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Retiree & Veteran Affairs News 16 November 2015

Association of the United States Army Logo - Eagle with Shield, Torch, Olive Branch
Monday, November 16, 2015

DEFENSE-RELATED LEGISLATION MOVES THROUGH CONGRESS

Four pieces of vital legislation are shaping the Army’s future.  Here is a rundown:

Congress recently-passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, a measure that provides budget stability for two years at funding levels above the 2011 Budget Control Act and sequestration.  It also suspends the debt limit until March 2017, thus avoiding a default on America’s debts.

The agreement raises defense and non-defense discretionary budget caps by $25 billion each in fiscal 2016 and $15 billion each in fiscal 2017 with a total price tag of $80 billion.  It would add Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding at $16 billion above the president’s fiscal 2016 request, for a total of $73.5 billion and also sets fiscal 2017 OCO funding at $73.5 billion. 

The downside:  the measure provided the Defense Department with $5 billion less than the president’s budget request and the GOP’s budget proposal; however, it does stabilize the defense budget and will provide some certainty for the department. 

The upside:  because the agreement raised both defense and non-defense spending, the White House and Democratic lawmakers dropped their opposition to the fiscal 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  In the end, House and Senate lawmakers amended and then passed a revised NDAA which included the $5 billion cut. 

The Army loses about $450 million in readiness-related authorization funds as a result of the cuts.

The readiness cuts—$250 million from active-duty accounts and $192.6 million from the National Guard—are part of a deal that allows the 2016 defense budget to grow by $33 billion over 2016 rather than the $38 billion increase requested by the Obama administration and preferred by many defense hawks in Congress.  The result is an overall defense budget, including overseas contingency operation funds, of about $599 billion, with about $126 billion allocated to the Army and its various components.

With the adjustments, the Army is authorized about $26.8 billion in the base budget for operations and maintenance of the active force, $2.7 billion for the Army Reserve, and $7 billion for the Army National Guard.  An additional $11 billion in operations funding for the Army is in the overseas contingency budget.

The revised budget also includes about $16.3 billion for Army procurement, with $5.8 billion allocated to aircraft procurement.  The Army will receive about $7.1 billion for research and development.  The single biggest adjustment made in the budget to shave the $5 billion was a $1 billion reduction in fuel and energy costs that is expected to have no real impact on the military because of lower fuel prices.

The NDAA, as revised, still calls for the Army to drop by about 15,000 active-duty soldiers in fiscal year 2016, along with an 8,200 reduction in the National Guard and a 4,000 reduction in the Army Reserve.

UP NEXT:  DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS

Lawmakers have now turned their attention to funding the government either by passing the 12 annual appropriations bills or, more likely, passing an omnibus spending package.  Regardless of the vehicle they choose, the measure must be passed by Dec. 11 to avoid a government shutdown.  Their only other recourse would be another continuing resolution which is not an attractive option for the Defense Department.

A potential vehicle for the omnibus bill would be the fiscal 2016 Military Construction/ Veterans’ Affairs bill which easily passed the Senate earlier this week.  The House approved their version back in April.  The measure is the first stand-alone appropriations bill amended, debated and passed on Senate floor since 2011.

The measure would allocate $79.74 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and Pentagon construction projects.  This amount is $7.9 billion above the fiscal 2015 funding level and $1.0 billion over the president’s fiscal 2016 budget request.

The bill, which passed 93-0, included amendments that would:

§  Increase the VA's prosthetic research funding by roughly $9 million,

§  Require the VA, in coordination with the Pentagon, to contract with a third party to study the link between combat service and suicide rates among service members and veterans,

§  Bar funding to pay for the relocation or transfer of VA senior executives,

§  Add $37.6 million for Air Force construction projects,

§  Boost VA Medical Services by $1.97 billion, and,

§  Increase funding for Arlington National Cemetery by $30 million for road projects that would promote expansion.

The Senate’s approval of the Military Construction/VA bill is an encouraging sign that lawmakers will be able to agree on a full-year omnibus spending bill.  Earlier in the year, Democrats had blocked the measure from coming to the Senate floor.  Now, with the new two-year budget deal in place, it appears likely that lawmakers will have funding for the government in place before the Dec. 11 deadline.

- See more at: http://www.ausa.org/legislation/newsletter/Pages/12November2015LegislativeNewsUpdate.aspx#sthash.epQ40DK5.dpuf

GI Bill Value Jumps 2.9 Percent

Because of its promise of fully covering tuition and fees at a four-year public institution, the value of the Post-9/11 GI Bill has increased by 2.9 percent. The increase is the result of tuition costs measured by the College Board, a nonprofit that tracks higher education expenses. It reports that room, board, tuition and fees at a four-year public college or university now average $19,548, far less than the average $43,921 found at private schools.

What to watch: The total value of the GI Bill, with its 36 months of benefits plus housing and book allowances, is almost $88,000, a dramatic recruiting incentive made even better by the opportunity to share it with a spouse or children.

Higher Drug Copays Save DoD $1.5 Billion

Small changes in Tricare pharmacy copays could reap big savings, according to a cost estimate from the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office. A plan calls for increasing the copay for brand-name drugs to $24 at retail pharmacies and $20 through mail order, and charges $10 for generic drug prescriptions filled at retail pharmacies. It’s projected to save $66 million in 2016, $671 million over five years, and $1.5 billion over 10 years.

What to watch: The copay increases included in the compromise version of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act don’t seem large—they range from $2 to $4—but they are the first step of what is expected to be a much larger overhaul of the military health care system to be considered by Congress next year.

Fiscal Year 2016 MilConVA Appropriations Bill Clears Senate

On Tuesday, the Senate voted 93-0 to pass an updated appropriations bill for the VA’s and DOD’s military construction accounts. The bill reflects new budget levels that were established under the bipartisan budget deal. The updated appropriations bill would provide $79.74 billion for the VA’s discretionary accounts. It includes a nearly $2 billion increase to the VA’s medical services account from the previous Senate version. The bill also includes $8.2 billion for military construction and $101 million for the Arlington National Cemetery. The bill now heads back to the House for consideration. Stay tuned to the Action Corps Weekly for updates on this important bill.

VA National Access Stand Down

In an effort to meet the urgent care needs of veterans, the VA plans to hold a national access stand down at every VA medical center. On Saturday, November 14, a team of clinical leaders, administrators and volunteers will be on site at every VA medical center from 9 a.m. to noon to reach out to all veterans waiting for urgent care. The VFW urges veterans who are waiting for urgent care to visit their local VA medical centers. If you are interested in sharing your experience with the VFW, please email us at: [email protected], or call: 1-800-VFW-1899 (1-800-839-1899).

Veterans Day Week in Washington, D.C.

VFW National Commander John A. Biedrzycki Jr.’s agenda this week included discussing big-picture issues with senior military and civilian officials in Washington, D.C. On the military side, he met with Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and the Army personnel, operations and budget chiefs, as well as with Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Jim Cody. He discussed military accession issues with Selective Service Director Lawrence Romo, and met with five Ukrainian military and civilian health professionals who were here on a State Department-sponsored visit to learn how their country might replicate our Department of Veterans Affairs. The VFW National Commander and his wife, Bette Jean, and VFW Auxiliary National President Francisca Guilford, also represented the VFW at a Veterans Day breakfast at the White House and laid wreathes at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. He also presented a check for $100,000 towards the construction of the Desert Storm War Memorial, which was the first installment on a VFW pledge to donate $500,000. He will end the week in D.C. by attending the U.S. Marine Corps’ 240th birthday ball on Saturday.

New Medal of Honor Recipient

President Obama presented retired Army Capt. Florent A. “Flo” Groberg the Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony yesterday for tackling a suicide bomber in Afghanistan’s Kunar province three years ago. Groberg was serving at the time as a personal security detachment commander in the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. According to an Army Times article, the bomber’s explosive vest detonated, as did one worn by a second suicide bomber, killing four Americans and wounding several others. But, had it not been for Groberg’s actions, the planned simultaneous detonations could have caused far more casualties. Groberg becomes the 10th living and 17th overall recipient of the nation’s highest award for valor for actions in Afghanistan or Iraq. Read more.

MIA Burial Update

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced that Marine Corps Cpl. Roger K. Nielson, 22, of Denver, will be buried with full military honors in his hometown on Nov. 16. Nielson was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, when he was killed in action fighting on the Pacific island of Tarawa on Nov. 20, 1943. Read more.

VA Bolsters Hepatitis C Treatment Program

Veterans who suffer from Hepatitis C and other liver maladies that were brought on by their military service should benefit from an increased willingness to treat them. The Department of Veterans Affairs has established the groundwork for finding underserved veterans affected by liver diseases, with the intent of promoting "equitable diagnosis" for them, under the so-called "dashboard" plan. "VA will provide data directly to facilities for any of the vulnerable groups identified by the dashboard and support outreach efforts to veteran populations disparately impacted and not currently served by VA health care," Dr. David Shulkin, VA's undersecretary for health, said Nov. 3.

Tax Season will be here before you know it

Do you know that myPay is the quickest way to get your 2015 IRS Form 1095?  In fact, once it becomes available in myPay in late January, 2016, you will have the option to View, Print or Save your 1095 in PDF format.  This will save you time in comparison to the U.S. Postal Service which will take approximately 7 - 10 business days for delivery.

myPay protects against identity theft and is more secure than regular mail by allowing you to access your tax statements securely online.  Finally, myPay matches the industry standards for the highest level of encryption and security to protect all myPay users.

myPay also makes it convenient for you to switch from mail delivery to electronic.  You can simply log into myPay and from the Main Menu select "Turn on/off Hard Copy of IRS Form 1095".  Answer "Yes" to switch from "Electronic and Hard Copy" to "Electronic Only" for faster and safer electronic delivery.  Click the link below to log into your myPay account: https://mypay.dfas.mil/mypay.aspx

 If you have questions about logging into myPay and/or making changes to your electronic elections in myPay, contact the DFAS Customer Care Center at 1-888-DFAS411 or 1-888-332-7411 option 5.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 10, 2015

VA Secretary to Announce VA-Bob Woodruff Foundation Partnership

Aim of Partnership is to Better Connect Veterans with Resources Close to Home WASHINGTON – Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Secretary Robert A. McDonald this evening will announce a partnership with the Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) to further advance VA’s outreach to Veterans through deeper and more innovative local and community partnerships. VA will capitalize on BWF’s strength and contacts to find unique ways to connect Veterans, transitioning Servicemembers and their families with resources right where they live. The partnership with BWF is one of many strategic alliances VA is forming and is an integral goal of the MyVA initiative, the largest reorganization in VA’s history which reorients VA around the needs of Veterans. “We believe that by working together we can create a ‘single front door,’ or a convenient community point of entry, to help Veterans gain access to the benefits they have earned in addition to the resources unique to their local communities,” said Secretary McDonald. “This partnership creates a more robust integration of federal, state and local governments, non-profit organizations, businesses and other local partners at the community level. By combining and sharing our efforts and expertise, I believe this partnership can help us better serve our nation’s Veterans – together.” “Our nation’s transitioning Servicemembers, Veterans and their families each have unique needs, making the resources and services dedicated to overcoming their challenges all the more necessary,” said BWF Executive Director Anne Marie Dougherty. “We are excited by this opportunity to work in partnership with VA to reach Veterans and their families where they live and to deliver high-impact programs to support sustainable success.” The Bob Woodruff Foundation is a nonprofit organization working on behalf of injured Servicemembers, Veterans and their families. Since 2006, BWF has invested nearly $30 million in programs reaching more than 2 million injured Servicemembers, Veterans and their families in three key areas: Education and Employment, Rehabilitation and Recovery, and Quality of Life. For more information about the Foundation, visit www.bobwoodrufffoundation.org. For more information about VA including the MyVA initiative, visit www.va.gov.

The Affordable Care Act, your taxes and you

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), all Americans including all military members (active duty, retired, Selected Reserve, or Retired Reserve) and their eligible family members must have health care coverage that meets a minimum standard called minimum essential coverage or pay a fee. Your TRICARE coverage meets the minimum essential coverage requirement under the ACA.

"The term "active duty" means full-time duty in the active service of a uniformed service for more than 30 consecutive days".

Beginning in January 2016, DFAS will be providing IRS Form 1095-C to all U.S. military members, and IRS Form 1095-B to all Retirees, Annuitants, former spouses and all other individuals having TRICARE coverage during all or any portion of tax year 2015. An IRS Form 1095 documents you (and your family members, if applicable) have the minimum essential coverage.  More information will be forthcoming about the delivery method of these forms.

These forms will document the information that DFAS will provide to the IRS on yourself and your authorized family members. The forms will be required to be reported with your 2015 federal tax return. DFAS will provide you with IRS Form 1095 series forms no later than Jan. 31, 2016.

You can find more information about the impact of the Affordable Care Act on your federal income tax at: http://www.irs.gov/Affordable-Care-Act, or http://www.dfas.mil/taxes/aca.html.

You can act now to make sure your forms remain secure once they are available using myPay. Just look for the link to "Turn On/Off Hard Coy of IRS Form 1095" in your account and select Electronic Delivery Only.  Your information will remain safe until you need it.

House overwhelmingly passed NDAA (Authorization); next stop Senate

Last Thursday the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the amended National Defense Authorization Act and sent it to the Senate where it is expected to pass. The previously vetoes NDAA was amended to match the budget deal passed by Congress that broke the sequestration caps for both defense and domestic spending. It sailed through the House by the passage of an adjustment to its rules to hold a “suspension” vote the NDAA, which is a way to quickly bring bills to the floor without amendments but requires a two-thirds majority for passage.

The bill still uses the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account to fund base budget costs.

The Bipartisan Budget Agreement (BBA) included a $5 billion cut for DoD for the next 2 years than the earlier NDAA. Those cuts were made in acquisition programs and not in personnel programs like TRICARE or Housing Allowances. The rest of the bill did not change.

There was an attempt earlier in the day by some Republican Defense hawks to force an override of the veto vote but the attempt failed. Senate staffers have told us that they expect the Senate to try to pass the bill this Tuesday. Of course by tomorrow they will be anxious to leave to get to their local Veterans Day events and magical things can happen when there is a push to leave town. If it does not get passed tomorrow it is expected to be taken up by the Senate next week.

After that (if all goes well) Congress will then look at the National Defense Appropriations Act. (The actual money) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has tried 3 times to bring it up but has been stopped since the Democrats want all the appropriations to be dealt with together. It is expected that Senator McConnell will try 1 more time to pass the NDAA alone and if that fails look at all the appropriation bills coming up together.

VA Launches Hepatitis C–Advanced Liver Disease Disparities Dashboard 

Dashboard Bolsters VA Efforts to Identify and Treat Veterans With Hep C and Liver Disease

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is stepping up its efforts to accelerate treatment for Veterans with hepatitis C and advanced liver disease (ALD) through the creation of  a Hepatitis C–ALD dashboard. The dashboard works by using a set of criteria, including age, gender, geography, service era along with and race and ethnicity, to distinguish Veteran groups at highest risk for ALD as a result of hepatitis C. 

“The dashboard is a powerful data tool to help VA identify Veteran groups disproportionately affected by Advanced Liver Disease and to ensure they receive the appropriate health care,” said Dr. David Shulkin, VA’s Under Secretary for Health. “VA will provide data directly to facilities for any of the vulnerable groups identified by the dashboard and support outreach efforts to Veteran populations disparately impacted and not currently served by VA health care. This is an important step in assuring all Veterans with ALD receive timely, appropriate care.”  

VA’s Veterans Health Administration’s Office of Health Equity developed the dashboard as part of its efforts to target and accelerate care of Veterans with this serious disease. The new resource promotes equitable diagnosis and treatment of underserved Veterans with hepatitis C and ALD nationally and compliments existing clinical hepatitis and liver disease dashboards available in some Veterans Integrated Service Networks or VISNs.

Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is the most common blood-borne infection in the world. Complications that result from untreated HCV infection include progressive liver damage leading to cirrhosis, primary cancer of the liver, liver failure and death. Although many of these complications are treatable or even preventable, three-quarters of the individuals with HCV infection in the U.S. are unaware they are infected. VA leads the country in hepatitisscreening, testing, treatment, research and prevention.

The Hepatitis C-ALD dashboard further advances the vision for quality care and improved access to care identified in VA’s Blueprint for Excellence.  For more information on the dashboard, visit: http://www.hsrd.research.va.gov/news/video/heap.cfm.

November is Warrior Care Month

This information from Tricare.mil

TRICARE is a health care program for Uniformed Service members, National Guard and Reserve members, retirees, survivors and their families around the world. We ensure our beneficiaries receive care that is proven both safe and effective. This month, make time to learn about all the health care benefits, programs and resources available to our service members and their families.

Active duty service members mainly receive their primary care at military hospitals and clinics. If stationed in a remote location, active duty service members may receive primary care with a civilian network provider. If you are injured on active duty, there are additional programs and resources as well as special benefits like respite care for primary caregivers of injured service members.

National Guard and Reserve members who are on active duty for more than 30 days receive the same benefits as an active duty service member. While serving on active duty for 30 days or less for active duty training, an annual tour, individual duty training or drill and you are injured or become severely ill in the line of duty, your unit must issue a Line of Duty determination (LOD) to authorize health care coverage under TRICARE related specifically to that injury or illness. This includes travel time to and from your place of duty. Keep in mind, you will not show as TRICARE eligible for care in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, so it is important to coordinate LOD care with your unit administrator.

Taking care of our warriors means ensuring their families also have the care they need. The Extended Care Health Option (ECHO) is a suite of benefits available to active duty family members with qualifying mental or physical disabilities. ECHO benefits must be pre-authorized from a TRICARE-authorized provider.

House Holds Hearing on VA Technology Systems

On Tuesday, Nov. 3, the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity held a hearing entitled, “Examining VA’s Information Technology Systems that Provide Economic Opportunities for Veterans.” The purpose of the hearing was to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the various IT tools that help veterans receive training and get jobs. These include the systems that allow VA to process GI Bill claims and manage the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program. Also discussed was the effectiveness of the VA Veteran Employment Center, a new website designed to connect veterans and employers who are looking to hire them. To visit the Veterans Employment Center website, click here: https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/jobs. To watch a webcast of the hearing, visit: http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/examining-va-s-information-technology-systems-that-provide-economic-opportunities-for.

House Holds Joint Hearing on Veteran-Owned Small Business Contracting

On Wednesday, Nov. 4, the House Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce and the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a joint hearing to examine the progress and challenges of VA’s Vets First Verification Process. This is the process by which VA verifies that small businesses that receive veteran-owned contracting preferences are in fact owned and controlled by veterans. A 2013 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that VA needed to improve the accuracy and timeliness of this process. The newest GAO report found that VA has made progress, reducing processing times by more than 50 percent - from 85 to 41 days - and improving accuracy. Still, VA must continue to streamline its process to make it less cumbersome and more veteran friendly. To watch the hearing, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIBe0zy6HBI. For the full transcript, click here:http://smallbusiness.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=398559.

Hearing on Misuse of VA’s Relocation Program

On Monday, Nov. 2, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing to receive testimony from witnesses who were subpoenaed following the release of a VA Office Inspector General (VA OIG) report which found that the Veterans Benefits Administration spent more than $1.5 million dollars on the questionable relocation assignments of several senior executives. Philadelphia VA Regional Office Director Diana Rubens and St. Paul VA Regional Office Director Kimberly Graves, who allegedly abused their authority for financial gain, appeared before the committee but opted to follow legal advice and refused to answer any questions. The committee was informed that VA is pursuing punitive action against Rubens and Graves, using the recently enacted expedited firing authority for senior executives. Committee members discussed the VA OIG’s findings and the need to improve accountability and address numerous issues with VA’s relocation program. To view a video of the hearing, visit:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLCCjMJxZP4.

Miller and Walz on Improving VA

On Wednesday, Nov. 4, House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller and Congressman Tim Walz visited the Brookings Institute’s Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence to discuss what VA is doing well and areas of concern that need to be improved. The discussion focused on how to improve the VA health care system and the need for better accountability. Chairman Miller emphasized that VA must leverage the private sector to improve health care access. Congressman Walz discussed the importance of holding VA employees accountable for wrongdoing, but warned that moving to a federal right-to-work structure would have long-lasting implications. To learn more or listen to the audio, visit: http://www.brookings.edu/events/2015/11/04-veterans-health-administration.

 VA Releases Plan to Consolidate Community Health Care Programs

 VA released its plan to consolidate its community care programs and authorities to improve access to health care for veterans, while streamlining and increasing the use of public and private health care providers in local communities. The plan is aimed at ensuring VA has the proper authority and processes to provide timely access to high quality care when veterans need it, regardless if it’s through VA or non-VA health care providers. The VFW is committed to ensuring that VA health care reforms put veterans’ health care needs and preferences first. The VFW is reviewing VA’s plan and will release its views on the plan soon. To learn more or read VA’s plan, visit: http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/23804/va-releases-plan-to-consolidate-community-health-care-programs/.

Government Shutdown Still Looms

The recently signed Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 sets funding levels for the federal government through FY 2017, but it didn’t appropriate any funding, which is a task that now falls on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. To prevent another government shutdown, both the House and Senate must approve the legislation and the president must sign it into law before Dec. 11, 2015. If funding can be agreed upon, the two-year deal would provide defense officials some much needed fiscal stability, even though it did not repeal sequestration. If an appropriations bill fails to pass, and if a Continuing Resolution is not used as a temporary stopgap funding measure, then a government shutdown would occur immediately, and its impact on military training and readiness and VA would be widespread, similar to the 16-day shutdown in 2013.

Veterans Day in Washington

VFW Posts everywhere will be recognizing Veterans Day on Nov. 11. Visitors to Washington can join in the national salute starting at the World War II Memorial at 9 a.m., at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery at 11 a.m. and at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at 1 p.m. More updates will be posted on the respective websites at: WWII Memorial, http://www.wwiimemorialfriends.org/news-and-events/news-events; Arlington, www.arlingtoncemetery.mil; and The Wall,http://www.vvmf.org/2015-veterans-day-rsvp.

MIA Update

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has announced burial dates for four Americans who had been missing in action since World War II and Korea, and whose remains had been previously identified and returned to their families. To be buried with full military honors are:

-- Army Pfc. Frank Worley, 21, of Wilmington, N.C., is being buried today in Salisbury, N.C. On Feb. 11, 1951, Worley and elements of Battery A, 503rd Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, were occupying a position in the vicinity of Hoengsong, South Korea, when their unit was overwhelmed by Chinese forces. Worley was reported missing after the attack. Read more here: http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/NewsReleases/tabid/10159/Article/626795/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-worley.aspx.

-- Marine Pfc. James P. Reilly, 20, of New York, will be buried Nov. 9 in Bushnell, Fla. In November 1943, Reilly was assigned to Company L, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll. Approximately 1,000 Marines were killed over several days of intense fighting, to include Reilly on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Read more here:http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/NewsReleases/tabid/10159/Article/627126/marine-missing-from-world-war-ii-accounted-for-reilly.aspx.

-- Army Cpl. Martin A. King, 18, of Harrisburg, Pa., will be buried Nov. 9 in Annville, Pa. In early November 1950, King was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, when his unit was attacked by Chinese forces while occupying a position along the Nammyon River, near Unsan, North Korea. King was reported missing on Nov. 2, 1950. It would be later learned that he had been captured, but died of malnutrition in a POW Camp. Read more here:http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/NewsReleases/tabid/10159/Article/627128/soldier-missing-from-korean-war-accounted-for-king.aspx.

-- Army Air Forces 1st Lt. William O. Pile, 24, of Circleville, Ohio, will be buried Nov. 10 in Arlington National Cemetery. On Dec. 23, 1944, Pile was assigned to the 559th Bombardment Squadron, 387th Bombardment Group, 9th Air Force. Pile was the pilot of a B-26C Marauder which crashed after being struck by enemy fire near Philippsweiler, Germany. Pile and his co-pilot, 2nd Lt. Robert Ward, were reported killed in action. Seven crewmen survived the crash by parachuting to safety. One crewman, however, was captured and later died in captivity. Read more here: http://www.dpaa.mil/NewsStories/NewsReleases/tabid/10159/Article/627582/airman-missing-from-wwii-accounted-for-pile.aspx 

'Golden Hour’ Success

A 2009 Defense Department mandate to get critically injured combat casualties to a hospital within 60 minutes saves lives. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association–Surgery found that after adjusting for the severity of wounds, the so-called Golden Hour policy of providing helicopter evacuation of wounded saved 359 lives. Using previously classified information, the report says the median transport time for casualties was 90 minutes before the mandate, and 43 minutes after the change.

What to watch: Studies are underway on how to further speed emergency medical care to those critically wounded in combat, concentrating on how to improve treatment received during transport from the battlefield to the hospital

 Health Records Flaws

Congresswoman and retired Army National Guard Lt. Col. Tammy Duckworth, who lost both legs and the partial use of an arm from injuries suffered during the Iraq War, says she knows firsthand about problems shifting between military and veterans’ health care. When she starting using the VA, she had to prove that her legs—lost in a rocket-propelled grenade attack while she was piloting a helicopter—had not grown back before she could receive VA treatment.

What to watch: Congress remains frustrated that after years of trying, the VA and Defense Department still do not have an integrated electronic health records system. Since 2013, they’ve each concentrated on modernizing their own systems instead of sharing one.

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 5, 2015

VA Convenes Commission for the Selection of Next Under Secretary for Benefits

WASHINGTON – The Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today he is convening a commission, which will serve to make recommendations to the President for the appointment of VA's next Under Secretary for Benefits (USB). Suitable candidates to serve as members of the important commission will be selected based upon criteria outlined in the law and their skills, knowledge and attributes as leaders, managers and educators. VA is required by law to convene a commission to seek the next Under Secretary for Benefits. Position announcements will appear on USAJOBS on Friday, November 6, 2015. The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) provides a variety of benefits and services to Servicemembers, Veterans, and their families. VBA has been undergoing a major transformation that is people-centric, results-oriented, and a forward-looking integration of solutions that will ensure total lifelong engagement with Servicemembers, Veterans, and their families. To learn more please go to http://www.benefits.va.gov