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VFW Hosts Toxic Exposures Press Conference

On Tuesday, the VFW hosted a press conference in front of the VFW Memorial Building in Washington, D.C., for the introduction of the Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act of 2021. Speakers included the bill sponsors, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), Reps. Raul Ruiz (D-CA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), as well as TV personality Jon Stewart, veterans service organizations, and veteran advocates. “The War Fighter Act is a great step in taking care of the millions of men and women exposed to toxic hazards during their military service overseas,” said VFW National Legislative Service Associate Director Kristina Keenan. “Veterans like myself and others may never know what we were exposed to during our service. Without legislation like this, the burden of proof falls too heavily on veterans when they develop serious health conditions linked to their service.”

VFW Testifies on Pending EO Legislation

On Wednesday, VFW National Legislative Service Deputy Director Matthew Doyle testified before the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity. The subcommittee considered 16 bills to strengthen VA education and training benefits, combat veteran homelessness, and improve the adaptive automobile grant program. Doyle stated, “A one-time grant shifts the burden of purchasing a subsequent vehicle to the veteran. It would be analogous for VA to provide only the first prosthetic or assistive device to a service-disabled veteran, only to make them purchase their next device out-of-pocket.”

House Hearing on Pending Health Legislation

On Thursday, the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health conducted a hearing to discuss pending health care legislation. VA representatives responded to questions on VA’s policies and procedures regarding rural veterans, maternity care, use of video camera equipment, doula services, women-specific care for substance abuse programs and treatment, service dog training grants for veterans with PTSD, and use of commonly spoken languages for VA fact sheets. In a statement submitted for the record, VFW National Legislative Service Associate Director Tammy Barlet cited results from two VFW surveys regarding maternity care and rural veterans’ mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Inaugural Flag Raising Over New WWI Memorial

On Friday, the American flag was raised for the first time over the new National WWI Memorial site in Washington, D.C., after having flown over nine American WWI battlefield cemeteries in Europe and at the U.S. Capitol. Actor Gary Sinise hosted a virtual 90-minute program that included performances by the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” as well as the 369th Regiment “Hellfighters Band.” President Joe Biden and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley were featured speakers. There was also a flyover by the 94th Aero Squadron established during WWI.

POW/MIA Update

Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas J. Valentine, 22, of Cassville, Wisconsin, was a member of Battery B, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, 7th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on Dec. 6, 1950, after his unit was attacked by enemy forces as they attempted to withdraw near the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea.  Valentine will be buried in his hometown in May.

Navy Radioman 3rd Class Charles A. Montgomery, 21, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. Interment services are pending.

Navy Patternmaker 1st Class Stanislaw F. Drwall, 25, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. Interment services are pending.

Navy Ship’s Cook 3rd Class Robert Goodwin, 20, of Wichita, Kansas, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. Goodwin will be buried on May 14, 2021, in Topeka, Kansas.

Till next week, praying for all service members.


– Charles Castelluccio

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