unaccounted for from the Korean War and WWII. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:
-- Army Cpl. Gudmund C. Johnson, Jr. was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, when he was captured by enemy forces near Unsan, North Korea. He reportedly died while a prisoner of war at Camp #5, where he was held by the Chinese People's Volunteer Forces. Following his death, his remains could not be recovered. Interment services are pending. Read about Johnson.
-- Army Cpl. Charles H. Grubb was a member of Company M, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on Dec. 1, 1950, in the vicinity of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when his unit was attacked by enemy forces. Following the battle, his remains could not be recovered. Interment services are pending. Read about Grubb.
-- Army Sgt. Gerald B. Raeymacker was a member of Battery B, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, 7th Infantry Division, 31st Regimental Combat Team. He was reported missing in action on Dec. 6, 1950, in the vicinity of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when his unit was attacked by enemy forces. Following the battle, his remains could not be recovered. Interment services are pending. Read about Raeymacker.
-- Navy Seaman 1st Class Stewart Jordan was assigned to the USS Nelson, which was anchored off the coast of Normandy, France. He was killed June 12, 1944, when the ship was hit by enemy fire. Following the war, his remains could not be identified. Interment services are pending. Read about Jordan.
-- Navy Seaman 2nd Class Brady O. Prewitt was stationed aboard the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft on Dec. 7, 1941. The USS Oklahoma was hit multiple times which caused it to capsize quickly and caused the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Prewitt. Interment services are pending. Read about Prewitt.
-- Navy Fireman 2nd Class Albert Renner was assigned to the battleship USS West Virginia, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft on Dec. 7, 1941The USS West Virginia sustained multiple torpedo hits, but timely counter-flooding measures taken by the crew prevented it from capsizing, and it came to rest on the shallow harbor floor. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 106 crewmen, including Renner. Interment services are pending. Read about Renner.
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