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Annual Convention Set in Pittsburgh

The Department of Pennsylvania VFW and Auxiliary Annual Convention will be held in Pittsburgh. For the VFW, it is the 102nd Pennsylvania State Convention. It will be June 16-19. It will be held at the DoubleTree By Hilton-Pittsburgh Greentree, 500 Mansfield Ave. in Pittsburgh. There will be the Memorial Service, business sessions, award presentations, and nomination, elections, and installation, of 2021-2022 Officers.

VFW Testifies on VA Infrastructure

Last week, VFW National Legislative Director Patrick Murray testified before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on behalf of the VFW and our The Independent Budget partners, DAV (Disabled American Veterans), and the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA). The hearing focused on President Biden’s national infrastructure plan, which includes a proposed $18 billion for VA capital infrastructure needs. Murray stated, “We are very appreciative of this proposal, and given the gap in funding identified by VA’s Strategic Capitol Investment Planning process, such an infusion is certainly justified.” Murray also stressed the need to refocus hiring initiatives within VA in order to increase the capacity for critical VA construction.

VFW Testifies on VA Budget

This week, VFW National Legislative Director Patrick Murray testified before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on behalf of VFW and with our The Independent Budget partners, DAV (Disabled American Veterans), and the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA). The hearing focused on President Biden’s budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs. “While VA has received increased funding levels, a persistent lack of regular oversight and IT development continues to negatively impact access for an increasing number of veterans,” said Murray. Additional hearing witnesses also called for robust oversight of critical education and employment programs within VA.

VA to Help with Digital Divide

Veterans who may not have a video-capable device or broadband connection for telehealth appointments can contact the VA Digital Divide Consult for assistance. Through this program, a social worker will help determine if the veteran is eligible for either VA’s Connected Devices Program, Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) Lifeline program, Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program, or a local ATLAS site. Telehealth allows for a continuum of care between a veteran and health care provider, eliminates extensive travel and wait times, and permits the veteran to choose a safe space for their appointment. The phone number for the Erie VA Medical Center is (814) 274-8387.

Direct Child Tax Credit to Begin in July

Part of the American Rescue Plan Act provides for an enhanced 2021 child tax credit. Many veteran households with children under 18 years old will soon be eligible for direct monthly payments per month from July to December 2021. Eligible households will receive $300 per child 5 years old and under, and $250 per child 6-17 years old. It is also possible to qualify for a one-time $500 payment for children who are between 19-24 years old and full-time college students. These direct payments should help with the issue of hunger in the veteran community as veteran groups have found nearly 40 percent of American military families have been in need of food during the pandemic to include 1 in 4 Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans.

POW/MIA Update

Navy Radioman 3rd Class Earl M. Ellis, 23, of Hope, Arkansas, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. He will be buried on Oct. 23, 2021, in Sutter Creek, California.

Navy Fireman 1st Class Neal K. Todd, 22, of Akeley, Minnesota, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. He will be buried on July 10, 2021, in his hometown.

Army Sgt. Lloyd A. Alumbaugh, 21, of Jasper, Missouri, was a member of Ambulance Company, 7th Medical Battalion, 7th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on Nov. 28, 1950, when his unit was attacked by enemy forces near the Chosin Reservor. Alumbaugh will be buried June 25, 2021, in Reeds, Missouri.

Army Pfc. John J. Sitarz, 19, of Weirton, West Virginia, was assigned to Company L, 3rd Battalion, 110th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division. His unit was engaged in battle with German forces. Sitarz will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, at a date yet to be determined.

Army Staff Sgt. Raymond C. Blanton, 19, of Richmond, Virginia, was assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division. His unit was engaged in battle with German forces. Blanton will be buried July 1, 2021, in his hometown.

Army Cpl. Kenneth R. Foreman, 19, was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on Dec. 2, 1950, after his unit was attacked by enemy forces as they attempted to withdraw near the Chosin Reservoir. Interment services are pending.

Army Sgt. Elwood M. Truslow, 20, was a member of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on Dec. 12, 1950, after his unit was attacked by enemy forces as they attempted to withdraw near the Chosin Resevoir. Interment services are pending.

Army 1st Lt. Myles W. Esmay, 21, was a member of Company B, 236th Engineer Combat Battalion, reinforcing the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), also known as Merrill’s Marauders. Esmay was reported to have been killed on the last day of fighting. Interment services are pending.

Navy Seaman 2nd Class Walter R. Pentico, 17, 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

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