VETERANS CORNER: Proposal made to consolidate Veteran Affairs’ community care programs

VETERANS CORNER: Proposal made to consolidate Veteran Affairs’ community care programs

Veteran Headstones

The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing last week to discuss VA’s proposal to consolidate its community care programs. Specifically, the committee heard testimony from VA and veterans organizations on how the private sector should be integrated into the VA health care system and when veterans are eligible to access care through private sector providers.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Senior Legislative Associate Carlos Fuentes submitted testimony urging the committee to eliminate arbitrary wait time and driving distance requirements and allow the veterans and their doctors decide how long veterans are able to wait or travel for their care.

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The White House has announced that President Barack Obama will award the Medal of Honor to a Navy special warfare operator on Feb. 29. Senior Chief Petty Officer Edward Byers, 37, of Ohio, will receive the nation’s highest valor award for his actions while serving as part of a team that rescued an American civilian being held hostage in Afghanistan in December 2012.

The 17-year Navy veteran, who has seven combat tours, is a graduate of the Hospital Corpsman School, Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Course and Special Operations Combat Medic Course.

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The VFW last week added its support to H.R.1475, the Korean War Veterans Memorial Wall of Remembrance Act of 2015, which would authorize a Wall of Remembrance to be added to the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C. The new addition would memorialize the names of more than 33,700 American battle deaths, and at the VFW’s recommendation, include the names of the 2,835 non-battle but still in-theater deaths.

The bill, which has more than 280 co-sponsors, was introduced by Korean War veterans Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas), Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.).

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Hawaii this month became the eighth state to find photos of all their Vietnam fallen. The addition of Army Sgt. 1st Class Felicisimo Hugo of Wahiawa now means all 277 fallen service members from Hawaii have a photo on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation’s Virtual Wall of Faces. The other states who have submitted photos for all their Vietnam fallen are Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

More than 45,000 photos have been received, but another 13,000 still need to be collected to ensure there’s a picture for every name inscribed on The Wall.

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