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VVA Committee Reports, September/October 2020 -   -  

Agent Orange/Dioxin


I hope all VVA members and staff and their families are well during these uncertain times. Recently I received an email from a veteran who wanted to know when the VA is going to start the research mandated by PL 114-315 as his child has problems from his exposure to Agent Orange during his service to the country. The VA responded that its Intergenerational Effects of Military Exposures Work Group started working on the research more than six months ago. From the composition of the members of the working group, it appears that the outcome of that report will be: “Further research will be necessary.”

That’s why I formed an ad hoc group to discuss this and three other issues. I felt we needed to move forward as soon as possible. The ad hoc group includes very knowledgeable people who have worked on this legislation for many years. Our agenda includes working on four issues: 1) PL 114-315, which was not being followed; 2) Agent Orange items being sold and information on AO issued by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund; 3) The four future presumptives that we have been waiting for; and 4) The Ranch Hand specimens. We conducted a meeting via Zoom.

The first issue was discussed at length. I needed a motion to take to the BOD to file a lawsuit against the VA for not following the law as stated. So we wrote a motion and sent it to VVA National for the BOD. The second issue was discussed, and it was decided that Communications Director Mokie Porter will contact Jim Knotts at VVFM and give him information and material on the Agent Orange issue. The third issue–on future presumptives–was discussed, and everyone felt that soon, with support from both sides, they will be added to the fourteen already on the list. The final issue—the Ranch Hand specimens—was addressed by Linda Schwartz. She recommended allowing the Air Force to keep them. The Air Force has maintained these specimens in sub-zero freezers for many years. Keeping them there will allow them to be analyzed in the future.

This was the gist of the meeting. The proposed Board motion was submitted through the Government Affairs Committee. I also have noticed movement on S322, The Agent Orange Act of 2019, which the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee passed and sent to the Senate. I have been very busy calling and emailing veterans and their families on issues with Agent Orange. Once this virus subsides we will begin again to organize Agent Orange town halls.

I thank the entire membership, the staff, and everyone at VVA for their hard work on this important issue. We are a “we” team.

Economic Opportunities

The pandemic has hit all businesses hard. Veteran-owned businesses are no exception. Here is an update on what help is out there for veteran business owners. Thanks to Vet-Force and committee member Joe Wynn for keeping us informed.

On June 3 the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 cleared Congress, and was signed into law two days later. This legislation drastically changed the framework of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), greatly benefiting borrowers and their ability to get loan forgiveness.

It is intended to provide additional flexibility on the use of PPP funds in order to maximize forgiveness and to make some additional, limited changes to provisions in the CARES Act. The Small Business Administration is expected to issue further guidance and revise its existing guidelines on the implementation of these changes.

Relief for Government Contractors: Section 3610 of the Act provides payroll relief for government contractors, who may be reimbursed for expenses associated with providing paid leave to qualifying employees and subcontractors. They qualify when they are unable to perform work on federal government facilities due to public health emergency restrictions and their duties cannot be performed remotely.

Reimbursement is limited to the minimum billing rates in a contract, not exceeding an average of 40 hours per week, including sick leave. This coverage ends September 20.

Here are some important websites for veteran business owners:

OVBD website: sba.gov/ovbd
SBA COVID-19 guidance and resources: sba.gov/coronavirus
Boots to Business: sbavets.force.com
Veterans Business Outreach Centers: sba.gov/vboc
SBA local assistance: sba.gov/local

Membership Affairs

The committee continues to issue a monthly report with the statistics on total membership, region membership totals, the top 25 chapters in membership, and the number of members in each state. The report also highlights each new chapter when its charter is issued. The latest report indicates that we may go over 88,000 members by the end of the year. Do you get the report?               

Even though the membership numbers are going up, we are facing challenging times for recruiting new members since we are limited in having meetings and doing events. We need to reach out to potential VVA members by email, telephone, and regular mail. We should all be checking on fellow members to be sure they are staying well during the pandemic.

There are still a lot of Vietnam veterans who have not heard of Vietnam Veterans of America. Our job is to reach out to those veterans and invite them to join VVA. Won’t you find just one new member for your chapter? If I can help you in anything that deals with membership, contact me at dsouthern@vva.org

Welcome Home!

Minority Affairs

The Minority Affairs Committee would like to share with you an article that the VVA Veterans Benefits team put together concerning minority veterans. It has taken a pandemic, murders, riots, and looting to wake this country up to the issues that we have been dealing with for years.

A recent VVA press release condemned racism and recognized the plight of minority communities in the United States. Systemic racism continues to affect minority veterans, their VA benefits and health care. Minority veterans comprise 22 percent of the veteran population. Evidence shows that injustices occur both during and after their time in the military. Racial disparities in VA services are pervasive.

For example, although a majority of black veterans rate service-connection benefits as the most important measure in meeting their financial and health care needs, they remain disproportionately unaware of VA services. Surveys also indicate that minority veterans incur higher rates of exposure to combat and environmental hazards, such as Agent Orange. Furthermore, studies focused on veterans from the Vietnam War and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq show that black veterans suffer from PTSD at higher rates than their white counterparts but are less likely to be screened for it.

An increased probability of in-service disabilities and a lower likelihood of having health insurance substantiate a vital need for VA services for minority veterans. But black veterans still face disparities even after gaining access to the VA service-connection process. Studies show that when compared to other races, black veterans are significantly less likely to be granted favorable findings for PTSD service connection. Disparities in the claims development and decision process demonstrate unequal treatment and a need for more representation.

We believe that VVA is well equipped to use its resources to confront these disparities. The goal of VVA’s Benefits Department is to make a significant impact on issues affecting minority veterans, as well as to provide leadership for other service organizations. Accordingly, the Veterans Benefits team proposes the following:

  • VVA should conduct a statistical analysis of client representation to ensure VVA is proportionally representing minorities.
  • VVA should urge the VA to conduct its own systematic review of disparities in service-connection decisions and failures to provide education on available benefits.
  • VVA should increase outreach and education programs in minority communities.
  • VVA should implement sensitivity training among VSOs who frequently engage with members of the minority community. 

VVA is the lead organization for Vietnam veterans’ issues and, as such, is uniquely qualified to be a catalyst for progress in racial disparities among veterans. During the Vietnam War the country witnessed racially charged sentiments stemming from the Civil Rights movement. VVA’s founding principle, “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another,” should guide VVA to be a leader in implementing change.

The Minority Affairs Committee would like to thank Felicia Mullaney, the director of VVA’s Benefits Program, and her team for writing this article.

If you are a minority veteran and need to bring up an issue, don’t hesitate to contact me by email at Sgtgomez@aol.com or ggomez@vva.org or call 413-883-4508.

POW/MIA Affairs

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced on July 14 that U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Alva R. Krogman, 25, who was killed during the Vietnam War, had been accounted for the preceding week.

On January 17, 1967, Krogman was a pilot assigned to the 504th Tactical Air Support Group, 7th Air Force, on temporary duty with the 23rd Tactical Air Support Squadron operating out of Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base. That morning he was flying an O-1 Birddog aircraft as one of two planes conducting a visual reconnaissance mission in Savannakhet Province, Laos. At approximately 8:55 a.m., Krogman’s aircraft was hit by enemy fire and went down. Search and rescue operations began immediately, but ended within a few hours after one of the search and rescue aircraft also was shot down. Krogman was not recovered; he was declared killed in action on January 31, 1967.

DPAA reports that as of August 10, there remain 1,586 missing from the Vietnam War. That includes Vietnam-1,246 (North Vietnam-443, South Vietnam-803), Laos-285, Cambodia-48, and China-7.

A total of 997 Americans have been accounted for since April 30, 1975, the end of the Vietnam War. Recoveries were made in Vietnam-672, Laos-280, Cambodia-42, and China-3. In addition, 63 U.S. personnel were accounted for between 1973 and 1975 in Laos-9, Vietnam-53, and Cambodia-1. The grand total is 1,060.

Due to COVID-19 health issues, DPAA has not conducted field activities or disinterments since late March. The last deployed team was brought home on March 21. Unilateral operations in Vietnam began on July 21 using Vietnamese recovery teams. Operations in Laos will resume September 1 and run through October 15, but only if entry and health restrictions lift.

June 25 marked the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War. The Republic of Korea held a Repatriation Ceremony in Seoul for 147 remains. Korea’s Ministry of National Defense Agency for Killed in Action Recovery and Identification was able to identify eight Korean soldiers through DNA. The agency also turned over to the United Nations Command six recovered U.S. remains.

July 11 was the 25th anniversary of the reestablishment of U.S.-Vietnam diplomatic relations.

The USS Oklahoma Project has made 255 identifications, with 25 more in final preparation. Efforts are being made to complete the project in the next several months. DPAA is helping U.S. Navy genealogical teams locate families to collect Family Reference Samples, which have contributed to several additional identifications.

DPAA unveiled the 2020 POW/MIA Recognition Day poster during a ceremony at its Washington, D.C., headquarters July 24. The poster can be ordered at the DPAA website.

VVA’s Veterans Initiative Program needs your help. Objects taken from the battlefields of Vietnam are more than souvenirs or war trophies. Maps, after-action reports, pictures, and other military items may have stories that could help locate missing war dead. Contact the Veterans Initiative at:

Veterans Initiative Program
Vietnam Veterans of America
8719 Colesville Rd., Suite 100
Silver Spring, MD 20910

PTSD & Substance Abuse

As the chair of VVA’s National PTSD and Substance Abuse Committee, I, and other mental health experts, have relied on guidance from the Department of Defense’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress (CSTS) and Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP). The very existence of these programs is threatened, and I need your help.

These two centers are responsible for major advances in understanding the physical and mental toll of deployment, including early detection and treatment of PTSD, TBI, suicide prevention, and other visible and invisible wounds of war, as well as advancing evidence-based responses to natural disasters and pandemics. Both centers are a part of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and are essential to the nation’s effective response to deployment-related behavioral health problems among service members, veterans, and their families. But now these two facilities are at imminent risk of closure. The direct and long-term negative impact of their loss will be immeasurable.

Due to the increased cost of purchasing private-sector care, the Military Healthcare System (MHS) has imposed cuts on in-house military providers, facilities, and programs. These cost increases are a direct result of DOD’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation’s (CAPE) decision to shift a growing share of military health care rendered to retirees, military families, and even service members to private health care providers who are likely to have less experience in military medicine or culture. CAPE has sought and secured far larger reductions in the MHS budget, directly in opposition to congressional intent.

Funding directives set forth in the National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAA) of recent years, including the House and Senate versions of the FY2021 NDAA, alter the basic structure of the MHS. Congress’ objective is to achieve efficiencies and heighten readiness by merging many elements of the Army, Navy, and Air Force health systems—including management and administration of Military Treatment Facilities—under the Defense Health Agency. But CAPE’s implementation has resulted in the MHS sustaining more than $70 billion in cuts since 2012, even as overall federal and private health spending continued to rise steadily. These cuts have gone far beyond desired efficiencies to degrade readiness, beneficiary care, and capability to support U.S. military operations with high-quality medical and trauma care.

Despite recent statements to the effect that proposed changes to the Military Healthcare System will be “postponed,” the downstream effects of eliminating the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress and Center for Deployment Psychology—and the cumulative impact of resource realignments across MHS embedded in these plans—will further degrade MHS capability, access to care, medical education programs, and health research activities system-wide. Postponement is not a decision to forego planned new cuts, nor will it mitigate their negative impact.

Now, CAPE is seeking to slash funding for military health research programs that seek effective treatments for current health challenges to U.S. forces and that anticipate and work to counter future threats. These activities are mainly supported through the Defense Health Program’s Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) program, which funds research to reduce medical capability gaps and supports medical laboratories. RDT&E has already experienced crippling funding decreases.

In addition to pursuing additional cuts to military health RDT&E atop the billions already imposed, CAPE is targeting the DOD’s leadership academy for military health—the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU)—for “right sizing or elimination.” This despite the fact that in 2019 the Secretary of Defense rejected the option to close USU.

The cuts proposed by CAPE would strip away 90 percent of USU’s remaining RDT&E funding and eventually eliminate all basic research dollars for combat casualty care, infectious disease research, and military medicine research. And it would close many highly effective and beneficial research programs that support warrior behavioral health and military readiness.

Although the decision to eliminate CSTS and CDP are not specifically noted in the draft FY2021 NDAA, the cuts that CAPE seeks would force USU to shutter both programs, along with several others. These closures will have a profound negative impact on the nation’s ability to respond to the invisible wounds of wars. The continued push to privatize the Military Healthcare System, combined with other resource realignments promoted by CAPE, will continue to drive up the cost of providing health care for active-duty forces and other eligible beneficiaries while fragmenting that care across multiple health providers and medical record systems.

The result will be a marked loss of health care providers who understand the background and health risks of service members, veterans, and their families, as well as the crippling of our ability to anticipate and counter future threats. These decisions on the Military Healthcare System will progressively degrade the readiness, health, and well-being of the military community. 

While your members of Congress are home this month, many campaigning for re-election, we urge you to reach out to them and demand they protect and preserve funding for the CSTS and CDP, maintain the USU, and protect the Military Healthcare System from further degradation. Send an email, make a call, or attend their virtual or in-person town halls.

VVA has software to help you quickly find the contact information and send correspondence to your members of Congress. Click here to help ensure we don’t leave these brave men and women behind by allowing further degradation of the Military Healthcare System.

Public Affairs


By now, most of us are on our second or third phase of cabin fever from lockdowns and other restrictions. It has been a trying summer for those involved in community events, recruiting new members, and working with other veterans organizations. I hope that each of you is safe and well.

We have been fortunate in Utah: Our virus numbers are down. We have been able to hold several ceremonies with limited attendance at our Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall replica and have been involved in a food drive for homeless veterans. We also have remained involved in our communities. We are fortunate that some of our community leaders are AVVA members.

Most of us have had to get accustomed to using Zoom, RingCentral, and other video conferencing services. But we are Vietnam vets and can handle impossible surprises.   

We remain concerned about our VVA and AVVA brothers and sisters across the nation, and we follow most of the social guidelines and recommendations. It is important for us to reach out and stay in touch—even if only by telephone—to check on our members and our high-risk neighbors. Some may have no one else to make sure they are safe and may be needing extreme care. This is good community service, and it keeps VVA in the forefront and on the minds of people who take notice.

Several good things have occurred during the past two or so months. Many of our friends in the National Office were terminated due to the impact of COVID-19 on the organization’s finances. Originally Mokie Porter was on that list. However, thanks to some creative financial footwork by our National Treasurer, her job was kept. It is sad to lose many of our friends, but I am happy that Mokie Porter remains.

Second was the reinstatement of the award money for our National JROTC Medal program. For now, the program is healthy. Thanks to more creative financial footwork at the top, we were able to award the money for this past school year, and I will be asking for a budget that includes it for next year. When the schools open for the new academic year, I hope you will all be working with your JROTC units and involving them in this legacy program.

I am proud to announce the three new winners:

First Place: California’s Cadet Staff Sgt. Nayelli T. Evans—$2,500

Second Place: Rhode Island’s Cadet Maj. Jennifer Lynn Snyder—$1,500

Third Place: Utah’s Cadet Christian Dawson—$1,000

Thank you to the Awards Committee members for their hard work on the judging. I have read all the entries and am impressed with the outstanding young people in the JROTC units. I am also impressed with the work that each of you has done to make the program work in its second year. 

A third accomplishment: I have worked for nearly two years to get our medal and ribbon authorized for wear by the AFJROTC cadets on their uniforms. There was a lot of communication with the Air Force JROTC Command at Maxwell AFB. I began to think their approval was out of our reach. But in May I received the letter of approval from the AFJROTC director. It reads in part:

Our Awards and Decorations Program fosters morale, esprit-de-corps, and recognizes achievements of all AFJROTC Cadets. I am pleased to announce that your organization (VVA) has been added to our Uniform and Awards Operational Supplement, and your organization may present awards to AFJROTC Cadets. Thank you for your continued support in working towards our common goal to develop citizens of character for America.

Mission complete, PA Committee and members. Well done.

Thank you for all you do, stay safe, be well, and welcome home.

VA Voluntary Service


If you are reading this, you have mastered the change from print to online. At the chapter level, the print edition of The VVA Veteran is a great recruiting tool. For members who don’t attend meetings (even without the pandemic) it provides great information to keep us up to date, and it looks back on our history. Please encourage your fellow veterans to get online and look at what VVA is doing for the veterans community and the issues affecting all of us.

As Representatives and Deputies for VAVS, you should have completed your Annual Joint Review with your local VAMC VAVS office. In normal times, these reports should have been completed in May. But these are unusual times. In the East the VAMCs are still limiting access. Work with your local Chiefs, and they will help you fill out your AJRs. Every Representative is required to file the AJR annually. Then send a copy to me.

Before things started shutting down, VVA had nearly 70 VAVS Representatives. But every time we added one, we lost two elsewhere. When the world stopped for most volunteers, we couldn’t go to the VA and we couldn’t attend meetings in person. The number of VVA Reps and Deps dropped drastically. We hope our people are sheltering in place and healthy. But because of health issues and concerns about COVID-19, some may never return to their volunteer work at the VAMCs.

If you are a Representative or Deputy, please contact me. Email is best; if you call, leave a message and I will get back to you quickly. There are volunteer opportunities at the VA now. Some VAs are reaching out to older veterans who are living alone and need an occasional call from a friendly fellow veteran. Check with your local VAVS office.

I continue to ask state council presidents to assign a VAVS chair at the state level. This is a good time to find a member already active in volunteering who is willing to take on this task. I thank those SC presidents who have already done this. State chairs help me fill positions for Reps and Deps at the local VAs. In August we added two new Representatives: Gerald Ayotte at the Iron Mountain VA in Michigan and Ron Kirby at the Mountain Home VA in Tennessee.

There are a limited number of volunteer opportunities at most VA hospitals, but there are still needs, and some activities are being planned for resident patients. Your local Volunteer office can provide a needs list. Help where you can as best you can. The patients depend on us.

The pandemic will continue to push many people into homelessness. Veterans are always hit hard by a failing economy and all that comes with it. In spite of many VA suicide prevention programs, the rate of suicide among veterans and active-duty troops is rising. There is no good answer to any of these problems. Remember the Suicide Hotline. Every VA has an office dealing with suicide prevention; they can provide you with hand-out materials.

Do what you can do; help each other; wear masks; follow the guidelines; and adjust to the long haul. None of this is going away anytime soon. If we are lucky and we do the right things and be careful, we may work our way out of this in 2021.

Get your flu shots when they become available. This year it’s more important than ever.

Stay safe.

Veterans Health Care


These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. 
– Thomas Paine

Starting in October, caregivers of veterans who served during the Vietnam War and earlier will be eligible for a monthly payment from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Currently the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers pays only family members and friends who provide care for those who were severely injured on or after September 11. New regulations will cover caregivers of veterans who were severely injured in the line of duty on or before May 7, 1975. This new regulation further broadens eligibility by expanding the term “serious injury” to include illnesses and diseases from Agent Orange exposure.

To be eligible, veterans must have a single 60 percent or a combined service-connected disability rating of 70 percent, and require personal care for a minimum of six continuous months. You also have to be enrolled in the VA Healthcare System. You can see outside doctors for your care, but you must be seen at least once a year by your VA primary care physician. Disability ratings are assigned by the VA based on the severity of an illness and how much it decreases a veteran’s overall health and ability to function.

The Caregivers Program is completely separate from the Home Bound Aid Attendance Program. A family primary caregiver of a veteran who is unable to perform daily living activities or requires continuous supervision, for example, would receive approximately $2,800 per month. If the veteran is able to perform some of the daily living activities, the caregiver would receive about $1,750 a month.

“The expanded regulation addresses the complexity and expense of keeping veterans at home with their families who provide personalized care,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said. “This will allow our most-vulnerable veterans to stay with their loved ones for as long as possible.”

The Veterans Health Care Committee will be conducting seminars for VVA members on this new program to help everyone fully understand these new benefits. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Veterans Incarcerated and in the Justice System

What follows is a letter I sent in July to an inmate at the Warm Springs Correctional Center in Carson City, Nevada:

I receive hundreds of letters from veteran inmates. I am answering yours because your request for guidance demonstrates unselfish leadership and concern for others.

Your letter seeks information regarding the creation of a separate ward for veteran inmates at Warm Springs Correctional. You want to present the benefits of a separate veterans’ ward to the administration for its consideration. Your request demonstrates an ability to speak to the greater good of others, and a conscience of hope. Hope, Mr. Henderson, is the simplicity we all live by. And so my advice to you is as follows:

Please advise Warden Baca that correctional institutions with veterans’ wards have a 90 percent reduction in discipline problems. Veterans who are in a separate veteran ward are dutiful to service of a command. They honor themselves by trading prison attitudes for military structures of leadership and teamwork.

Veterans know intrinsically how to maintain the organization of a unit. Veterans are mission oriented. Veterans understand the chain of command and can apply rules and regulations to their situations. Veteran inmates rise above themselves and search for solutions to the conditions they live in through meaningful work. 

At the Grafton Correctional Facility in Ohio there is a longstanding veterans’ ward. The veteran inmates developed the idea of an Officers’ Dining Room for early and late-shift correction officers. The veteran inmates offered coffee and toast for 15 cents.

They earned enough to purchase a hot plate. Then they offered bacon, eggs, and toast for 65 cents. They earned enough to purchase a refrigerator. Then they began to cook hot dogs and hamburgers and prepare sandwiches for the officers and administrators. The unit grew. Some inmates are chefs. Some are food purveyors. Others are dishwashers, waiters, and bookkeepers. Today the ODR donates thousands of dollars to local charities in the name of incarcerated veterans.

At the Union County Correctional Facility outside Jacksonville, Florida, there is a separate ward for veteran inmates. The inmates, two to a cell, have a dog with them in each cell; the men are service dog trainers. On each cell door are painted replicas of the inmates’ medals and other military awards. There are several Bronze Stars, Purple Hearts, Army Commendations, and even a Silver Star painted on doors to remind the inmates who they are and who they can be. There are no discipline problems at Union Correctional.

Please remind Warden Baca that many incarcerated veterans—not all, but many—suffer with PTSD and TBI. These are complicated medical conditions that can cause good men and women returning from war to make bad decisions.

Many veterans return from war with tragic memories of the destruction of people and property. A good military kill may turn out to be a haunting nightmare for years after discharge. For some, killing and destruction in war is a moral issue, like a sin. For others, participating in an ambush in which, for example, two-year-old children were killed becomes a vision every time they look at their own kids. Veterans carry burdens that only other veterans understand. That deeply rooted camaraderie would exist at Warm Springs Correctional Facility if a veterans’ ward is created.

I travel the United States visiting veteran inmates, prison administrators, district attorneys, and judges. I advocate for veterans treatment courts, as well as veterans’ wards in prisons. Veteran inmates are a resource for veterans facing the justice system. PTSD and TBI are conditions we veterans know deep in our guts. The best way to serve a veteran in trouble with wounds of war is to put him or her with another veteran.

I will meet with you and Warden Baca in the near future, but due to the coronavirus, my budget has been cut and I have no travel money.

For now, I commend your inquiry to Warden Baca. You are a smart and unselfish man. Your consideration of others demonstrates broad visions of duty and citizenship. Remember, hope is the simplicity we live by.

Women Veterans

These past few months we have been working on a report with VVA’s Veterans Health Committee and its Subcommittee on the Aging Veteran Experience to review the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on State Veterans Homes. That report can be read in full at www.vva.org The statistics are worth the read. We will now begin to look at the health care and long-term care needs of senior veterans.

On July 13 the Women Veterans Committee prepared a VVA press release asking the Department of Defense to “Do the Right Thing—Stop Military Assault Now.” This was in response to the disappearance of Pfc. Vanessa Guillen from Ft. Hood on April 22. Her family went to Washington, D.C., to demand an accounting after two months of getting no information as to her whereabouts. Her remains were found during the July 4th weekend.

Another 3rd Cavalry Regiment soldier killed himself when the investigating team was about to question him. He is the alleged murderer. On July 6, ninety lawmakers pushed for acting Defense Inspector General Sean O’Donnell to begin an independent probe of the Army’s handling of Pfc. Guillen’s disappearance. Are America’s servicewomen truly safe on their bases?

On a more positive note, Congress is considering the Deborah Sampson Act, an omnibus bill intended to remove barriers and improve women veterans’ care. The proposed legislation, in large part the effort of the House Women Veterans Task Force, includes measures that would: 

  • Provide gender-specific health care equipment, such as mammography machines, at every VA Medical Center
  • Mandate a VA-wide sexual harassment and assault policy, including training for employees
  • Ensure women veterans’ primary care is available during regular VA business hours
  • Establish an Office of Women’s Health 
  • Improve communications about women veterans’ services
  • Establish and improve care standards
  • Provide more funding for women veteran programs
  • Permanently authorize PTSD counseling for women veterans in retreat settings
  • Expand eligibility for military sexual trauma counseling
  • Provide extended care for newborns.

All major veterans service organizations urge passage of this bill.

The VA Caregiver Expansion Bill will become effective in October. It will open up accessibility for Vietnam War veterans. Go to The Federal Register for more information.

And finally, DOD will be assessing the reproductive health of female service members via a new health survey, something many women have long been asking for. This will be the first reproductive health survey in 30 years.

We have come a long way since our time in the military. Please let me know topics that you are interested in.

Stay safe.




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