Category Archives: VETERAN UPDATES

RAO BULLETIN 11/15/09

THIS BULLETIN CONTAINS THE FOLLOWING ARTICLES

== FPO/APO Mail Delivery Policy [02] —— (Overseas Exclusion)

== VA Lawsuit (Randen Harvey) [01] ——- ($218,500 Settlement)

== VA Family Caregiver Assistance ————————— (S.1963)

== Tricare User Fee [43] ————————- (Chain E-mail Claim)

== TriWest Lung Health Service ——————————– (COPD)

== VA Claims Backlog [30] ————————- (Progress Report)

== VA Claims Backlog [31] ——————- (TVC $400,000 Grant)

== Vet Jobs [11] ————————————————- (H.R.4058)

== Medicare Fraud [26] ————————————- (1-15 Nov 09)

== Medicaid Fraud [02] ———————————— (1-15 Nov 09)

== Veteran Statistics [01] ———————– (Public Opinion Polls)

== Tricare OTC Demonstration Project [01] ————— (Extended)

== Veteran’s Federal Employment [06] ————- (Executive Order)

== TFL Cost Matrix ——————————————— (FY 2010)

== FPO/APO Charity Policy ———————– (Humanitarian Aid)

== Texas Veteran Tuition [01] ———————— (Hazlewood Act)

== California DVA Audit ———————— (Delivery of Services)

== PTSD [32] ———————– (Groundbreaking Court Decision)

== PTSD [33] ———————————— (Treatment Assessment)

== Selective Service System [06] ——————— (Current Status)

== Cold War Medal [03] —————————————– (S.2743)

== NPRC Military Records [03] —— (Request Policy Clarification)

== TRDP [07] ———————————————- (Rate Changes)

== Independent Budget FY 2011———————– (Critical Issues)

== Legislation of Interest [12] ————- (House Vet Bill Approvals)

== Health Care Reform [15] ———————— (Vet Impact Myths)

== Layaway ————————————————— (BBB Advise)

== VA Homeless Vets [12] ——————————– (5 Year Plan)

== Heart Bypass Surgery —————————- (VA Study Results)

== VA Lawsuit – Spine Surgery] ——————— ($4.34M Award)

== Tricare Pharmacy Policy [04] —– (Mail-Order/Retail Contacts)

== Charity Solicitations —————————— (Questions to ask)

== Enlistment [03] ——————————– (Dependent Criteria)

== VA Disability Benefits—————————— (Rating Impact)

== MIA DNA ————————————– (ID Samples Needed)

== SNAP ———————————————— (Food Assistance)

== Still Tasty —————————————— (Keep it or Toss it)

== VA Life Insurance —————————————– (Summary)

== SBP DIC Offset [21] ———————– (S.535 Support Needed)

== TSP [24] ——————————————- (OCT 09 Slippage)

== TSP [25] —————————————- (Mutual Fund option)

== Medication Memory Aid —————————- (Taking Pills)

== Military History Anniversaries ———– (Nov 16-30 Summary)

== Tax Burden for Iowa Retirees —————————— (2009)

== Veteran Legislation Status 13 Nov 09 ——- (Where we stand)

== Have You Heard ——————————- (Sublime Wisdom)

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FPO/APO MAIL DELIVERY POLICY Update 02: The state Department has given notice to 4,800 military retirees and their survivors living overseas who use APO and FPO addresses at U.S. embassies and consulates that their mailing privilege will cease 31 DEC 09. The Military Coalition (TMC), a consortium of nationally prominent military and veterans associations representing 5.5 million active, Guard, Reserve, retired and former members of the uniform services, plus their families and survivors, is asking you to urge the Secretary of State to rescind the State Department’s policy initiative that will eliminate embassy mail privileges for American uniformed service retirees overseas by 31 DEC 09.   This is a critical issue for our retirees living overseas and receiving their Tricare medications via the U.S. Postal system.  To contact the State Department Secretary use:

  • Mail: U.S. Department of State, 2201 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20520
  • Tel: Main Switchboard:  202-647-4000
  • Email: Website for emailing: www.state.gov

In the interim the Military Coalition sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the following letter:

The Honorable Hillary Clinton

Secretary of State

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street NW

Washington, DC 20520

Dear Madam Secretary,

The Military Coalition (TMC), a consortium of nationally prominent military and veterans associations representing 5.5 million active, Guard, Reserve, retired and former members of the uniform services, plus their families and survivors, is writing to urge you to rescind the State Department’s policy initiative that will eliminate embassy mail privileges for American uniformed service retirees overseas by Dec. 31, 2009.

As you know, the State Department and the Department of Defense are in the process of shifting mail delivery to State Department facilities overseas from the traditional APO/FPO addresses to a new designation as Diplomatic Post Offices. This change will eliminate mail privileges to close to 4,800 military retirees, forcing them to use foreign mail systems that in some parts of the world can be slow, unreliable or expensive.

Further, timely mail delivery is of the utmost importance for those retirees who rely on the embassy mail privileges to receive their TRICARE Mail-Order Pharmacy prescriptions. They also receive their military retirement and Social Security checks via mail and could possibly become targets for theft and/or fraud.

It is our hope that possible alternatives can be realized before further implementation of this initiative so as to not penalize military retirees for choosing to live abroad. We thank you for your thoughtful consideration of this matter.

Sincerely,

The Military Coalition

[Source: AFSA eNewsletter & TREA Update 13 Nov 09 ++]

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VA LAWSUIT (RANDEN HARVEY) Update 01: The federal government has agreed to pay $218,500 to settle a $600,000 lawsuit over the fatal drug overdose of a young Michigan veteran who served as a U.S. Marine in Iraq. Randen Harvey died in 2006 at his father’s home. His family had accused the Department of Veterans Affairs of failing to keep him in a hospital or commit him to a mental health facility. The 24-year-old Harvey served two tours in Iraq. He was honorably discharged as a lance corporal in NOV 05. Five months later, according to the lawsuit, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Croley said the government considered the settlement a ‘reasonable resolution’ given the cost of a trial. It admitted no liability. [Source: New York Times AP article 10 Nov 09 ++]

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VA FAMILY CAREGIVER ASSISTANCE: The Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2009 (S.1963) was introduced by Sen. Daniel K. Akaka [D-HI], chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, on 29 OCT 09. It would upon the joint application of an eligible veteran and a family member of such veteran (or other individual designated by such veteran), furnish to such family member (or designee) family caregiver assistance as part of home health services provided by the Veteran Affairs Department.  The purpose of providing family caregiver assistance under the bill is to reduce the number of veterans who are receiving institutional care, or who are in need of institutional care, whose personal care service needs could be substantially satisfied with the provision of such services by a family member (or designee); and to provide eligible veterans with additional options so that they can choose the setting for the receipt of personal care services that best suits their needs. Those selected for participation in the program would be provided basic or additional instruction, preparation, and training as necessary with the goal of that individual becoming qualified and being approved by the VA as a personal care attendant for the veteran.  Eligibility to participate in the program would extend to veterans (or member of the Armed Forces undergoing medical discharge from the Armed Forces) who:

  • Have a serious injury (including traumatic brain injury, psychological trauma, or other mental disorder) incurred or aggravated in the line of duty in the active military, naval, or air service on or after 11 SEP 01; and
  • The Secretary determines, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense as necessary, is in need of personal care services because of an inability to perform one or more independent activities of daily living; a need for supervision or protection based on symptoms or residuals of neurological or other impairment or injury; or such other matters as the Secretary shall establish in consultation with the Secretary of Defense as appropriate.

The bill presently has no cosponsors and on 10 NOV Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) said he objected to the bill because its five-year, $3.7 billion cost was not offset. Subsequently, Senate Democratic leaders reached a tentative agreement with Sen. Coburn that averted the necessity of filing cloture on a veterans’ health care omnibus measure and could lead to passage of the bill early next week. A spokesman for Sen. Akaka said the senator had not yet received the text of an amendment Coburn wishes to offer, but would take Coburn’s word that one is coming and would put off seeking unanimous consent on the floor to bring up the bill (S.1963). Earlier in the day, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said he would file for cloture on the omnibus measure if Republicans continued to block efforts to bring the bill up and pass it quickly.” Approval of S.1963 would provide an array of vitally needed support services for family caregivers, such as respite care, financial compensation, vocational counseling, basic health care, relationship, marriage and family counseling and mental health care. [Source: Congressional Quarterly Oliveri article 11 Nov 09 ++]

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TRICARE USER FEE Update 43: Variations of a “Heads Up” chain e-mail message is being circulated on the internet claiming that Tricare is in jeopardy for retirees and that Tricare for Life deductibles and co-pays will increase up to $6,301 the first year with future years being indexed to increase with inflation. For authenticity it cites a CBO report and implies that the Air Force Association and BG Bob Clement are in agreement with its content. This email and variations of it have been debunked by such groups as the The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA) and the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) three separate times. The White House has also tried to combat the claim that efforts to overhaul health care include limiting or eliminating coverage for veterans. However, the RAO continues to receive inquiries asking what, if any truth there is to it. To answer the question, “Would health care overhaul efforts eliminate Tricare health coverage for members of the military and military retirees?”, the answer is NO. This claim in the e-mail is false. Neither Congress nor President Obama has proposed legislation to that effect. The facts are:

  • The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is responsible for a number of things, but drafting and proposing legislation are not among them. So contrary to what these widely forwarded e-mails claim, the CBO has not “drafted proposed legislation” that would reduce benefits for those who receive health care coverage through Tricare or Tricare for Life.
  • What the CBO did in December of last year was present a list of 115 options to the House and Senate Committees on the Budget for “reducing (or, in some cases, increasing) federal spending on health care, altering federal health care programs, and making substantive changes to the nation’s health insurance system.” The CBO issues a list of such recommendations on federal spending to every Congress. The first volume of last year’s list included Option No. 96, Introduce Minimum Out-of-Pocket Requirements Under Tricare For Life.
  • Tricare is the health care program that provides coverage for active members of the military, retirees, their survivors and their dependents. In 2001, that coverage was extended to Medicare-eligible military retirees and their spouses and dependents through a program called Tricare for Life (TFL). The program provides supplemental Medicare coverage to Tricare beneficiaries who are enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B.
  • According to the CBO, TFL pays “nearly all medical costs not covered by Medicare and requires few out-of-pocket fees.” By limiting the amount of expenses covered by Tricare for Life (such as not paying the first $525 of an enrollee’s cost-sharing liabilities for calendar year 2011 and limiting coverage to 50 percent of the next $4,725 in Medicare cost sharing), the federal government could save roughly $14 billion and $40 billion through 2014 and 2019, respectively, according to the CBO.
  • The CBO report doesn’t contain “a strong recommendation to eventually eliminate” the Tricare for Life program because “it is too expensive,” as the e-mail claims. The CBO didn’t advocate that Congress actually go through with any of the options it listed in its report. Instead, the agency emphasized that “in keeping with CBO’s mandate to provide objective, impartial analysis, this report makes no recommendations.” Accordingly, the report lists advantages and disadvantages for all of the options.

It’s also false that health care overhaul bills in Congress would roll back coverage for those who benefit from the Tricare programs. The e-mail claims that “this is true” and says that it appears on pages 77, 172, 218 and 434. There’s no reference to a particular bill, but a word search of the bills fund that the word “Tricare” does appear on pages 77, 172, 218 and 434 of  “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009” (H.R.3200), which was introduced in the House in JUL 09. But nowhere on those pages, or anywhere else in the legislation, does it say that beneficiaries “would lose the Medicare for life benefit and would have to pay,” or “would lose Tricare as a total care package.” Some veterans’ organizations, including the American Legion, wrote letters to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in July voicing concern that the legislation could impact health care for veterans. But the House Committee on Energy and Commerce said that the bill wouldn’t impact Tricare beneficiaries.

Furthermore, there are no proposed cuts to Tricare programs in the recently passed “Affordable Health Care for America Act of 2009” (H.R.3962), which combines three different House health care bills into one. And there is also no language in either the Senate Finance Committee or Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee health care bills that discusses eliminating coverage under Tricare or Tricare for Life. In fact, section 1922 of the Senate Finance Committee bill specifically states that “…nothing in this Act shall be construed to prohibit, limit, or otherwise penalize eligible beneficiaries from receiving timely access to quality health care in any military medical treatment facility or under the Tricare program.” The e-mail also claims that “a heavy assault has begun on Veterans’/Retirees’ benefits to pay for other programs our President promised during the campaign. And it is a high priority of  the Obama administration.”  But the president has said repeatedly that he actually wants to expand coverage for veterans — not limit it. The White House has also responded to claims that health care overhaul bills would jeopardize veterans’ benefits, including Tricare and Tricare for Life, through its Reality Check Web site www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck. [Source: www.FastCheck.org D’Angelo Gore article 10 Nov 09 ++]

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TriWest LUNG HEALTH SERVICE: TriWest Healthcare Alliance is offering a new lung health service to West Region TRICARE beneficiaries eligible for its Disease Management programs.  Beneficiaries suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can receive extra help through TriWest Healthcare Alliance, which manages the TRICARE military healthcare entitlement on behalf of the Department of Defense for 21 western States.  Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a group of diseases that causes breathing-related problems. It includes emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and in some cases asthma. COPD is a leading cause of death, illness, and disability in the United States. Each year, more than 120,000 Americans die from it. Additionally, millions of hospital emergency room visits are due to people with COPD. In the United States, tobacco is a key factor in the development and spread of COPD, but asthma, exposure to air pollutants in the home and workplace, genetic factors, and respiratory infections also play a role. In the developing world, indoor air quality is thought to play a larger role in the development and progression of COPD than it does in the United States. Avoiding tobacco smoke, home and workplace air pollutants, and respiratory infections are key to preventing the initial development of COPD.

Treatment of COPD requires a careful and thorough evaluation by a doctor. The most important part of treatment is avoiding tobacco smoke and removing other air pollutants from your home or workplace. Symptoms such as coughing or wheezing can be treated with medication. Respiratory infections may be treated with antibiotics, if appropriate. Patients who have low blood oxygen levels in their blood are often given supplemental oxygen. The COPD program, launched by TriWest in September, is a no-cost entitlement for those who are eligible.  Eligibility is determined by TRICARE and is based on claims history.  Once a beneficiary is identified as eligible to participate in the program, DoD refers the beneficiary to TriWest, which in turn contact the beneficiary. The COPD Disease Management Program has a number of services to help beneficiaries manage their chronic lung diseases.  The beneficiary can also access smoking cessation, exercise and nutrition help from their TriWest health coach. Beneficiaries can find additional resources on TriWest’s Condition Management Pagen www.triwest.com/beneficiary/healthy_living/condition/copd.aspxwww.TRICARE.Mil, or at www.ucanquit2.org, an online smoking cessation resource developed by DoD for U.S. service members. [Source: NAUS Weekly Update 13 Nov 09 ++]

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VA CLAIMS BACKLOG Update 30: NAUS reported on the progress the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) is making on reducing the number of ratings claims they have. In FY 2009, which ended on 30 SEP, the VBA made decisions on over 977,000 claims and received more than 1,013,000 new claims.  Starting FY 2010 VBA had approximately 416,000 claims in progress.   As of 7 NOV 09, VBA has 466,173 cases pending, of which 163,907, or 36% were over 125 days old.  This is significant as the stated goal for processing is 125 days.  Currently the average processing time is down to 156 days from a high earlier in the year of 161 days. These figures are only for Compensation and Pension cases and do not cover education benefits. [Source: NAUS Weekly Update 13 Nov 09 ++]

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VA CLAIMS BACKLOG Update 31: Texas Gov. Rick Perry on 12 NOV announced his office will fund a team of veterans counselors tasked with helping the Department of Veterans Affairs reduce the growing backlog of benefits claims pending in Houston and statewide. “For entirely too many Texas veterans, awaiting a response from the Department of Veterans Affairs has not been, I think, a good use of their time,” Perry said at a news conference inside American Legion Post 490 near Houston’s Ellington Field. “It’s taking too long. So what we’re doing is working together to fix that.” The governor acknowledged he has no jurisdiction over the VA, a federal agency. But “Texas can no longer sit on the sidelines, vainly hoping things get better,” he said. The state’s veterans are among the hardest hit by the VA’s record claims backlog, which is approaching 1 million nationwide, Perry said. More than 39,000 applications are pending in Houston and Waco, the state’s two VA regional offices. Perry said he’s particularly disturbed by the fact that 41% of claims at the Houston VA Regional Office have been pending more than four months. “To veterans and their families, that could mean nearly half a year of untreated pain, unpaid bills and unresolved anxiety about the future,” Perry said. “Our veterans have fought bravely in faraway lands. They should not have to come home and do battle with their own government’s bureaucracy.”

Perry said his office will provide a $400,000 grant to the Texas Veterans Commission (TVC) to create a new Claims Processing Assistance Team. The grant will enable the commission to hire up to 12 veterans counselors to cut through red tape and reduce delays associated with VA paperwork, he said. The counselors will work with the VA, but remain commission employees. They will not be authorized to adjudicate claims. “Through this team, TVC counselors will streamline, and hopefully accelerate the claims process, by identifying applications that are complete and ready for expedited review by the VA, and obtaining missing evidence when necessary,” Perry said. The VA appreciates the support from the governor’s office, said Jessica Jacobsen, a VA spokeswoman. “VA has a long history working with the TVC and finds the support given from the individuals already onsite at our Houston and Waco VA Regional Offices invaluable,” Jacobsen said in a statement

Korean War veteran R.J. Ritter, 73, is a member of the American Legion Post that hosted Perry’s news conference said he hopes the governor’s initiative will enable veterans to get the help they need in a more timely manner. “It’s not fair for the veteran to come home and have to wait six to eight months for the kind of medical care and benefits he really needs to have,” Ritter said. After nearly a decade of armed conflict and two wars, the VA is simply overwhelmed, said Edward Reyes, 54, a disabled Air Force veteran and service officer with the American Legion. “We honestly feel the VA is doing best they can to adjudicate claims, but I think that it’s going to take some serious intervention to be able to cope with the excess workload they have,” Reyes said. What the VA really needs is more claims processors, said Michael Lacey, a 38-year-old disabled Army veteran of Desert Storm and American Legion service officer. “The VA says it takes two years to train a new employee to process claims,” Lacey said. “We’ve been in these conflicts for eight years and they haven’t done anything about this.” [Source:

Houston Chronicle Lindsay Wise article 12 Nov 09 ++]

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VET JOBS Update 11: Representative Adam Smith (D-WA-09) on 6 NOV introduced H.R.4058, “Veterans to Work Pilot Program Act of 2009,” which would require the Secretary of Defense to establish the Veterans to Work pilot program. The Act would be in effect from fiscal years 2011 through 2015, and would designate not less than 20 military construction projects in localities where veterans could be enrolled in qualified apprenticeship programs. The apprenticeship programs would be subject to agreements that would ensure, to the maximum extent feasible, apprentices are employed on that military construction project; and that, to the maximum extent feasible, apprentices shall be veterans. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Armed Services.  [Source: NGAUS Leg Up 13 Nov 09 ++]

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MEDICARE FRAUD Update 26:

  • Miami FL: A Miami man arrested in June on charges he laundered money in a scheme to defraud Medicare was sentenced on 30 OCT to four years behind bars. Ihosvanny Anaya Martinez, 42, of Miami-Dade is alleged to have laundered more than $1.2 million in proceeds through various bank accounts between 2006 and 2008. The scheme was operated through BJB Pharmacy, which submitted more than $5.6 million in fraudulent claims for reimbursement to Medicare, mostly for durable medical equipment claims. Martinez, who was president of Marbe Distribution corp. and Padrino Services, withdrew more than half of that money – $683,780– in cash through more than 200 transactions, according to a news release from the acting U.S. attorney’s office. In addition to prison, Martinez also is subject to a money judgment of $1,226,784.
  • Detroit MI: Miami resident Daisy Martinez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the Medicare program 30 OCT in U.S. District Court in Detroit. At her sentencing she faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. In her guilty plea, she admitted that in MAR 06, she devised a scheme with co-conspirator Jose Rosario to open a clinic that purported to specialize in infusion and injection therapy services with the sole purpose to defraud Medicare. Martinez and her co-conspirators opened Sacred Hope Medical Center Inc. in Southfield, MI. They recruited various co-conspirators into their scheme, including an office manager to help run the clinic; a physician, purportedly to treat patients at the clinic; and recruiters/drivers who were in charge of bringing Medicare beneficiaries to the clinic.  Martinez admitted in her guilty plea that during the time SHMC was open, it routinely billed the Medicare program for services that were medically unnecessary or were never provided and that patients were prescribed medications at the clinic based not on medical need, but on what medications were likely to generate Medicare reimbursements. Martinez, along with Rosario, admitted to helping falsify medical files maintained by the clinic to make the treatments purportedly being given there appear legitimate, when in fact they were not. Medicare beneficiaries were not referred to Sacred Hope by their primary care physicians, or for any other legitimate medical purpose, but rather were recruited to come to the clinic through the payment of kickbacks. In exchange for those kickbacks, beneficiaries would visit the clinic and sign documents indicating that they had received the services billed to Medicare. Between MAR 06 and MAR 07 she and her co-conspirators caused the submission of approximately $15,312,000 in false and fraudulent claims.  Medicare paid approximately $10,765,000on those claims.
  • New Orleans LA: Dr. Gregory Khoury, a resident of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was indicted 12 NOV by a federal grand jury in a 48-count indictment with over $1 million in health care fraud.  According to the indictment, between 1999, until about JUN 06 he defrauded Medicare, the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan (FEHBP) and its associated health care benefit providers, Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS), Tricare, and Travelers Insurance Company, who processed worker’s compensation claims. Specifically, the indictment alleges Khoury fraudulently submitted claims to Medicare, FEHBP, BCBS, Tricare and Travelers for patients who were not physically present in his office. Part of the scheme was that his billing often represented that he was spending well over eight hours with one patient at a time. Instead, the indictment alleges that he discussed the absent patient’s condition with a family member or other related or interested person. Additionally, according to the indictment, he also met with an interested person or family member instead of the patient and falsely billed Medicare, FEHBP, BCBS, Tricare and Travelers for services he claimed to have performed for the absent patient. At the same time, he falsely billed the insurers for services he claimed he performed for the person while he was speaking about the absent patient. It is charged that Khoury then submitted fraudulent claims as if those services had been rendered to the absent patient. As a result of the alleged fraud, he was paid approximately $1,357,618.14 he was not entitled to receive. The U.S. reiterated that the indictment is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

[Source:  Fraud News Daily reports 1-15 Nov 09 ++]

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MEDICAID FRAUD Update 02:

  • Washington D.C.: The head of a now-defunct D.C. medical supplies company has been indicted for health care fraud and is accused of falsely billing the government for hundreds of thousands of dollars for deluxe power scooters or high-end wheelchairs while giving Medicaid recipients cheaper wheelchairs or walkers. A federal grand jury indicted Donna Carney-Barry of Northwest Washington on five counts of health care fraud. She faces more than 20 years in prison. Carney-Barry was the head of Doors of Hope Medical Supplies, a short-lived company that sold canes, walkers, hospital beds and wheelchairs. It maintained offices on the first floor of the Greater Southeast Hospital in D.C. She is accused of billing the system by “upcoding,” providing a patient a cheaper piece of equipment, then billing Medicaid for a higher-priced item. Prosecutors said from 2003 to 2005, Doors of Hope submitted about $575,000 in Medicaid claims to the District of Columbia. More than half the claims were for power wheelchairs. Prosecutors said Carney-Barry turned in fraudulent claims that contained bogus diagnoses of the patients using the names of actual area doctors. The bills falsely claimed that a patient, for example, required a high-end electric wheelchair, such as the Jazzy 1420 power wheelchair for $14,000 or the Cruiser Bariatric Powerbase Chair for $11,000. Instead of ordering the high-end wheelchair, Carney-Barry would provide a walker or much cheaper piece of equipment, charging documents said.
  • Omnicare: On 3 NOV Omnicare agreed to pay nearly $100 million to settle a series of complaints with the Justice Department for paying and receiving kickbacks. According to the government, Omnicare allegedly “solicited and received” kickbacks from health care giant Johnson & Johnson in exchange for “agreeing to recommend that physicians prescribe” the company’s anti-psychotic drug Risperdal. And the government alleged Omnicare solicited and received $8 million in kickbacks from drug manufacturer IVAX in exchange for Omnicare’s agreement to purchase $50 million in drugs from IVAX. “Omnicare is a company that has a lot of ethical problems,” said Patrick Burns of the group Taxpayers Against Fraud. “This is not the first it has been nailed for fraud by the U.S. government. It is a repeat player in the fraud game.” Omnicare allegedly also paid kickbacks, in one case shelling out $50 million to two nursing home chains in order to keep the chain’s pharmacy business worth hundreds of millions of dollars. As is typical in these cases, Omnicare denied any wrongdoing. But the company was willing to swallow a nearly $100 million pill to make this headache go away.  [Source: CBS News.com Armen Keteyian rticle 3 Nov 09]
  • Jackson MS: A Jackson doctor is among five people to plead not guilty to conspiracy to defraud Medicare and Medicaid. Dr. Cassandra Thomas and four others were in U.S. District Court in Hattiesburg 4 OCT. A total of seven people are charged but two others had their arraignments delayed until 10 OCT. An indictment alleges Statewide Physical Medicine Group, Inc. billed Medicare and Medicaid for more than $39 million dollars in services in Mississippi from 2000 to 2005. The government agencies paid out $18 million dollars. All five were released on $50,000 dollars unsecured bond.
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul MN: The owner of a Brooklyn Park personal care firm and two workers were charged 4 NOV in federal court with fraudulently getting more than $89,000 from Medicaid. The indictment is against Patrick Daniel Osei, the owner of Advance Home Health, as well as care assistants Crecida Marie Cade and Sabrina Marie Peterson. The three are accused of conspiring to defraud Medicaid through false claims to the state Department of Human Services for in-home personal care for two clients. Also, according to the indictment, they caused payments to Medicaid recipients in exchange for the firm billing for services that weren’t provided.  The fraud included claims for one client of 5,352 hours of care from OCT 07 to late SEP 09 when less than five hours were provided. Medicaid paid Advance $84,497.54 for the claim. That client was allegedly paid $800. Osei, 49, of Brooklyn Park, is charged with 15 counts of health care fraud and four counts of illegal remuneration, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. Cade, 47, of Fridley, is charged with one count of conspiracy and six counts of health care fraud. Peterson, 38, of Minneapolis, is charged with one count of conspiracy and nine counts of health care fraud.

[Source:  Fraud News Daily reports 1-15 Nov 09 ++]

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VETERAN STATISTICS Update 01: Following are the results of a number of public opinion surveys/polls related to how current day vets fair versus those from prior conflicts.  The source Rasmussen Reports at www.rasmussenreports.com is an electronic publishing firm specializing in the collection, publication, and distribution of public opinion polling information:

  • Twenty-eight percent (28%) of adults nationwide believe that veterans of today’s conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan face more challenges when they return home than veterans of the Vietnam War. However, the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that another 24% believe veterans of today’s conflicts face fewer challenges when they arrive home compared to those who served in Vietnam. The plurality (42%) believes the challenges veterans from both eras have faced are about the same.
  • Of those who have served in the military 27% say today’s veterans have it worse, while nearly the same number (28%) say they face fewer challenges than those who fought in Vietnam.
  • Polling during the summer of 2007 showed that 47% of voters believed the War in Iraq is similar to the War in Vietnam from the perspective of the United States, but another 44% disagreed and said the wars are not similar.
  • Sixty-one percent (61%) of all adults now believe veterans should receive preferential treatment when applying for a home or a job, while 21% disagree. Another 18% are undecided.
  • Sixty-seven percent (67%) of veterans say those who serve in the military should receive preferential treatment in these matters, compared to 60% of non-veterans.
  • Slightly more Republicans than Democrats believe veterans should be given higher priority when it comes to applying for jobs and homes. Sixty-one percent (61%) of voters not affiliated with either party agree.
  • In May 09, only 46% of Americans said military veterans should receive preferential treatment in hiring or promotion, while 29% disagreed.
  • Sixty-three percent (63%) say National Guard members whose jobs were eliminated while they were on active duty should receive special preference in hiring for other jobs.
  • Voter confidence in America’s conduct in the War on Terror is at its lowest level in nearly three years. But 52% of voters support no firm timetable when it comes to bringing troops home from Afghanistan.

[Source: Rasmussen Reports Recent Polls 9 Nov 09 ++

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TRICARE OTC DEMONSTRATION PROJECT Update 01: Tricare’s over-the-counter (OTC) medication demonstration project has been extended by one year. The program allows Tricare beneficiaries to substitute over-the-counter (OTC) versions of certain prescription drugs. The program, which was scheduled to end 4 NOV 09 as Tricare’s new pharmacy contract starts, will continue. However, it will now offer beneficiaries certain OTC medications for a $3 copayment. The program previously did not require any copayment. “We have decided to modify this demonstration and extend it for another year before evaluating the success of offering OTC drugs through our pharmacy benefit program,” said Public Health Service Rear Adm. Thomas McGinnis, chief of the Tricare Pharmaceutical Operations Directorate. “We hope beneficiaries will continue to use the program as the $3 copay remains far below the average out-of-pocket price of approximately $15 for these products if they were not covered by Tricare.” Examples of OTC medications available through the program include the allergy medications cetirizine and loratadine, and heartburn medications (proton-pump inhibitors) Prilosec OTC and its generic form omeprazole. As before, beneficiaries cannot just walk into a pharmacy and get OTC medications for $3. To use the program they still need a prescription from their health care provider for the OTC drug. For more information about the Tricare Pharmacy Program refer to www.tricare.mil/mybenefit/home/Prescriptions. [Source: Tricare Press Release 5 Nov 09 ++]

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VETERAN’S FEDERAL EMPLOYMENT Update 06: On 9 NOV President Obama signed an executive order designed to boost the number of veterans in the federal workforce. The directive creates Veterans Employment Program offices in federal agencies, to match veterans with job openings and help them navigate the application process. The offices also will give veterans guidance on how to adjust to civilian life after they are hired. “This initiative is about more than repaying our debt for their courageous service and selfless sacrifice,” Obama said. “It’s also about continuing to fill the ranks of federal employees with men and women who possess the skills, dedication and sense of duty that Americans deserve from their public servants. And few embody those qualities like our nation’s veterans.” In addition, the executive order establishes a Council on Veterans Employment, to be chaired by the secretaries of Labor and Veterans Affairs. It requires the Office of Personnel Management to develop a strategic plan in consultation with other agencies, such as the Defense, Homeland Security, Labor and Veterans Affairs departments. The order comes as the number of military members re-entering civilian life is ballooning.

OPM Director John Berry has emphasized the hiring of veterans, saying government should take a more proactive role in recruiting former military members and preserve veterans preference during the selection process. “We are going to honor our veterans and increase their employment in our domestic agencies,” Berry said during Government Executive’s Excellence in Government conference in July. The percentage of veterans in the federal workforce has increased just slightly in recent years. According to the Office of Personnel Management’s most recent report, it rose 0.5 points from 25% in fiscal 2003 to 25.5% in fiscal 2007. Veterans groups and some managers praised Obama’s order. “The federal government is really no different than any business when it comes to hiring quality people,” said Joe Davis, spokesman for Veterans of Foreign Wars. “They want educated, responsible and motivated people who are loyal to the company and to each other. With the boomer generation beginning to retire en masse, it just makes good business sense for the federal government to do whatever it can to recognize and recruit this talented pool of job-ready employees.” Pat Niehaus, Federal Managers Association chapter president and labor relations officer at Travis Air Force Base in California, said having an agency contact could be valuable to veterans re-entering civilian life. “In so many agencies, [the hiring process] is so computerized,” Niehaus said. “If they had someone to help, I think it would be very beneficial to them. The civilian world is significantly different from the military world.” [Source: GovExec Today Alex M. Parker article 10 Nov 09 ++]

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TFL COST MATRIX: The 2009 Tricare For Life Cost Matrix has been updated to reflect the Tricare FY 2010 rates (changes are in blue).  Note that during a fiscal year (1 OCT – 30 SEP), the most you will spend out-of-pocket for Tricare-covered services and supplies is your catastrophic cap ($1,000 for active duty family members/$3,000 for other than active duty family members). If you meet your fiscal year catastrophic cap, Tricare will pay the allowable amount in full for medically necessary covered services and supplies for the remainder of the fiscal year. A copy is included as a Bulletin attachment..  The matrix may also be found in the Source Documents tab of the Customer Service Community Web site http://www.tricare.mil/customerservicecommunity. [Source: TMA C&CS msg 30 Sep 09 ++]

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FPO/APO CHARITY POLICY: With the holiday mail season approaching, the Military Postal Service Agency is reminding organizations and troops that shipping anything that can be considered humanitarian aid to APO or FPO addresses violates Defense Department regulations. “We understand that there’s a lot of caring in our service members,” MPSA policy analyst Peter Graeve said. “Military mail is not the right avenue.” In a recent news release, Army officials in Europe suggest those who want to send these sorts of materials should contact the International Red Cross or other charitable groups, rather than going through a service member. The Military Postal System “is funded by taxpayers for military mail delivered to authorized U.S. and allied recipients,” said Keith Jones, postal operations chief for the Army’s installation command in Europe. “Delivering parcels to nonauthorized recipients drains manpower and resources, and can delay delivery of parcels intended for our troops.” Graeve said such efforts could backfire if, for example, a local provincial leader in Iraq has been negotiating for humanitarian aid through official channels and is unaware of the troops’ efforts. “If one of those efforts goes the wrong way, and local leadership is embarrassed … we’re trying to eliminate that possibility,” he said.

Army Chief Warrant Officer 5 Paul Holton got the message loud and clear, he said, when the Pentagon sent him a “cease and desist” letter about his efforts to help Iraqi children. “They said it was unlawful to get and receive items that weren’t for yourself, and that it was unlawful to solicit,” Holton said. The letter came during his tour in Iraq with the Utah National Guard in 2003-04, after he had received thousands of boxes of toys and needed items at his APO address in Iraq, which he gave out to Iraqi children in hospitals, orphanages and elsewhere. When Holton was getting toys through his APO address in Iraq, military mail was his only option. “Since then, we’ve come up with other options,” he said. He founded a nonprofit group, Operation Give, when he got back from Iraq in 2004. The group has shipped 75 40-foot containers overseas at $6,000 each, sending everything from toys and school supplies to wheelchairs, tools and sewing machines. The group also pays to airlift humanitarian supplies to Afghanistan.

The Defense Department has written internal news stories and releases extolling troops’ efforts to help local communities where they are deployed. A story in February on the Pentagon’s Web site details the efforts of an Army major whose friends and co-workers in Illinois sent him boxes of toys for children in an Iraqi school. “We’ve seen some of the same stories,” Graeve said. “We’re trying to put the word out there’s a right way and a wrong way.” He said officials do not have a good sense of how much of this mail is in the system or whether it has been increasing. [Source: MarineCorpsTimes Karen Jowers article 9 Nov 09 ++]

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TEXAS VETERAN TUITION Update 01: The Hazlewood Act provides qualified veterans, spouses, and children with an education benefit of up to 150 hours of tuition and fee exemptions at state supported colleges or universities. Effective with the fall 2009 term/semester, in order to be eligible to receive a Hazlewood Act Exemption, a veteran must:

  • Have been a Texas resident upon entry into the military, entered the service in the State of Texas, or declared Texas as his or her home of record;
  • Have a military discharge of honorable or general, under honorable conditions;
  • Served at least 181 days of active duty service (excluding training);
  • Not be in default on an education loan made or guaranteed by the State of Texas and not in default on a federal loan if that default is the reason the student cannot use his or her federal veterans’ benefits.

For Additional information and requirements refer to Hazlewood Act: Frequently Asked Questions at http://www.tvc.state.tx.us/BROCHURES/2009-Hazlewood_FAQ-Sept-2009.pdf.  The awards are available only for use at a Texas public college or university. To access listings of Texas public colleges and universities, refer to  the Texas Institutions of Higher Education site http://collegeforalltexans.com/index.cfm?ObjectID=D57D0AC5-AB2D-EFB0-FC201080B528442A and select any of the schools listed under the Texas Public Institutions. Note that the schools listed under Independent Institutions do NOT qualify for Hazlewood Exemptions. Effective 19 JUN 09 Senate Bill 93 of the 81st Texas Legislative authorized new provisions which remove certain residency restrictions, extend eligibility to spouses, and permit eligible veterans to assign their unused hours to their child. These new provisions are known as the “Hazelwood Legacy Act”. To be eligible, the child must:

  • Be a Texas resident,
  • Be the biological child, stepchild, adopted child, or claimed as a dependent in the current or previous tax year,
  • Be 25 years or younger on the first day of the semester or term for which the exemption is claimed (unless granted an extension due to a qualifying illness or debilitating condition), and
  • Make satisfactory academic progress in a degree, certificate, or continuing education program as determined by the institution.
  • If a child to whom hours have been delegated fails to use all of the assigned hours, a veteran may re-assign the unused hours that are available to another dependent child.

Eligible veterans, their children and spouses may receive an exemption from the payment of all tuition, dues, fees, and other required charges, including fees for correspondence courses, but excluding deposit fees, student service fees, and any fees or charges for books, lodging, board, or clothing for up to 150 semester credit hours. Funds may be used to pay tuition for continuing education classes for which the college receives no state tax support only if the governing board has approved this benefit. To use Hazlewood benefits or to transfer unused benefits to an eligible child, applicants must complete an application/release form and turn it into your college’s Financial Aid Office or Veterans Services Office. Forms are available on-line at “College for All Texans: Exemptions for Texas Veterans” http://collegeforalltexans.com.  Forms that you will need to complete, as applicable to your situation are:

  • HE-V App Packet for Veterans Who Have Never Used the Exemption
  • HE-D App Packet for Eligible Children and Spouses Who Have Never Used the Exemption
  • HE-P App Packet for Previous Exemption Recipients (Veterans, Children, and Spouses)
  • TUHH App Packet for the Transfer of Unused Hours to Eligible Child
  • HE-T App Packet for A Child Who Has Received Transferred Hours

Your application (and your child’s form) must be accomplished by the following items:

  • Veterans must provide proof (DD214) from the Department of Defense regarding their military service and nature of discharge.
  • Both veterans and dependents must also provide proof of eligibility or ineligibility for GI/Montgomery benefits (Chapter 33/Post 911) by requesting an education benefits letter from the VA office in Muskogee, OK at (888)-442-4551 or www.gibill.va.gov.
  • Most recent Federal income tax return as proof that your child is claimed as a dependent of yours.
  • Dependents must provide proof from Dept of Defense or from Veterans Administration regarding parent’s death or disability related to service.
  • Both groups should contact their college financial aid office regarding their status on prior federal student loans made or guaranteed by the State of Texas. [Source:  Texas Veterans Commission www.tvc.state.tx.us/Hazlewood.html Nov 09 ++]

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CALIFORNIA DVA AUDIT: A new audit report issued by California’s Independent State Auditor Elaine Howle found that the California Department of Veterans Affairs isn’t delivering services as well as it should to the two million veterans living in the state. The report by the California Bureau of State Audits revealed that although it has begun to increase its Outreach efforts and to coordinate with other entities, the CalVet Home Loan Program is not designed to address the housing needs of some veterans and the department needs to improve its strategic planning process. It recommends that the California Department of Veterans’ Affairs develops measurable goals and objectives that are directly aligned with the needs of the veteran community, based on a formal assessment of veterans’ needs.  A summary of the audit report is available at www.bsa.ca.gov/reports/summary/2009-108.  The full audit report is available at www.bsa.ca.gov/pdfs/reports/2009-108.pdf.  Highlights of the audit were:

  • The department sees its role as providing few direct services to address issues California’s veterans face, such as homelessness and mental illness. Instead, it relies on other entities to provide such services and its Veterans Services division (Veterans Services) is responsible for collaborating with these different entities.
  • The department has only recently shifted its attention from its primary focus on veterans homes, deciding that Veterans Services should take a more active role in informing veterans about available benefits and coordinating with other entities.
  • One of the department’s primary goals for Veterans Services is to increase veterans’ participation in federal disability compensation and pension benefits (C&P benefits). However, its ability to meet this goal is hampered by various barriers, including veterans’ lack of awareness of the benefits, the complexity of the claims process, and delays at the federal level in processing these claims.
  • Both Veterans Services and the County Veterans Service Officer programs (CVSOs) assist veterans to obtain C&P benefits. However, better coordination with the CVSOs and the use of additional data may enhance Veterans Services’ ability to increase veterans’ participation in these benefits.
  • The department did not formally assess veterans’ needs or include key stakeholders such as the CVSOs in its strategic planning process, nor did it effectively measure its progress toward meeting the goals and objectives identified in its strategic plan.
  • As of MAR 09 the CalVet Home Loan program served 12,500 veterans. However, the program is generally not designed to serve homeless veterans or veterans in need of multifamily or transitional housing.

[Source: Military.com Veterans Report 2 Nov 09 ++]

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PTSD Update 32: A groundbreaking verdict for accused veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was decided recently in Canyon City, Ore. when former Soldier Jesse Bratcher, on trial for murder, was found guilty by reason of insanity.  Bratcher, a veteran of Iraq who was rated 100% by the VA for PTSD killed the alleged rapist of his pregnant girlfriend. For more information on the case refer to www.nvf.org/blog/item/50 . It appears to be the first trial in the U.S. where a veteran’s post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was successfully considered to mitigate the circumstances of a crime.  [Source: Military.com Veterans Report 2 Nov 09 ++]

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PTSD Update 33: The Veterans Affairs Department wants to develop a Web-based system for tracking and analyzing clinical data about the treatment that veterans receive for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  The VA has said previously that it has expanded care for the large number of soldiers returning from service in Iraq and Afghanistan who suffer from the condition. The department now wants to be able to assess its treatment and outcomes. VA published a request for proposals from vendors for the PTSD treatment monitoring tool on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site 28 OCT. The software will run alongside VA’s VistA computerized patient record system and extract data on veterans’ PTSD care, according to the notice. The system will then generate reports for VA healthcare program managers.

Once the system is deployed, the program manager will be able to view a set of patients grouped by their providers and the patients’ summary of treatment. The system will let the program manager evaluate “how treatments are being applied across diverse clinics with convenience and efficiency,” the notice said. The PTSD software will use historical and current patient and appointment data, prescription information and assessments from a separate mental health assistant software tool that is incorporated in the patient record system.  The vendor will apply a Java program to transform and analyze the data. For instance, prescription information could be converted into average dose with a start and end date, according to the notice. VA said it will apply information privacy and security safeguards, including controlled access to the program. The contract will be for one year. Vendors must respond by 13 NOV. The notice is online. [Source: Government HealthIT Mary Mosquera article 4 Nov 09 ++]

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SELECTIVE SERVICE SYSTEM Update 06: With America deeply involved in two wars and with our troops spread all over the world, is it time to dust off the idea of a military draft?  Soldiers, sailors, and airmen and women are being sent back time and again to Middle East danger zones, with an increasing number of suicides attributed to the stress of these constant rotations.  All this is unfolding despite the existence of a massive list of possible replacements – the 14 million names collected and tracked by the U.S. Selective Service System (SSS). Finding replacements through the Selective Service would mean reviving the draft, an idea that now sounds more like a distant echo of the 1960s than a real tool of U.S. policy.  Yet taxpayers are paying $24 million per year to keep the Selective Service System, and its 2000 draft boards around the country, at the ready in case of a draft.  When billions and trillions of dollars are the stuff of daily headlines, $24 million may not seem like much.  But is there any reason for the continued existence of the Selective Service System?

President Richard Nixon formally ended the draft in 1972 at the height of the anti-war movement, but registration for a possible draft was reinstated in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter in response to the Soviet Union’s 1979 incursion into Afghanistan. Nevertheless, since the Nixon era, the entire United States Armed Forces has been an All-Volunteer Force (AVF). The AVF, to all extents and purposes, is the U.S. military today, augmented only by members of the National Guard Units and from the reserves of the Army, Navy, Marines, and the Air Force. Except for draft registration, which is mandated by law, most Americans have a fleeting, at most, relationship with military service. By law, every male born after 1980 must register with the Selective Service System at the age of eighteen and remain “active” on the agency’s list until the age of twenty-five.  Avoiding registration is a crime, and those who don’t send in their paperwork can end up in jail for up to five years and be subject to significant fines.  A draft – in which anyone on the list can be called up for service – can be initiated by Congress and the President if deemed necessary. This means that the Selective Service System is a stand-by agency.

Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, the Selective Service is essentially one large database consisting of 14 million names. The agency’s operating structure is divided into three national regions: Region I (HQ: North Chicago, Illinois); Region II (HQ: Smyrna, Georgia); Region III (HQ: Denver, Colorado).  The agency’s master data management center is located in Palestine, Illinois. With a modest operating budget of $24 million and 130 employees, the SSS is devoted, as Acting Director Ernest E. Garcia explains, to “identifying young men when they turn eighteen and registering them as mandated by federal law.”  Registrants stay on the list until they’re 25 “in the event that conscription is authorized by the Congress and directed by the President of the United States.”  To handle the demands of a possible draft, the SSS has 10,000 draft board members who would roll into action if universal conscription were to be reinstated.  According to Acting Director Garcia, at the heart of any possible draft is another word straight out of the 1960s – the lottery.  Garcia notes that “we have that same system in place today – and ready – so that if and when” there is a military event requiring a draft “we’re able to respond to the direction of the president of the United States.” After a lottery, draftees would be vetted by draft boards, which assess draftees to decide who should receive deferments, postponements, or exemptions from military service based on federal guidelines.  Those who do not receive deferments enter one of the armed services.

Oversight of the Selective Service is carried out by U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Military Personnel.  The subcommittee is chaired Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA), with Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) as the ranking member. Matt Daack, military legislative fellow to Rep. Wilson (R-S.C.), argues that the draft isn’t needed because the All-Volunteer Force works. “The bottom line is that an all-volunteer force is an important key to the success of the military,” he said.  Daack, a major in the U.S. Air Force, says that AVF members “have chosen to sacrifice for our nation” and achieve “high unit morale and high unit effectiveness” because they have chosen to do so voluntarily. If so, why, still, is the United States spending millions of dollars to house the names of 14 million potential draftees? “You can note from history,” said Daack, “that the federal government has chosen to institute a draft in the past, and I suspect that’s why they keep the database – in case we find ourselves in the position where we have to institute a draft in the future.” But according to Daack, “that’s not something that the federal government would like to do or foresees doing in any conflict in the near future.” Military conscription is such a nonstarter that even President Bush’s first secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld stated, during the height of the Iraq War, that a draft was not needed.

But a draft was never seriously considered, and according to Matt Daack, there isn’t any likelihood that the SSS, under Congressional and presidential direction, would initiate one. Andrew J. Bacevich, professor of history and international relations at Boston University and author, most recently, of The Limits of Power: the End of American Exceptionalism says, “There is zero political support for resuming conscription. That is the simple answer. The generals don’t want it. The eighteen, nineteen year-olds don’t want it. The parents of eighteen, nineteen year-olds don’t want it. The Congress doesn’t want it.” Bacevich, a former Army officer who served in Vietnam and whose son died serving in Iraq, believes that the army’s generals are entirely wedded to the AVF concept: When Nixon ended the draft, he did it over the objections of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. At that point in the early 1970s, the generals believed that without conscription they wouldn’t be able to adequately man the force, but the experience of subsequent decades has ended up persuading the officer corps that the military’s own interest is best served by relying on long-service volunteers. “The generals,” Bacevich explained, think that “draftees would be more trouble than they are worth.” Bacevich doesn’t think there is a rational explanation for why registration continues and the $24 million budget of the selective service system is just enough below the fiscal radar screen not to warrant scrutiny or debate. [Source: http://understandinggov.org/2009/11/03/on-permanent-standby-the-selective-service-system/#more-5113 Norman Kelly article 3 Nov 09 ++]

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COLD WAR MEDAL Update 03: U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME), Jim Webb (D-VA), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) on 5 NOV introduced the Cold War Service Medals Act of 2009 (S.2743), bipartisan legislation to authorize the secretaries of the military departments to award Cold War Service Medals to American veterans.  To date, no medal exists to honor the men and women who served and defended the United States during the Cold War. Comments from the Senators who introduced the bill were:

  • Senator Snowe: “From the end of World War II to dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Cold War veterans were in the vanguard of the Nation’s defenses. Although long overdue, this legislation will honor and recognize the American patriots who for nearly half-a-century defended the Nation against the advance of communist ideology in the form of the Cold War Service Medal. The commitment, motivation, and fortitude of these brave service members was second to none and their actions should be recognized in a long-standing military custom befitting their patriotism and service.”
  • Senator Webb: “The millions of Americans who served in uniform in the armed forces during the Cold War, spanning more than four decades, were the living embodiment of our nation’s strategy of deterrence. In their efforts to preserve peace, hundreds died during isolated armed confrontations when the Cold War flashed hot at remote locations around the world. This legislation will appropriately honor those who served in an effort that resulted in the largest single expansion in the number of democratically elected governments in world history.”
  • Senator Lincoln: “America’s Cold War veterans deserve every honor we can bestow upon them for their hard work and dedication to keeping our nation safe. The Cold War Service Medal would allow military service members, veterans, and their families to receive the recognition and honor they rightfully deserve. I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure our veterans receive the support and care they and their families need.  It’s the least we can do as a grateful nation.”
  • Senator Landrieu: “For 46 years, we were engaged in a worldwide battle against communism. During that time, there were countless heroes, who served in our nation’s Armed Forces and played a critical role in America’s triumph.  These men and women, who sacrificed so much for so many, deserve to be awarded the Cold War Service Medal in recognized of their faithful service to their country and tireless defense of freedom around the world.”

Specifically, the Cold War Service Medal Act of 2009 would allow the Defense Department to issue a Cold War Service Medal to any honorably discharged veteran who served on active duty for not less than two years or was deployed for thirty days or more during the period from 2 SEP 45 to 26 DEC 91.  In the case of those veterans who are now deceased, the medal could be issued to their family or representative, as determined by the Defense Department.  The bill would also express the sense of Congress that the Secretary of Defense should expedite the design of the medal and expedite the establishment and implementation mechanisms to facilitate the issuance of the Cold War Service Medal. The award of the Cold War Service Medal is supported by the American Cold War Veterans, the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and other veterans’ services organizations.  [Source:

Sen. Blanche Lincoln News release 5 Nov 09 ++]

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NPRC MILITARY RECORDS Update 03: The National Personnel Records Center responds to over 1.4 million requests annually for copies of military personnel and/or medical records. Their goal is to provide timely responses in an efficient manner, so that veterans and their families obtain the information needed to qualify for benefits and entitlements. Nearly half of all requesters seek only a copy of the separation document, which is the necessary document required for veteran benefits. However, about ten percent of the requests received ask for a copy of a file. Since the 1970s, the standard procedure for replying to requests for entire files has been to provide only copies of key documents and extracts of vital information, rather than a copy of every document in a personnel and/or medical file. This approach avoids costly delays in reviewing and copying some documents — such as leave papers, identification card applications, and clothing issuances – that are not normally needed for benefit claim purposes. As a result, NPRC is able to respond to more requesters, faster, and at less cost to the taxpayers. Exceptions to this procedure are files more than 62 years old, US Marine Corps files, all certified legal cases, and all requests from the Department of Veterans Affairs. In these instances, all documents are provided. This extract contains copies of all essential documents to certify entitlement to most rights and benefits associated with military service, to identify key events in a military career, and to identify significant events in health care. Personal data pertaining to third parties is redacted from the file, pursuant to Privacy Act provisions.

When only key documents and extracts are provided from the Official Military Personnel File and the Medical Record, the response package contains a copy of all separation documents and all of the following information if it is in the file:

  • Military Services Dates
  • Character of Service
  • Promotions and Reductions
  • Duty Stations and Assignments
  • Foreign or Sea Service
  • Military Schooling and Training
  • Awards and Letters of Commendation
  • Disciplinary Actions
  • Lost Time
  • Enlistments Contracts
  • Entry and Separation Physical Exams
  • Immunizations
  • Dental Examinations
  • Clinical Summaries/Cover Sheets

If, after receiving an extract of a file, a requester submits a follow-up request for additional information or documents, NPRC will automatically send copies of all the other documents in the file. Until recently this policy was not explained when responding to requesters. As of 28 SEP 09, all responses that contain file extracts include an explanation of the policy. If you have questions about this policy, they should be directed to: Tom Mills

Assistant Archivist for Regional Records Services. Thus, if a veteran/retiree needs or wants a COMPLETE copy of their military personnel record, they should submit a 2nd request which clearly states “This is a 2nd request for a complete copy – provide copies of ALL documents.” The purpose of a request should be “Benefits”. The best way to submit a request is online at:  https://vetrecs.archives.gov. [Source: www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/special-notice.html Nov 09 ++]

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TRDP Update 07: A Tricare retiree dental Program (TRDP) premium rate change took effect on 1 OCT 09 and will be effective through 30 SEP 10.  Subsequent premium changes for the next two years will be effective 1 OCT 10 & 1 OCT 11. This annual premium adjustment is automatic and will be reflected in the allotment from your retired pay or, if you are billed directly, in your payment coupons or EFT (electronic funds transfer) debit applicable to your 1 OCT payment.  Premium rates for the Enhanced TRDP vary depending on your location and zip code. For instance the new rates for 92571 (Perris CA) are single $42.52, two persons $82.52, and family (3 or more) $137.58.  New enrollees have to pay a onetime prepayment amount upon enrollment of double these figures.  To find out the new premium rates for your region, use the online premium search at www.trdp.org/pro/premiumSrch.html. [Source: VFW Washington Weekly 6 Nov 09 ++]

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INDEPENDENT BUDGET FY 2011: The Independent Budget (IB) critical issues report for fiscal year 2011 is available on-line at  http://www.independentbudget.org/2011/CI_2011.pdf.   The critical issues report is designed to alert Congress VA and the Administration as to issues veterans organizations believe need special scrutiny and attention.  The FY2011 IB will be released in FEB 2010 concurrent with the release of the President’s proposed budget for VA. Co-authored by the VFW, AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans and Paralyzed Veterans of America, the IB is a comprehensive recommendation of what VA truly needs to provide healthcare, benefits and services to veterans. The following Critical Issues are addressed in this year’s report:

  • Sufficient, Timely, and Predictable Funding for VA Health Care
  • The Continuing Challenge of Caring for War Veterans
  • Claims Process Improvements Needed
  • Human Resources Needs Continue to Challenge the Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Seamless Transition from the DOD to VA
  • Maintaining VA’s Critical Infrastructure
  • Education, Employment, and Training

[Source: VFW Washington Weekly 6 Nov 09 ++]

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LEGISLATION of INTEREST Update 12: Looking toward Veterans Day, the House of Representatives passed several bills 5 NOV that would help veterans throughout the country. They are:

  • H.R.1168, as amended, the Veterans’ Retraining Act of 2009, would provide a housing stipend to unemployed veterans enrolled in a Department of Labor job training program. The bill also would provide financial assistance to help newly-trained veterans relocate to geographic locations with a high demand for their acquired skills. H.R.1168 passed the house by a vote of 356-0.
  • S.475 – to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to guarantee the equity of spouses of military personnel with regard to matters of residency, passed by voice vote;
  • H. Res. 773 – Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives with respect to the United States Submarine Force, passed by voice vote;
  • H. Res. 828 – To recognize October 24, 2009, the 20th chartered flight of World War II veterans through Louisiana HonorAir, as “Louisiana HonorAir Day,” and to honor the invaluable service and dedication of the World War II veterans to our Nation, passed by voice vote;
  • H. Res. 461 – Honoring Sentinels of Freedom and commending the dedication, commitment, and extraordinary work of the organization, passed by voice vote;
  • H.R.174 – to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a national cemetery for veterans in the southern Colorado region, passed by voice vote;
  • H. Res. 89 – Supporting and encouraging greater support for Veterans Day each year, passed by voice vote;
  • H. Res. 291 – – recognizing the crucial role of assistance dogs in helping wounded veterans live more independent lives, passed 351 to 0; and,
  • S. 509– to authorize a major medical facility project at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Walla Walla, Washington, passed 352-0.

[Source: TREA Washington update 6 Nov 09 ++]

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HEALTH CARE REFORM Update 15: Health insurance reform opponents continue to spread myths – now about the recently introduced Affordable Health Care for America Act, including saying that health insurance reform will undermine the health care that veterans and military families have now. But the facts continue to knock these myths down.

MYTH: “Enactment of the House health insurance reform bill would undermine the health care that veterans and military families are receiving now.”

FACT: Veterans´ health care and Tricare for military families would not be impacted by passage of the Affordable Health Care for America Act. Nothing in the bill would affect, change, or undermine the health care that veterans enrolled in VA health care and military families enrolled in Tricare are currently receiving. — Further language has been included in the Affordable Health Care for America Act that makes clear that the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense retain full authority to operate the VA health care system and Tricare without interference from any new organizations, agencies, or commissions established by the legislation. In addition, specific language has been included to exempt Tricare from the requirements of the essential benefits package and other insurance requirements.

MYTH: “Veterans and military families enrolled in VA health care and Tricare will be penalized for not having acceptable coverage – being forced to pay the penalty of 2.5% of adjusted income.”

FACT: The Affordable Health Care for American Act recognizes VA health care and Tricare as acceptable minimum coverage, so enrollees are already meeting the shared responsibility requirement and will face no fee or penalty. — Specifically, the bill contains a section that states that 1) individuals enrolled in the veterans´ health care program; and 2) individuals and dependents enrolled in Tricare will be considered as having acceptable minimum coverage – meaning they have met the bill´s shared responsibility requirement for individuals to purchase insurance if they can afford it. In other words, individuals enrolled in VA health care or Tricare will never be subject to the bill´s 2.5% fee for those who choose not to purchase affordable health insurance.

MYTH: “Enactment of the House health insurance reform bill would limit the choices that veterans, service members, and their dependents have for their health care.”

FACT: The Affordable Health Care for America Act contains provisions that explicitly allow veterans receiving VA health care or service members and their families receiving Tricare to also enroll in an insurance plan through the bill´s Health Insurance Exchange. This would provide veterans and service members the opportunity to obtain additional coverage for themselves and their dependents if they desire. — This had been a key concern of many veterans´ organizations. For example, the Disabled American Veterans had written: “Any national health care reform legislation must make certain all veterans, including those enrolled in VA health care, remain eligible to enroll in any exchange-participating health benefits plan offered under [the bill] through the Health Insurance Exchange, or in any other public or cooperative health insurance program.” This key objective of veterans´ organizations is fully addressed in this bill.

MYTH: “Enactment of the House health insurance reform bill would undermine the Tricare For Life program (health care for military retirees).”

FACT: Just as the Affordable Health Care for America Act fully protects the current VA health care and Tricare systems, it also fully protects the Tricare For Life program. — There is a chain e-mail currently going around the Internet that states that the efforts of the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats on health insurance reform will result in undermining the benefits in the Tricare For Life program for military retirees. Once again, these charges are not true. (The Tricare For Life program was introduced in 2002 as a supplement to Medicare for military retirees. It covers many medical costs not covered by Medicare.) Just as the Affordable Health Care for America Act does nothing to affect the Tricare program, it also has no provisions that affect the Tricare For Life program. The health care benefits of military retirees are fully protected.

[Source: American Chronicle Daily Mythbuster 4 Nov 09 ++]

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LAYAWAY: As more families struggle in the tough economy, retailers are trying to make paying for holiday gifts more flexible by offering layaway options. Many businesses are shaking the dust off their layaway programs for today’s beleaguered consumer. Kmart’s layaway program saw double-digit increases in customers and sales in 2008 and, according to the company, the word “layaway” had more than double the interest among U.S. web searchers in AUG 09 than it had in AUG 08. According to The Record newspaper in New Jersey, consumers even used layaway to purchase school supplies and clothes—rather than just big-ticket items like TVs. “It is a sign of our rough economic times that consumers are turning to layaway to purchase the basics, rather than just luxury items,” said Alison Southwick, BBB spokesperson. “For many families this holiday season, it’s not just gifts and decorations that will be purchased on layaway, but also the basic items needed to get by in everyday life.”

Buying items on layaway is different from putting them on a credit card because the buyer isn’t charged interest on the purchase and can’t take the item home until it is paid off. When purchasing items on layaway, the buyer must typically make a down payment of 10 to 20% and pay any service or plan fees for the store to hold the item for them. The customer then has typically 30 to 90 days to make periodic payments to pay off the balance. Once it is paid off, the customer can take the items home. As a complement to in-store layaway, some stores provide online layaway services for purchasing items through the retailer’s Web site. Additionally, third-party businesses have sprung up for the purpose of setting up layaway plans online between customers and retailers that don’t already have a layaway program. Customers make periodic payments to the third-party layaway service provider. Once the item is fully paid for, the business then buys the item from the retailer and ships it to the customer. With layaway experiencing a comeback, your Better Business Bureau offers the following guidance on how to use this old fashioned payment plan in lieu of credit cards. When buying items on layaway get everything in writing and make sure you are aware of or ask the the following questions:

  • How much time do I have to pay off the item?
  • When are the payments due?
  • How much do I have to put down?
  • Are there any storage or service plan fees?
  • What happens if I miss a payment? Are there penalties? Does the item return to inventory?
  • Can I get a refund or store credit if I no longer want the item after making a few payments?
  • What happens if the item goes on sale after I’ve put it on layaway?
  • Does the retailer or third-party layaway service have a good BBB rating? BBB provides BBB Reliability Reports on nearly four million businesses across North America. BBB Reliability Reports offer BBB’s unbiased evaluation and include a rating and customer complaint history. Consumers can check out the reputation of online merchants and brick-and-mortar stores  at www.bbb.org.

[Source: www.bbb.org 2 Nov 09 ++]

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VA HOMELESS VETS Update 12: At the VA National Summit Ending Homelessness Among Veterans on 3 NOV Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki unveiled the department’s comprehensive plan to end homelessness among Veterans by marshalling the resources of government, business and the private sector. Shinseki said, “President Obama and I are personally committed to ending homelessness among Veterans within the next five years. Those who have served this nation as Veterans should never find themselves on the streets, living without care and without hope.” Shinseki’s comprehensive plan to end homelessness includes preventive measures like discharge planning for incarcerated Veterans re-entering society, supportive services for low-income Veterans and their families and a national referral center to link Veterans to local service providers.  Additionally, the plan calls for expanded efforts for education, jobs, health care and housing.  “Our plan enlarges the scope of VA’s efforts to combat homelessness. In the past, VA focused largely on getting homeless Veterans off the streets. Our five-year plan aims also at preventing them from ever ending up homeless.”, Shinseki said.

Other features of the plan outlined by the secretary include:

  • The new Post-9/11 GI Bill provides a powerful option for qualified Veterans to pursue a fully funded degree program at a state college or university.  It is a major component of the fight against Veteran homelessness.
  • VA is collaborating with the Small Business Administration and the General Services Administration to certify Veteran-owned small businesses and service-disabled Veteran-owned small businesses for listing on the Federal Supply Register, which enhances their visibility and competitiveness – creating jobs for Veterans.
  • VA will spend $3.2 billion next year to prevent and reduce homelessness among Veterans.  That includes $2.7 billion on medical services and more than $500 million on specific homeless programs.
  • VA aggressively diagnoses and treats the unseen wounds of war that often lead to homelessness – severe isolation, dysfunctional behaviors, depression and substance abuse.  Last week, VA and the Defense Department cosponsored a national summit on mental health that will help both agencies better coordinate mental health efforts.
  • VA partners with more than 600 community organizations to provide transitional housing to 20,000 Veterans.  It also works with 240 public housing authorities to provide permanent housing to homeless Veterans and their families under a partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  The VA/HUD partnership will provide permanent housing to more than 20,000 Veterans and their families.

Over the duration of the conference it is expected that over 1,200 homeless service providers from federal and state agencies, the business community, and faith-based and community providers will attend and participate in the summit. “This is not a summit on homelessness among Veterans,” added Shinseki “It’s a summit on ending homelessness among Veterans.” [Source: VA News Release 3 Sep 09 ++]

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HEART BYPASS SURGERY: For decades, bypass surgery, in which surgeons improve blood flow to the heart by sewing new blood vessels to get around blocked ones, was done the same way. The heart was stopped while blood was pumped through a heart-lung machine to do the heart’s work. But doctors increasingly worried that the machine, the “pump,” might sometimes lead to strokes or memory problems or personality changes. Some privately called patients with those difficulties “pumpheads.” And so, in the last seven years, many surgeons began offering and patients increasingly demanded an alternative: off-pump surgery in which the machine was not used and doctors operated on a still-beating heart. Now, a large and rigorous study finds the old way is best.

In the study, published 5 NOV in the New England Journal of Medicine, 2,203 patients were randomly assigned to have their bypass surgery on pump or off. Because the study was sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the patients were mostly men. A year later, those who had had off-pump surgery had poorer outcomes. Fewer bypasses stayed open and patients were more likely to have needed a repeat operation or to have had a heart attack or to have died. They were no less likely to have had strokes or difficulty thinking. “This is a big one,” said Dr. Eric Peterson, a Duke cardiologist who wrote an editorial accompanying the paper. “It’s a good study and the fact that it did not find superiority was key,” he added. Dr. Peterson added that he, like many cardiologists, expected off-pump procedures to be superior. Dr. Michael Lauer, director of cardiovascular sciences at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, said he anticipated and hoped that the new study would dampen enthusiasm for off-pump surgery. “Bypass surgery is one of the most common operations in the world,” Dr. Lauer said, “As many as 20% of bypasses in the U.S. are being done off pump. This affects a lot of people.”

Dr. Frederick L. Grover, the principal investigator for the study and a heart surgeon at the University of Colorado at Denver and the Denver V.A., said his group was analyzing the costs of the two types of operations. He said if there was a difference, it was slight.  Patients who had their surgery off pump had fewer blood transfusions but spent slightly longer in the operating room. There were no significant differences between the two groups of patients in the time they spent in intensive care after their surgery or how long they spent on a ventilator or how long they spent in the hospital. Some surgeons who made off-pump surgery their specialty said they were not going to change. The results do not apply to them, they say, because they have extraordinary expertise. But others less invested in the technique said they would be doing less off-pump surgery. And that includes Dr. Grover. About 20% of the 225,000 to 250,000 people who have bypass surgery each year have it off pump.

Off-pump surgery began to take off around 2002 when instrument makers began selling devices making the surgery seem feasible and animal studies indicated that heart-lung machines had the potential to cause problems. When they use a heart-lung machine, doctors clamp blood vessels closed, draining the heart of blood. They inject a near-freezing fluid into the heart. They redirect blood through tubes that can create tiny bubbles or small fragments of debris that might get into the brain. At first, it was not easy to do heart surgery without the pump. How, for example, do you hold part of a beating heart still while you work on it? Some surgeons improvised, using modified kitchen spoons and forks to hold the heart steady. And how do you sew blood vessels onto the back of the heart? Surgeons had to lift the heart to get to the back and then blood pressure would drop. Instrument makers soon provided special tools that made it easier to steady specific parts of the heart while surgeons worked. Some, like Dr. Aubrey C. Galloway, who is chairman of the department of cardiothoracic surgery at New York University Langone Medical Center, said he felt compelled to learn off-pump surgery and to do it primarily in high-risk patients. “There was a lot of market pressure and momentum behind this off-pump stuff,” Dr. Galloway said. “A lot of surgeons were pressured to do it in everyone. Patients were coming in and saying, ‘I’m worried about cognitive dysfunction.’ ” Now, he said, “the idea that people should go somewhere to get off-pump surgery is pretty much killed by this publication.”

Dr. Nirav Patel, a heart surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, said he does off-pump surgery in 95% of his patients and he is not going to change. He said that even with the new equipment, off-pump surgery was difficult and that it had taken 100 cases before he got really good at it. He estimated that he had now done more than 1,400 off-pump operations and questioned whether the surgeons in the study had the necessary expertise. “I am an off-pump surgeon,” Dr. Patel said. “I am a big proponent of it.” It may be, Dr. Lauer said, that surgeons like Dr. Patel are so expert at the procedure that their results are different from those reported in the study. But, he adds, “from a policy point of view, what we really care about is how well will the procedure work in the hands of a typical surgeon.” The study involved typical patients and typical surgeons. Very few surgeons, Dr. Lauer said, “have achieved exceedingly high levels of expertise.” And, he added, the study shows that for all the reasoning about why off pump is generally better, “just because something makes sense doesn’t necessarily make it so.” [Source: New York Times Gina Kolata article 4 Nov 09 ++]

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VA LAWSUIT – SPINE SURGERY: A 66-year old California man who is now confined to a wheelchair as a result of spinal surgery errors involving the use of Surgifoam at the Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center in West Los Angeles, was awarded $4.34 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit. U.S. District Court Judge Gary Allen Feess ruled in favor of the plaintiff, Alvin Johnson, in a complaint brought against the government over the actions of two VA surgeons, Antonio DeSalle and Donald Shields, who performed the OCT 05 spine surgery. According to the VA medical malpractice lawsuit, Johnson went to the VA medical center to have surgery on a ruptured disc in his back. During the surgery, the lawsuit alleges that DeSalle and Shields injected him with Surgifoam, which is used to absorb excess fluids in the area of the surgery. Some of the foam, which should have been removed, was left in Johnson’s back and expanded, pressing against his spinal cord. This resulted in permanent spinal damage that now requires Johnson to use a wheelchair. Judge Feess said in his verdict that DeSalle and Shields were told by another doctor who took an MRI of Johnson’s back that his spine was compressed. However, Judge Feess said, the two doctors took no action to correct the problem. The government was found liable for Johnson’s botched spine surgery, and he was awarded $4.34 million in damages. According to a report by Courthouse News Service, Johnson now depends on others for daily car and only has limited control of his arms and legs. [Source: AboutLawsuits.com article 4 Nov 09 ++]

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TRICARE PHARMACY POLICY Update 04: The Tricare Management Activity is introducing significant new enhancements to beneficiaries as it combines its mail-order and retail pharmacy contracts into one new Tricare Pharmacy contract. The improvements to the Tricare Pharmacy program include the Specialty Medication Care Management program in the mail-order pharmacy; expansion of the Member Choice Center providing assistance to help beneficiaries switch their military treatment facility (MTF) prescriptions to mail-order; and one call center phone number: 1-877-363-1303. The Specialty Medication Care Management program is for beneficiaries using the mail-order pharmacy for their specialty medications. It is structured to improve their health through continuous health evaluation, ongoing monitoring, assessment of education needs, and management of medication use.

The Tricare Pharmacy Program provides outpatient prescription drugs to 9.5 million beneficiaries. Tricare selected Express Scripts, Inc. to provide beneficiaries with mail-order, retail and specialty pharmacy services. Express Scripts currently handles millions of prescriptions each year through mail-order and retail pharmacies.   “The fact that Express Scripts won the new contract while holding its two predecessor contracts should assist with a seamless transition into the new program,” said Rear Adm. Thomas McGinnis, Tricare Management Activity chief pharmacy officer. “Tricare beneficiaries will be pleased to know that to receive the improved benefit they don’t have to do anything. No calls, no paperwork. Beneficiaries don’t have to re-enroll, all co-pays stay the same and the network remains essentially unchanged.” The decision to combine mail-order and retail contracts resulted from observations that commercial insurance companies were doing the same thing with positive results. Combined call centers and claims processing will help control Department of Defense pharmacy costs. “The Department of Defense provides a world-class pharmacy benefit through Tricare to all eligible uniformed service members, retirees, and family members, including beneficiaries age 65 and older,” McGinnis said. “As always, we try to control costs in order to sustain this great benefit.”

The Tricare Pharmacy Program is designed to provide the medications beneficiaries need in a safe, convenient and cost-effective manner. The program has three objectives:

  • Provide a uniform, effective and efficient benefit. Tricare provides beneficiaries with four high-quality pharmacy options: MTF pharmacies; the mail-order pharmacy; the Tricare Retail Pharmacy network; and non-network retail pharmacies.
  • Encourage mail-order pharmacy use. The mail-order pharmacy is the least expensive option when not using a MTF pharmacy. Beneficiaries receive up to a 90-day supply of maintenance medications delivered directly to their home. The mail-order pharmacy now offers a program providing enhanced education to promote safe use of specialty medications requiring special handling and administration; frequent dose changes; and possible benefits from additional clinical monitoring. The Member Choice Center is available at 1-877-363-1433 to help beneficiaries switch prescriptions to the convenient, cost-effective mail-order pharmacy.
  • Promote patient safety. All prescriptions dispensed to beneficiaries through MTFs, the mail-order pharmacy and retail network pharmacies are rigorously checked for accuracy and potential drug interactions by referencing new prescriptions against a beneficiary’s prescription history.

The Tricare Retail Pharmacy network includes all major national chains, more than 100 regional chains and more than 20,000 independent community pharmacies. Beneficiaries who are concerned about their current pharmacy’s participation in the Tricare retail network should ask their pharmacist if they are in the Tricare network  For more information refer to www.tricare.mil/pharmacy or www.express-scripts.com/Tricare, or call 1-877-363-1303. [Source: TMA Karen James article 3 Nov 09 ++]

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CHARITY SOLICITATIONS:     Most charities rely heavily on the goodwill of individual donors during the holiday season to fund their activities throughout the coming year. Last year, charity contributions totaled $307.65 billion: 75% of this total came from individuals, according to the Giving USA Foundation. BBB Wise Giving Alliance advises donors to research a charity prior to giving and provides five questions to ask when vetting where to contribute this holiday season. “The holidays are all about giving, not only  to friends and family, but also to those in need,” said H. Art Taylor, President & CEO, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, “When donating to a charity, give wisely by vetting the organization fully; this will ensure your dollar goes as far as it can to help those less fortunate.” BBB recommends asking the following questions before choosing to donate to a specific charity this holiday season. For more advice on giving over the holidays and to view reports on charities refer to www.bbb.org/charity:

  • Is this a charity I can trust? Look at the appeal carefully; some charities’ names sound the same. Don’t be fooled by names that look impressive or that closely resemble the name of a well-known organization. Check with your appropriate state government authorities (this is usually a division of the state’s office of the attorney general) to verify the charity is registered to solicit in your state.  Also, visit the Web site of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance (www.bbb.org/charity) to find out whether a national charity meets the 20 BBB charity standards that address charity governance, finances, fund raising, donor privacy, and other accountability issues. For assistance with local charity appeals, contact the BBB serving your area (www.bbb.org).
  • How will the charity use my donation? Ask questions about how your donation will be used. Beware of appeals that bring tears to your eyes but tell you little about what the charity is doing about the problem it describes so well. For example, if the charity says it’s helping the homeless, do they explain how (shelter, food, medical care) and where this is taking place?
  • Watch out for statements such as “all proceeds will go to the charity.” This can mean that only the money left after expenses, such as the cost of written materials and fund raising efforts, will go to the charity. These expenses can be high, so check carefully.
  • Is my donation tax deductible? If you want to take a charitable deduction for federal income tax purposes, make sure the organization is tax exempt as a charity under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.  A charity appeal will usually include a reference to this. To verify a charity’s tax status, access an IRS database of organizations by viewing Publication 78 on the IRS website at www.irs.gov.
  • Can the charity actually use what I’m donating? All charities welcome the receipt of monetary donations, but some also solicit in-kind donations such as clothing, food, and toys.  If you’re planning to donate items to a worthy cause, make sure you know the in-kind contributions your charity prefers.  For example, a food bank may prefer food items that are not perishable such as canned goods, and a toy drive may be seeking new and not used toys.
  • Am I feeling pressured to give? Don’t succumb to pressure to give money on the spot, either immediately over the phone via credit card or by allowing a “runner” to pick up a contribution. Take the time to research the charity fully; the charity that needs your money today will welcome it just as much tomorrow.

[Source: Better Business Bureau Notice 2 Nov 09 ++]

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ENLISTMENT Update 03: The military has regulations that actually require you to provide adequate financial support for your dependents. Because of this, the military limits the number of dependents an applicant can have. Those who exceed the stated number of dependents require a waiver. Before a dependency waiver is granted for any of the services, the recruiting service will conduct a financial eligibility determination (i.e., they will look closely at your household bills and the income of your spouse). The requirements for each service are:

  • Navy: A waiver for any applicant with more than one dependent (including the spouse).
  • Marine Corps: A waiver is required if an applicant has any dependent under the age of 18.
  • Air Force: The Air Force will do a financial eligibility determination if the member has any dependents at all.
  • Army: A waiver if the applicant has two or more dependents (in addition to the spouse).
  • Coast Guard: A waiver if there is more than one dependent (other than spouse), unless the applicant is enlisting in the grade of E-4 or above, when the limit is two dependents (other than spouse).

For enlistment purposes, a “dependent” is defined as:

  • A spouse, to include a common law spouse if the state recognizes such; or
  • Any natural child (legitimate or illegitimate) or child adopted by the applicant, if the child is under 18 years of age and unmarried, regardless of whether or not the applicant has custody of the child. The term natural child includes any illegitimate child when: the applicant claims the child as theirs, or the applicant’s name is listed on the birth certificate as the parent, or a court order establishes paternity; or if any person makes an allegation of paternity that has not been finally adjudicated by a court; or
  • A stepchild of the applicant who resides with the applicant if the stepchild is under 18 years of age; or
  • Any parent or other person(s) who is/are, in fact, dependent on the applicant for more than one-half of their support.

In general, for enlistment purposes, an applicant is considered to be without a spouse (unmarried), if:

  • Common law marriage has not been recognized by a civil court, or state law.
  • Spouse incarcerated.
  • Spouse deceased.
  • Spouse has deserted the applicant.
  • Spouse legally separated from the applicant. (For the Army, separation by “mutual consent” is sufficient.)
  • Applicant or spouse has filed for divorce. (Note: If the divorce action is “contested,” the service may deny enlistment until after the dispute is resolved in family court).

[Source: About.com: U.S. Military Rod Powers article 19 Sep 09 ++]

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VA DISABILITY BENEFITS

Federal

  1. Commissary – 100% rating other than a temporary IU & SC. 100% qualifies you for a commissary letter from VA to obtain a Military ID for admission.
  2. DVA fee basis outpatient medical card – applicable for any compensable SC disability if the situation warrants. Issuance is up to the local VA medical center.
  3. Dental treatment – IU & SC 100% qualifies for all dental services. Others less than 100% do qualify in some circumstances
  4. CHAMPVA medical card for dependents – IU & SC 100% qualifies.
  5. Rating of 30% or more qualifies for additional compensation for dependents.
  6. Rating of 30% or more qualifies for Aid and Attendance allowance for disabled spouse.
  7. Rating of 50% or more qualifies for Treatment for any condition other than the one you are receiving disability for.
  8. Annual clothing allowance (prosthetic/wheelchair/skin condition) – any SC condition that requires it.
  9. Special adaptive home modification allowance – dependent on the actual disability such as loss or loss of use of both lower extremities, blindness in both eyes, loss of one lower extremity plus some other condition that impacts on balance or propulsion.
  10. HISA grant for home modification – depends on the type of disability. SC are eligible up to $4100 and NSC veterans are eligible for up to $1200.
  11. Auto purchase allowance (one time) – type of SC disability matters more than%age. Loss or loss of use of one or both hands or feet qualifies. Loss of vision in both eyes to a certain degree.
  12. Auto adaptive modification allowance – same as above plus SC ankylosis of one or both knees, one or both hips also qualifies.
  13. Service-Disabled Veteran’s Insurance (S-DVI) – 0% or more for any service connected disability. You have two years to apply from date rating was granted. An increase in an existing service-connected disability or the granting of individual unemployability of a previous rated condition does not entitle a veteran to this insurance.
  14. Waiver of VA insurance premium – IU &SC 100% could qualify under certain conditions.
  15. Home mortgage life insurance – must have a specially adapted house.
  16. Vocational rehabilitation educational training for the veteran – a SC disability that causes an employment handicap to potentially qualify. 10% need serious employment handicap, 20%+ only need employment handicaps.
  17. Withdrawal from SBP (after 5 or 10 years) – IU & SC 100% would qualify but with no futures.
  18. DVA sponsored education for dependents – IU & SC100% will qualify as long as there are no future VA examinations scheduled.
  19. Civil service employment (veteran/spouse) 10-point preference.
  20. Lifetime Golden access pass for federal parks – any rating as long as vet can show an ID card and paperwork identifying him as a disabled vet at the gate entrance to the park. The pass covers the fee for the vehicle and all parties therein.
  21. Eligibility to compete for admission to military academies.
  22. FPO/APO mail privileges for 100% rated if residing overseas.
  23. Service-Related Death –  up to $2,000 toward burial expenses for deaths on or after September 11, 2001.  VA will pay up to $1,500 for deaths prior to September 10, 2001.  If the veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery, some or all of the cost of transporting the deceased may be reimbursed.

State – Vets should check with their local VARO to see if any of the below state benefits are available to them:

  1. Waiver of  home disability insurance (CAL-Vet)
  2. Property tax exemptions – In California call the LA County Tax Office (213) 974-3399 and ask for the “Veterans Exemption for Property Tax” and the forms to apply for the exemption.
  3. DMV fee exemption and parking decal.
  4. State EDC for dependents.
  5. Waiver of registration fees at State colleges/universities (for vet/dependents).
  6. State park permit.
  7. Basic sport fishing license.

[Source: Various Nov 09]

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MIA DNA: There are 88,000 missing and unaccounted-for American servicemen from World War II and subsequent wars, yet many MIA families have not provided a family reference sample to assist in DNA identifications.  Currently, 68% of Korean War families have provided samples, 66% of Vietnam War families and 63% of Cold War families. However, only 0.01% of WWII families have provided samples.  The government identifies about 75 MIAs annually, but many more could be identified – and quicker – if reference samples were on file.  Families should provide a blood sample to help establish a comprehensive family database. At http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/family_support_info/possible_donors.htm can be found a chart of possible maternal donors. To provide a blood sample, families should contact the appropriate service casualty office for details.

Each Military Department maintains an office. The Department of State does the same for civilians. The officials in these offices serve as the primary liaisons for families concerning personnel recovery and accounting. Full-time civilians who have worked this issue for many years and are experienced and knowledgeable help answer family member questions. Military officials also assist and help explain the methods used to account for families’ missing loved ones. Each office dedicates for family use the following addresses and telephone numbers:

  • Air Force: USAF Missing Persons Branch, 550 C Street West, Suite 15, Randolph AFB, TX 78150-4716 Tel: 1 (800) 531-5501 http://www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/library/airforcepowmias.asp
  • Army: Department of the Army, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, Attn: AHRC-PDC-R, 200 Stovall Street, Alexandria, VA 22332-0482 Tel: 1 (800) 892-2490 https://www.hrc.army.mil/site/active/TAGD/CMAOC/NavigationPages/nav_RFAD.htm
  • Marine Corps: Headquarters U. S. Marine Corps, Manpower and Reserve Affairs (MRC), Personal and Family Readiness Division, 3280 Russell Road, Quantico, VA 22134-5103 Tel: 1 (800) 847-1597 http://www.usmc.mil
  • Navy:  Navy Personnel Command, Casualty Assistance Division, POW/MIA Branch (PERS-624), 5720 Integrity Drive, Millington, TN 38055-6210 Tel: 1 (800) 443-9298 http://www.npc.navy.mil/CommandSupport/CasualtyAssistance/POW+MIA+BRANCH.htm
  • Department of State: Overseas Citizens Services, U.S. Department of State, 4th Floor, 2201 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20037 Tel: Phone: (202) 647-5470

[Source: Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/family_support_info/dna.htm Nov 09]

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SNAP: The USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, renders service to up to 28 million needy families every month. Food stamps have become a life blood for countless low-income families struggling to put food on the table. SNAP can provide you a specific amount for you to buy nutritious food from participating supermarkets. You will be given an Electronic Benefits (EBT) Transfer Card which will be pre-loaded with an amount specified by your state office to claim your SNAP benefits. The EBT Card is similar to an ATM or a debit card which can be used to purchase groceries at participating supermarkets. Eligible households may purchase food items such as fruits and vegetable; breads and cereals; meats, fish and poultry; and dairy products. SNAP cards may also be used to purchase plants and seeds that could produce food for the family. Restaurants in some parts of the country may also accept SNAP payment in exchange for low-cost meals to certain individuals like the homeless, elderly and disabled. SNAP cannot be used to purchase alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, vitamins and medicines, domestic supplies, pet foods and toiletries.

SNAP provides a specific budget allocation per eligible family. The food allowance will depend on the family’s

income and household size, plus other factors to determine what specific amount will be allocated to your family by your state. Each eligible family should fill out a State application form available in Local/State offices detailing the eligibly requirements. A complete listing of contact information plus eligibility requirements for every state can also be found at  http://familyfinancialhelpusa.com/category/food-stamps/. You can access these listings by filling in your name, email addee, city and state. SNAP benefactors who are able-bodied adults without dependents between 18 to 50 years of age may only receive benefits from SNAP for 3 months in a 36-month period if they do not work or participate in an employment or training program. In other cases, able-bodied individuals from 16 to 60 should be employed or participate in an employment or training program referred to them by their local office. Benefactors who do not comply with this agreement could be disqualified from the program.

The amount of monthly benefit is determined by the net income of a qualifying household.  That amount  will be multiplied by 0.3 (studies show that families spend 30% of their income on food), and the resulting amount will then be subtracted from the Maximum Monthly Allotment per family member to determine the SNAP family budget. For example: A two member eligible household with a net monthly income of $1167 could receive $367 monthly. Households have to meet the Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) income tests unless all members are currently receiving assistance from the TANF or SSI. Both net and gross income would be considered unless the household has an elderly or disabled member currently receiving disability benefits. A prescreening tool to help you determine your eligibility can be found at www.snap-step1.usda.gov/fns/. Note that this is not an application. At www.fns.usda.gov/fsp/contact_info/hotlines.htm can be found a list of telephone numbers to get information on SNAP benefit questions in the States and areas of States listed. [Source: www.fns.usda.gov/fsp/Default.htm Nov 09 ++]

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STILL TASTY: Your Ultimate Shelf Life Guide located at http://stilltasty.com will allow you to save money, eat better, and help the environment. This site lists all kind of foods and how to keep them fresh longer as well as when to get rid of them. Available is a search engine where you can type in a food type and get answers to the following:

  • Keep it or Toss it: How long will your favorite food or beverage stay safe and tasty? What’s the best way to store it?
  • Expiration Dates: Should you pay attention? Can you safely consume/use after date expiration?
  • Defrosting: Best ways to defrost food safely.
  • Fruit Ripening: The secret to keeping fruits fresh and tasty through storage and refrigeration.
  • Sell-By Date: Can you safely consume/use after date expiration?

[Source:  http://stilltasty.com Oct 09 ++]

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VA LIFE INSURANCE: The following life insurance policies are available to veterans through the Veterans Administration who can meet the appropriate criteria. For detailed information about all VA benefits and services, refer to www.va.gov:

  • SGLI: Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance provides coverage up to $400,000 for servicemembers. Coverage ends 120 days after discharge, but can be extended for up to two years if the member is totally disabled.
  • TSGLI: Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection is an automatic feature of SGLI that provides payments of up to $100,000 for servicemembers who suffer losses such as amputations, blindness, and paraplegia, due to traumatic injuries.
  • VGLI: Veterans Group Life Insurance allows servicemembers to convert their SGLI to lifetime renewable term coverage. VGLI must be applied for within one year and 120 days of discharge. If applied for within 120 days of discharge, there are no good health requirements.
  • S-DVI: Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance provides up to $10,000 of coverage for serviceconnected veterans. If totally disabled, they are eligible for an additional $20, 000. Veterans must apply within two years of being rated service connected for a new condition.
  • VMLI: Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance Provides coverage of up to $90,000 for severely disabled Veterans and servicemembers who have received a specially adapted housing grant from VA.
  • NSLI: National Service Life Insurance policy were available from 1940 to 1951 only.  Premiums of this policy are capped at the age-70 rates. Once you turned 70, your premiums never increased. Since September 2000, a capped NSLI term policy will receive a termination dividend if the policy lapses, or if the policyholder voluntarily cancels their policy.

[Source: VA Pamphlet 21-00-1 JUL 09 ++]

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SBP DIC OFFSET Update 21: Repeal of the SBP/DIC widows tax was deleted by the 2010 NDAA Joint Committee. The SBP DIC Offset Elimination bill S.535 introduced 5 MAR 09 by Sen. Bill Nelson would repeal the SBP/DIC offset which impacts some 61,000 widows whose military spouse died of service connected causes. According to the latest available data from the Dept of Defense Actuary on the Military Retirement System, these offset survivors receive and average of $1145/month DIC which offsets their average $892/month SBP. Unused SBP premiums, although paid by the disabled vet over many years, are returned to widows as a lump sum and incur a greater tax burden on the survivor because they then count as taxable income in the year it was refunded.  Disabled retiree’s/veteran’s support is solicited to contact their senators and urge them to pass this bill and eliminate the offset.   S.535 completes the cycle begun in 2004 with the repeal of the Social Security Offset, which was completely restored in April 2008. The bill has these additional provisions:

  • Prohibits retroactive benefits.
  • Prohibits recoupment of certain amounts previously refunded to SBP recipients.
  • Repeals authority for optional annuity for dependent children.
  • Restores eligibility for previously eligible spouses who elected to transfer their SBP to a surviving child or children.

A preformatted editable message accessible at http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=14275496&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id] can be used to accomplish this.  The message can be sent automatically to your senators as is or edited accordingly to fit your veteran status.   At http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12541746 similar action can be taken on the companion House bill H.R.775, the Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act, which currently has only 298 cosponsors.   [Source: USDR Action Alert 2 Nov 09 ++]

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TSP Update 24: After several months of steady growth, eight of the 10 Thrift Savings Plan funds posted losses in October.

  • The S Fund, which invests in small- and mid-size companies and tracks the Dow Jones Wilshire 4500 Index, had the steepest losses in October after posting the biggest gains in September. The fund’s value declined 5.51%. Since the beginning of 2009, however, the S Fund’s value is still up 21.83%, and its worth has risen 13.34% since this time last year.
  • The I Fund, invested in overseas companies, fell 2.41%, the second-largest loss among the funds in October. The fund had posted substantial gains since January and during the last 12 months; it was up 24.27% since the first of the year and 24.8% since November 2008.
  • The C Fund, which invests in common stocks of large companies on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, dipped 1.86%. The fund’s value increased 17.23% since January 2009, and 9.98% overall during the past 12 months.
  • Both the F Fund, which invests in fixed-income bonds, and the G Fund (government securities), posted small October gains. The G Fund rose 2.26%, and is up 2.46 in 2009, and 3.02% since November 2008. The F Fund gained 0.51% last month and is up 6.29% this year, and 13.89% during the past 12 months.

All the life-cycle funds, which are designed to move participants from riskier to safer investment balances as they near retirement, suffered small losses in October. The L 2040 Fund dropped 2.15%; the L 2030 Fund declined 1.81%; the L 2020 Fund fell 1.39%; the L 2010 Fund dipped 0.38%; and the L Income Fund decreased 0.26%. All those funds have managed to gain value since the beginning of 2009. The L 2040 Fund is up 17.9% since January; the L 2030 Fund has gained 16.13%; the L 2020 Fund grew 13.96%; the L 2010 Fund climbed 7.69%; and the L Income Fund is up 6.58%. Those funds also have experienced a boost in value during the past 12 months. During this time, the L 2040 Fund increased 15.03%; the L 2030 Fund gained 13.95%; the L 2020 Fund rose 12.59%; the L 2010 Fund grew 7.74%; and the L Income Fund climbed 6.97%. [Source: GovExec.com Alyssa Rosenberg article 1 Oct 09 ++]

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TSP Update 25: Lawmakers and union representatives on 3 NOV questioned the proposed mutual fund window for the Thrift Savings Plan, claiming it could subject participants to unnecessary risk. “I find it hard to understand why such a change would be advantageous for federal employees,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) during a congressional hearing. The 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act includes a provision that could enable federal employees to invest their retirement money into mutual funds of their choice, in addition to the broad offerings currently available through the plan. Congress allowed, but did not mandate, that the TSP board create such an option; TSP administrators have said they haven’t decided yet whether to implement it, and likely will wait until other upgrades are completed. If the TSP board decides to implement the change, they likely will face more questions, if the 3 NOV hearing is any indication. Reaction to the new option was mixed:

  • The Employee Thrift Advisory Council, which includes several employee groups, is divided on the issue, as is the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, the TSP’s governing body.
  • The American Federation of Government Employees opposes the idea. “We believe that in almost every case, federal employees who would choose to utilize this mutual fund window would lower their overall rate of return on their savings, not only by exposing themselves to unnecessary risk, but also by paying the large fees and load charges that mutual funds impose on investors,” said J. David Cox, an AFGE representative, at the hearing.
  • The National Treasury Employee Union expressed ambivalence. “In the abstract, the NTEU thinks it’s a good idea,” said union President Colleen Kelley, who also noted the risk to TSP enrollees. “NTEU’s bottom line is what is in the best interest of our members.”

TSP Executive Director Greg Long defended the mutual fund window option as a way to meet the demands of a small group of participants without changing the overall nature of the TSP. He noted that he had no plans to implement it until the ETAC and FRTIB agreed to the plan. “There are a small number of participants who will always say, ‘We should have a gold fund, a real estate fund, a socially conscious fund.’ There’s an unending list of ‘whatever’ funds, fill in the blank,” Long said. He noted the law requires anyone who uses the mutual fund option to pay for its implementation so no one else is subject to the fee. While skeptical, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on the federal workforce, said he hopes a compromise is possible — for instance, limiting the type of mutual funds available to TSP enrollees. “I know some of this sounds paternalistic,” Lynch said. “But it’s not just participants moving out through the window, it’s retirees being bombarded with marketing information that’s more driven by profit.” Lynch said he would move forward on another issue affecting the TSP: allowing participants to invest unused annual leave toward their account. President Barack Obama supported the move during a recent radio address; TSP attorneys have determined that a change in the law would be necessary to accomplish this. [Source: GOVExec.com Alex M. Parker article 3 Nov 09 ++]

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MEDICATION MEMORY AID: Have you ever taken a pill–vitamin or medication–and immediately forgotten that you took it?  Forgetting if you took your pills is fairly common. If not, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis wouldn’t have done a study about it. The study revealed that older adults who have to do something every day–like taking a pill, for example–often have no trouble remembering to do it. They just can’t remember if they did it. Forgetting can lead to taking another pill–and the dangers of overmedication. In the study, “Repetition Errors in Habitual Prospective Memory: Elimination of Age Differences via Complex Actions or Appropriate Resource Allocation,” Dr. Mark McDaniel and the team discovered that when older adults combined pill taking with physical movement–like patting their heads, or tapping the counter–it was easier for them to remember if they took the pill or not. Another thing you may try is to place your daily dose of pills in a dish. When the dish is empty you know you took them.  [Source: About.com Senior Living 28 OCT 09 ++]

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MILITARY HISTORY ANNIVERSARIES:

  • Nov 17 1913 – The first ship sails through the Panama Canal, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
  • Nov 19 1861 – Civil War: Julia Ward Howe writes “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” while visiting Union troops near Washington.
  • Nov 19 1861 – Civil War: The Confederate raider Nashville captured and burned the Union clipper ship Harvey Birch in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Nov 19 1863 – Civil War: Lincoln delivers the “Gettysburg Address” at the dedication of the National Cemetery at the site of the Battle of Gettysburg
  • Nov 20 1943 – WWII: U.S. Marines landed on Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands, one of the bloodiest campaigns waged by American forces against the Japanese in the Pacific.
  • Nov 20 1950 – Korea: U.S. troops push to the Yalu River, within five miles of Manchuria.
  • Nov 21 1864 – Civil War: From Georgia, Confederate General John B. Hood launches the Franklin-Nashville Campaign into Tennessee
  • Nov 23 1863 – Civil War: Union forces win the Battle of Orchard Knob, Tennessee.
  • Nov 23 1863 – Civil War: The Battle of Chattanooga in Tennessee, one of the most decisive battles of the War, begins.
  • Nov 23 1941   U.S. troops move into Dutch Guiana, by agreement with the Netherlands Government in exile, to guard the bauxite mines to protect aluminum ore supplies from the mines in Surinam.
  • Nov 23 1968 – Vietnam: Battle of Nui Chom Mountain. The 4th Bn, 31st Infantry, 196th Inf Bde fought and destroyed the 21st NVA Regiment on Nui Chom Mountain southwest of Da Nang in a fierce six day battle.
  • Nov 23 1944 – WWII: American B-29s flying from Saipan bomb Tokyo.
  • Nov 24 1979 – The United States admits that thousands of troops in Vietnam were exposed to the toxic Agent Orange.
  • Nov 26 1941 – WWII: The Japanese fleet departs from the Kuril Islands en route to its attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • Nov 27 1950 – Korea: China sent 200,000 troops across the border of Korea at Chosin Reservoir to attack U.N. forces..
  • Nov 27 1950   East of the Choosing River, Chinese forces annihilate an American task force.
  • Nov 28 1941 – WWII: The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise departs from Pearl Harbor to deliver F4F Wildcat fighters to Wake Island. This mission saves the carrier from destruction when the Japanese attack.
  • Nov 30 1782 – American Revolution: The British sign a preliminary agreement in Paris, recognizing American independence
  • Nov 30 1950 – Korea: President Truman declares that the United States will use the A-bomb to get peace.

[Source:  Various Oct 09 ++]

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TAX BURDEN for IOWA RETIREES: Many people planning to retire use the presence or absence of a state income tax as a litmus test for a retirement destination.  This is a serious miscalculation since higher sales and property taxes can more than offset the lack of a state income tax. The lack of a state income tax doesn’t necessarily ensure a low total tax burden. Following are the taxes you can expect to pay if you retire in Iowa:

State Sales Tax: 6% (food and prescription drugs exempt); local option taxes can add up to another 2%.

Fuel & Cigarette Tax:

  • Gasoline Tax: 22.0 cents/gallon
  • Diesel Fuel Tax: 23.5 cents/gallon
  • Cigarette Tax: $1.36/pack of 20

Personal Income Taxes
Tax Rate Range: Low – 0.36%; High – 8.98%

Income Brackets: 9; Lowest – $1,407; Highest – $63,315
Personal Tax Credits:
Single$40; Married filing jointly – $80; Dependents – $40; 65 years and older – $20
Standard Deduction:
(2008) Single$1,780; Married filing jointly – $4,390
Medical/Dental Deduction:
Federal amount
Federal Income Tax Deduction:
Full

Retirement Income Taxes: If you receive a pension, annuity, self-employed retirement plan, deferred compensation, IRA or other retirement plan benefits, you may be eligible to exclude from Iowa income tax a portion of the retirement income that is taxable on your Federal return.  The exclusion can be up to $6,000 for individuals and up to $12,000 for married taxpayers.  For details refer to www.iowa.gov/tax/1040EI/Line/08Line21.html . Social Security benefits are not included.  Iowa does not tax Social Security benefits in the same manner as the IRS.  In calculating the taxable amount of Social Security, single persons can exclude $25,000, married and filling jointly can exclude $32,000.  The state is implementing a gradual phase-out of the tax on Social Security income. For details refer to www.iowa.gov/tax/1040EI/Line/08Line13.html.  For tax year 2008 the phase-out is 32%.  To qualify for the exclusion you must be either age 55 or older on 31 DEC, disabled or a surviving spouse or a survivor having an insurable interest in an individual who would have qualified for the exclusion during the year.  Out-of-state government pensions qualify for exemptions.
Retired Military Pay: Up to $12,000 can be excluded for joint filers and up to $6,000 for all other filing statuses for those 55 and older, disabled or surviving spouse of qualifying person.
Military Disability Retired Pay: Retirees who entered the military before Sept. 24, 1975, and members receiving disability retirements based on combat injuries or who could receive disability payments from the VA are covered by laws giving disability broad exemption from federal income tax. Most military retired pay based on service-related disabilities also is free from federal income tax, but there is no guarantee of total protection.
VA Disability Dependency and Indemnity Compensation: VA benefits are not taxable because they generally are for disabilities and are not subject to federal or state taxes.
Military SBP/SSBP/RCSBP/RSFPP: Generally subject to state taxes for those states with income tax. Check with state department of revenue office.

Property Taxes
Iowa has more than 2,000 taxing authorities.  All property is assessed at 100% of market value.   Most property is taxed by more than one taxing authority.  The tax rate differs in each locality and is a composite of county, city, school district and special levies.  A property tax credit is available to residents whose total household income is less than $19,503 and are age 65 or older, totally disabled or are a surviving spouse (not remarried) and born before 1934.  A homestead tax credit is given to residents who live in the state for at least six months of each year and actually live on the property 1 JUL.  Once a person qualifies, the credit continues.  The current credit is the first $4,850 of the actual value. Property taxes may be suspended or reduced if the property owner receives Supplemental Security Income or lives in a nursing home and the Department of Human Services is paying part or all of the costs.  The suspended taxes will have to be paid when a property is sold or transferred. For more details refer to www.iowa.gov/tax/educate/78573.html.

Inheritance and Estate Taxes
The Iowa inheritance tax ranges from 1% to 15% depending on the amount of the inheritance and the relationship of the recipient to the decedent.  If all the property of the estate has a value of less than $25,000, no tax is due. The surviving spouse’s share, regardless of the amount, is not subject to tax. Currently annual gifts in the amount of $12,000 or less are not taxable.  For details refer to www.iowa.gov/tax/educate/78517.html.  Iowa estate tax is not applicable for deaths on or after 1 JAN 05 due to changes in the IRS Code which replaced the state death tax credit with a state death tax deduction.

For further information, visit the Iowa Department of Revenue site www.iowa.gov/tax/index.html or call 515-281-3114. [Source: www.retirementliving.com Oct 09 ++]

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VETERAN LEGISLATION STATUS 13 NOV 09: For or a listing of Congressional bills of interest to the veteran community that have been introduced in the 111th Congress refer to the Bulletin’s Veteran Legislation attachment.  Support of these bills through cosponsorship by other legislators is critical if they are ever going to move through the legislative process for a floor vote to become law.  A good indication on that likelihood is the number of cosponsors who have signed onto the bill. Any number of members may cosponsor a bill in the House or Senate. At http://thomas.loc.gov you can review a copy of each bill’s content, determine its current status, the committee it has been assigned to, and if your legislator is a sponsor or cosponsor of it.  To determine what bills, amendments your representative has sponsored, cosponsored, or dropped sponsorship on refer to http://thomas.loc.gov/bss/d111/sponlst.html.

Grassroots lobbying is perhaps the most effective way to let your Representative and Senators know your opinion. Whether you are calling into a local or Washington, D.C. office; sending a letter or e-mail; signing a petition; or making a personal visit, Members of Congress are the most receptive and open to suggestions from their constituents. The key to increasing cosponsorship on veteran related bills and subsequent passage into law is letting legislators know of veteran’s feelings on issues.  You can reach their Washington office via the Capital Operator direct at (866) 272-6622, (800) 828-0498, or (866) 340-9281 to express your views. Otherwise, you can locate on http://thomas.loc.gov your legislator’s phone number, mailing address, or email/website to communicate with a message or letter of your own making.  Refer to http://www.thecapitol.net/FAQ/cong_schedule.html for dates that you can access your legislators on their home turf.  [Source: RAO Bulletin Attachment 30 Oct 09 ++]

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HAVE YOU HEARD: Sublime Wisdom

  • If the enemy is in range, so are you. – Infantry Journal
  • It is generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you just bombed – US. Air Force Manual
  • Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons – General Douglas MacArthur
  • You, you, and you … Panic. The rest of you, come with me – U.S. Marine Corp Gunnery Sgt.
  • ‘Tracers work both ways.’ – U.S. Army Ordnance
  • ‘Five second fuses only last three seconds.’ – Infantry Journal
  • Any ship can be a minesweeper. Once.
  • ‘Never tell the Platoon Sergeant you have nothing to do’ – Unknown Marine Recruit
  • ‘If you see a bomb technician running, try to keep up with him.’ – USAF Ammo Troop
  • ‘Though I Fly Through the Valley of Death , I Shall Fear No Evil. For I am at 50,000 Feet and Climbing.’
  • ‘You’ve never been lost until you’ve been lost at Mach 3.’ – Paul F. Crickmore (test pilot)
  • ‘The only time you have too much fuel is when you’re on fire.’
  • ‘If the wings are traveling faster than the fuselage, it’s probably a helicopter — and therefore, unsafe.’
  • ‘When one engine fails on a twin-engine airplane you always have enough power left to get you to the scene of the crash.’
  • ‘Even with ammunition, the U.S. Air Force is just another expensive flying club.’
  • ‘What is the similarity between air traffic controllers and pilots? If a pilot screws up, the pilot dies; If ATC screws up, the pilot dies.’
  • ‘Never trade luck for skill.’
  • The three most common expressions (or famous last words), in aviation are: ‘Why is it doing that?’ , ‘Where are we?’ , and …’Oh S…!’
  • ‘Airspeed, altitude and brains. Two are always needed to successfully complete the flight.’
  • ‘Mankind has a perfect record in aviation; we have never left one up there!’
  • ‘Flying the airplane is more important than radioing your plight to a person on the ground incapable of understanding or doing anything about it.’
  • ‘The Piper Cub is the safest airplane in the world; it can just barely kill you.’ – Attributed to Max Stanley (Northrop test pilot)
  • Airman, maintain thy air speed, lest the earth rise up and smite you!
  • There is no reason to fly through a thunderstorm in peacetime – Sign over the Squadron Ops. Desk at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ, 1970
  • If something hasn’t broken on your helicopter, it’s about to.
  • You know that your landing gear is up and locked when it takes full power to taxi to the terminal.

[Source: Veterans’ Corner w/Michael Isam 4 Nov 09 ++]

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Lt. James “EMO” Tichacek, USN (Ret)

Associate Director, Retiree Assistance Office, U.S. Embassy Warden & IRS VITA Baguio City RP

PSC 517 Box RCB, FPO AP 96517

Tel: (951) 238-1246 in U.S. or Cell: 0915-361-3503 in the Philippines.

Email: raoemo@sbcglobal.net Web: http://post_119_gulfport_ms.tripod.com/rao1.html

AL/AMVETS/DAV/FRA/NAUS/NCOA/MOAA/USDR/VFW/VVA/CG33/DD890/AD37 member

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VETERANS AFFAIRS HOUSE COMMITTEE

THE HONORABLE ERIC K. SHINSEKI,

SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

WRITTEN STATEMENT BEFORE THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON VETERANS AFFAIRS
OCTOBER 14, 2009

State of the VA

Address

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki delivered his “state of the VA” address Oct. 14 to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. He addressed three major areas of concern: the disability claims backlog, accessibility to VA health care, and solving the homeless veteran issue.

The complete text of Shinseki’s written statement follows:

“Chairman (Bob) Filner, Ranking Member (Steve) Buyer, Distinguished Members of the Committee:

“Thank you for this opportunity to report on the state of the Department of Veterans Affairs. We appreciate the long-standing support of this committee and its unwavering commitment to veterans – demonstrated, yet again, through your support of advanced appropriations legislation for VA. Let me also express my thanks to the committee and the president for a remarkable 2010 budget that provides an extraordinary opportunity to begin transforming the department. We deeply appreciate your confidence and the confidence of the president in building on the 2008 and 2009 congressional enhancements to VA’s budgets in those years. We are determined to provide a return on those investments.

“I would also like to acknowledge the presence of representatives from a number of our veterans service organizations. They are our partners in assuring that we have met our obligation to the men and women who have safeguarded our way of life. We always welcome their advice on how we might do things better.

“Mr. Chairman, this past February, you held a similar hearing on the state of the department, which allowed me to benefit from the insights and advice of members of this committee early in my tenure as secretary. In turn, I was also able to offer early assessments of VA’s mission and some principles that I felt might help me quickly communicate my intent and direction for the department. I have learned a lot in the last eight and a half months from some truly impressive people at VA; from veterans, individually and collectively; from the VSOs; from members of this and other committees, and from a host of other key stakeholders, who share both the department’s interests and my personal passion for making VA the provider of choice in the years ahead. My current vectors for this department remain guided by those principles that I mentioned in testimony in February. As I continue working to craft a shared vision for the department, one that will be enduring, we remain guided by our determination to be people-centric – veterans and the workforce count in this department; results-driven – we will not be graded on our promises, but by our accomplishments; and forward-looking – we strive to be the model for governance in the 21st Century.

“This testimony comprises a nine-month progress report on the state of our department.

“We have been busy putting into place the foundation for our pursuit of the president’s two goals for this department: transform VA into a 21st-Century organization, and ensure that we provide timely access to benefits and high quality care to our veterans over their lifetimes, from the day they first take their oaths of allegiance, until the day they are laid to rest.

“Every day 298,000 people come to work to serve veterans. Some do it through direct contact with veteran clients; others do so indirectly. But, we all share one mission – to care for our nation’s veterans, wherever they live, by providing them the highest quality benefits and services possible. We work each and every day to do this faster, better and more equitably for as many of our nation’s 23.4 million veterans who choose us as their provider of services and benefits. Today, that number is roughly 7.8 million veterans.

“Veterans put themselves at risk to assure our safety as a people and the preservation of our way of life. Not all of them are combat veterans, but all of them were prepared to be. VA’s mission is to care for those who need us because of the physical and mental hardships they endured on our behalf, the cruel misfortunes that often accompany difficult operational missions, and the reality of what risk taking really means to people in the operational environment.

“The health-care, services, and benefits we provide are in great demand – a demand which grows each year. More than four million new veterans have been added to our health-care rolls since 2001. Some of our youngest veterans are dealing with the effects of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and other polytrauma injuries. We will provide them the care they deserve, even as we continue to improve the quality of care we deliver to veterans of all previous generations – World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Desert Storm, and a host of smaller operational deployments. The president’s decision to relax income thresholds established in 2003, which froze Priority Group 8 enrollments, has enabled many more veterans to access the excellent health care available through our Veterans Health Administration (VHA). It has increased VA’s workload, but we are prepared to accommodate up to 500,000 enrollees, who are being phased in over the next four years. While the Post 9/11 GI Bill offers serving military and our newest veterans expanded educational opportunities, it has challenged the Veterans Benefits Administration’s (VBA’s) paper-bound processes. We are moving aggressively to transform VBA from paper to electrons, even as the entire organization picks up the pace of producing more, better, and faster decisions both in disability claims and educational benefits. Finally, the honor of providing final resting places for our veterans remains a source of immense professional pride for the National Cemeteries Administration (NCA), and indeed the rest of VA. NCA consistently meets the demographic standards associated with veteran burials and exceeds expectations with regard to care and compassion for heroes’ families. NCA interred approximately 107,000 Veterans in the past year in our 130 national cemeteries. Five new national cemeteries have been opened, and sixteen cemetery projects have been funded for expansion in the past year to address our requirements in this area.

“Our veterans have earned and deserve our respect and appreciation for their sacrifices and the sacrifices of their families. We at VA are privileged to have the mission of demonstrating the thanks of a grateful nation. We are obliged to fulfill these responsibilities quickly, fully, and fairly – especially given the current economic climate. All of us, at VA, accept these increases to an already demanding workload, and we will meet our responsibilities at a high standard. Doing so will offer VA as a genuine provider of choice for those veterans who, today, choose to go elsewhere for insurance, health care, education loans, home loans and counseling.

To achieve this kind of standing with veterans, we must make entitlements much easier to understand and then far more simple to access.

Each day, dedicated, compassionate professionals at VA do the extraordinary to meet the needs of veterans across a broad spectrum of programs and services.

“Among them:
• VA is second only to the Department of Education in providing educational benefits of $9 billion annually.
• VA is the nation’s eighth largest life insurance enterprise with $1.1 trillion in coverage, 7.2 million clients, and a 96-percent customer satisfaction rating.
• VA guarantees nearly 1.3 million individual home loans with an unpaid balance of $175 billion. Our VA foreclosure rate is the lowest among all categories of mortgage loans.
• VA is the largest, integrated health-care provider in the country, with 7.9 million veterans enrolled in our medical services system.
• VA developed and distributed enterprise-wide, Vista, the most comprehensive electronic health record (EHR) in the country, linking our 153 medical centers to their 774 community based outpatient clinics (CBOCs), 232 veterans centers, as well as outreach and mobile clinics.
• VA received an “Among the Best” ranking for its mail order pharmaceutical program, ranking with Kaiser Permanente Pharmacy and Prescriptions Solutions, in a J.D. Power and Associates survey of 12,000 pharmacy customers.
• A VA employee, Dr. Janet Kemp, received the “2009 Federal Employee of the Year” award from the Partnership for Public Service three weeks ago. Under Dr. Kemp’s leadership, VA created the Veterans National Suicide Prevention Hotline to help veterans in crisis. The hotline has received over 185,000 calls – an average of 375 per day – and interrupted over 5,200 potential suicides.
• VA has staffed a Survivors’ Assistance Office to advocate for veteran and servicemember families. As the “Voice of Survivors,” its purpose is to create and modify programs and services to better serve survivors.
• VA’s OIT (Office of Information Technology) office and VBA collaborated with the White House to create a program soliciting original ideas from VA employees and participating VSOs, ranging from improving process cycle times for benefits to increasing veteran-satisfaction with the claims process. Close to 4,000 process-improvement ideas have been received.
• VA operates the country’s largest national cemetery system with 130 cemeteries.
• VA senior executives are accountable and responsible when these systems succeed and when they fall short. As of September 2009, VA maintained one of the lowest executive to employee ratios (approximately 312 career executives to approximately 298,400 employees). I have seen their dedication to serving veterans.

“I am proud of our people and our accomplishments, but there have been challenges, missed opportunities, and gaps in providing the quality of care and services veterans expect and deserve. We will continue to look for and find our failures and disappointments; we will be open and candid with veterans, the Congress, and other stakeholders when we fall short; and we will correct those problems, take the right lessons from them, and improve the process to achieve the best outcomes. In recent months, we have discussed with the Committee lapses in quality control and safety regarding endoscopes and other reusable equipment, erroneous notifications of ALS diagnoses, and expensive IT initiatives that were not meeting program thresholds.

“Near-term challenges have been riveting. Since enactment, the new Post 9/11 GI Bill has been our top priority for successful implementation by Aug. 3, 2009. These completely new benefits, requiring tools different from the ones available to us, resulted in massive Information Technology (IT) planning efforts on short timelines. Delays and setbacks required VA to exercise emergency procedures two weeks ago to issue checks to veterans to cover their expenses early in program execution. Uncertainty and great stress caused by these delays were addressed through these emergency procedures, which remain in effect. We will mature our information technology tools to assure timely delivery of checks in the future.

“We must work short-term and long-term strategies to reduce the backlog of disability claims, even as they increase in number and complexity. In July, we closed out a VA-record 92,000 claims in a single month – and received another 91,200 new ones. We are consolidating and investing in those IT solutions integral to our ability to perform our mission while looking hard at those that have not met program expectations – behind schedule or over budget. In July, we paused 45 IT projects, which failed to meet these parameters. These projects are under review to determine whether they will be resumed or terminated. We know this is of intense concern and interest to members of this committee, and we appreciate your continued support and insights.

“In working these near-term demands, we are simultaneously addressing, in 2010 and the years beyond, improvements to programs and new initiatives critical to veterans – reducing homelessness, enhancing rural health-care, better serving our growing population of women veterans, and refreshing tired, and in a number of cases unsafe, infrastructure.

“To embrace these priorities, we have put in place a strategic management process to focus our stated goals and sharpen accountability. We are close to releasing a Department of Veterans Affairs Strategic Plan, in which I look forward to outlining for you the strategic goals that will drive our decisions over the next five years, and potentially longer.

“I’ve now engaged in eight months of study, collaboration, and review of as many aspects of VA’s operations with as many of our clients, employees, and stakeholders, as the Deputy Secretary and I could manage. I’ve visited VA facilities – large and small, urban and rural, complex and simple – all across the country. I’ve spoken with leaders, staffs, and veterans. I also invited each of our 21 Veterans Integrated System Network (VISNs) directors to share with me, in dedicated four-hour briefings, their requirements; their priorities; their measurements for performance, quality, and safety; and their need for resources – people, money, and time.

I’ve also received multiple briefings from VBA leadership on the extent and complexity of the benefits we provide to veterans. This has been time well-invested – invaluable.

“The veterans I’ve met in my travels have been uplifting. Many struggle with conditions inevitable with old age; others live with uncertain consequences from exposures to environmental threats and chemicals; still others have recently returned from Afghanistan and Iraq bearing the fresh wounds of war—visible and invisible.

“Out of my discussions with veterans, three concerns keep coming through: access, the backlog, and homeless veterans.

“Access: Of the 23.4 million veterans in this country, roughly eight million are enrolled in VA for health-care. Five and a half million unique beneficiaries have used our medical facilities. We want to ensure that any veteran who can benefit from VA services knows the range of services available to them. VA will continue reaching out to all veterans to explain our benefits, services, and the quality of our health-care system. A major initiative which will expand access is the president’s decision to relax the income thresholds established in 2003, which prohibited new Priority Group 8 enrollments. We expect up to half-million new Priority Group 8 enrollees in the next four years.

“Another initiative to expand and improve access is the evolution of our health-care delivery system. About a decade ago, VA decided to move toward the system of care being provided in the private sector by turning its focus to outpatient care and prevention. As a result, VA’s 153 medical centers are the flagships of our nationwide integrated health-care enterprise, and the department also provides care through a system of 774 community based outpatient clinics (CBOCs), 232 vet centers, outreach and mobile clinics, and when necessary, contracted specialized health-care locally. This fundamental change in delivery of care, means organizing our services to meet the needs of the veteran rather than the needs of the staff – veteran-centric care.

“Our next major leap in health-care delivery will be to connect flagship medical centers to distant community-based outpatient clinics and their even more distant mobile counterparts via an information technology backbone that places specialized health-care professionals in direct contact with patients via telehealth and telemedicine connections. Today, we are even connecting medical centers to the homes of the chronically ill to provide better monitoring and the prevention of avoidable, acute, episodes. This means that veterans drive less to receive routine health-care and actually have better day-to-day access. It also means higher quality and more convenient care, especially for veterans challenged by long distances; and, prevention will mean healthier lives.

“While this new, evolving VA model of health-care is less about facilities and more about the patient, it is also more economically efficient and a better use of available resources. Health-care centers that provide outpatient care, including surgery and advanced diagnostic testing, have lower construction costs compared to traditional hospitals. They better serve communities, and are more cost effective, than small, traditional hospitals with low numbers of veterans receiving inpatient care. To provide emergency and inpatient care when needed, VA forms alliances and relationships with local civilian facilities for that care. Outreach clinics also allow us to provide health-care services in communities with smaller numbers of veterans. These part time clinics are situated in leased space, and provide in-person care closer to the veterans’ homes.

“Critical to improving veterans’ access to health-care is our campaign to inform and educate them about how VA delivers care. Using social media Web sites, including MyHealtheVet and Second Life, we are making contact with veterans, including our OEF/OIF veterans, who did not respond to traditional outreach – lectures, pamphlets, and telephone calls.

“All of these initiatives to improve access are conducted with assessments of patient privacy issues. Privacy is important for all veterans, but we especially want women veterans to know that the VA will provide their care in a safe, secure and private environment that is designed to meet their needs. While approximately 8 percent of veterans are women, only about 5.5 percent of VA patients are women. My intent is to create an environment of care that will attract more of them to the VA as their first choice for care.

“The disability claims backlog: Reduction of the time it takes for a veteran to have a claim fairly adjudicated is a central goal for VA. The total number of claims in our inventory today is around 400,000, and backlogged claims that have been in the system for longer than 125 days total roughly 149,000 cases. Regardless of how we parse the numbers, there is a backlog; it is too big, and veterans are waiting too long for decisions.
“In April, President Obama charged Defense Secretary (Robert) Gates and me with building a fully interoperable electronic records system that will provide each member of our armed forces a Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) that will track them from the day they put on the uniform, through their time as veterans, until the day they are laid to rest.

“VA is a recognized leader in the development and use of electronic health records. So is the Department of Defense. Our work with DoD is already having an impact on the way we are able to provide quality health-care to our veterans. To date, VA has received from DoD two and one-half million deployment-related health assessments on more than one million individuals, and we are able to share between departments critical health information on more than three million patients. Although our work is far from finished, our achievements here will go beyond veterans and our servicemembers to help the nation as a whole, as have many of VA’s historic medical innovations.

“We are working with the president’s Chief Performance Officer, Chief Technology Officer, and Chief Information Officer, to harness the powers of innovation and technology. In collaboration with our own IT leadership, we intend to revolutionize our claims process – faster processing, higher quality decisions, no lost records, fewer errors. I am personally committed to reducing the processing times of disability claims. We have work to do here. But we understand what must be done, and we are putting the right people to work on it.

Homelessness: Veterans lead the nation in homelessness, depression, substance abuse, and suicides. We now estimate that 131,000 Veterans live on the streets of this wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world, down from 195,000 six years ago. Some of those homeless are here in Washington, D.C. – men and women, young and old, fully functioning and disabled, from every war generation, even the current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. We will invest $3.2 billion next year to prevent and reduce homelessness among Veterans—$2.7 billion on medical services and $500 million on specific homeless housing programs. With 85 percent of homelessness funding going to health care, it means that homelessness is a significant health care issue, heavily burdened with depression and substance abuse. We think we have the right partners, the right plans, and the right programs in place on safe housing. We’ll monitor and adjust the balance as required to continue increasing our gains in eliminating Veteran homelessness. We are moving in the right direction to remove this blot on our consciences, but we have more work to do.

Effectively addressing homelessness requires breaking the downward spiral that leads Veterans into homelessness. We must continue to improve treatment for substance abuse, depression, TBI and PTSD; better educational and vocational options, much better employment opportunities; and more opportunities for safe and hospitable housing. Early intervention and prevention of homelessness among veterans is critical. We have to do it all; we can’t afford any missed opportunities.

The psychological consequences of combat affect every generation of veterans. VA now employs 18,000 mental health professionals to address their mental health needs. We know if we diagnose and treat, people usually get better. If we don’t, they won’t – and sometimes their problems become debilitating. We understand the stigma issue, but we are not going to be dissuaded. We are not giving up on any of our Veterans with mental health challenges, and definitely not the homeless.

We have approximately 500 partners in nearly every major town and city across the country helping us get homeless veterans off the streets. With 20,000 HUD-VASH vouchers from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and our $500 million to invest in 2010 to cover safe housing and rehabilitation for veterans we have been able to coax off the streets, we are going to continue reducing the number of homeless veterans next year, and each year thereafter, for the next five years.

I know that this committee and the president are committed to helping VA end homelessness among veterans. We are going to do everything we can to end homelessness among veterans over the next five years. No one, who has served this nation, as we have, should ever find themselves living without care – and without hope. I know that there are never any absolutes in life, but unless we set an ambitious target, we would not be giving this our very best efforts in education, jobs, mental health, substance abuse, and housing.

Education: The president kicked off our post 9/11 new GI Bill program on 3 August, 2009. 267,000 veterans have applied and been found eligible to participate in this benefits program this year, and we project that as many as 150,000 more may apply next year. The first time we did this, in 1944 during World War II, our country ended up being richer by 450,000 trained engineers, 240,000 accountants, 238,000 teachers, 91,000 scientists, 67,000 doctors, 22,000 dentists, and a million other college-educated veterans. They went on to provide the leadership that catapulted our economy to worlds largest and our Nation to leader of the free world and victor in the cold war.

Slow processing of enrollment certificates by VA and slower than anticipated submission of enrollment documents by some educational institutions delayed issuance of checks to schools and veterans. On 2 October, VA began an emergency disbursement of monies nationally, working with the Treasury Department to provide almost $70 million in advance payments to more than 25,000 veterans in the first two days of the program. These payments continue as a way to bridge the gap until the veterans’ routine, monthly payments begin. We will do whatever it takes to get checks into the hands of veterans for their education, and we will improve the delivery system to eliminate the barriers to effective distribution of benefits in future years.
Jobs: This summer, I addressed over 1,700 veteran small business owners at the 5th Annual Small Business Symposium on 21 July. I reminded them that veterans hire veterans because they know what they’re getting.  Customers and partners value their skills, knowledge, and attributes and are eager to work with them. Just last fall, in a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, over 90 percent of employers said they valued veterans’ skills, in particular, their strong sense of responsibility and teamwork.

VA puts veterans first in our contracting awards because we recognize the on-time, on-budget, quality solutions they bring to our contracting needs. In fiscal year 2008, our unique “Veterans First” buying program resulted in VA’s spending more than $2 billion on Veteran-owned small businesses. That represented 15 percent of our procurement dollars, up five percent from the previous year. $1.6 billion of that amount was invested in service-disabled, Veteran-owned businesses.

At VA, our experience is that Veteran-owned small businesses have a high likelihood for creating new jobs, developing new products and services, and building prosperity. Increasing opportunities for Veteran-owned small businesses is an effective way to help address many needs during this economic downturn.

So, education, jobs, health care, and housing: We have work to do here; but we have momentum, and we know where we are headed. We are positively engaged with the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and the Small Business Administration to work our collaborative issues.

A transformed VA will be a high-performing 21st century department, a different organization from the one that exists today. Beyond the next five years, we’re looking for new ways of thinking and acting. We are asking why, 40 years after Agent Orange was last used in Vietnam, this Secretary had to adjudicate claims for service-connected disabilities that have now been determined presumptive. And why, 20 years after Desert Storm, we are still debating the debilitating effects of whatever causes Gulf War Illness. If we do not stay attuned to the health needs of our returning veterans, 20 or 40 years from now, some future Secretary could be adjudicating presumptive disabilities from our ongoing conflicts. We must do better, and we will.

VA’s mission is inextricably linked to the missions of the Departments of Defense (DoD) and Health and Human Services (HHS)—and closely linked to the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Education, Labor, and the Small Business Administration.  We are not an independent operator. We administer the Servicemen’s Group Life Insurance program and are prepared to deliver benefits for any of the 2.25 million men and women of all Services and Components, who are insured through it. And, together with DoD, we operate two of the nation’s largest health care systems—one for health care to meet operational commitments and one to deal with the long term health care effects of those operations. As a result, we are a participant with HHS in discussions of how to best deliver health care. VA’s budget requirements are largely determined by the operational missions performed by the courageous men and women in the DoD and the entitlements and benefits which accrue to them for taking those risks. Additionally, VA is uniquely positioned to help with ideas and a model for providing more Americans with better, more cost-effective health care, something VA has long pursued on behalf of veterans.

Largely hidden from public view is an enormous VA effort to improve management infrastructure and implement a Departmental model of management that insures significant improvement in human resources, IT, acquisition, financial and facilities management. This effort is critical to strengthening both our performance and accountability mechanisms across VA.

In all our missions, VA seeks to become more transparent by providing veterans and stakeholders more information about our performance than ever before. We want veterans to have the information they need to make informed decisions. We will be sharing more data about the quality of VA health care than ever before. Using our own web sites, we are displaying information on quality including Health Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) scores, wait times, and Joint Commission results.

Another element of transparency is disclosure when mistakes are made. We have aggressively disclosed problems with the reprocessing of endoscopes and with brachytherapy at several sites. These issues were found by our own staff and then publicly disclosed. In each of these cases, we notified Congress, the media, VSOs, and the patients. While this process is at times painful, it is the right thing to do for veterans and the nation and will ultimately result in greater trust and better quality.

Summary

Our mission is to serve Veterans by increasing their access to VA benefits and services, to provide them the highest quality of health care available, and to control costs to the best of our ability.  Our efforts will remain focused on transforming VA into a 21st Century organization—People-centric, Results-driven, and Forward-looking, and further refinement of our strategic plan to achieve our commitments and provide metrics for holding ourselves accountable.  We are applying business principles that make us more efficient and effective at every opportunity.
However, transforming VA and the current pace of military operations have required new levels of resources.  The care of Veterans, like the sacrifices they make on behalf of the Nation, endure for many years after conflicts are resolved.  This investment in our Veterans will, over time, provide increasing returns for them, for the Nation, and for VA.  Providing Veterans the care and benefits they have earned is a test of our character.

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VETERAN LEGISLATION 10/30/2009

VETERAN LEGISLATION

30 October 2009

Of the 3960 House and 2510 Senate pieces of legislation introduced in the 111th Congress to date, the following are of interest to the non-active duty veteran community.  Bill titles in green are new additions to this summary.  A good indication on the likelihood a bill of being forwarded to the House or Senate for passage and subsequently being signed into law by the President is the number of cosponsors who have signed onto the bill. An alternate way for it to become law is if it is added as an addendum to another bill such as the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and survives the conference committee assigned to iron out the difference between the House and Senate bills. At http://thomas.loc.gov you can review a copy of each bill’s text, determine its current status, the committee it has been assigned to, who your representative is and his/her phone number, mailing address, or email/website to communicate with a message or letter of your own making, and if your legislator is a sponsor or cosponsor of it.  To separately determine what bills, amendments your representative has sponsored, cosponsored, or dropped sponsorship on refer to http://thomas.loc.gov/bss/d111/sponlst.html.  To review a numerical list of all bills introduced refer to http://thomas.loc.gov/bss/111search.html. The key to increasing cosponsorship is letting legislators know of their constituent’s views on issues.  Those bills that include a website in red are being pushed by various veterans groups for passage and by clicking on that website you can forward a preformatted message to your legislator requesting he/she support the bill.

House

H.R.23 : Belated Thank You to the Merchant Mariners of World War II Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish the Merchant Mariner Equity Compensation Fund to provide benefits to certain individuals who served in the United States merchant marine (including the Army Transport Service and the Naval Transport Service) during World War II.

Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 1/6/2009)      Cosponsors (168)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/13/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/naus/issues/alert/?alertid=12497121

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H.R.32 : Veterans Outreach Improvement Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the outreach activities of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes. Companion Bill S.315

Sponsor: Rep McIntyre, Mike [NC-7] (introduced 1/6/2009)      Cosponsors (40)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/31/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Discharged.

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H.R.33 : Disability Benefit Fairness Act of 2009 to amend title II of the Social Security Act to eliminate the 5-month waiting period for entitlement to disability benefits and to eliminate reconsideration as an intervening step between initial benefit entitlement decisions and subsequent hearings on the record on such decisions.

Sponsor: Rep McIntyre, Mike [NC-7] (introduced 1/6/2009)      Cosponsors (3)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.82 : Veterans Outreach Improvement Act of 2009 to expand retroactive eligibility of the Army Combat Action Badge to include members of the Army who participated in combat during which they personally engaged, or were personally engaged by, the enemy at any time on or after December 7, 1941.

Sponsor: Rep Brown-Waite, Ginny [FL-5] (introduced 1/6/2009)      Cosponsors (17)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 1/30/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.84 :  Veterans Timely Access to Health Care Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish standards of access to care for veterans seeking health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Brown-Waite, Ginny [FL-5] (introduced 1/6/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.108 : Disabled Veterans Commissary and Exchange Store Benefits Act to amend title 10, United States Code, to extend military commissary and exchange store privileges to veterans with a compensable service-connected disability and to their dependents.

Sponsor: Rep Fortenberry, Jeff [NE-1] (introduced 1/6/2009)      Cosponsors (7)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 1/30/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.114 : Veterans Entrepreneurial Transition Business Benefit Act to allow veterans to elect to use, with the approval of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, certain financial educational assistance to establish and operate certain business, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Fortenberry, Jeff [NE-1] (introduced 1/6/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.147 : Designate a Portion of Tax Payment for Homeless Vets. To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow taxpayers to designate a portion of their income tax payment to provide assistance to homeless veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Israel, Steve [NY-2] (introduced 1/6/2009)      Cosponsors (84)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 3/4/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12922516&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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H.R.161 : Social Security Beneficiary Tax Reduction Act to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the 1993 increase in taxes on Social Security benefits.

Sponsor: Rep Paul, Ron [TX-14] (introduced 1/6/2009)      Cosponsors (7)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.162 : Senior Citizens’ Tax Elimination Act to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the inclusion in gross income of Social Security benefits.

Sponsor: Rep Paul, Ron [TX-14] (introduced 1/6/2009)      Cosponsors (3)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.174 : Colorado Vet Cemetery. To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a national cemetery for veterans in the southern Colorado region.

Sponsor: Rep Salazar, John T. [CO-3] (introduced 1/6/2009)      Cosponsors (7)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 9/28/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Discharged.

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H.R.177 : Depleted Uranium Screening and Testing Act to provide for identification of members of the Armed Forces exposed during military service to depleted uranium, to provide for health testing of such members, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Serrano, Jose E. [NY-16] (introduced 1/6/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 1/30/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.190 : Veterans Health Equity Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to ensure that veterans in each of the 48 contiguous States are able to receive services in at least one full-service hospital of the Veterans Health Administration in the State or receive comparable services provided by contract in the State. Companion Bill S.239.

Sponsor: Rep Shea-Porter, Carol [NH-1] (introduced 1/6/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.198 : Health Care Tax Deduction Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow a deduction for amounts paid for health insurance and prescription drug costs of individuals.

Sponsor: Rep Stearns, Cliff [FL-6] (introduced 1/6/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.208 : National Guardsmen and Reservists Parity for Patriots Act to amend title 10, United States Code, to ensure that members of the reserve components of the Armed Forces who have served on active duty or performed active service since September 11, 2001, in support of a contingency operation or in other emergency situations receive credit for such service in determining eligibility for early receipt of non-regular service retired pay, and for other purposes. Companion Bill S.644.

Sponsor: Rep Wilson, Joe [SC-2] (introduced 1/6/2009)      Cosponsors (118)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 1/30/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/vfw/dbq/officials and /or http://capwiz.com/ngaus/mail/compose/?mailid=13672261&azip=92571&bzip=7311

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H.R.210 : Vet Cemetery South Carolina Land Acquisition Study. To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct a study on the acquisition of a parcel of land adjacent to Beaufort National Cemetery, Beaufort, South Carolina.

Sponsor: Rep Wilson, Joe [SC-2] (introduced 1/6/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.217 : Vet Cemetery South Carolina Land Acquisition Purchase. To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to acquire a parcel of land adjacent to Beaufort National Cemetery, Beaufort, South Carolina.

Sponsor: Rep Wilson, Joe [SC-2] (introduced 1/6/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.228 : Visual Impairment VA Scholarship Program to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a scholarship program for students seeking a degree or certificate in the areas of visual impairment and orientation and mobility.

Sponsor: Rep Jackson-Lee, Sheila [TX-18] (introduced 1/7/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/19/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee by Voice Vote.

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H.R.236 : Social Security Protection Act to amend the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 to protect Social Security beneficiaries against any reduction in benefits.

Sponsor: Rep Brown-Waite, Ginny [FL-5] (introduced 1/7/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Rules; House Budget

Latest Major Action: 1/7/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Rules, and in addition to the Committee on the Budget, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.237 : Military Retiree Health Care Relief Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow a refundable credit to military retirees for premiums paid for coverage under Medicare Part B.

Sponsor: Rep Emerson, Jo Ann [MO-8] (introduced 1/7/2009)      Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/7/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12921516&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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H.R.247 : Protect Our Veterans Memorials Act of 2009 to amend section 1369 of title 18, United States Code, to extend Federal jurisdiction over destruction of veterans’ memorials on State or local government property.

Sponsor: Rep Green, Gene [TX-29] (introduced 1/7/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Judiciary

Latest Major Action: 2/9/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.

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H.R.270 : TRICARE Continuity of Coverage for National Guard and Reserve Families Act of 2009 to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for continuity of TRICARE Standard coverage for certain members of the Retired Reserve. Companion Bill S.731.

Sponsor: Rep Latta, Robert E. [OH-5] (introduced 1/7/2009)      Cosponsors (68)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 1/30/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12923561&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id] or http://www.ngaus.org/content.asp?bid=1805&False&False

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H.R.293 : Homeless Women Veteran and Homeless Veterans with Children Reintegration Grant Program Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Labor to carry out a grant program to provide reintegration services through programs and facilities that emphasize services for homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children.

Sponsor: Rep Buyer, Steve [IN-4] (introduced 1/8/2009)      Cosponsors (13)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/8/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.294 : Veteran Owned Small Business Promotion Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the reauthorization of the Department of Veterans Affairs small business loan program, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Buyer, Steve [IN-4] (introduced 1/8/2009)      Cosponsors (19)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/24/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.295 : More Jobs for Veterans Act of 2009 to authorize appropriations for the veterans’ workforce investment programs.

Sponsor: Rep Buyer, Steve [IN-4] (introduced 1/8/2009)      Cosponsors (11)

Committees: House Education and Labor

Latest Major Action: 1/8/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness.

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H.R.296 : Armed Forces Disability Retirement Enhancement Act of 2009 to amend title 10, United States Code, to revise the process by which a member of the Armed Forces is retired for disability and becomes eligible for retirement pay, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Buyer, Steve [IN-4] (introduced 1/8/2009)      Cosponsors (7)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 1/30/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.297 : Veteran Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Subsistence Allowance Improvement Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for an increase in the amount of subsistence allowance payable by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to veterans participating in vocational rehabilitation programs, and for other purposes. Companion Bill S.514

Sponsor: Rep Buyer, Steve [IN-4] (introduced 1/8/2009)      Cosponsors (9)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/4/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.303 : Retired Pay Restoration Act to amend title 10, United States Code, to permit additional retired members of the Armed Forces who have a service-connected disability to receive both disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs for their disability and either retired pay by reason of their years of military service or Combat-Related Special Compensation and to eliminate the phase-in period under current law with respect to such concurrent receipt.

Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 1/8/2009)      Cosponsors (115)

Committees: House Armed Services; House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/30/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.309 : American Heroes’ Homeownership Assistance Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow certain current and former service members to receive a refundable credit for the purchase of a principal residence.

Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 1/8/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/8/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.333 : Disabled Veterans Tax Termination Act to amend title 10, United States Code, to permit retired members of the Armed Forces who have a service-connected disability rated less than 50 percent to receive concurrent payment of both retired pay and veterans’ disability compensation, to eliminate the phase-in period for concurrent receipt, to extend eligibility for concurrent receipt to chapter 61 disability retirees with less than 20 years of service, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Marshall, Jim [GA-8] (introduced 1/8/2009)      Cosponsors (117)

Committees: House Armed Services; House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/6/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12406456&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id] and  http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12888756

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H.R.341 : Suspend Limitations Period for Tax Refund on VA Retroactive Payments. To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to suspend the running of periods of limitation for credit or refund of overpayment of Federal income tax by veterans while their service-connected compensation determinations are pending with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Sponsor: Rep Platts, Todd Russell [PA-19] (introduced 1/8/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/8/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.347 : Congressional Gold Medal Award. To grant the congressional gold medal, collectively, to the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, United States Army, in recognition of their dedicated service during World War II.

Sponsor: Rep Schiff, Adam B. [CA-29] (introduced 1/8/2009)      Cosponsors (297) – Related bill S.1055

Committees: House Financial Services; House Administration

Latest Major Action: 5/18/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

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H.R.379 : State and Local Sales Tax Deduction Expansion Act to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to ensure that all taxpayers have the ability to deduct State and local general sales taxes. Companion Bill S.35.

Sponsor: Rep Blackburn, Marsha [TN-7] (introduced 1/9/2009)      Cosponsors (26)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/9/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.394 : Medal of Honor Pension. To amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to increase the amount of the Medal of Honor special pension provided under that title by up to $1,000.

Sponsor: Rep Brown, Henry E., Jr. [SC-1] (introduced 1/9/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/9/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

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H.R.403 : Homes for Heroes Act of 2009 to provide housing assistance for very low-income veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Green, Al [TX-9] (introduced 1/9/2009)      Cosponsors (41)

Committees: House Financial Services; House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 6/17/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

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H.R.423 : Samuel B. Moody Bataan Death March Compensation Act to provide compensation for certain World War II veterans who survived the Bataan Death March and were held as prisoners of war by the Japanese.

Sponsor: Rep Mica, John L. [FL-7] (introduced 1/9/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 2/6/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.433 : Ready Employers Willing to Assist Reservists’ Deployment (REWARD) Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow employers a credit against income tax equal to 50 percent of the compensation paid to employees while they are performing active duty service as members of the Ready Reserve or the National Guard and of the compensation paid to temporary replacement employees.

Sponsor: Rep Poe, Ted [TX-2] (introduced 1/9/2009)      Cosponsors (39)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/9/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.442 : Veterans’ Heritage Firearms Act of 2009 to provide an amnesty period during which veterans and their family members can register certain firearms in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Rehberg, Denny [MT] (introduced 1/9/2009)      Cosponsors (130)

Committees: House Judiciary; House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 2/9/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.

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H.R.449 : Health Care for America’s Heroes Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand the availability of health care provided by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs by adjusting the income level for certain priority veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Sestak, Joe [PA-7] (introduced 1/9/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/9/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.456 : Disabled Veteran Small Business Eligibility Expansion Act of 2009 to amend the Small Business Act to make service-disabled veterans eligible under the 8(a) business development program.

Sponsor: Rep Wittman, Robert J. [VA-1] (introduced 1/9/2009)      Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Small Business

Latest Major Action: 1/9/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Small Business.

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H.R.466 : Wounded Veteran Job Security Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to prohibit discrimination and acts of reprisal against persons who receive treatment for illnesses, injuries, and disabilities incurred in or aggravated by service in the uniformed services.

Sponsor: Rep Doggett, Lloyd [TX-25] (introduced 1/13/2009)      Cosponsors (8)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/9/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.482 : Frank Buckles World War I Memorial Act to authorize the rededication of the District of Columbia War Memorial as a National and District of Columbia World War I Memorial to honor the sacrifices made by American veterans of World War I.

Sponsor: Rep Poe, Ted [TX-2] (introduced 1/13/2009)      Cosponsors (34)

Committees: House Natural Resources

Latest Major Action: 2/4/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands.

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H.R.484 : Chiropractic Health Parity for Military Beneficiaries Act to require the Secretary of Defense to develop and implement a plan to provide chiropractic health care services and benefits for certain new beneficiaries as part of the TRICARE program.

Sponsor: Rep Rogers, Mike D. [AL-3] (introduced 1/13/2009)      Cosponsors (38)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 2/6/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.531 : Social Security Number Fraudulent Use Notification Act of 2009 to amend title II of the Social Security Act to require that the Commissioner of Social Security notify individuals of improper use of their Social Security account numbers.

Sponsor: Rep Myrick, Sue Wilkins [NC-9] (introduced 1/14/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/14/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.568 : Veterans Health Care Quality Improvement Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the quality of care provided to veterans in Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities, to encourage highly qualified doctors to serve in hard-to-fill positions in such medical facilities, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Costello, Jerry F. [IL-12] (introduced 1/15/2009)      Cosponsors (4)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Oversight and Government Reform

Latest Major Action: 1/15/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.593 : CRSC for DoD Disability Severances Pay. To amend title 10, United States Code, to expand the authorized concurrent receipt of disability severance pay from the Department of Defense and compensation for the same disability under any law administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs to cover all veterans who have a combat-related disability, as defined under section 1413a of such title.

Sponsor: Rep Smith, Adam [WA-9] (introduced 1/15/2009)      Cosponsors (43)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 2/6/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12918951&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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H.R.598 : American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009 to provide for a portion of the economic recovery package relating to revenue measures, unemployment, and health.

Sponsor: Rep Rangel, Charles B. [NY-15] (introduced 1/16/2009)      Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Ways and Means; House Energy and Commerce; House Science and Technology; House Education and Labor; House Financial Services

House Reports: 111-8 Part 1, 111-8 Part 2

Latest Major Action: 1/28/2009 Supplemental report filed by the Committee on Ways and Means, H. Rept. 111-8, Part II.

Note: For further action, see H.R.1, which became Public Law 111-5 on 2/17/2009.

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H.R.612 : Disabled Veterans Insurance Act of 2009 to amend section 1922A of title 38, United States Code, to increase the amount of supplemental insurance available for totally disabled veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Jones, Walter B., Jr. [NC-3] (introduced 1/21/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.613 : Military Retiree Survivor Comfort Act to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for forgiveness of certain overpayments of retired pay paid to deceased retired members of the Armed Forces following their death.

Sponsor: Rep Jones, Walter B., Jr. [NC-3] (introduced 1/21/2009)      Cosponsors (58)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 2/6/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12489731&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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H.R.620 : Jobs for Veterans Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow an increased work opportunity credit with respect to recent veterans.

Sponsor: Rep King, Peter T. [NY-3] (introduced 1/21/2009)      Cosponsors (12)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.627 : Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2009 to amend the Truth in Lending Act to establish fair and transparent practices relating to the extension of credit under an open end consumer credit plan, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Maloney, Carolyn B. [NY-14] (introduced 1/22/2009)      Cosponsors (128)  Related Bill S.235   Companion Bill S.414

Committees: House Financial Services

House Reports: 111-88

Latest Major Action: Became Public Law No: 111-24

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H.R.656 : Unemployed Early Retirement Plan Withdrawal without Penalty. To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow certain individuals who have attained age 50 and who are unemployed to receive distributions from qualified retirement plans without incurring a 10 percent additional tax.

Sponsor: Rep Platts, Todd Russell [PA-19] (introduced 1/22/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/22/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.667 : Heroes at Home Act of 2009 to improve the diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injury in members and former members of the Armed Forces, to review and expand telehealth and telemental health programs of the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Salazar, John T. [CO-3] (introduced 1/23/2009)      Cosponsors (43)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 2/6/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.668 : Critical Access Hospital Flexibility Act of 2009 to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide flexibility in the manner in which beds are counted for purposes of determining whether a hospital may be designated as a critical access hospital under the Medicare Program and to exempt from the critical access hospital inpatient bed limitation the number of beds provided for certain veterans. Companion Bill S.307

Sponsor: Rep Walden, Greg [OR-2] (introduced 1/23/2009)      Cosponsors (9)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/23/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.671 : In Memory Medal for Forgotten Veterans Act to direct the Secretary of Defense to issue a medal to certain veterans who died after their service in the Vietnam War as a direct result of that service.

Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 1/26/2009)      Cosponsors (3)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 2/6/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.731 : Jenny’s Law to amend title 38, United States Code, to exclude individuals who have been convicted of committing certain sex offenses from receiving certain burial-related benefits and funeral honors which are otherwise available to certain veterans, members of the Armed Forces, and related individuals, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Shadegg, John B. [AZ-3] (introduced 1/27/2009)      Cosponsors (24)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/27/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.746 : Safeguarding America’s Seniors and Veterans Act of 2009 to provide for economic recovery payments to recipients of Social Security, railroad retirement, and veterans disability benefits.

Sponsor: Rep Adler, John H. [NJ-3] (introduced 1/28/2009)      Cosponsors (11)

Committees: House Ways and Means; House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/28/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, and in addition to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.761 : Parental Burial in National Cemeteries (Corey Shea Act). To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the eligibility of parents of certain deceased veterans for interment in national cemeteries.

Sponsor: Rep Frank, Barney [MA-4] (introduced 1/28/2009)      Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/21/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee (Amended) by Voice Vote .

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H.R.775 : Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act to repeal the requirement for reduction of survivor annuities under the Survivor Benefit Plan to offset the receipt of veterans dependency and indemnity compensation.

Sponsor: Rep Ortiz, Solomon P. [TX-27] (introduced 1/28/2009)      Cosponsors (298)   Companion Bill S.535

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 2/17/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/alert/?alertid=12848666&type=CO or  http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12541746

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H.R.784 : VA Reports to Congress. To amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to submit to Congress quarterly reports on vacancies in mental health professional positions in Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities.

Sponsor: Rep Tsongas, Niki [MA-5] (introduced 1/28/2009)      Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/3/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.785 : VA Outreach Training. To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot program to provide outreach and training to certain college and university mental health centers relating to the mental health of veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, and for other purposes. Companion Bill S.543

Sponsor: Rep Tsongas, Niki [MA-5] (introduced 1/28/2009)      Cosponsors (4)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/3/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.806 : TRICARE Mail-Order Pharmacy Pilot Program Act to establish a mail-order pharmacy pilot program for TRICARE beneficiaries.

Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 2/3/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 2/24/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.809 : Widow Remarriage Age Decrease for DIC. To amend title 38, United States Code, to reduce from age 57 to age 55 the age after which the remarriage of the surviving spouse of a deceased veteran shall not result in termination of dependency and indemnity compensation otherwise payable to that surviving spouse.

Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 2/3/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/3/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/?bill=12993371

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H.R.811 : Retired Pay Restoration Act to amend title 10, United States Code, to permit certain retired members of the uniformed services who have a service-connected disability to receive both disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs for their disability and either retired pay by reason of their years of military service or Combat-Related Special Compensation. Companion Bill S.546

Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 2/3/2009)      Cosponsors (5)

Committees: House Armed Services; House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/24/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.816 : Military Retirees Health Care Protection Act to amend title 10, United States Code, to prohibit certain increases in fees for military health care.

Sponsor: Rep Edwards, Chet [TX-17] (introduced 2/3/2009)      Cosponsors (192)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 2/24/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12591151&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id] or http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/?bill=12603596 or http://capwiz.com/naus/issues/alert/?alertid=12607551 or http://capwiz.com/trea/issues/alert/?alertid=12710751

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H.R.819 : POW DIC Eligibility Date. To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the payment of dependency and indemnity compensation to the survivors of former prisoners of war who died on or before September 30, 1999, under the same eligibility conditions as apply to payment of dependency and indemnity compensation to the survivors of former prisoners of war who die after that date.

Sponsor: Rep Holden, Tim [PA-17] (introduced 2/3/2009)      Cosponsors (17)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/3/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.870 : Medicare Medically Necessary Dental Care Act of 2009 to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for coverage under part B for medically necessary dental procedures.

Sponsor: Rep Cohen, Steve [TN-9] (introduced 2/4/2009)      Cosponsors (17)

Committees: House Energy and Commerce; House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 2/4/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committee on Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.879 : Affordable Health Care Expansion Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow individuals a refundable credit against income tax for the purchase of private health insurance.

Sponsor: Rep Granger, Kay [TX-12] (introduced 2/4/2009)      Cosponsors (4)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 2/4/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.883 : Social Security 1993 Tax Increase Repeal. To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the 1993 increase in income taxes on Social Security benefits.

Sponsor: Rep King, Peter T. [NY-3] (introduced 2/4/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 2/4/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.917 : Combat-Related Injury Death Dependent Health Benefits. To increase the health benefits of dependents of members of the Armed Forces who die because of a combat-related injury.

Sponsor: Rep Guthrie, Brett [KY-2] (introduced 2/9/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.919 : Veterans’ Medical Personnel Recruitment and Retention Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to enhance the capacity of the Department of Veterans Affairs to recruit and retain nurses and other critical health-care professionals, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Johnson, Eddie Bernice [TX-30] (introduced 2/9/2009)      Cosponsors (4)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/9/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.929 : VA Vet Training Program. To amend title 38, United States Code, to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a program of training to provide eligible veterans with skills relevant to the job market, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Welch, Peter [VT] (introduced 2/9/2009)      Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/4/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.931 : Veterans Employment Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow the work opportunity credit with respect to certain unemployed veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Nye, Glenn C., III [VA-2] (introduced 2/10/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 2/10/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.942 : Veterans Self-Employment Act of 2009 to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct a pilot project on the use of educational assistance under programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs to defray training costs associated with the purchase of certain franchise enterprises.

Sponsor: Rep Alexander, Rodney [LA-5] (introduced 2/10/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 6/3/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee (Amended) by Voice Vote .

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H.R.944 : Prisoner of War Benefits Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide improved benefits for veterans who are former prisoners of war.

Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 2/10/2009)      Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/10/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.950 : Vet Distance Learning Assistance. To amend chapter 33 of title 38, United States Code, to increase educational assistance for certain veterans pursuing a program of education offered through distance learning.

Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 2/10/2009)      Cosponsors (19)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/4/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.952 : Compensation Owed for Mental Health Based on Activities in Theater Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify the meaning of “combat with the enemy” for purposes of service-connection of disabilities.

Sponsor: Rep Hall, John J. [NY-19] (introduced 2/10/2009)      Cosponsors (94)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/10/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Ordered to be Reported (Amended) by Voice Vote.

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H.R.953 : Veterans Travel Tax Relief Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for a deduction for travel expenses to medical centers of the Department of Veterans Affairs in connection with examinations or treatments relating to service-connected disabilities.

Sponsor: Rep Heller, Dean [NV-2] (introduced 2/10/2009)      Cosponsors (52)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 2/10/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.954 : Social Security Benefits Fairness Act of 2009 to amend title II of the Social Security Act to provide that a monthly insurance benefit thereunder shall be paid for the month in which the recipient dies, subject to a reduction of 50 percent if the recipient dies during the first 15 days of such month, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Holden, Tim [PA-17] (introduced 2/10/2009)      Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 2/10/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.972 : Retired Reserve Age for Health Benefits. To amend title 10, United States Code, to eliminate the requirement that certain former members of the reserve components of the Armed Forces be at least 60 years of age in order to be eligible to receive health care benefits.

Sponsor: Rep Wilson, Joe [SC-2] (introduced 2/10/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 3/17/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/?bill=12992881

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H.R.1004 : Veterans Health Care Full Funding Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide an enhanced funding process to ensure an adequate level of funding for veterans health care programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs, to establish standards of access to care for veterans seeking health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Smith, Christopher H. [NJ-4] (introduced 2/11/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/11/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.1016 : Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide advance appropriations authority for certain medical care accounts of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 2/12/2009)      Cosponsors (125)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

House Reports: 111-171

Latest Major Action: Became Public Law No: 111-81

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12704096

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H.R.1017 : Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act to amend the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Programs Enhancement Act of 2001 and title 38, United States Code, to require the provision of chiropractic care and services to veterans at all Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers and to expand access to such care and services.

Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 2/12/2009)      Cosponsors (26)       Related bill S.1204

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/1/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.1036 : Veterans Physical Therapy Services Improvement Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish the position of Director of Physical Therapy Service within the Veterans Health Administration and to establish a fellowship program for physical therapists in the areas of geriatrics, amputee rehabilitation, polytrauma care, and rehabilitation research.

Sponsor: Rep Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie [SD] (introduced 2/12/2009)      Cosponsors (8)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/1/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.1037 : Pilot College Work Study Programs for Veterans Act of 2009 to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct a five-year pilot project to test the feasibility and advisability of expanding the scope of certain qualifying work-study activities under title 38, United States Code.

Sponsor: Rep Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie [SD] (introduced 2/12/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

House Reports: 111-162
Latest Major 10/7/2009 Passed/agreed to in Senate. Status: Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

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H.R.1038 : Shingles Prevention Act to amend part B of title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide coverage for the shingles vaccine under the Medicare Program.

Sponsor: Rep Hirono, Mazie K. [HI-2] (introduced 2/12/2009)      Cosponsors (12)

Committees: House Energy and Commerce; House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 2/12/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committee on Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.1042 : Enemy POW Hospitalization Policy. To prohibit the provision of medical treatment to enemy combatants detained by the United States at Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in the same facility as a member of the Armed Forces or Department of Veterans Affairs medical facility.

Sponsor: Rep Miller, Jeff [FL-1] (introduced 2/12/2009)      Cosponsors (9)

Committees: House Armed Services; House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/13/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.1075 : Restoring Essential Care for Our Veterans for Effective Recovery (RECOVER) Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand access to hospital care for veterans in major disaster areas, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Scalise, Steve [LA-1] (introduced 2/13/2009)      Cosponsors (19)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/13/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.1088 : Mandatory Veteran Specialist Training Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for a one-year period for the training of new disabled veterans’ outreach program specialists and local veterans’ employment representatives by National Veterans’ Employment and Training Services Institute.

Sponsor: Rep Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie [SD] (introduced 2/13/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/20/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.1089 : Veterans Employment Rights to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the enforcement through the Office of Special Counsel of the employment and unemployment rights of veterans and members of the Armed Forces employed by Federal executive agencies, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie [SD] (introduced 2/13/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/20/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.1098 : Veterans’ Worker Retraining Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to increase the amount of educational assistance payable by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to certain individuals pursuing internships or on-job training.

Sponsor: Rep Perriello, Thomas S.P. [VA-5] (introduced 2/13/2009)      Cosponsors (12)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 6/10/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Ordered to be Reported (Amended) by Voice Vote.

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H.R.1114 : National Cemetery Availability. To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a process for determining whether a geographic area is sufficiently served by the national cemeteries located in that geographic area.

Sponsor: Rep Rehberg, Denny [MT] (introduced 2/23/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/23/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.1163 : Establish Nebraska National Cemetery. To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a national cemetery in the Sarpy County region to serve veterans in eastern Nebraska, western Iowa, and northwest Missouri.

Sponsor: Rep Terry, Lee [NE-2] (introduced 2/24/2009)      Cosponsors (3)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 2/24/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.1168 : Veterans Retraining Act of 2009 to amend chapter 42 of title 38, United States Code, to provide certain veterans with employment training assistance.

Sponsor: Rep Boozman, John [AR-3] (introduced 2/25/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/28/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Ordered to be Reported by Voice Vote.

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H.R.1169 : VA Adapted Housing/Automobile Assistance. To amend title 38, United States Code, to increase the amount of assistance provided by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to disabled veterans for specially adapted housing and automobiles and adapted equipment.

Sponsor: Rep Boozman, John [AR-3] (introduced 2/25/2009)      Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/24/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.1170 : Adapted Housing Technology Grants. To amend chapter 21 of title 38, United States Code, to establish a grant program to encourage the development of new assistive technologies for specially adapted housing.

Sponsor: Rep Boozman, John [AR-3] (introduced 2/25/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/20/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.1171 : Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to reauthorize the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program for fiscal years 2010 through 2014.

Sponsor: Rep Boozman, John [AR-3] (introduced 2/25/2009)      Cosponsors (4)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/31/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.1172 : VA Website Scholarship Info Addition. To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to include on the Internet website of the Department of Veterans Affairs a list of organizations that provide scholarships to veterans and their survivors.

Sponsor: Rep Boozman, John [AR-3] (introduced 2/25/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

House Reports: 111-164
Latest Major Action: 6/24/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.1182 : Military Spouses Residency Relief Act to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to guarantee the equity of spouses of military personnel with regard to matters of residency, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Carter, John R. [TX-31] (introduced 2/25/2009)      Cosponsors (206)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/8/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee by Voice Vote .

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H.R.1197 : Medal of Honor Health Care Equity Act of 2009 to assign a higher priority status for hospital care and medical services provided through the Department of Veterans Affairs to certain veterans who are recipients of the medal of honor.

Sponsor: Rep Mitchell, Harry E. [AZ-5] (introduced 2/25/2009)      Cosponsors (15)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/9/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee by Voice Vote.

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H.R.1203 : Federal and Military Retiree Health Care Equity Act to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow Federal civilian and military retirees to pay health insurance premiums on a pretax basis and to allow a deduction for TRICARE supplemental premiums. Companion Bill S.491

Sponsor: Rep Van Hollen, Chris [MD-8] (introduced 2/25/2009)      Cosponsors (196)

Committees: House Ways and Means; House Oversight and Government Reform; House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 6/26/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Post Office, and the District of Columbia.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12787701&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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H.R.1211 : Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand and improve health care services available to women veterans, especially those serving in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes. Companion Bill S.597

Sponsor: Rep Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie [SD] (introduced 2/26/2009)      Cosponsors (51)

House Reports: 111-165
Latest Major Action: 6/24/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12833716&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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H.R.1232 : Far South Texas Veterans Medical Center Act of 2009 to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to construct a full service hospital in Far South Texas.

Sponsor: Rep Ortiz, Solomon P. [TX-27] (introduced 2/26/2009)      Cosponsors (6)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/26/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.1263 : Federal Retirement Reform Act of 2009 to amend title 5, United States Code, to provide for the automatic enrollment of new participants in the Thrift Savings Plan, and to clarify the method for computing certain annuities based on part-time service; to allow certain employees of the District of Columbia to have certain periods of service credited for purposes relating to retirement eligibility; and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Lynch, Stephen F. [MA-9] (introduced 3/3/2009)      Cosponsors (5)

Committees: House Oversight and Government Reform; House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 3/3/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and in addition to the Committee on Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.1289 : Social Security Fairness for the Terminally Ill Act of 2009 to amend title II of the Social Security Act to eliminate the five-month waiting period in the disability insurance program, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Wilson, Charles A. [OH-6] (introduced 3/3/2009)      Cosponsors (12)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 3/3/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.1293 : Disabled Veterans Home Improvement and Structural Alteration Grant Increase Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for an increase in the amount payable by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to veterans for improvements and structural alterations furnished as part of home health services.

Sponsor: Rep Buyer, Steve [IN-4] (introduced 3/4/2009)      Cosponsors (16)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/29/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.1305 : Perpetual Purple Heart Stamp Act to provide for the issuance of a forever stamp to honor the sacrifices of the brave men and women of the armed forces who have been awarded the Purple Heart. Companion Bill S.572

Sponsor: Rep King, Peter T. [NY-3] (introduced 3/4/2009)      Cosponsors (75)

Committees: House Oversight and Government Reform

Latest Major Action: 3/4/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

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H.R.1317 : Mortgage Payment Tax Credit. To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide a tax credit to individuals who pay their mortgages on time.

Sponsor: Rep Shuster, Bill [PA-9] (introduced 3/4/2009)      Cosponsors (14)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 3/4/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.1335 : VA Catastrophically Disabled Copay. To amend title 38, United States Code, to prohibit the Secretary of Veterans Affairs from collecting certain copayments from veterans who are catastrophically disabled.

Sponsor: Rep Halvorson, Deborah L. [IL-11] (introduced 3/5/2009)      Cosponsors (39)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/9/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee (Amended) by Voice Vote.

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H.R.1336 : Veterans Education Improvement Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to make certain improvements in the basic educational assistance program administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie [SD] (introduced 3/5/2009)      Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1377 : VA Emergency Treatment Reimbursement to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand veteran eligibility for reimbursement by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for emergency treatment furnished in a non-Department facility, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 3/6/2009)      Cosponsors (2)      Companion Bill S.404.

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/31/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=13048301&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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H.R.1388 : Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education (GIVE) Act to reauthorize and reform the national service laws. Passed 321-105 and placed on the Senate calendar.

Sponsor: Rep McCarthy, Carolyn [NY-4] (introduced 3/9/2009)      Cosponsors (37)  Related Bills: H.RES.250, H.RES.296, S.277

Committees: House Education and Labor,

House Reports: 111-37

Latest Major Action: Became Public Law No: 111-13

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H.R.1401 : VET Corps Act of 2009 to create a service corps of veterans called Veterans Engaged for Tomorrow (VET) Corps focused on promoting and improving the service opportunities for veterans and retired members of the military by engaging such veterans and retired members in projects designed to meet identifiable public needs with a specific emphasis on projects to support veterans, including disabled and older veterans and retired members of the military.

Sponsor: Rep Sarbanes, John P. [MD-3] (introduced 3/9/2009)      Cosponsors (14)

Committees: House Education and Labor

Latest Major Action: 4/29/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Healthy Families and Communities.

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H.R.1416 : Southern New Jersey Veterans Comprehensive Health Care Act to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to expand the capability of the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide for the medical-care needs of veterans in southern New Jersey.

Sponsor: Rep LoBiondo, Frank A. [NJ-2] (introduced 3/10/2009)      Cosponsors (3)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/13/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.1428 : VA Parkinson’s Disease Compensation. To amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide wartime disability compensation for certain veterans with Parkinson’s disease.

Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 3/11/2009)      Cosponsors (80)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/13/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12986021&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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H.R.1474 : Servicemembers Access to Justice Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the enforcement of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, and for other purposes. Companion Bill S.263.

Sponsor: Rep Davis, Artur [AL-7] (introduced 3/12/2009)      Cosponsors (28)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Armed Services; House Oversight and Government Reform

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1478 : Carmelo Rodriguez Military Medical Accountability Act of 2009 to amend chapter 171 of title 28, United States Code, to allow members of the Armed Forces to sue the United States for damages for certain injuries caused by improper medical care, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Hinchey, Maurice D. [NY-22] (introduced 3/12/2009)      Cosponsors (10)

Committees: House Judiciary

Latest Major Action: 10/7/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Ordered to be Reported (Amended) by the Yeas and Nays: 14 – 12.

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H.R.1496 : Child Health Care Affordability Act to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow individuals a credit against income tax for medical expenses for dependents.

Sponsor: Rep Paul, Ron [TX-14] (introduced 3/12/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 3/12/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.1513 : Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2009 to increase, effective as of December 1, 2009, the rates of disability compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for survivors of certain service-connected disabled veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Kirkpatrick, Ann [AZ-1] (introduced 3/16/2009)      Cosponsors (10)           Related bill S.407

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/31/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=13048376&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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H.R.1519 : Social Security Benefits Tax Relief Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the 1993 income tax increase on Social Security benefits.

Sponsor: Rep Johnson, Sam [TX-3] (introduced 3/16/2009)      Cosponsors (7)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 3/16/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.1522 : United States Cadet Nurse Corps Equity Act to provide that service of the members of the organization known as the United States Cadet Nurse Corps during World War II constituted active military service for purposes of laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Sponsor: Rep Lowey, Nita M. [NY-18] (introduced 3/16/2009)      Cosponsors (19)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 5/22/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.1532 : CMOH Statute of Limitations Elimination. To amend title 10, United States Code, to eliminate the statute of limitations on the award of the congressional medal of honor.

Sponsor: Rep Sestak, Joe [PA-7] (introduced 3/16/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1544 : Veterans Mental Health Accessibility Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for unlimited eligibility for health care for mental illnesses for veterans of combat service during certain periods of hostilities and war.

Sponsor: Rep Driehaus, Steve [OH-1] (introduced 3/17/2009)      Cosponsors (7)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/17/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.1546 : Caring for Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish the Committee on Care of Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury.

Sponsor: Rep McNerney, Jerry [CA-11] (introduced 3/17/2009)      Cosponsors (7)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/9/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee by Voice Vote .

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H.R.1592 : Pay Increase Guarantee. To amend title 37, United States Code, to guarantee a pay increase for members of the uniformed services for fiscal years 2011 through 2014 of one-half of one percentage point higher than the Employment Cost Index.

Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 3/18/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/?bill=13002241

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H.R.1600 : TRICARE Autism Care. To amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for the treatment of autism under TRICARE.

Sponsor: Rep Sestak, Joe [PA-7] (introduced 3/18/2009)      Cosponsors (22)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1647 : Veterans’ Employment Transition Support Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow employers a credit against income tax for hiring veterans.

Sponsor: Rep McCotter, Thaddeus G. [MI-11] (introduced 3/19/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 3/19/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.1657 : Notification of Exposure to Harmful Material/Contaminants. To direct the Secretary of Defense to notify members of the Armed Forces and State military departments of exposure to potentially harmful materials and contaminants.

Sponsor: Rep Schrader, Kurt [OR-5] (introduced 3/19/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1658 : Veterans Healthcare Commitment Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to prohibit the recovery by the United States of charges from a third party for hospital care or medical services furnished to a veteran for a service-connected disability.

Sponsor: Rep Tiahrt, Todd [KS-4] (introduced 3/19/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/19/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.1681 : Veterans Transitional Assistance Act of 2009 to improve the coordination between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to better provide care to members and the Armed Forces and veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Boswell, Leonard L. [IA-3] (introduced 3/24/2009)      Cosponsors (16)

Committees: House Armed Services; House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1694 : Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Protection Act to authorize the acquisition and protection of nationally significant battlefields and associated sites of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 under the American Battlefield Protection Program.

Sponsor: Rep Holt, Rush D. [NJ-12] (introduced 3/24/2009)      Cosponsors (12)   Related Bill S.1168

Committees: House Natural Resources; Senate Energy and Natural Resources

Latest Major Action: 7/15/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee on National Parks held.

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H.R.1695 : Reserve Retired Pay Age Reduction. To amend title 10, United States Code, to reduce the minimum age for receipt of military retired pay for non-regular service from 60 to 55.

Sponsor: Rep LoBiondo, Frank A. [NJ-2] (introduced 3/24/2009)      Cosponsors (48)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1701 : PTSD/TBI Guaranteed Review For Heroes Act to amend title 10, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Defense to establish a special review board for certain former members of the Armed Forces with post-traumatic stress disorder or a traumatic brain injury, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Jones, Walter B., Jr. [NC-3] (introduced 3/25/2009)      Cosponsors (11)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1708 : Ending the Medicare Disability Waiting Period Act of 2009 to amend title II of the Social Security Act to phase out the 24-month waiting period for disabled individuals to become eligible for Medicare benefits, to eliminate the waiting period for individuals with life-threatening conditions, and for other purposes. Companion Bill S.700.

Sponsor: Rep Green, Gene [TX-29] (introduced 3/25/2009)      Cosponsors (100)

Committees: House Ways and Means; House Energy and Commerce; House Transportation and Infrastructure

Latest Major Action: 3/26/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.

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H.R.1712 : Savings for Seniors Act of 2009 to amend title II of the Social Security Act to establish a Social Security Surplus Protection Account in the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund to hold the Social Security surplus, to provide for suspension of investment of amounts held in the Account until enactment of legislation providing for investment of the Trust Fund in investment vehicles other than obligations of the United States, and to establish a Social Security Investment Commission to make recommendations for alternative forms of investment of the Social Security surplus in the Trust Fund.

Sponsor: Rep Blackburn, Marsha [TN-7] (introduced 3/25/2009)      Cosponsors (20)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 3/25/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.1716 : Property Tax Relief Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow the deduction for real property taxes on the principal residences to all individuals whether or not they itemize other deductions.

Sponsor: Rep Hill, Baron P. [IN-9] (introduced 3/25/2009)      Cosponsors (12)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 3/25/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.1767 : Fair Housing Tax Credit Extension Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to make the first-time homebuyer credit retroactive to the beginning of 2008 and to permanently extend the credit.

Sponsor: Rep Paul, Ron [TX-14] (introduced 3/26/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 3/26/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.1804 : Federal Retirement Reform Act of 2009 to amend title 5, United States Code, to make certain modifications in the Thrift Savings Plan, the Civil Service Retirement System, and the Federal Employees’ Retirement System, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Towns, Edolphus [NY-10] (introduced 3/31/2009)      Cosponsors (4)               Related Bill H.R.108

Committees: House Oversight and Government Reform; House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/2/2009 Pursuant to the provisions of H. Res. 307 , H.R. 1804 is laid on the table.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=13048556&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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H.R.1809 : TRICARE Prime Geographic Expansion. To amend title 10, United States Code, to expand the geographical coverage of TRICARE Prime to include Puerto Rico and Guam.

Sponsor: Rep Pierluisi, Pedro R. [PR] (introduced 3/31/2009)      Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1818 : Disabled Veterans Commissary and Exchange Store Benefits Act to amend title 10, United States Code, to extend military commissary and exchange store privileges to veterans with a compensable service-connected disability and to their dependents.

Sponsor: Rep Burton, Dan [IN-5] (introduced 3/31/2009)      Cosponsors (12)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1849 : World War I Memorial and Centennial Act of 2009 to designate the Liberty Memorial at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, as the National World War I Memorial, to establish the World War I centennial commission to ensure a suitable observance of the centennial of World War I, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Cleaver, Emanuel [MO-5] (introduced 4/1/2009)      Cosponsors (101)             Related Bill S.760

Committees: House Oversight and Government Reform; House Natural Resources

Latest Major Action: 10/29/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Ordered to be Reported (Amended) by Voice Vote.

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H.R.1851 : DOL Transitional Services. To amend title 10, United States Code, to require that certain members of the Armed Forces receive employment assistance, job training assistance, and other transitional services provided by the Secretary of Labor before separating from active duty service.

Sponsor: Rep Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie [SD] (introduced 4/1/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1872 : Secure Electronic Military Separation Act to require the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, to develop and implement a secure electronic method of forwarding the Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD Form 214) to the appropriate office of the Department of Veterans Affairs for the State or other locality in which a member of the Armed Forces will first reside after the discharge or release of the member from active duty.

Sponsor: Rep Space, Zachary T. [OH-18] (introduced 4/2/2009)      Cosponsors (14)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1879 : National Guard Employment Protection Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for employment and reemployment rights for certain individuals ordered to full-time National Guard duty.

Sponsor: Rep Coffman, Mike [CO-6] (introduced 4/2/2009)      Cosponsors (7)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/22/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via www.ngaus.org/content.asp?bid=1805

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H.R.1902 : Providing Real Outreach for Veterans Act of 2009 to provide veterans with individualized notice about available benefits, to streamline application processes for the benefits, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Brown-Waite, Ginny [FL-5] (introduced 4/2/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1919 : Federal Withholding Tax Repeal Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the withholding of income and social security taxes.

Sponsor: Rep Foxx, Virginia [NC-5] (introduced 4/2/2009)      Cosponsors (12)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 4/2/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.1963 : Military Separation Transitional Services. To amend title 10, United States Code, to ensure that members of the Armed Forces who are being separated from active duty receive comprehensive employment assistance, job training assistance, and other transitional services, to require that such members receive a psychological evaluation in addition to the physical examination they receive as part of their separation from active duty, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Rangel, Charles B. [NY-15] (introduced 4/2/2009)      Cosponsors (10)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1982 : Veterans Entitlement to Service (VETS) Act of 2009 to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to acknowledge the receipt of medical, disability, and pension claims and other communications submitted by veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Kilpatrick, Carolyn C. [MI-13] (introduced 4/21/2009)      Cosponsors (9)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/22/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.1994 : Citizen Soldier Equality Act of 2009 to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide equity between active and reserve component members of the Armed Forces in the computation of disability retired pay for members wounded in action.

Sponsor: Rep Davis, Geoff [KY-4] (introduced 4/21/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Armed Services.

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H.R.2014 : WASP Gold Medal Award.  To award a congressional gold medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (“WASP”).

Sponsor: Rep Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana [FL-18] (introduced 4/21/2009)      Cosponsors (335)             Companion Bill S.614

Committees: House Financial Services; House Administration

Latest Major Action: 4/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Financial Services, and in addition to the Committee on House Administration, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.2017 : MOAA Federal Charter. To amend title 36, United States Code, to grant a Federal charter to the Military Officers Association of America, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Van Hollen, Chris [MD-8] (introduced 4/21/2009)      Cosponsors (140)            Companion Bill S.832 Related Bill S.1449

Committees: House Judiciary

Latest Major Action: 5/26/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law.

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H.R.2059 : SBP Disabled Child Trust. To amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for the payment of monthly annuities under the Survivor Benefit Plan to a supplemental or special needs trust established for the sole benefit of a disabled dependent child of a participant in the Survivor Benefit Plan.

Sponsor: Rep Foster, Bill [IL-14] (introduced 4/23/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 5/15/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.2127 : Veterans Travel Equity Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to eliminate the income eligibility and service-connected disability rating requirements for the veterans beneficiary travel program administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Sponsor: Rep Souder, Mark E. [IN-3] (introduced 4/27/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/1/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.2138 : Services, Education, and Rehabilitation for Veterans Act to provide grants to establish veteran’s treatment courts.

Sponsor: Rep Kennedy, Patrick J. [RI-1] (introduced 4/28/2009)      Cosponsors (24)             Related Bill S.902

Committees: House Judiciary

Latest Major Action: 5/26/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy.

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H.R.2180 : Disabled Vet Housing Loan Fee Waiver. To amend title 38, United States Code, to waive housing loan fees for certain veterans with service-connected disabilities called to active service.

Sponsor: Rep Teague, Harry [NM-2] (introduced 4/29/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

House Reports: 111-163
Latest Major Action: 6/18/2009 Placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 81.

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H.R.2243 : Surviving Spouses Benefit Improvement Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for an increase in the amount of monthly dependency and indemnity compensation payable to surviving spouses by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Sponsor: Rep Buyer, Steve [IN-4] (introduced 5/5/2009)      Cosponsors (69)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/8/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=13303636&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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H.R.2244 : Single Parent Protection Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow an individual who is entitled to receive child support a refundable credit equal to the amount of unpaid child support and to increase the tax liability of the individual required to pay such support by the amount of the unpaid child support.

Sponsor: Rep Lofgren, Zoe [CA-16] (introduced 5/5/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 5/5/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.2254 : The Agent Orange Equity Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify presumptions relating to the exposure of certain veterans who served in the vicinity of the Republic of Vietnam.

Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 5/5/2009)      Cosponsors (188)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/8/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=13301656&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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H.R.2257 : Veterans Outreach Improvement Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the outreach activities of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Johnson, Eddie Bernice [TX-30] (introduced 5/5/2009)      Cosponsors (None) – Related Bill S.315

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/5/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.2263 : Disability Equity Act to amend title II of the Social Security Act to eliminate the waiting periods for people with disabilities for entitlement to disability benefits and Medicare, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Sutton, Betty [OH-13] (introduced 5/5/2009)      Cosponsors (4)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 5/5/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.2270 : Benefits for Qualified World War II Veterans Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the establishment of a compensation fund to make payments to qualified World War II veterans on the basis of certain qualifying service.

Sponsor: Rep Buyer, Steve [IN-4] (introduced 5/6/2009)      Cosponsors (6)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/3/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee by Voice Vote .

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H.R.2302 : Military Retired Pay Fairness Act of 2009 to amend title 10, United States Code, to limit recoupments of separation pay, special separation benefits, and voluntary separation incentive from members of the Armed Forces subsequently receiving retired or retainer pay.

Sponsor: Rep Shea-Porter, Carol [NH-1] (introduced 5/7/2009)      Cosponsors (5)                     Companion bill S.1008

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 6/8/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=13682556&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id] or http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=13967481&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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H.R.2342 : Wounded Warrior Project Family Caregiver Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a family caregiver program to furnish support services to family members certified as family caregivers who provide personal care services for certain disabled veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Michaud, Michael H. [ME-2] (introduced 5/11/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/15/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.2365 : Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers Act of 2009 to require the establishment of a Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers to compute cost-of-living increases for Social Security and Medicare benefits under titles II and XVIII of the Social Security Act.

Sponsor: Rep DeFazio, Peter A. [OR-4] (introduced 5/12/2009)      Cosponsors (49)

Committees: House Ways and Means; House Energy and Commerce; House Education and Labor

Latest Major Action: 5/12/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, and in addition to the Committees on Energy and Commerce, and Education and Labor, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.2379 : Veterans’ Group Life Insurance Improvement Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide certain veterans an opportunity to increase the amount of Veterans’ Group Life Insurance.

Sponsor: Rep Buyer, Steve [IN-4] (introduced 5/13/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/9/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee by Voice Vote.

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H.R.2389 : Veterans’ Group Life Insurance Improvement Act of 2009 to require the Secretary of Defense to establish registries of members and former members of the Armed Forces exposed in the line of duty to occupational and environmental health chemical hazards, to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide health care to veterans exposed to such hazards, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Hill, Baron P. [IN-9] (introduced 5/13/2009)      Cosponsors (11)

Committees: House Armed Services; House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/15/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.2405 : Richard Helm Veterans’ Access to Local Health Care Options and Resources Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide veterans enrolled in the health system of the Department of Veterans Affairs the option of receiving covered health services through facilities other than those of the Department.

Sponsor: Rep Latham, Tom [IA-4] (introduced 5/14/2009)      Cosponsors (3)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/15/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.2412 : Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act to exempt children of certain Filipino World War II veterans from the numerical limitations on immigrant visas.

Sponsor: Rep Hirono, Mazie K. [HI-2] (introduced 5/14/2009)      Cosponsors (10)

Committees: House Judiciary

Latest Major Action: 5/14/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

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H.R.2419 : Military Personnel War Zone Toxic Exposure Prevention Act to require the Secretary of Defense to establish a medical surveillance system to identify members of the Armed Forces exposed to chemical hazards resulting from the disposal of waste in Iraq and Afghanistan, to prohibit the disposal of waste by the Armed Forces in a manner that would produce dangerous levels of toxins, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Bishop, Timothy H. [NY-1] (introduced 5/14/2009)      Cosponsors (23)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 6/8/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Readiness.

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H.R.2429 : Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers Act of 2009 to require the establishment of a Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers to compute cost-of-living increases for Social Security benefits under title II of the Social Security Act.

Sponsor: Rep Gonzalez, Charles A. [TX-20] (introduced 5/14/2009)      Cosponsors (15)

Committees: House Ways and Means; House Education and Labor

Latest Major Action: 5/14/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, and in addition to the Committee on Education and Labor, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.2456 : Veterans Education Tuition Support Act of 2009 to amend section 484B of Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide for tuition reimbursement and loan forgiveness to students who withdraw from an institution of higher education to serve in the uniformed services, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Davis, Susan A. [CA-53] (introduced 5/18/2009)      Cosponsors (32)     Related Bills: H.R.2561, S.1603

Latest Major Action: 5/18/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor.

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H.R.2474 : Veterans Educational Equity Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide that in the case of an individual entitled to educational assistance under the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance program who is enrolled at an institution of higher education in a State in which the public institutions charge only fees in lieu of tuition, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall allow the individual to use all or any portion of the amounts payable for the established charges for the program of education to pay any amount of the individual’s tuition or fees for that program of education.

Sponsor: Rep McKeon, Howard P. “Buck” [CA-25] (introduced 5/19/2009)      Cosponsors (48)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/19/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.2486 : Vet Organization Funeral Detail Support. To amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for support of funeral ceremonies for veterans provided by details that consist solely of members of veterans organizations and other organizations, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Gohmert, Louie [TX-1] (introduced 5/19/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 6/8/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.2504 : Homeless Vet VA Appropriation Increase. To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for an increase in the annual amount authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out comprehensive service programs for homeless veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Teague, Harry [NM-2] (introduced 5/19/2009)      Cosponsors (5)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/19/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.2505 : Reaching Rural Veterans through Telehealth Act to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot program to utilize tele-health platforms to assist in the treatment of veterans living in rural areas who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury.

Sponsor: Rep Teague, Harry [NM-2] (introduced 5/19/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/19/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.2506 : Veterans Hearing and Assessment Act to direct the Secretary of Defense to ensure the members of the Armed Forces receive mandatory hearing screenings before and after deployments and to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to mandate that tinnitus be listed as a mandatory condition for treatment by the Department of Veterans Affairs Auditory Centers of Excellence and that research on the preventing, treating, and curing of tinnitus be conducted.

Sponsor: Rep Teague, Harry [NM-2] (introduced 5/19/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 6/8/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.2546 : Right to Display Service Flag. To ensure that the right of an individual to display the Service flag on residential property not be abridged.

Sponsor: Rep Boccieri, John A. [OH-16] (introduced 5/21/2009)      Cosponsors (28)

Committees: House Financial Services

Latest Major Action: 5/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services.

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H.R.2553 : Atomic Veterans Service Medal Act to authorize the award of a military service medal to members of the Armed Forces who were exposed to ionizing radiation as a result of participation in the testing of nuclear weapons or under other circumstances.

Sponsor: Rep Tiahrt, Todd [KS-4] (introduced 5/21/2009)      Cosponsors (12)               Related bill S.1128

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 6/8/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.2559 : Help Our Homeless Veterans Act to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a national media campaign directed at homeless veterans and veterans at risk for becoming homeless.

Sponsor: Rep Hare, Phil [IL-17] (introduced 5/21/2009)      Cosponsors (12)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/22/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee by Voice Vote .

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H.R.2561 : Help Student Soldiers Act to amend section 484B of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to forgive certain loans for servicemembers who withdraw from an institution of higher education as a result of service in the uniformed services, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Kind, Ron [WI-3] (introduced 5/21/2009)      Cosponsors (20)      Related Bills: H.R.2456, S.1603

Latest Major Action: 5/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor.

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H.R.2573 : Atomic Veterans Relief Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to revise the eligibility criteria for presumption of service-connection of certain diseases and disabilities for veterans exposed to ionizing radiation during military service, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Abercrombie, Neil [HI-1] (introduced 5/21/2009)      Cosponsors (14)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.2583 : Women Veterans Access to Care Act to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to improve health care for women veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Boswell, Leonard L. [IA-3] (introduced 5/21/2009)      Cosponsors (8)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.2585 : Protecting the Retirement of Our Troops by Ensuring Compensation is Timely Act to delay any presumption of death in connection with the kidnapping in Iraq or Afghanistan of a retired member of the Armed Forces to ensure the continued payment of the member’s retired pay.

Sponsor: Rep Broun, Paul C. [GA-10] (introduced 5/21/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 6/8/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.2586 : Honor Guard 13-fold Flag Recitation Option. To prohibit the Secretary of Veterans Affairs from authorizing honor guards to participate in funerals of veterans interred in national cemeteries unless the honor guards may offer veterans’ families the option of having the honor guard perform a 13-fold flag recitation, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Broun, Paul C. [GA-10] (introduced 5/21/2009)      Cosponsors (46)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.2594 : Dependent State Plot VA Allowance. To amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide a plot allowance for spouses and children of certain veterans who are buried in State cemeteries.

Sponsor: Rep Garrett, Scott [NJ-5] (introduced 5/21/2009)      Cosponsors (47)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.2598 : Bataan/Corregidor/Luzon Gold Medal. To grant a congressional gold medal to American military personnel who fought in defense of Bataan/Corregidor/Luzon between December 7, 1941 and May 6, 1942.

Sponsor: Rep Heinrich, Martin [NM-1] (introduced 5/21/2009)      Cosponsors (21)

Committees: House Financial Services; House Administration

Latest Major Action: 5/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Financial Services, and in addition to the Committee on House Administration, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.2621 : Travel Expense Reimbursement Time Requirement. To amend title 10, United States Code, to use a time requirement for determining eligibility for the reimbursement of certain travel expenses.

Sponsor: Rep McCarthy, Kevin [CA-22] (introduced 5/21/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 6/8/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.2638 : Veterans Stamp to Honor American Veterans Act to provide for the issuance of a veterans health care stamp.

Sponsor: Rep Shuler, Heath [NC-11] (introduced 5/21/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Oversight and Government Reform; House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and in addition to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.2642 : Veterans Missing in America Act of 2009 to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to assist in the identification of unclaimed and abandoned human remains to determine if any such remains are eligible for burial in a national cemetery, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Tiberi, Patrick J. [OH-12] (introduced 5/21/2009)      Cosponsors (8)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.2647 : National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2010 for military activities of the Department of Defense, to prescribe military personnel strengths for fiscal year 2010, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Skelton, Ike [MO-4] (by request) (introduced 6/2/2009)      Cosponsors (1)                 Related Bill H.R.2990

Committees: House Armed Services

House Reports: 111-166, 111-166 Part 2
Latest Major Action: Became Public Law No: 111-84

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H.R.2672 : Help Veterans Own Franchises Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow credits for the establishment of franchises with veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Schock, Aaron [IL-18] (introduced 6/3/2009)      Cosponsors (17)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 6/3/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.2673 : Surviving Spouse Pension Upgrade. To amend title 38, United States Code, to match the pension amount paid to surviving spouses of veterans who served during a period of war to the pension amount paid to such veterans.

Sponsor: Rep DeFazio, Peter A. [OR-4] (introduced 6/3/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/5/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

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H.R.2683 : To establish the American Veterans Congressional Internship Program.

Sponsor: Rep Holt, Rush D. [NJ-12] (introduced 6/3/2009)      Cosponsors (3)

Committees: House Administration

Latest Major Action: 6/3/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on House Administration.

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H.R.2689 : D-Day Memorial. To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to study the suitability and feasibility of designating the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, as a unit of the National Park System.

Sponsor: Rep Perriello, Thomas S.P. [VA-5] (introduced 6/3/2009)      Cosponsors (7)             Related bill S.1207

Committees: House Natural Resources

Latest Major Action: 10/1/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.2696 : Servicemembers’ Rights Protection Act to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to provide for the enforcement of rights afforded under that Act.

Sponsor: Rep Miller, Brad [NC-13] (introduced 6/4/2009)      Cosponsors (4)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/8/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee (Amended) by Voice Vote .

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H.R.2698 : Veterans’ and Survivors’ Behavioral Health Awareness Act to improve and enhance the mental health care benefits available to veterans, to enhance counseling and other benefits available to survivors of veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Giffords, Gabrielle [AZ-8] (introduced 6/4/2009)      Cosponsors (20)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/5/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.2699 : Armed Forces Behavioral Health Awareness Act to improve the mental health care benefits available to members of the Armed Forces, to enhance counseling available to family members of members of the Armed Forces, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Giffords, Gabrielle [AZ-8] (introduced 6/4/2009)      Cosponsors (18)

Committees: House Armed Services; House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/24/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.2713 : Disabled Veterans Life Insurance Enhancement Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to make certain improvements in the service disabled veterans’ insurance program of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Sponsor: Rep Donnelly, Joe [IN-2] (introduced 6/4/2009)      Cosponsors (12)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/24/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.2734 : Health Care for Family Caregivers Act of 2009 to amend section 1781 of title 38, United States Code, to provide medical care to family members of disabled veterans who serve as caregivers to such veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Perriello, Thomas S.P. [VA-5] (introduced 6/4/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/18/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.2735 : Homeless Vet Service Program Improvements. To amend title 38, United States Code, to make certain improvements to the comprehensive service programs for homeless veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Rodriguez, Ciro D. [TX-23] (introduced 6/4/2009)      Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/22/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee (Amended) by Voice Vote .

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H.R.2738 : Family Caregiver Travel Expense Compensation. To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide travel expenses for family caregivers accompanying veterans to medical treatment facilities.

Sponsor: Rep Teague, Harry [NM-2] (introduced 6/4/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/18/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.2756 : Veterans Home Loan Refinance Opportunity Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow eligible veterans to use qualified veterans mortgage bonds to refinance home loans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Davis, Susan A. [CA-53] (introduced 6/8/2009)      Cosponsors (16)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 6/8/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.2771 : Military Overpayment Fairness Act of 2009 to amend titles 10 and 37, United States Code, to provide a more equitable process by which the military departments may recover overpayments of military pay and allowances erroneously paid to a member of the Armed Forces when the overpayment is due to no fault of the member, to expand Department discretion regarding remission or cancellation of indebtedness, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Shea-Porter, Carol [NH-1] (introduced 6/9/2009)      Cosponsors (6)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 6/24/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.2774 : Families of Veterans Financial Security Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to make permanent the extension of the duration of Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance coverage for totally disabled veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Halvorson, Deborah L. [IL-11] (introduced 6/9/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/9/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee by Voice Vote.

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H.R.2788 : Distinguished Flying Cross National Memorial Act to designate a Distinguished Flying Cross National Memorial at the March Field Air Museum in Riverside, California.

Sponsor: Rep Calvert, Ken [CA-44] (introduced 6/10/2009)      Cosponsors (23)

Committees: House Natural Resources

Latest Major Action: 6/12/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.

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H.R.2830 : Providing Access to Healthcare (PATH) for Veterans Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to give priority to unemployed veterans in furnishing hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care to certain veterans assigned to priority level 8.

Sponsor: Rep Courtney, Joe [CT-2] (introduced 6/11/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/12/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.2836 :  National Guard and Reservist Suicide Prevention and Community Response Act to amend the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 to improve and expand suicide prevention and community healing and response training under the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program.

Sponsor: Rep Hodes, Paul W. [NH-2] (introduced 6/11/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Latest Major Action: 6/24/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.2879 : Rural Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve health care for veterans who live in rural areas, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Kirkpatrick, Ann [AZ-1] (introduced 6/15/2009)      Cosponsors (5)

Latest Major Action: 6/19/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.2898 : Wounded Warrior Caregiver Assistance Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide support services for family caregivers of disabled veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Halvorson, Deborah L. [IL-11] (introduced 6/16/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Latest Major Action: 6/19/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.2926 : VA Special Care for Vietnam-era & Persian Gulf War Vets Exposed to Herbicides. To amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide, without expiration, hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care for certain Vietnam-era veterans exposed to herbicide and veterans of the Persian Gulf War.

Sponsor: Rep Nye, Glenn C., III [VA-2] (introduced 6/17/2009)      Cosponsors (5)

Latest Major Action: 7/9/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee (Amended) by Voice Vote.

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H.R.2928: Post-9/11 GI Bill Apprenticeship/OJT Program. To amend title 38, United State Code, to provide for an apprenticeship and on-job training program under the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Program.

Sponsor: Rep Perriello, Thomas S.P. [VA-5] (introduced 6/17/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Latest Major Action: 9/24/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.2965 : Enhancing Small Business Research and Innovation Act of 2009 to amend the Small Business Act with respect to the Small Business Innovation Research Program and the Small Business Technology Transfer Program, and for other purposes.:   Amended with H.AMDT.291 by Rep. David Reichert, D-WA to give preference to organizations that are located in under represented states and regions, or are women-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned, or minority-owned when awarding grants for Small Business Administration (SBA) outreach efforts authorized under Title III (rural development and outreach).

Sponsor: Rep Altmire, Jason [PA-4] (introduced 6/19/2009)      Cosponsors (9)

Committees: House Small Business; House Science and Technology

House Reports: 111-190 Part 1, 111-190 Part 2

Latest Major Action: 7/13/2009 Passed/agreed to in Senate. Status: Passed Senate in lieu of S. 1233 with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

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H.R.2968 : SGLI/VGLI Accelerated Death Benefit. To amend title 38, United States Code, to eliminate the required reduction in the amount of the accelerated death benefit payable to certain terminally-ill persons insured under Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance or Veterans’ Group Life Insurance.

Sponsor: Rep Kirkpatrick, Ann [AZ-1] (introduced 6/19/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Latest Major Action: 7/9/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee by Voice Vote .

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H.R.2970 : Federal Law Enforcement Officer Vet Age Limit. To amend title 5, United States Code, to increase the maximum age limit for an original appointment to a position as a Federal law enforcement officer in the case of any individual who has been discharged or released from active duty in the Armed Forces under honorable conditions, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Bishop, Rob [UT-1] (introduced 6/19/2009)      Cosponsors (2)

Latest Major Action: 6/19/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

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H.R.2974 : Disabled Vet Health Savings Account Eligibility. To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow individuals eligible for veterans health benefits to contribute to health savings accounts.

Sponsor: Rep Campbell, John [CA-48] (introduced 6/19/2009)      Cosponsors (4)

Latest Major Action: 6/19/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.2980 : Survivor Benefit Time Limit for 100% Disabled Vets. To amend title 38, United States Code, to reduce the period of time for which a veteran must be totally disabled before the veteran’s survivors are eligible for the benefits provided by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for survivors of certain veterans rated totally disabled at time of death.

Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 6/19/2009)      Cosponsors (2)

Latest Major Action: 6/26/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

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H.R.2990 : Disabled Military Retiree Relief Act of 2009 to provide special pays and allowances to certain members of the Armed Forces, expand concurrent receipt of military retirement and VA disability benefits to disabled military retirees, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Skelton, Ike [MO-4] (introduced 6/23/2009)      Cosponsors (25)           Related Bill H.R.2647

Committees: House Armed Services; House Oversight and Government Reform; House Natural Resources; House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/25/2009 Pursuant to the provisions of H. Res. 572 , H.R. 2990 is laid on the table.

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H.R.3067 : Health Security for All Americans Act of 2009 to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to reform Medicare payments to physicians and certain other providers and improve Medicare benefits, to encourage the offering of health coverage by small businesses, to provide tax incentives for the purchase of health insurance by individuals, to increase access to health care for veterans, to address the nursing shortage, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Latham, Tom [IA-4] (introduced 6/26/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Energy and Commerce; House Education and Labor; House Ways and Means; House Veterans’ Affairs; House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 8/3/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.3073 : Pending Vet Homeless Grant Program. To amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs establish a grant program to provide assistance to veterans who are at risk of becoming homeless.

Sponsor: Rep Nye, Glenn C., III [VA-2] (introduced 6/26/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/1/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.3087 : Establish VA Claim Decision Deadlines. To amend title 38, United States Code, to establish a deadline for decisions with respect to claims for benefits under laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Butterfield, G. K. [NC-1] (introduced 6/26/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/10/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

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H.R.3155 : Caregiver Assistance and Resource Enhancement Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide certain caregivers of veterans with training, support, and medical care, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Michaud, Michael H. [ME-2] (introduced 7/9/2009)      Cosponsors (9)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/28/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.3199 : Emergency Medic Transition (EMT) Act of 2009 to amend the Public Health Service Act to provide grants to State emergency medical service departments to provide for the expedited training and licensing of veterans with prior medical training, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Harman, Jane [CA-36] (introduced 7/14/2009)      Cosponsors (4)

Committees: House Energy and Commerce

Latest Major Action: 7/14/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

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H.R.3200 : America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 to provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans and reduce the growth in health care spending, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Dingell, John D. [MI-15] (introduced 7/14/2009)      Cosponsors (9)

Committees: House Energy and Commerce; House Ways and Means; House Education and Labor; House Oversight and Government Reform; House Budget

Latest Major Action: 10/14/2009 Placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 168.

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H.R.3223 : Vet Owned Businesses VA Contracts. To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the Department of Veterans Affairs contracting goals and preferences for small business concerns owned and controlled by veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Buyer, Steve [IN-4] (introduced 7/15/2009)      Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/24/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.3266 : Veteran Assistance Dog Grant Program. To establish a grant program to encourage the use of assistance dogs by certain members of the Armed Forces and veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Klein, Ron [FL-22] (introduced 7/20/2009)      Cosponsors (18)            Related Bill S.1485

Committees: House Armed Services; House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/24/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity.

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H.R.3280 : Rural Vet Transportation Grant Program. To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a grant program to assist veterans in highly rural areas by providing transportation to medical centers.

Sponsor: Rep Rodriguez, Ciro D. [TX-23] (introduced 7/21/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/24/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.3281 : Vet Care Rural Area Demonstration Project. To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out demonstration projects related to providing care for veterans in rural areas.

Sponsor: Rep Rodriguez, Ciro D. [TX-23] (introduced 7/21/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/24/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.3282 : Vet Readjustment and Mental Health Care Services. To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide certain veterans with readjustment and mental health care services, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Rodriguez, Ciro D. [TX-23] (introduced 7/21/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/24/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.3283 : VA Travel Reimbursement for Veterans Annual Review. To amend title 38, United States Code, to allow for reimbursement of certain travel at a set rate, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Rodriguez, Ciro D. [TX-23] (introduced 7/21/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/24/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.3324 : Stable Future for Veterans’ Children Act to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for the payment of monthly annuities under the Survivor Benefit Plan to a supplemental or special needs trust established for the sole benefit of a disabled dependent child of a participant in the Survivor Benefit Plan.

Sponsor: Rep Cantor, Eric [VA-7] (introduced 7/24/2009)      Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 7/24/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Armed Services.

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H.R.3337 : Post-9/11 Veterans’ Job Training Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the use of entitlement under Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Program for the pursuit of apprenticeships and on-job training.

Sponsor: Rep DeLauro, Rosa L. [CT-3] (introduced 7/24/2009)      Cosponsors (16)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/31/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity.

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H.R.3349 : NAIV Charter. To grant a Federal charter to the National American Indian Veterans, Incorporated.

Sponsor: Rep Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie [SD] (introduced 7/27/2009)      Cosponsors (None)    Related Bill S.1520

Committees: House Judiciary

Latest Major Action: 8/19/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law.

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H.R.3365 : Medicare VA Reimbursement Act of 2009 to provide Medicare payments to Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities for items and services provided to Medicare-eligible veterans for non-service-connected conditions.

Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 7/28/2009)      Cosponsors (26)

Committees: House Ways and Means; House Energy and Commerce; House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/31/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.3366 : Illegal Garnishment Prevention Act to prohibit the use of funds to promote the direct deposit of Veterans and Social Security benefits until adequate safeguards are established to prevent the attachment and garnishment of such benefits.

Sponsor: Rep Gordon, Bart [TN-6] (introduced 7/28/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Ways and Means; House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/31/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

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H.R.3368 : Honor Act of 2009 to enhance benefits for survivors of certain former members of the Armed Forces with a history of post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury, to enhance availability and access to mental health counseling for members of the Armed Forces and veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Markey, Betsy [CO-4] (introduced 7/28/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Armed Services; House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 10/28/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.3403 : Supporting Military Families Act of 2009 to amend the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 and title 5, United States Code, to provide leave for family members of members of regular components of the Armed Forces, and leave to care for covered veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Woolsey, Lynn C. [CA-6] (introduced 7/30/2009)      Cosponsors (4)

Committees: House Education and Labor; House Oversight and Government Reform; House Administration

Latest Major Action: 7/30/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Education and Labor, and in addition to the Committees on Oversight and Government Reform, and House Administration, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.3407 : Severely Injured Veterans Benefit Improvement Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to make certain improvements to laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs relating to benefits for severely injured veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Buyer, Steve [IN-4] (introduced 7/30/2009)      Cosponsors (20)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/31/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

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H.R.3441 : Combat Vet VA Enrollment. To provide for automatic enrollment of veterans returning from combat zones into the VA medical system, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Arcuri, Michael A. [NY-24] (introduced 7/31/2009)      Cosponsors (9)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/1/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.3467 : Veterans Education Enhancement and Fairness Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for a monthly housing stipend under the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs for individuals pursuing programs of education offered through distance learning, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Carney, Christopher P. [PA-10] (introduced 7/31/2009)      Cosponsors (12)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/11/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity.

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H.R.3484 : VA Work Study Authority. To amend title 38, United States Code, to extend the authority for certain qualifying work-study activities for purposes of the educational assistance programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Sponsor: Rep Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie [SD] (introduced 7/31/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/11/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity.

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H.R.3485 : Veterans Pensions Protection Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide that monetary benefits paid to veterans by States and municipalities shall be excluded from consideration as income for purposes of pension benefits paid by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Sponsor: Rep Higgins, Brian [NY-27] (introduced 7/31/2009)      Cosponsors (7)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/8/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.3491 : Thomas G. Schubert Agent Orange Fairness Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish a presumption of service connection for certain cancers occurring in veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam and were exposed to certain herbicide agents, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Kagen, Steve [WI-8] (introduced 7/31/2009)      Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/11/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

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H.R.3507 : VA Survivor Education Rate Increase. To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for an increase in the rates of survivors’ and dependents’ educational assistance payable by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Sponsor: Rep Paulsen, Erik [MN-3] (introduced 7/31/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/11/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

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H.R.3522 : Veterans Hardship Outreach for Priority Eights (HOPE) Act to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide grants and assistance to States to conduct outreach to veterans regarding hardship and priority under the Department of Veterans Affairs patient enrollment system.

Sponsor: Rep Space, Zachary T. [OH-18] (introduced 7/31/2009)      Cosponsors (6)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/11/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.3544 : National Cemeteries Expansion Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide guidelines for the establishment of new national cemeteries by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 9/9/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/8/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.3554 : National Guard Education Equality Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the inclusion of certain active duty service in the reserve components as qualifying service for purposes of Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Loebsack, David [IA-2] (introduced 9/10/2009)      Cosponsors (72)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/24/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.3573 : Call to Service Homebuyer Credit Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to prevent a change in residency as a result of extended official duty in the uniformed services, Foreign Service, or intelligence community from triggering the repayment provisions of the first time homebuyer credit, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Blumenauer, Earl [OR-3] (introduced 9/15/2009)      Cosponsors (None)    Related bills:  H.R.2562

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 9/15/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.3575 : Vet Mortgage Life Insurance Increase. To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for an increase in the maximum amount of veterans’ mortgage life insurance available under laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Sponsor: Rep Perriello, Thomas S.P. [VA-5] (introduced 9/15/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/15/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.3577 : Education Assistance to Realign New Eligibilities for Dependents (EARNED) Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United State Code, to provide authority for certain members of the Armed Forces who have served 20 years on active duty to transfer entitlement to Post-9/11 Educational Assistance to their dependents.

Sponsor: Rep Rodriguez, Ciro D. [TX-23] (introduced 9/15/2009)      Cosponsors (8)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/24/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.3620 : Hiring Heroes Tax Incentive Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow employers a credit against income tax for employing members of the Ready Reserve and National Guard and veterans recently separated from the Armed Forces.

Sponsor: Rep Alexander, Rodney [LA-5] (introduced 9/22/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 9/22/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.3657 : USPHS & NOAA GI Bill Benefit Transfer. To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for members of the United States Public Health Service and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Corps to transfer unused benefits under Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program to family members, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Rodriguez, Ciro D. [TX-23] (introduced 9/25/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/25/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.3661 : GI Bill Housing Stipend. To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for a monthly housing stipend under the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program for individuals pursuing programs of education offered through distance learning, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Rehberg, Denny [MT] (introduced 9/29/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/29/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.3672 : Social Security COLA Fix for 2010 Act to provide for an increase of $150 in Social Security benefits for one month in 2010 to compensate for the lack of a cost-of-living adjustment for that year, and to amend title II of the Social Security Act to eliminate the requirement that there be a Social Security cost-of-living adjustment for an adjustment in the contribution and benefit base to occur.

Sponsor: Rep McCarthy, Carolyn [NY-4] (introduced 9/29/2009)      Cosponsors (14)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 9/29/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.3677: Save Our Seniors’ Social Security Act of 2009 to provide $280 relief payments to recipients of Social Security and railroad retirement benefits, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Granger, Kay [TX-12] (introduced 9/30/2009)      Cosponsors (10)

Committees: House Ways and Means; House Transportation and Infrastructure; House Appropriations

Latest Major Action: 10/1/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.

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H.R.3685 : Inclusion of VetSuccess on VA Website. To require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to include on the main page of the Internet website of the Department of Veterans Affairs a hyperlink to the VetSuccess Internet website and to publicize such Internet website.

Sponsor: Rep Stearns, Cliff [FL-6] (introduced 9/30/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/30/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.3719 : Veterans Economic Opportunity Administration Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish in the Department of Veterans Affairs a Veterans Economic Opportunity Administration, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Buyer, Steve [IN-4] (introduced 10/6/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/6/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.3787 : Treat Certain Reserve Time as Active Duty Time. To amend title 38, United States Code, to deem certain service in the reserve components as active service for purposes of laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Sponsor: Rep Walz, Timothy J. [MN-1] (introduced 10/8/2009)      Cosponsors (27)      Related bill: S.1780

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/8/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.3796 : Homeless Vet Assistor’s Per Diem Grants. To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve per diem grant payments for organizations assisting homeless veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 10/13/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/13/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.3813 : Veterans Training Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the approval of certain programs of education for purposes of the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program.

Sponsor: Rep Sestak, Joe [PA-7] (introduced 10/14/2009)      Cosponsors (3)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/14/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.3843 : Transparency for America’s Heroes Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to publish redacted medical quality-assurance records of the Department of Veterans Affairs on the Internet website of the Department.

Sponsor: Rep Sestak, Joe [PA-7] (introduced 10/15/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/15/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.3885 : Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot program on dog training therapy.

Sponsor: Rep Brown, Henry E., Jr. [SC-1] (introduced 10/21/2009)      Cosponsors (7)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/22/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee by Voice Vote .

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H.R.3886 : Providing Military Honors for our Nation’s Heroes Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to reimburse certain volunteers who provide funeral honors details at the funerals of veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 10/21/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.3906 : Low Income Vet Family Permanent Housing. To amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize appropriations for the Department of Veterans Affairs program to provide financial assistance for supportive services for very low-income veteran families in permanent housing.

Sponsor: Rep Teague, Harry [NM-2] (introduced 10/22/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/22/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.3908 : Families of Disabled Veterans Work Opportunity Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide the work opportunity tax credit with respect to a designated family member of a veteran with a service-connected disability if the veteran is unable to work.

Sponsor: Rep Halvorson, Deborah L. [IL-11] (introduced 10/22/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 10/22/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.3926 : Armed Forces Breast Cancer Research Act to direct the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to jointly conduct a study on the incidence of breast cancer among members of the Armed Forces and veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Boswell, Leonard L. [IA-3] (introduced 10/26/2009)      Cosponsors (6)

Committees: House Armed Services; House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/26/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Armed Services, and in addition to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.3943 : Post 9/11 Troops to Teachers Enhancement Act to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to allow members of the Armed Forces who served on active duty on or after September 11, 2001, to be eligible to participate in the Troops-to-Teachers Program, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Courtney, Joe [CT-2] (introduced 10/27/2009)      Cosponsors (2)    Related Bill S.

Committees: House Education and Labor; House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 10/27/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Education and Labor, and in addition to the Committee on Armed Services, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.3948 : Test Prep for Heroes Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for entitlement under the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program to payment for test preparatory courses, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Putnam, Adam H. [FL-12] (introduced 10/28/2009)      Cosponsors (22)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/28/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.3949 : Veterans’ Small Business Assistance and Servicemembers Protection Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, and the Servicemember Civil Relief Act, to make certain improvements in the laws relating to benefits administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 10/28/2009)      Cosponsors (22)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/28/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Ordered to be Reported by Voice Vote.

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Senate

S.35 : IRS Sales Tax Permanent Deduction. A bill to provide a permanent deduction for State and local general sales taxes. Companion Bill H.R.369.

Sponsor: Sen Hutchison, Kay Bailey [TX] (introduced 1/6/2009)      Cosponsors (7)

Committees: Senate Finance

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

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S.66 : Disabled Vet Space A. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to permit former members of the Armed Forces who have a service-connected disability rated as total to travel on military aircraft in the same manner and to the same extent as retired members of the Armed Forces are entitled to travel on such aircraft.

Sponsor: Sen Inouye, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 1/6/2009)      Cosponsors (2)

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

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S.67 :  Disabled POW Commissary/Exchange Use. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to authorize certain disabled former prisoners of war to use Department of Defense commissary and exchange stores.

Sponsor: Sen Inouye, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 1/6/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

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S.68 : Filipino Service Certification. A bill to require the Secretary of the Army to determine the validity of the claims of certain Filipinos that they performed military service on behalf of the United States during World War II.

Sponsor: Sen Inouye, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 1/6/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.94 : Long-Term Care Family Accessibility Act. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for a nonrefundable tax credit for long-term care insurance premiums.

Sponsor: Sen Vitter, David [LA] (introduced 1/6/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Finance

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

Major Action: 1/13/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.239 : Veterans Health Equity Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to ensure that veterans in each of the 48 contiguous States are able to receive services in at least one full-service hospital of the Veterans Health Administration in the State or receive comparable services provided by contract in the State.

Sponsor: Sen Shaheen, Jeanne [NH] (introduced 1/14/2009)      Cosponsors (1)        Companion Bill H.R.190

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/14/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.246 : Veterans Health Care Quality Improvement Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the quality of care provided to veterans in Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities, to encourage highly qualified doctors to serve in hard-to-fill positions in such medical facilities, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Durbin, Richard [IL] (introduced 1/14/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/14/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.252 : Veterans Health Care Authorization Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to enhance the capacity of the Department of Veterans Affairs to recruit and retain nurses and other critical health-care professionals, to improve the provision of health care veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 1/15/2009)      Cosponsors (10)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/21/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Ordered to be reported without amendment favorably.

To support this bill and/or contact your Senators send a message via http://capwiz.com/dav/issues/alert/?alertid=14008476&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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S.263 : Servicemembers Access to Justice Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the enforcement of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, and for other purposes. Companion Bill H.R.1474.

Sponsor: Sen Casey, Robert P., Jr. [PA] (introduced 1/15/2009)      Cosponsors (3)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/29/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.274 : Veterans Jobs Opportunity Act of 2009. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide an incentive to hire unemployed veterans.

Sponsor: Sen Baucus, Max [MT] (introduced 1/16/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: Senate Finance

Latest Major Action: 1/16/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

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S.296 : Fair Tax Act of 2009. A bill to promote freedom, fairness, and economic opportunity by repealing the income tax and other taxes, abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, and enacting a national sales tax to be administered primarily by the States.

Sponsor: Sen Chambliss, Saxby [GA] (introduced 1/22/2009)      Cosponsors (4)

Committees: Senate Finance

Latest Major Action: 1/22/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

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S.307 : Critical Access Hospital Flexibility Act of 2009. A bill to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide flexibility in the manner in which beds are counted for purposes of determining whether a hospital may be designated as a critical access hospital under the Medicare program and to exempt from the critical access hospital inpatient bed limitation the number of beds provided for certain veterans. Companion Bill H.R.668

Sponsor: Sen Wyden, Ron [OR] (introduced 1/22/2009)      Cosponsors (15)

Committees: Senate Finance

Latest Major Action: 1/22/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

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S.315 : Veterans Outreach Improvement Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the outreach activities of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes. Companion Bill H.R.32

Sponsor: Sen Feingold, Russell D. [WI] (introduced 1/26/2009)      Cosponsors (1)               Related Bill H.R.2257

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/29/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.347 : Vet Hand Loss Traumatic Injury Protection. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to allow the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to distinguish between the severity of a qualifying loss of a dominant hand and a qualifying loss of a non-dominant hand for purposes of traumatic injury protection under Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Ensign, John [NV] (introduced 1/29/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/29/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.402 : Keeping Our Promise to America’s Military Veterans Act. A bill to improve the lives of our Nation’s veterans and their families and provide them with the opportunity to achieve the American dream.

Sponsor: Sen Snowe, Olympia J. [ME] (introduced 2/10/2009)      Cosponsors (4)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/10/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.404 : Veterans’ Emergency Care Fairness Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand veteran eligibility for reimbursement by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for emergency treatment furnished in a non-Department facility, and for other purposes. Companion Bill H.R.1377.

Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 2/10/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/10/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

To support this bill and/or contact your Senators refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=13048301&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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S.407 : Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2009. A bill to increase, effective as of December 1, 2009, the rates of compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for the survivors of certain disabled veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 2/10/2009)      Cosponsors (17)            Related bill H.R.1513

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Senate Reports: 111-24
Latest Major Action: Became Public Law No: 111-37 [GPO: Text, PDF]

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S.423 : Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize advance appropriations for certain medical care accounts of the Department of Veterans Affairs by providing two-fiscal year budget authority, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 2/12/2009)      Cosponsors (56)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 8/6/2009 Senate floor actions. Status: Returned to the Calendar. Calendar No. 101.

To support this bill and/or contact your Senators send a message http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12703276

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S.491 : Federal and Military Retiree Health Care Equity Act. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow Federal civilian and military retirees to pay health insurance premiums on a pretax basis and to allow a deduction for TRICARE supplemental premiums.

Sponsor: Sen Webb, Jim [VA] (introduced 2/26/2009)      Cosponsors (43)             Companion Bill H.R.1203

Committees: Senate Finance

Latest Major Action: 2/26/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

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S.498 : Vet Dental Insurance. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize dental insurance for veterans and survivors and dependents of veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Burr, Richard [NC] (introduced 2/26/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/26/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.514 : Veterans Rehabilitation and Training Improvements Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to enhance vocational rehabilitation benefits for veterans, and for other purposes. Companion Bill H.R.297.

Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 3/3/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/29/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.535 : SBP DIC Offset Elimination. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to repeal requirement for reduction of survivor annuities under the Survivor Benefit Plan by veterans’ dependency and indemnity compensation, and for other purposes. Companion Bill H.775.

Sponsor: Sen Nelson, Bill [FL] (introduced 3/5/2009)      Cosponsors (52)

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 3/5/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

To support this bill and/or contact your Senator send a message via http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/alert/?alertid=12848666&type=CO

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S.543 : Veteran and Servicemember Family Caregiver Support Act of 2009. A bill to require a pilot program on training, certification, and support for family caregivers of seriously disabled veterans and members of the Armed Forces to provide caregiver services to such veterans and members, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Durbin, Richard [IL] (introduced 3/6/2009)      Cosponsors (14)           Companion Bill H.R.785.

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/6/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.546 : Retired Pay Restoration Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to permit certain retired members of the uniformed services who have a service-connected disability to receive both disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs for their disability and either retired pay by reason of their years of military service of Combat-Related Special Compensation. Companion Bill H.R.811.

Sponsor: Sen Reid, Harry [NV] (introduced 3/9/2009)      Cosponsors (42)

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 3/9/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

To support this bill and/or contact your Senators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12904686&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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S.572 : Purple Heart Forever Stamp. A bill to provide for the issuance of a “forever stamp” to honor the sacrifices of the brave men and women of the armed forces who have been awarded the Purple Heart. Companion Bill H.R.1305.

Sponsor: Sen Webb, Jim [VA] (introduced 3/11/2009)      Cosponsors (16)

Committees: Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/23/2009 Referred to Senate subcommittee. Status: Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs referred to Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security.

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S.597 : Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand and improve health care services available to women veterans, especially those serving in operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes. Companion Bill H.R.1211

Sponsor: Sen Murray, Patty [WA] (introduced 3/16/2009)      Cosponsors (20)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/16/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.606 : Veterans Corps Program. A bill to amend the National and Community Service Act of 1990 to establish a Veterans Corps program.

Sponsor: Sen Warner, Mark R. [VA] (introduced 3/17/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

Latest Major Action: 3/17/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

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S.614 : WASP Gold Medal Award. A bill to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (“WASP”).

Sponsor: Sen Hutchison, Kay Bailey [TX] (introduced 3/17/2009)      Cosponsors (75)            Companion Bill H.R.2014

Committees: Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

Latest Major Action: Became Public Law No: 111-40 [GPO: Text, PDF]

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S.642 : Health Care for Members of the Armed Forces Exposed to Chemical Hazards Act of 2009. A bill to require the Secretary of Defense to establish registries of members and former members of the Armed Forces exposed in the line of duty to occupational and environmental health chemical hazards, to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide health care to veterans exposed to such hazards, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Bayh, Evan [IN] (introduced 3/19/2009)      Cosponsors (7)

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 3/19/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

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S.644 : National Guard and Reserve Retired Pay Equity Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to include service after September 11, 2001, as service qualifying for the determination of a reduced eligibility age for receipt of non-regular service retired pay.

Sponsor: Sen Chambliss, Saxby [GA] (introduced 3/19/2009)      Cosponsors (13)          Companion Bill H.R.208          Related Bill S.831

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 3/19/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

To support this bill and/or contact your Senators send a message via http://capwiz.com/ncoausa/issues/alert/?alertid=12995086&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id] or  http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/?bill=12960556

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S.658 : Rural Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve health care for veterans who live in rural areas, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Tester, Jon [MT] (introduced 3/19/2009)      Cosponsors (9)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/19/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.663 : Belated Thank You to the Merchant Mariners of World War II Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish the Merchant Mariner Equity Compensation Fund to provide benefits to certain individuals who served in the United States merchant marine (including the Army Transport Service and the Naval Transport Service) during World War II.

Sponsor: Sen Nelson, E. Benjamin [NE] (introduced 3/19/2009)      Cosponsors (46)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/29/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.669 : Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify the conditions under which certain persons may be treated as adjudicated mentally incompetent for certain purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Burr, Richard [NC] (introduced 3/23/2009)      Cosponsors (17)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/16/2009 Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 78.

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S.691 : Colorado National Cemetery for Veterans. A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a national cemetery for veterans in southern Colorado region, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Bennet, Michael F. [CO] (introduced 3/25/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/29/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.699 : South Texas Veterans’ Hospital. A bill to provide for the construction by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs of a full service hospital in Far South Texas.

Sponsor: Sen Cornyn, John [TX] (introduced 3/25/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/25/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.700 : Ending the Medicare Disability Waiting Period Act of 2009. A bill to amend title II of the Social Security Act to phase out the 24-month waiting period for disabled individuals to become eligible for Medicare benefits, to eliminate the waiting period for individuals with life-threatening conditions, and for other purposes. Companion Bill H.R.1708.

Sponsor: Sen Bingaman, Jeff [NM] (introduced 3/25/2009)      Cosponsors (19)

Committees: Senate Finance

Latest Major Action: 3/25/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

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S.728 : Veterans’ Insurance and Benefits Enhancement Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to enhance veterans’ insurance benefits, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 3/26/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/7/2009 Senate floor actions. Status: Returned to the Calendar. Calendar No. 155.

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S.731 : TRICARE Coverage For “Gray Area” Reservists. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for continuity of TRICARE Standard coverage for certain members of the Retired Reserve. Companion Bill H.R.270

Sponsor: Sen Nelson, E. Benjamin [NE] (introduced 3/26/2009)      Cosponsors (23)

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 3/26/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services. ‘

To support this bill and/or contact your Senators send a message via http://www.ngaus.org/content.asp?bid=1805&False&False

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S.734 : Rural Veterans Health Care Access and Quality Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the capacity of the Department of Veterans Affairs to recruit and retain physicians in Health Professional Shortage Areas and to improve the provision of health care to veterans in rural areas, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 3/30/2009)      Cosponsors (2)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/30/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.746 : Nebraska National Cemetery. A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a national cemetery in the Sarpy County region to serve veterans in eastern Nebraska, western Iowa, and northwest Missouri.

Sponsor: Sen Nelson, E. Benjamin [NE] (introduced 3/31/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/29/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.760 : National World War I Memorial. A bill to designate the Liberty Memorial at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, as the “National World War I Memorial”.

Sponsor: Sen McCaskill, Claire [MO] (introduced 4/1/2009)      Cosponsors (1)             Related Bill H.R.1849

Committees: Senate Energy and Natural Resources

Latest Major Action: 4/1/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

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S.768 : Bataan Gold Medal Initiative. A bill to grant the Congressional Gold Medal to the soldiers from the United States who were prisoners of war at Bataan during World War II.

Sponsor: Sen Udall, Tom [NM] (introduced 4/1/2009)      Cosponsors (7)

Committees: Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/1/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

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S.772 : Honor Act of 2009. A bill to enhance benefits for survivors of certain former members of the Armed Forces with a history of post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury, to enhance availability and access to mental health counseling for members of the Armed Forces and veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Bond, Christopher S. [MO] (introduced 4/1/2009)      Cosponsors (12)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/1/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.793 : Department of Veterans Affairs Vision Scholars Act of 2009. A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a scholarship program for students seeking a degree or certificate in the areas of visual impairment and orientation and mobility.

Sponsor: Sen Brown, Sherrod [OH] (introduced 4/2/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/2/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.801 : Family Caregiver Program Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to waive charges for humanitarian care provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs to family members accompanying veterans severely injured after September 11, 2001, as they receive medical care from the Department and to provide assistance to family caregivers, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 4/2/2009)      Cosponsors (26)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/25/2009 Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 167.

To support this bill and/or contact your Senators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=13104956&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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S.820 : Veterans Mobility Enhancement Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to enhance the automobile assistance allowance for veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Sanders, Bernard [VT] (introduced 4/2/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/29/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.821 : VA Copay Collection Prohibition. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to prohibit the Secretary of Veterans Affairs from collecting certain copayments from veterans who are catastrophically disabled, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Sanders, Bernard [VT] (introduced 4/2/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/2/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read the second time and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.831 : National Guard and Reserve Retired Pay Equity Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to include service after September 11, 2001, as service qualifying for the determination of a reduced eligibility age for receipt of non-regular service retired pay.

Sponsor: Sen Kerry, John F. [MA] (introduced 4/20/2009)      Cosponsors (27)             Related Bill S.644

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/20/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

To support this bill and/or contact your Senators send a message via www.ngaus.org/content.asp?bid=1805

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S.832 : MOAA Federal Charter. A bill to amend title 36, United States Code, to grant a Federal charter to the Military Officers Association of America, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Nelson, Bill [FL] (introduced 4/20/2009)      Cosponsors (41)             Companion Bill H.R.2017   Related Bill S.1449

Committees: Senate Judiciary

Latest Major Action: 4/20/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

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S.842 : VA Home Loan Payoff to Mortgagers. A bill to repeal the sunset of certain enhancements of protections of servicemembers relating to mortgages and mortgage foreclosures, to amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to pay mortgage holders unpaid balances on housing loans guaranteed by Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Kerry, John F. [MA] (introduced 4/21/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/21/2009 4/29/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.847 : SBP Education Assistance Limitation Exclusion. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide that utilization of survivors’ and dependents’ educational assistance shall not be subject to the 48-month limitation on the aggregate amount of assistance utilizable under multiple veterans and related educational assistance programs.

Sponsor: Sen Webb, Jim [VA] (introduced 4/21/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/29/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.883 : Medal of Honor Coin. A bill to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in recognition and celebration of the establishment of the Medal of Honor in 1861, America’s highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States, to honor the American military men and women who have been recipients of the Medal of Honor, and to promote awareness of what the Medal of Honor represents and how ordinary Americans, through courage, sacrifice, selfless service and patriotism, can challenge fate and change the course of history.

Sponsor: Sen Kerry, John F. [MA] (introduced 4/23/2009)      Cosponsors (83)

Committees: Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/23/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

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S.902 : Veteran’s Treatment Courts. A bill to provide grants to establish veteran’s treatment courts.

Sponsor: Sen Kerry, John F. [MA] (introduced 4/27/2009)      Cosponsors (3)            Related Bill H.R.2127

Committees: Senate Judiciary

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

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S. 944 – The Wounded Warrior Transition Assistance Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to require the Secretaries of the military departments to give wounded members of the reserve components of the Armed Forces the option of remaining on active duty during the transition process in order to continue to receive military pay and allowances, to authorize members to reside at their permanent places of residence during the process, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Feingold, Russell D. [WI] (introduced 4/30/2009)      Cosponsors (5)

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/30/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

To support this bill and/or contact your Senators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=13266571&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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S.977 : Prisoner of War Benefits Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide improved benefits for veterans who are former prisoners of war, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Murray, Patty [WA] (introduced 5/5/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/5/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.998 : Arthur Woolweaver, Jr., Social Security Act Improvements for the Terminally Ill Act. A bill to amend title II of the Social Security Act to eliminate the five-month waiting period in the disability insurance program, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Brown, Sherrod [OH] (introduced 5/7/2009)      Cosponsors (2)

Committees: Senate Finance

Latest Major Action: 5/7/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

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S.1008 : Military Retired Pay Fairness Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to limit requirements of separation pay, special separation benefits, and voluntary separation incentive from members of the Armed Forces subsequently receiving retired or retainer pay.

Sponsor: Sen Shaheen, Jeanne [NH] (introduced 5/7/2009)      Cosponsors (5)             Companion bill H.R.2302

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 5/7/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

To support this bill and/or contact your Senators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=13682656&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id] or http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=13967481&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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S.1015 : Enhanced Disability Compensation for Certain Disabled Veterans. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to enhance disability compensation for certain disabled veterans with difficulties using prostheses and disabled veterans in need of regular aid and attendance for residuals of traumatic brain injury, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Burr, Richard [NC] (introduced 5/11/2009)      Cosponsors (2)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/11/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.1016 : Vet Disability Compensation Award upon Separation. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to modify the commencement of the period of payment of original awards of compensation for veterans who are retired or separated from the Uniformed services for disability.

Sponsor: Sen Burr, Richard [NC] (introduced 5/11/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/11/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.1042 : Illegal Garnishment Prevention Act. A bill to prohibit the use of funds to promote the direct deposit of Veterans and Social Security benefits until adequate safeguards are established to prevent the attachment and garnishment of such benefits.

Sponsor: Sen Kohl, Herb [WI] (introduced 5/14/2009)      Cosponsors (2)

Committees: Senate Finance

Latest Major Action: 5/14/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

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S.1055 : Gold Medal Award for 100th Inf Bn & 442nd RCT. A bill to grant the congressional gold medal, collectively, to the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, United States Army, in recognition of their dedicated service during World War II.

Sponsor: Sen Boxer, Barbara [CA] (introduced 5/14/2009)      Cosponsors (32)             Related bill H.R.347

Committees: Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/14/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

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S.1106 : Selected Reserve Continuum of Care Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to require the provision of medical and dental readiness services to certain members of the Selected Reserve and Individual Ready Reserve based on medical need, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Lincoln, Blanche L. [AR] (introduced 5/20/2009)      Cosponsors (7)

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 5/20/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

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S.1109 : PRO-VETS Act of 2009. A bill to provide veterans with individualized notice about available benefits, to streamline application processes or the benefits, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Gillibrand, Kirsten E. [NY] (introduced 5/20/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/21/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.1118 : DIC Compensation Rate Increase to 55%. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for an increase in the amount of monthly dependency and indemnity compensation payable to surviving spouses by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Lincoln, Blanche L. [AR] (introduced 5/21/2009)      Cosponsors (3)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/21/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.1128 : Atomic Veterans Service Medal Act. A bill to authorize the award of a military service medal to members of the Armed Forces who were exposed to ionizing radiation as a result of participation in the testing of nuclear weapons or under other circumstances.

Sponsor: Sen Roberts, Pat [KS] (introduced 5/21/2009)      Cosponsors (2)            Related bill H.R.2553

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 5/21/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

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S.1160 : Homes for Heroes Act of 2009. A bill to provide housing assistance for very low-income veterans.

Sponsor: Sen Schumer, Charles E. [NY] (introduced 6/1/2009)      Cosponsors (8)

Committees: Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/1/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

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S.1166 : Voluntary Support for Reservists and National Guard Members Act of 2009. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow taxpayers to designate part or all of any income tax refund to support reservists and National Guard members.

Sponsor: Sen Reid, Harry [NV] (introduced 6/3/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: Senate Finance

Latest Major Action: 6/3/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

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S.1168 : Nationally Significant Battlefields Protection. A bill to authorize the acquisition and protection of nationally significant battlefields and associated sites of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 under the American Battlefield Protection Program.

Sponsor: Sen Schumer, Charles E. [NY] (introduced 6/3/2009)      Cosponsors (1)              Related Bill H.R.1694

Committees: Senate Energy and Natural Resources

Latest Major Action: 7/15/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks. Hearings held. With printed Hearing: S.Hrg. 111-92.

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S.1169 : Uniformed Services with Autism (USA) Heroes Act . A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for the treatment of autism under TRICARE.

Sponsor: Sen Gillibrand, Kirsten E. [NY] (introduced 6/3/2009)      Cosponsors (7)

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 6/3/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

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S.1204 : Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act of 2009. A bill to amend the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Programs Enhancement Act of 2001 to require the provision of chiropractic care and services to veterans at all Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Murray, Patty [WA] (introduced 6/8/2009)      Cosponsors (5)              Related bill H.R.1017

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/21/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.1237 : Homeless Women Veterans and Homeless Veterans with Children Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand the grant program for homeless veterans with special needs to include male homeless veterans with minor dependents and to establish a grant program for reintegration of homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Murray, Patty [WA] (introduced 6/11/2009)      Cosponsors (3)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/11/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.1337 : Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act of 2009. A bill to exempt children of certain Filipino World War II veterans from the numerical limitations on immigrant visas.

Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 6/24/2009)      Cosponsors (6)

Committees: Senate Judiciary

Latest Major Action: 6/24/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

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S.1347 : Carmelo Rodriguez Military Medical Accountability Act of 2009. A bill to amend chapter 171 of title 28, United States Code, to allow members of the Armed Forces to sue the United States for damages for certain injuries caused by improper medical care, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Schumer, Charles E. [NY] (introduced 6/24/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Judiciary

Latest Major Action: 6/24/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

To support this bill and/or contact your Senators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=13791596&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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S.1394 : Veterans Entitlement to Service Act of 2009. A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to acknowledge the receipt of medical, disability, and pension claims and other communications submitted by claimants, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Gillibrand, Kirsten E. [NY] (introduced 7/6/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/21/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.1427 : Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital Quality Report Card Act of 2009.  A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish a Hospital Quality Report Card Initiative to report on health care quality in Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Wyden, Ron [OR] (introduced 7/9/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/21/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.1429 : Servicemembers Mental Health Care Commission Act. A bill to establish a commission on veterans and members of the Armed Forces with post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, or other mental health disorders, to enhance the capacity of mental health care providers to assist such veterans and members, to ensure such veterans are not discriminated against, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Wyden, Ron [OR] (introduced 7/9/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/21/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.1449 : MOAA Federal Charter. A bill to amend title 36, United States Code, to grant a Federal charter to the Military Officers Association of America, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Nelson, Bill [FL] (introduced 7/14/2009)      Cosponsors (None)     Related Bill H.R.2017 & S,832

Committees: Senate Judiciary

Latest Major Action: 7/14/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

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S.1450 : Deceased Servicemen Parental Nursing Home Care. A bill to enable State homes to furnish nursing home care to parents any of whose children died while serving in the Armed Forces.

Sponsor: Sen Ensign, John [NV] (introduced 7/14/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/14/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.1452 : COMBAT PTSD Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify the meaning of “combat with the enemy” for purposes of service-connection of disabilities.

Sponsor: Sen Schumer, Charles E. [NY] (introduced 7/14/2009)      Cosponsors (5)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/14/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.1467 : Lance Corporal Josef Lopez Fairness for Servicemembers Harmed by Vaccines Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide coverage under Traumatic Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance for adverse reactions to vaccinations administered by the Department of Defense, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen McCaskill, Claire [MO] (introduced 7/16/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/21/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.1495 : Service Dogs for Veterans Act of 2009. A bill to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot program to assess the feasibility and advisability of using service dogs for the treatment or rehabilitation of veterans with physical or mental injuries or disabilities, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Franken, Al [MN] (introduced 7/22/2009)      Cosponsors (7)   Related Bill H.R.3266

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/22/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.1518 : Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to furnish hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care to veterans who were stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, while the water was contaminated at Camp Lejeune.

Sponsor: Sen Burr, Richard [NC] (introduced 7/27/2009)      Cosponsors (8)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/21/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.1520 : NAIV Charter. A bill to grant a Federal charter to the National American Indian Veterans, Incorporated.

Sponsor: Sen Johnson, Tim [SD] (introduced 7/27/2009)      Cosponsors (None)   Related Bill H.R.3349

Committees: Senate Judiciary

Latest Major Action: 7/27/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

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S.1543 : Supporting Military Families Act of 2009. A bill to amend the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 and title 5, United States Code, to provide leave for family members of members of regular components of the Armed Forces, and leave to care for covered veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Dodd, Christopher J. [CT] (introduced 7/30/2009)      Cosponsors (4)

Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

Latest Major Action: 7/30/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

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S.1547 : Zero Tolerance for Veterans Homelessness Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, and the United States Housing Act of 1937 to enhance and expand the assistance provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to homeless veterans and veterans at risk of homelessness, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Reed, Jack [RI] (introduced 7/30/2009)      Cosponsors (11)

Committees: Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/21/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.1556 : Veteran Voting Support Act of 2009. A bill to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to permit facilities of the Department of Veterans Affairs to be designated as voter registration agencies, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Feinstein, Dianne [CA] (introduced 8/3/2009)      Cosponsors (6)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/21/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.1558 : Travel Reimbursement for Inactive Duty Training Personnel (TRIP) Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 37, United States Code, to provide travel and transportation allowances for members of the reserve components for long distance and certain other travel to inactive duty training.

Sponsor: Sen Lincoln, Blanche L. [AR] (introduced 8/3/2009)      Cosponsors (6)

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 8/3/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

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S.1603 : Veterans Education Tuition Support Act of 2009. A bill to amend section 484B of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide for tuition reimbursement and loan forgiveness to students who withdraw from an institution of higher education to serve in the uniformed services, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Brown, Sherrod [OH] (introduced 8/6/2009)      Cosponsors (None)      Related Bills: H.R.2456, H.R.2561

Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

Latest Major Action: 8/6/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

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S.1668 : National Guard Education Equality Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the inclusion of certain active duty service in the reserve components as qualifying service for purposes of Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Bennet, Michael F. [CO] (introduced 9/14/2009)      Cosponsors (5)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/21/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.1685 : Emergency Senior Citizens Relief Act of 2009. A bill to provide an emergency benefit of $250 to seniors, veterans, and persons with disabilities in 2010 to compensate for the lack of a cost-of-living adjustment for such year, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Sanders, Bernard [VT] (introduced 9/17/2009)      Cosponsors (10)    Related Bills: H.R.3597

Committees: Senate Finance

Latest Major Action: 9/17/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

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S.1695 :  Congressional Gold Medal Award. A bill to authorize the award of a Congressional gold medal to the Montford Point Marines of World War II.

Sponsor: Sen Burris, Roland [IL] (introduced 9/23/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/23/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

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S.1717 : VA Facility Leases. A bill to authorize major medical facility leases for the Department of Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 2010, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 9/25/2009)      Cosponsors (1)  Related Bill S.1310

Latest Major Action: Became Public Law No: 111-82

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S.1752 : Parkinson’s Disease VA Compensation. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide wartime disability compensation for certain veterans with Parkinson’s disease.

Sponsor: Sen Sanders, Bernard [VT] (introduced 10/5/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/21/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.1753 : Disabled Veteran Caregiver Housing Assistance Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to increase assistance for disabled veterans who are temporarily residing in housing owned by a family member, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Sanders, Bernard [VT] (introduced 10/5/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/21/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.1779 : Health Care for Veterans Exposed to Chemical Hazards Act of 2009.  A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide health care to veterans exposed in the line of duty to occupational and environmental health chemical hazards, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Bayh, Evan [IN] (introduced 10/14/2009)      Cosponsors (7)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/21/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.1780 : Honor America’s Guard-Reserve Retirees Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to deem certain service in the reserve components as active service for purposes of laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Sponsor: Sen Lincoln, Blanche L. [AR] (introduced 10/14/2009)      Cosponsors (4)     Related bill: H.R.3787

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/14/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.1798 : Automatic Reserve Component Enrollment Act of 2009.  A bill to provide for the automatic enrollment of demobilizing members of the National Guard and Reserve in health care and dental care programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Sanders, Bernard [VT] (introduced 10/19/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/19/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.1932 : Post 9/11 Troops to Teachers Enhancement Act. A bill to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to allow members of the Armed Forces who served on active duty on or after September 11, 2001, to be eligible to participate in the Troops-to-Teachers Program, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen McCain, John [AZ] (introduced 10/27/2009)      Cosponsors (1)

Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

Latest Major Action: 10/27/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

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S.1939 : Vet Presumptive Exposure in Vietnam. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify presumptions relating to the exposure of certain veterans who served in the vicinity of the Republic of Vietnam, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Gillibrand, Kirsten E. [NY] (introduced 10/27/2009)      Cosponsors (4)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/27/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.1963 : Vet Caregiver Assistance. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide assistance to caregivers of veterans, to improve the provision of health care to veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 10/28/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Latest Major Action: 10/29/2009 Read the second time. Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 190.

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S.2096 : Parent VA Burial Eligibility. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the eligibility of parents of certain deceased veterans for interment in national cemeteries.

Sponsor: Sen Kerry, John F. [MA] (introduced 10/29/2009)      Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/29/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

——————————————————————————–

[Source: http://thomas.loc.gov/bss/111search.html 30 Oct

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Camp Lejeune Water Contamination History

William R. Levesque

St. Petersburg Times Staff Writer
October 18, 2009

The story of what some scientists call the worst public drinking-water contamination in the nation’s history is told in thousands of Marine Corps, North Carolina and federal documents produced by the EPA investigation of Camp Lejeune water in the 1980s.  That probe led to the camp being listed as a Superfund site in 1989. Camp Lejeune is a vital base to the Marines. It was founded in 1941 on North Carolina’s Atlantic coast and is one of the Corps’ busiest and largest bases. Like other military bases of the era, environmental stewardship there often lagged. The EPA called Lejeune a “major polluter” in the 1970s. The Corps says it disposed of wastes in those early years in ways consistent with common practices of the time. Records show the Marines dumped oil and industrial wastewater in storm drains. Potentially radioactive materials were buried, including carcasses of dogs used in testing. The camp even located a day care in a former malaria control shop where pesticides were mixed and stored.

One significant source of water contamination was a nearby dry-cleaning business that for years dumped into drains wastewater laden with chemicals used in dry cleaning. Those included tetrachloroethylene, or PCE, a suspected carcinogen. PCE, which has multiple industrial uses, and another solvent and suspected carcinogen were also used widely by Marines on base to clean machinery. The Marine Corps has maintained for two decades that the chemicals found in Camp Lejeune drinking water in the 1980s were not regulated. But that is only partly true. In the early 1980s, the EPA did not regulate organic solvents like PCE. But regulations by the Department of Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, in force at the base, barred harmful substances in water. And the dangers posed by organic solvents were well known. Other military bases in the 1970s closed wells tainted with solvents, including Willow Grove Naval Air Station and the Warminster Naval Air Warfare Center, both in Pennsylvania. And a regulation on the books at Camp Lejeune as early as 1974 shows the Corps knew the danger organic solvents posed. The rule outlined the safe disposal of hazardous wastes such as “organic solvents” and warned they could contaminate drinking water. The Marine Corps never released that 1974 regulation or other Navy rules governing drinking water to investigators who later reviewed water contamination at Camp Lejeune.

With tighter environmental regulations looming, military chemists began testing Camp Lejeune drinking water in earnest in October 1980. The base had dozens of water wells. A test that month detected trace levels of organic compounds, or solvents, in treated water. But for reasons unclear in records, the Marines say they didn’t get results until 1982. Not that it mattered. Camp Lejeune did nothing to investigate the source of contamination even after getting the results. Also in October 1980, an Army lab began testing treated water from Lejeune’s Hadnot Point water system for a potentially dangerous chemical by-product of chlorination. But other chemicals were interfering with the results. That was alarming because such interference is caused by organic compounds, chemists say. William Neal Jr., chief of laboratory services for the Army lab doing tests, wrote in an Oct. 30, 1980 report, “Water highly contaminated.” He mentioned “strong interference” by an organic chemical. Neal kept testing the water, and his warnings escalated.

  • Dec. 18, 1980: “Heavy organic interference. You need to analyze for chlorinated organics.”
  • Feb. 9, 1981: “You need to analyze for . . . organics.”
  • March 9, 1981: “Water highly contaminated . . . (Solvents)!”

Camp Lejeune also began testing water in its rifle range area in 1981 to see if chemicals had drifted from a hazardous waste dump to nearby water wells. These tests involved a water system separate from the one generating Neal’s warnings. A rifle range water well was found to be contaminated with some of the same compounds seen elsewhere at Camp Lejeune. Three months later, engineers with oversight over drinking water at the base ordered the closure of one rifle range water well.  The Corps did not respond to questions about why it closed one well with “unregulated” chemicals but kept others open. In 1982, Grainger Laboratories in Raleigh, N.C., was hired to test water at Camp Lejeune. The lab’s first test shocked chemists. They found “synthetic organic cleaning solvents” contaminating water from two of the base’s largest living areas, where thousands of Marines and family lived.

Mike Hargett, Grainger’s co-owner, told the Times that he and a base chemist urged the Marine officer with oversight over water issues to investigate and fix contamination. But Hargett said, “They would not recognize the hazard. They did not react.”

Grainger warnings about contamination persisted in report after report over the next two years. In August 1982, a Grainger report said raw water at a treatment plant was contaminated with solvents, which could only mean one thing: wells themselves were contaminated. A Marine spokesman said the report did not provide such confirmation, noting the Corps waited until 1984 to test wells directly because evidence of contamination was inconsistent.

Bruce Babson, the Grainger chemist testing base water, told the Times Grainger warnings were not well received by the Corps. “I was standing my ground from a lot of pressure from people who did not want the evidence in the record,” Babson said. “But I wouldn’t let it go.” In conjunction with the Navy, Camp Lejeune in April 1983 finished an initial study of hazardous waste sites on base that posed health risks, a project conducted at other bases around the nation. Copies went to state regulators. The report said nothing about tainted water.

Not long after, Camp Lejeune’s assistant chief of staff for facilities sent North Carolina environmental officials a review of base water testing. The summary said nothing of contamination. By then, Hargett was growing frustrated. His lab was warning the Corps repeatedly, to no avail. So he tipped off North Carolina officials that the Corps was holding back Grainger’s original reports showing contamination. The state demanded the originals. The Marines never sent them, records show, and the state eventually backed down. But things started to unravel for the Marine Corps in 1984. Chemists began testing wells directly. In July of that year, a test of one well detected a chemical found in gasoline at a level that was dangerously high and should have led to the immediate closure of the well, records show. The well remained in operation until November. By then, news of the contamination was made public. In late 1984 and 1985 a total of 10 wells would be closed because of contamination.

Four years had elapsed during which Marines, their spouses and their children drank, bathed and cooked with what scientists believe to be some of the most contaminated water in the United States. Federal scientists later estimated contamination dated to the 1950s. As news of tainted water became public, Camp Lejeune’s commanding general at the time, L.H. Buehl, reassured residents of a base subdivision where Marine families lived that contaminants in water were “minute (trace).” That wasn’t true. Levels of chemicals were among the highest ever seen in a large, public water system, scientists say. The organic solvent and degreaser trichloroethylene, a suspected carcinogen, was found at 1,400 parts per billion at a base hospital tap, 1,148 ppb at an elementary school, 18,900 ppb in a water well. Solvent levels in tap water were up to 280 times higher than what the EPA today considers safe.

With news of contamination now public, the EPA opened an inquiry. But one of the Marines’ first overviews to the agency provided inaccurate information, records show. Arthur Linton, an EPA official in its Environmental Assessment Branch, recounted a meeting with Corps officials in a Feb. 3, 1986, letter he sent to Camp Lejeune.

EPA officials said they were told by the Corps that it learned about contamination by unidentified pollutants in 1983 or 1984. In fact, they were identified earlier. And the chemicals were not unidentified. Linton also wrote that the Corps told the EPA that treated, potable water had not been contaminated when, in fact, it had. The Corps would not comment on this letter. And by 1988, neither the EPA nor the state had yet been told about what may have been one of the biggest threats to base water — storage tanks that had leaked thousands of gallons of fuel into the earth.

Later that year, A.P. Tokarz, a Marine lawyer based at Lejeune, wrote in a memo that he had been informed that 1,500 gallons of fuel were leaking each month and that any fix was still “out-years,” or years distant. He said the camp was legally required to tell the state, but hadn’t. “From an attorney’s perspective concerned with responding to potential litigation,” Tokarz wrote, “it appears patently unreasonable to wait until out-years to replace the tanks. Such delay will result in an indefensible waste of money, and a continuing potential threat to human health and the environment.”The fuel depot was a long-standing problem at Camp Lejeune. In 1979 up to 30,000 gallons of fuel had been spilled. The Corps notes it told the state and EPA about that leak in 1983. Finally, the fuel depot was shut down in 1989 and the state informed about leaks. Years later, the Corps told regulators that fuel wasn’t technically hazardous, a Marine document shows.

Excerpts from comments provided via e-mail by a Marine Corps spokesman, Capt. Brian Block

  • “Three independent reviews have been conducted of the actions taken by the Marine Corps on this matter (2004 Independent Drinking Water Fact-Finding Panel chartered by the Commandant of the Marine Corps, an EPA Criminal Investigation Division investigation, and the 2005 Government Accountability Office review).
  • “The Fact-Finding Panel determined that Camp Lejeune provided drinking water at a level of quality consistent with general water industry practices in light of the evolving regulatory requirements at the time.
  • “The EPA concluded that there had been no violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act, no conspiracy to withhold information, falsify data, or conceal evidence.
  • “The GAO report describes efforts to identify and address the past contamination, activities resulting from concerns about possible adverse health effects and government actions related to the past contamination. . . .”
  • “The Marine Corps has worked, is working, and will continue to work with those agencies who are seeking to find the answers that our Marines and our families deserve. . . .
  • “I would hope that your story will point out that science has yet to find a link or association between exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune and illnesses among former residents — but also note that the Marine Corps has actively cooperated with ATSDR and the (National Research Council) as they have studied this issue.
  • “I also hope that your article puts the actions of the base officials at Camp Lejeune in context with the prevailing environmental and regulatory framework that existed from 1957 until the early 1980s throughout America. I think it is safe to say that our understanding, not only of the effects of chemicals on human health, but also the way we treat our environment has progressed significantly since that time — and that now all bases in the Marine Corps, and Camp Lejeune in particular, have robust environmental protection programs and we continually look for ways to innovate.”

FAST FACTS: Web links about contamination at Camp Lejeune

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RAO BULLETIN 11/01/2009

RAO BULLETIN

1 November 2009

THIS BULLETIN CONTAINS THE FOLLOWING ARTICLES

== Veterans Day Specials 2009 — (Complimentary & discounted)

== Colds vs. Flu ——————————————– (Symptoms)

== NDAA 2010 [04] ———————- (Public Law No: 111-84)

== Tricare Regional Contracts [03] ——- (GAO upholds appeal)

== SBP Lawsuit [06] ——————————– (DoD concedes)

== VA Claim Retroactive Payment ———- (After death receipt)

== VA Mental Health Care [03] —————– (Summit OCT 09)

== VA Pain Management ————————- (Male vs. female)

== VA Fraud Waste & Abuse [26] ———————- (Waco TX)

== Wisconsin Vet Homes [01] —– (Unauthorized expenditures)

== VA Burial Benefit [06] ————- (H.R.761 Parental burial)

== VA Burial Benefit [07] —————- (Hmong & Laotian Vets)

== Medicare Reimbursement Rates 2010 [01] —– (S.1776 Fails)

== VA Health Care Funding [22] ————– (Obama signs bill)

== Bariatric Surgery [02] —————– (Super obese death risk)

== Stop-loss Pay [01] ————– (Applications being accepted)

== Vietnam Memorial Wall [04] ——————– (Repair work)

== PTSD [31] —————————————– (Surgery risks)

== Vet Benefit Funding ——————– (Bitter budgets ahead)

== Personality Disorder Discharge [01] —— (Report requested)

== Vet Grave Locator [02] ——————— (What’s available)

== Board of Veterans’ Appeals [01] —————- — (Expansion)

== We Care for Veterans Program ————— (Caregiver offer)

== Hugo Salutes Our Veterans ——————– (Canes for vets)

== Medicare Fraud [25] —————————- (Detroit $2.8M)

== Medicare Fraud [26] ———————– (Los Angeles $25M)

== Tricare Flu Shots ————- (Referral/authorization waived)

== Texas Veteran Lottery —————————- (Starts 9 NOV)

== U.S. Savings Bonds [04] —————— (Ownership lawsuit)

== Military Holiday Mailing ——————— (Deadlines 2009)

== DoD to VA Transition [11] ——– (Far-sighted partnership)

== GI Bill [61] ————————— (Blame shared for delays)

== GI Bill [62] ——————————– (Telephone outreach)

== GI Bill [63] ——————————– (Contractor support)

== Data Breach Blue Cross/Shield —————- (Stolen laptop)

== Manila VARO & OPC ——————————- (Overview)

== Utah Property Tax Interpretation ——- (Disabled vets irked)

== FPO Mail Delivery Policy [01] —- (Overseas retiree service)

== SBP DIC Offset [20] ————————- ($14 Billon bribe)

== Tricare Overseas Program [02] —————– (New contract)

== VA Lawsuit – Leishmaniasis ——————- (Plaintiffs lose)

== SSA Projections [01] ————————————— (2010)

== USCG/NOAA Personnel Locator ——————— (Retiree)

== Disabled Retiree Back Tax [02] —– (USCG/NOAA refunds)

== Long Term Care FLTCIP [05] —– (Misleading promotion)

== VA Health Care Billing ————– (Inappropriate charges)

== State of the VA ——————- (Shinseki HVAC Testimony)

== SSA COLA 2010 [02] ——————- (Obama wants $250)

== SSA COLA 2010 [03] ———————– ($250 Opposition)

== VA VistA [04] ————————- (Modernization needed)

== VA Fraud Waste & Abuse [26] ——————— (Waco TX)

== Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Exposure [08] ———- (History)

== Vet Toxic Exposure Legislation [02] —————– (S.1779)

== Vet Toxic Exposure Basra [01] ————- (Exposees sought)

== Vet Toxic Exposure Vieques ——————— (Puerto Rico)

== Vet Toxic Exposure Atsuki —————- (VA report to SVAC)

== Enlistment [02] —————————– (Citizenship criteria)

== Military History Anniversaries ———— (Nov 1-15 Summary)

== Tax Burden for Indiana Retirees ————————— (2009)

== Veteran Legislation Status 30 Oct 09 ——- (Where we stand)

== Have You Heard ——————————- (Last names only)

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VETERANS DAY SPECIALS 2009: Following are some Veteran Day specials for 2009. In addition to this list many companies, restaurants, and recreational sites offer military discounts which are not well advertised. When making purchases it is always a good idea to first ask if a military discount is available for your veteran status:

• NOV 01-26: KNOTT’S BERRY FARM – Knott’s Berry Farm pays tribute to past and present U.S. armed forces personnel during Veteran’s Month with park admission at no charge for them and a guest 1-26 NOV 09 only. Up to six additional tickets can be purchased for only $15 each. Military ID or DD214 required for discount. Not valid for the evening event – Halloween Haunt. For details refer to www.knotts.com/public/admission/prices/deals.cfm# .

• NOV 06-11: Lowes – Lowe’s Companies, Inc. will offer all active, reserve, honorably discharged retired military personnel and their immediate family members a 10% discount on in-store U.S. purchases made during the Veterans Day holiday Nov. 6 thru 11. The discount is available on in-stock and special order purchases up to $5,000. To qualify individuals must present a valid military ID or other proof of service. Excluded from the discount are sales via Lowes.co, previous sales, and purchases of services or gift cards. In addition to offering military discounts at specific times during the year Lowe’s has extended benefits for its employees serving in the military and offers employment opportunities to military personnel after their military service has ended. www.mca-marines.org/leatherneck/lowes-veterans-day-discount.asp .

• NOV 07: Cosco – Herocare San Diego and Costco have partnered to offer a special shopping event in recognition of those who serve as heroes within the community. The event is being held Saturday 7 NOV from 1800 – 2000 at Costco store locations in Santee, San Marcos, Vista, Poway, Temecula, Carmel Mountain, Carlsbad, Rancho Del Ray, La Mesa, Chula Vista, Lake Elsinore, and SESD. The event is to recognize those who work, at any level, active or retired in the following industries: Military Schools, Colleges, Medical, Fire, Police, CHP, Sheriff, State, City, County or non-profit agencies. Employees and their families are invited to attend for pictures with Santa Claus, refreshments, food samplings and opportunity drawings. Some locations will feature entertainment from local schools, police cars and fire trucks.

• NOV 08: McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants is honoring veterans who have served in war and peace on Sunday, 8 NOV with a complimentary entree from a special menu upon presentation of proper authentication when you visit the restaurant. Acceptable ID includes VA card, VFW card, American Legion card, discharge papers, DD214, or other veteran’s ID. For details refer to www.mccormickandschmicks.com/featured-promotion/Veterans-Appreciation-Day.aspx

• NOV 11: Applebees – Choose from five dinner entrees which will be provided at no charge at participating stores during business hours on Wednesday, 11 NOV to veterans who can identify themselves with an active/reserve/retired ID card or Veterans Organization Card (i.e., American Legion and VFW). For details refer to www.applebees.com/vetsDay/default.aspx .

• NOV 16: Golden Corral – The 2009 Military Appreciation Monday dinner will be held on Monday, 16 NOV from 1700 to 2100 in all Golden Corral Restaurants. The no cost “thank you” dinner is available to any person who has ever served in the United States Military. If you are a veteran, Retired, currently serving, in the National Guard or Reserves you are invited to participate in Golden Corral’s Military Appreciation Monday dinner. Some form of ID indicating your service is required. For details refer to www.goldencorral.com/military .

Additional discounts are available to active duty and retirees at the following:

• Home Depot Home Depot: The Home Depot offers at participating stores all active duty personnel, reservists, retired military veterans, and their families a 10% discount off their purchases up to a maximum of $50 or $200 depending on the time of year.

• Sea World: Military Members can receive up to 4 free tickets for themselves and their dependants (discounted tickets after your four free for those of you with many rugrats) each year.

• Disney World: Complimentary 5-day “Disney’s Armed Forces Salute” ticket which includes admission to all Disney World theme parks, including the water parks and DisneyQuest. Eligible military members can purchase discounted Disney tickets for their friends and family – adult or child 5-day “Disney’s Armed Forces Salute Companion” ticket for up to 5 people for $99 per ticket (add $25 for access to all parks). A limited number of discounted Disney Resort hotel tickets are available. Offer Expires 23 DEC 09.

• San Diego Zoo/Wild Animal Park: The zoo and wild animal park are free to active duty military all the time.

• USS Midway Tour: Tour the USS Midway (a great piece of WWII history) for free with your Military ID.

• Deep Sea Fishing: Deep sea fishing is available in San Diego and Oceanside and offer great rates for military members sometimes up to half off.

• Restaurants/Stores/Shops: Many restaurants, stores and shops offer military discounts in the San Diego area (large military population) you just need to ask for it many times.

• ITT: Information, ticket + Tours (ITT) offices on Camp Pendleton, Miramar, MCRD, and other bases offer great rates on tickets to many of the other attractions throughout the area. You can also get vouchers for hotels in Primm (48 mi from the strip) and Las Vegas Nevada through the ITT ticket offices.

[Source: Various OCT 09 ++]

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COLDS vs. FLU: With flu season upon us, and with the increasing number of H1N1 flu cases being reported, more people are making the trip to the doctor. So how can you tell if it’s a cold, seasonal flu or H1N1? According to Fred Sutton, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer, Harris County Hospital District Texas, “The flu is usually much worse than the common cold. Colds will generally last a few days, while the flu normally lasts much longer. Complications from colds are relatively minor, but seasonal flu and H1N1 can both lead to pneumonia and hospitalizations. If you have symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor.” The common cold and flu are both contagious viral infections. Because these two types of illnesses have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Whether a person has typical seasonal flu or H1N1 flu, the symptoms are also similar. H1N1 is also associated with vomiting and diarrhea. There are multiple viruses and colds causing similar symptoms circulating during the fall and winter season. Here are some ways to decide the difference.

• Fever: Fever is rare with a cold whereas fever is usually present with the flu in up to 80% of all flu cases. A temperature of 100°F or higher for 3 to 4 days is associated with the flu.

• Coughing: A hacking, productive (mucus- producing) cough is often present with a cold whereas a non-productive (non-mucus producing) cough is usually present with the flu (sometimes referred to as dry cough).

• Aches: Slight body aches and pains can be part of a cold whereas severe aches and pains are common with the flu.

• Stuffy Nose: Stuffy nose is commonly present with a cold and typically resolves spontaneously within a week whereas stuffy nose is not commonly present with the flu.

• Chills: Chills are uncommon with a cold wherteas 60% of people who have the flu experience chills.

• Tiredness: Tiredness is fairly mild with a cold whereas tiredness is moderate to severe with the flu.

• Sneezing: Sneezing is commonly present with a cold whereas neezing is not common with the flu.

• Sudden Symptoms: Cold symptoms tend to develop over a few days whereas the flu has a rapid onset within 3-6 hours. The flu hits hard and includes sudden symptoms like high fever, aches and pains.

• Headache: A headache is fairly uncommon with a cold whreas a headache is very common with the flu, present in 80% of flu cases.

• Sore Throat: Sore throat is commonly present with a cold whreas sore throat is not commonly present with the flu.

• Chest Discomfort: Chest discomfort is mild to moderate with a cold whereas chest discomfort is often severe with the flu.

[Source: Various Oct 09 ++]

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NDAA 2010 Update 04: On 28 OCT the President signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which authorizes $550.2 billion for FY 2010 Department of Defense programs, and $130 billion to support overseas military operations. Some highlights include:

• No proposed Tricare fee increases.

• A 3.4% pay raise for active duty, Guard and Reserve members.

• Authorizing premium-based Tricare coverage for “gray area” Reserve retirees who are under age 60.

• Authorizing special compensation on behalf of caregivers of severely wounded warriors while on active duty.

• Requiring a medical examination before administrative separations of members affected by traumatic brain injury or PTSD.

• Protecting absentee voting rights for military members and families.

• Expanding active-duty Tricare eligibility for activating Guard/Reserve members and their families.

The complete Conference Report of what Congress passed and signed into law can be found at http://armedservices.house.gov. A summary of what is contained in that report is provided in an attachment to this Bulletin. [Source: VFW Washington Weekly 30 Oct 09 ++]

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TRICARE REGIONAL CONTRACTS Update 03: TRICARE South Region contractor Humana Military Healthcare Services and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) are reporting that the GAO has upheld Humana’s protest of the Defense Department’s award of the new South Region contract to UnitedHealth Military & Veterans Services. The current contract, covering 3 million beneficiaries, is set to expire as of 31 MAR 10. Details of the GAO determination have not yet been made public, but its upholding of the protest indicates the initial contract award to UnitedHealth didn’t comply with laws and regulations governing the award. The obvious question for the South Region beneficiaries is, “What happens now?” We won’t know that until GAO releases its full report. It’s possible that GAO will recommend reopening the contract bid. In rare cases, it could recommend outright award of the contract to a losing bidder. The decision raises the prospect that the current Humana contract might be extended pending any possible contract rebid process. GAO can only recommend action, but DoD failure to comply with a GAO recommendation on such a high-profile contract would certainly invite congressional scrutiny. The GAO also is expected to issue a decision soon on Health Net Federal Services’ protest of the Pentagon’s award of the TRICARE North Region contract to Aetna, Inc. While the two protests are completely independent, the upholding of one of them at least raises some uncertainty whether the other might be upheld. More to come. [Source: MOAA Leg Up 30 Oct 09 ++]

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SBP LAWSUIT Update 06: On 22 OCT the Defense Department announced it will not appeal the AUG 09 ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals in the case of three widows who sued the government to keep both their VA survivor benefits and their military Survivor Benefit Plan annuities. At issue is a 2004 law that restored DIC payments to veterans’ surviving spouses who remarry after their 57th birthday. Before the law change, survivors lost DIC upon remarriage at any age. In JUL 07 three widows filed a lawsuit claiming that the unique wording of the 2004 law entitled widows who remarry after age 57 to receive both Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuities from DoD and VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), without any offset between the two. Defense Department lawyers argued that was a flawed interpretation, arguing that the 2004 law’s language barring offset for any other “veteran’s benefit” didn’t apply to SBP, because SBP is a DoD benefit, not a VA benefit. After the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled in favor of the widows, the government filed an appeal. But the U.S. Court of Appeals issued a strong rejection of the government’s appeal, and the Pentagon’s decision not to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court ends the discussion.

The Defense Department has issued guidance to the services and Defense Finance and Accounting Service to identify all SBP annuitants who are eligible for DIC and who remarried after their 57th birthday. Qualifying survivors will be eligible to receive both payments in full, retroactive to 1 JAN 04 or the date of their remarriage, whichever is later. Payments will be reduced by the amount of any previous SBP premium refund and by the amount of any Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance payments the survivor may have received. Although the number of survivors affected is relatively small, this decision gives us yet another equity argument to change the law for all remaining SBP-DIC widows. It simply doesn’t make sense to have two separate standards in the law, one that allows payment of full SBP and DIC for survivors who remarry after age 57 and another that forces a dollar-for-dollar offset between the two benefits for all others. [Source: MOAA Leg Up 30 Oct 09 ++]

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VA CLAIM RETROACTIVE PAYMENT: Veterans who submit claims to the VA for disability compensation which are subsequently approved receive retroactive payment back to the date of claim submission. The amount of payment is based on the monthly compensation they are entitled to for the percentile rating they are awarded times the number of months since the claim submission. This is normally a lump sum check after which they start receiving monthly checks. However, if the veteran has died in the interim, federal law mandates the money be reclaimed by the government if the recipient has died. If the veteran has a wife or children, they could petition the VA to get that money returned to his estate. If the veteran is single the VA will reclaim the money from his estate depriving other relatives from benefiting from it and allowing the deceased veterans debts to go unpaid.

Case in point is Vietnam veteran Daniel Hoeck, a Purple Heart recipient, who died at age 62 when a burglar stabbed him to death. Before he was killed and at the urging of family, Hoeck sought medical help from the Department of Veterans Affairs in Baltimore and applied for benefits. About 18 months later, a lump sum retroactive payment finally came in the mail for him and monthly checks were soon to follow, but the problem was, Hoeck was dead. At the advice of an attorney, Hoeck’s sister deposited the check of $13,694 in an estate account for him at First Mariner Bank. Hoeck never married or had children, so Davidson was considered his legal and personal representative. While she didn’t indicate she thought that monthly benefits should be sent to a deceased person, her issue was the retroactive lump sum payment, which would help cover her brother’s debts. “They just never managed the affairs to get him the money,” she said. The estate attorney Gina Shaffer said, “It was something that was owed to him prior to his death, and whether it was payable to him individually or his estate, it was owed,”

But Veterans Affairs officials saw the case very differently. Soon after learning from the family that Hoeck had been killed, they took the benefits check back, demanding First Mariner return the money to the U.S. Treasury Department. No notice was given to the family by the VA who learned of the action via a letter from the bank. After a local TV News team investigated the issue and made an inquiry to the VA, they agreed to pay Davidson more than $2,700 to cover expenses related to Hoeck’s death, but they made it clear that it was a one-time payout. Bernard Edelman of the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) group said that part of the blame goes to the 18 months Hoeck had to wait before the VA determined his benefit eligibility. Long waits can be common, but not if veterans get help from service representatives who can act as a veteran’s advocate that organizations like the VVA offer. Veterans’ submitting claims are encouraged to contact the VVA, DAV, VFW, American Legion, and other fraternal military organizations who have trained personnel to act in their behalf. They can ensure that claims are properly filled out with supporting documents to avoid unnecessary delays in processing. [Source: WBAL-TV 11 Baltimore report 26 Oct 09 ++]

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VA MENTAL HEALTH CARE Update 03: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) are hosting a first-of-its-kind national summit to address the mental health care needs of America’s military personnel, families and Veterans, harnessing the programs, resources and expertise of both departments to deal with the aftermath of the battlefield. The summit, which opened 26 OCT at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C., invited mental health experts from both departments, Congress, the president’s cabinet and more than 57 non-government organizations to discuss an innovative, wide-ranging public health model for enhancing mental health for returning service members, Veterans, and their families. Striking down the stigma associated with the mental health risks of service in a combat zone is among the priorities of the joint VA-DoD campaign on mental health for service members, Veterans and families.

Various studies show a large incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder occurs during the lifetime of many combat Veterans. A final report following the summit will summarize policies, programs and practices that show promise for enhancing the well-being and care for individual service members, Veterans, and their families. VA and DoD view mental health in returning service members and Veterans as a matter of public health and an opportunity to engage in a broad response throughout America. VA operates the largest mental health program in the nation. VA has bolstered its mental health capacity to serve combat Veterans by adding thousands of new professionals to its rolls in the last four years. The department also has established a suicide prevention hotline (1-800-273-TALK) and Web site available for online chat at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/Veterans. [Source: VA Press Release 26 Oct 09 ++]

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VA PAIN MANAGEMENT: In the first study to look at sex-specific pain prevalence in Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) Veterans, researchers from the VA Connecticut Healthcare System and the Yale University School of Medicine found women Veterans had a lower prevalence of pain than male counterparts returning from the conflicts. Approximately 60% of OEF/OIF Veterans were assessed with pain during the study period. Full details of the study appear in the OCT 09 issue of Pain Medicine, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, the Faculty of Pain Medicine of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists and the International Spine Intervention Society. Sally Haskell, M.D. and colleagues set out to evaluate the difference in the prevalence of overall pain, moderate-severe pain, and persistent pain between male and female Veterans. The study sample was derived from U.S. military personnel listed on the Veterans Administration (VA) OEF/OIF roster who were discharged between 1 OCT 01 and 30 NOV 07. Researchers limited the sample to 153,212 Veterans (18,481 female; 134,731 male) who had 1 year of observation after their last deployment.

Results indicate that for those Veterans evaluated for pain, 43.3% reported any pain, 63.2% of those with pain reported moderate-severe pain, and over 20% of those with pain scores recorded over 3 months time reported persistent pain. Researchers found no significant difference in the probability of pain assessment by sex. According to the study, female Veterans were less likely to report any pain (38.1% F vs. 44.0% M). In Veterans with any pain, researchers found female Veterans were more likely to report moderate-severe pain (68.0% vs. 62.6%) and less likely to report having persistent pain (18.0% vs. 21.2%) than male colleagues. “We were surprised by the lower pain prevalence in women Veterans which is contrary to studies conducted in civilian populations,” noted Dr. Haskell. Past studies in civilian populations indicate women more commonly report specific pain syndromes including migraine headaches, oral-facial pain, fibromyalgia and abdominal pain. Women also report more severe and longer lasting pain than men.

Researchers hypothesize that the lower pain prevalence in women Veterans may reflect differences in exposure to combat trauma and injury between male and female soldiers. Though women do not serve in direct combat roles, they have supportive roles that may put them in harms way making it difficult to assess the true injury risk for female Veterans. Related studies also indicate women are more reluctant to seek VA treatment and report more barriers to seeking treatment which could result in lower rates of reported pain in female Veterans. In 2008 the Department of Defense listed 1.4 million active duty military personnel with 200,337 of those women. The number of women in armed service is expected to continue to increase. “As the VA plans care for the increasing numbers of female personnel a better understanding of the prevalence of pain, as well as sex-specific variations in the experience and treatment of pain, is important for policy makers and providers who seek to improve identification and management of diverse pain disorders, “concluded Dr. Haskell “The VA national office of Women Veterans Health recognizes the pain management needs of women Veterans. This office is working with the VA national office of Pain Management to build a research program that informs both the development of clinical services for women with chronic pain conditions and the training needs of providers,” says Pain Medicine Co-Guest Editor Robert Kerns, who is also a co-author of the paper. [Source: ScienceDaily (22 Oct 09 ++]

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VA FRAUD WASTE & ABUSE Update 26: Jimmy Doyle Jenkins, of Waco, was sentenced to five years probation on 21 OCT after he admitted he misappropriated almost $50,000 in veteran’s benefits from the U.S. Government. Doyle was ordered to repay the $49,520 in benefits he received but he told Federal District Judge Walter Smith he was unable to do so because his wife had taken all the money. Court documents indicate Karen Jane Jenkins was indicted by a federal grand jury for an aggravated felony assault causing serious bodily injury after she allegedly tried to poison her husband. She was to be arraigned 22 OCT on that charge in federal magistrate court. The case background summary states Jimmy Jenkins applied for and accepted veteran’s benefits without disclosing other income that would have disqualified him from those payments. He admitted in court on Wednesday his wrongdoing and told the judge he would pay the funds back but his wife, Karen, had taken those funds from his bank account and he would now be unable to do so. The charging document for Karen Jenkins states while Jimmy Jenkins was a patient at an area VA hospital, she placed a “toxic chemical substance” in his drinking water in an effort to poison him. [Source: KWTX.com report 23 Oct 09 ++]

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WISCONSIN VETERANS HOMES Update 01: A panel of state lawmakers has voted to go ahead with an audit of Wisconsin’s Department of Veterans Affairs. The audit comes as the Department of Justice is investigating $743,000 worth of spending by the agency that was not authorized by the legislature. Green Bay Republican Senator Robert Cowles says it’s the legislature’s duty to protect the integrity of the veterans’ agency. He says something will have to be cut in the veterans’ agency to meet the budget, they won’t be able to come to the legislature and find more money. Cowles and others directed the state’s audit bureau to focus on Wisconsin’s veterans homes in King and Union Grove. The commandant of the King Home was recently replaced. [Slource: Wisconsin Public Radio Shawn Johnson report 22 Oct 09 ++]

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VA BURIAL BENEFIT Update 06: The Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee of the House Veterans Affairs Committee voted 21 OCT in favor of legislation that would allow parents of certain deceased veterans to be buried with their loved ones in U.S. military cemeteries. The bill, the Corey Shea Act (H.R.761), was introduced earlier this year by Congressman Barney Frank in response to a request made by Denise Anderson of Mansfield, whose son Army Specialist Corey Shea was killed in Mosul, Iraq during NOV 08. Congressman John Hall, chairman of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee, moved the legislation forward quickly, holding a hearing 8 OCT, and putting the bill to a vote 21 OCT. The legislation passed the subcommittee by a unanimous vote. “I am grateful to Chairman Filner and Subcommittee Chairman Hall for moving this legislation quickly,” said Frank. “I will work with leadership to help bring this bill to a vote on the House floor. This legislation is a testament to the devotion of Mrs. Anderson, whose personal commitment will help veterans’ families across the country.”

According to current law, only spouses or minor children of deceased veterans may be buried in the same plot as their loved ones in national military cemeteries, unless special permission is granted by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Shea lost his life at the age of 21, leaving behind no surviving spouse or minor children. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs denied the request of Shea’s mother to be allowed to be buried with her son in Bourne national cemetery. Anderson asked Frank if he would help change the law to allow parents of deceased veterans to be interred with their adult children if the veteran has no living spouse or minor children. Earlier this month, Anderson traveled to Washington, D.C. to testify in favor of the bill before the Veterans Affairs Subcommittee. The bill passed by the subcommittee grants parents of deceased veterans the right to be buried with their children if the veteran has no living spouse or minor children. The legislation stipulates this does not cause any veteran to be displaced. The bill covers veterans who died in battle or in preparation for battle, and it includes either biological or adoptive parents. The legislation will next come before the full Veterans Committee for a vote and, if the bill passes, will move to the House floor. [Source: Mansfield News and Enterprise staff report 21 Oct 09 ++]

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VA BURIAL BENEFIT Update 07: Hmong and Laotian war veterans could secure treasured burial spots in U.S. national cemeteries under legislation now being drafted by California San Joaquin Valley lawmakers. Prompted by the natives of Laos who fought side by side with U.S. Special Forces and CIA officers during the Vietnam War, the region’s House members are seeking support for the burial benefit. Supporters call this fair compensation for those who sacrificed much. “We helped the United States fight that war,” said Wangyee Vang, president of the Fresno-based Lao Veterans of America. “We deserve to have this.” In a letter circulating among congressional colleagues, Reps. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, George Radanovich, R-Mariposa, Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, and Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, are rallying additional support for the Hmong burial bill. The bill will be introduced once more co-sponsors are gathered. “This bill is written narrowly enough so as not to grant these individuals full veterans status, just internment benefits in national cemeteries, which they so richly deserve,” states the letter, initiated by Costa’s office.

Traditionally, the Hmong have resided in the mountains of Laos. Beginning in the early 1960s, Vang and others were recruited by U.S. personnel to assist in a largely covert theater of the broader war in Southeast Asia. Tens of thousands of Hmong and Lao are estimated to have died. After the war, with Laos fallen into communist hands, many emigrated to this country. Presently, an estimated 130,000 Hmong and Lao live in California, with many in the San Joaquin Valley. Along with the lowland Lao, the Hmong have lobbied in recent years for various immigration and other benefits. Until now, though, they have not explicitly sought burial rights in U.S. national cemeteries. Politically, it is easier to ask for one benefit at a time rather than an outright declaration of veteran status. Steve Robertson, legislative affairs director for the American Legion, said 28 OCT that extending the burial benefits to Hmong and Lao veterans is “in the realm of possibility,” though the veterans advocacy organization has not taken a formal position. “In general, we’ve been very, very supportive of assisting that group of veterans,” Robertson said. Still, it’s rare for anyone other than U.S. military veterans and their immediate family members to win burial rights

in one of the 130 Veterans Administration national cemeteries.

The closest parallel to the Hmong’s request came several years ago when Congress extended the cemetery benefits to Filipino soldiers and guerrilla fighters from World War II. A few other groups have likewise won national cemetery burial rights, including World War II merchant mariners and officers with the Public Health Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The available burial areas overseen by the VA’s National Cemetery Administration range from the 322-acre San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery in Santa Nella to the four-acre Sitka National Cemetery in Alaska. Separately, the Department of the Army oversees the world famous Arlington National Cemetery. Many facilities have been swamped with demand, particularly as veterans from the World War II and Korean War generation age. “We’ve got a lot of cemeteries that are already maxed out,” Robertson noted. Verification of service is one potential hurdle, accentuated because of the covert nature of the war in Laos. Unlike U.S. military veterans, the Hmong were not provided a DD-214 form that attests to their service. Previous bills aiding the Hmong typically required proof such as affidavits signed by superior officers. The Hmong burial benefits bill will leave verification standards up to the Department of Veterans Affairs. [Source: McClatchy Newspapers Michael Doyle article 28 Oct 09 ++]

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MEDICARE REIMBURSEMENT RATES 2010 Update 01: Despite a strong push from The Military Coalition (TMC), the American Medical Association (AMA) and others, the Senate failed to muster enough votes this week to repeal the flawed statutory formula that will impose a 21% cut in Medicare and Tricare payments to doctors this coming January unless the law is changed. Earlier this week on 20 OCT, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) President VADM Norb Ryan Jr. (USN-Ret) was one of three major association leaders invited by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to speak at a press conference in the U.S. Capitol building to highlight the importance of passing Stabenow’s bill to protect against repeated cuts in 2010 and subsequent years. Speaking at the press conference Ryan said, “The current flawed formula for Medicare doctor payments puts every military beneficiary at risk, because military Tricare payments are tied to Medicare’s. Access to health care already is the single biggest problem for military beneficiaries of all ages. The 21% cut to Medicare and Tricare payments called for under current law would make that problem exponentially worse by causing large numbers of doctors to stop seeing elderly and military patients. The last thing troops in combat should have to worry about is whether their sick spouse or child can find a doctor to treat them.” Ryan noted that MOAA members had generated more than 16,000 messages in the space of four days urging their legislators to support Stabenow’s legislation.

Current law requires not only a 21% payment cut in 2010, but a cumulative 40% cut over the next six years. Stabenow said she introduced her bill “Medicare Physician Fairness Act” (S.1776) to get Congress “to rethink how we look at physician care and physician payments. She said Congress has acted to stop such cuts seven times in the past, but most have only been one-year fixes that necessitated reversing even bigger cuts the following year. “We need to stop the band-aid approach, be honest about [future budgets], and lay a foundation for real physician payment reform.” Ryan signed MOAA letters to every senator on 20 OCT, urging them to vote for S. 1776, but the vote failed after several senators expressed concern about how to pay for the bill, which would cost $250 billion over the next 10 years. After the failed vote, Senate leaders pledged to find a way to approve and fund at least a one-year fix before the end of December to ensure the 21% cut in Medicare and Tricare payments won’t go into effect. The problem with this approach is that current law requires compounding annual cuts – forcing a 26% payment cut in JAN 2011 – so putting off a permanent fix only increases the cost of doing that later.

On 30 OCT House Democrats introduced H.R.3961, the Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act of 2009, which would repeal Medicare’s ineffective Sustained Growth Rate (SGR) formula and replace it with a more reliable system. The SGR is used to determine physician reimbursement rates for doctors providing services in Medicare and TRICARE programs. First established in 1997 to constrain healthcare costs, the SGR sets spending caps for the entire Medicare program each year, and if overall spending exceeds that level (which it has, every year, since 2002), physician reimbursement rates are cut to bring expenditures in line with established targets. [Source: MOAA Leg Up 23 Oct 09 ++]

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VA HEALTH CARE FUNDING Update 22: President Barack Obama signed the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act in a ceremony at the White House. The new law requires advance funding for the VA health-care system. “We have made the biggest commitment to veterans with the largest percent increase in the VA budget in more than 30 years” Obama said. “So we’re keeping our promise to make real progress for our vets.” In short the president said VA advance funding “promotes accountability at the VA, it ensures oversight by Congress … And it ensures that veterans health care will no longer be held hostage to the annual budget battles in Washington.” The president made his remarks in the East Room of the White House joined by VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and Sen. Daniel Akaka, chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the bill’s sponsor.

Representatives from veterans service organizations and members of Congress who played key roles in passing the legislation were part of the crowd that witnessed the signing. “No longer will VA and the veterans in its care have to suffer from the ‘check’s in the mail’ syndrome”, American Legion National Commander Clarence Hill said. “Now the VA will know a year in advance what resources will be available to it so plans can be made accordingly. Advance appropriations will go a long way toward minimizing compromises in the delivery of the high-quality VA health care our veterans expect and deserve.”

Obama thanked several members of Congress for their efforts in getting the advance funding bill passed noting that it was an example of what Democrats and Republicans can do when they join forces to do right by our veterans. ” Let me say that I take special pride in this legislation”, Obama said. “Because as a senator, I was a proud co-sponsor of this legislation, I served on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and in the campaign last year you all remember I had promised to pass it and today as president I’m fulfilling that promise.” Obama told the audience that with the new legislation veterans medical care will be funded one year in advance. “For VA this means timely, sufficient, and predictable funding from year to year. Most of all for our veterans it will mean better access to doctors and nurses and the medical care that they need.” Akaka introduced the VA advance funding bill in Congress on 12 FEB, guided it through committee hearings, and gathered 56 co-sponsors. On 13 OCT the Senate approved the legislation unanimously. [Source: American Legion Online Update 22 Oct 09 ++]

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BARIATRIC SURGERY Update 02: Veterans classified as super obese and those with a higher chronic disease burden appear more likely to die within a year of having bariatric surgery, according to a report in the OCT issue of Archives of Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. Currently, 165,000 veterans who use Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities have class III obesity, defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater, according to background information in the article. Evidence suggests bariatric surgery is one of the few interventions that can help morbidly obese individuals lose enough weight to significantly improve their health and quality of life. The risk of death associated with bariatric surgery is thought to be low, but most previous studies have involved younger women rather than the older male population that typically uses VA facilities. The number of bariatric procedures performed in approved VA medical facilities more than tripled between 2000 and 2006; however, the surgery is being performed on only approximately 0.1% of all veterans who meet BMI criteria. “Whether the volume of the VA bariatric surgery program should be expanded in the coming years largely depends on the impact such operations have on long-term health outcomes,” the authors write.

David Arterburn, M.D., M.P.H., of Group Health Research Institute, Seattle, and colleagues examined patient factors associated with the risk of death among 856 veterans who underwent bariatric surgery in any of 12 VA bariatric centers from 2000 to 2006. The patients had an average BMI of 48.7 and an average age of 54 years; 73% were men. Overall, a total of 54 patients (6.3%) died during the follow-up period; 1.3% of the patients died 30 days after surgery, 2.1% died 90 days after surgery and 3.4% had died after one year. In statistical models performed by the researchers, the patients who were classified as super obese (having a BMI of 50 or higher; 36% of the sample) and those with a higher score on a measure of costs related to co-occurring diseases (8% of the sample) had an increased risk of death. Super obese patients (who accounted for 30 deaths) had 30-day, 90-day and one-year death rates of 2%, 3.6% and 5.2%, whereas those with a higher comorbidity (i.e.presence of one or more disorders/diseases in addition to a primary disease or disorder) cost score had rates of 1.5%, 5.8%and 10.1%.

Several possible explanations exist for the increased risk of death among the super obese, the authors note. Bariatric procedures are technically more difficult in these patients because of their abdominal fat; they may be at greater risk for wound complications and blood clotting; and they are likely to have more obesity-related illnesses. “The results of this study should inform discussions with patients with regard to the potential risks and benefits of bariatric surgery,” the authors conclude. “These findings also suggest that the risks of bariatric surgery in patients with significant comorbidities, such as congestive heart failure, complicated diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, should be carefully weighed against potential benefits in older male patients and those with super obesity.” [Source: ScienceDaily Journal article 21 Oct 09 ++]

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STOP-LOSS PAY Update 01: The Defense Department said 21 OCT that it would begin paying retroactive compensation to troops who were prevented from leaving the military under the contentious policy known as stop-loss. The new payments apply to about 185,000 troops who, in the years after SEP 01, were not allowed to retire or be discharged on time because of stop-loss, an involuntary extension of active service that officials said was necessary to ensure that there were enough officers, skilled personnel and combat enlisted men for two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates said in MAR 09 that the Pentagon would phase out stop-loss, a highly unpopular policy, by early 2011, when the last unit with stop-lossed troops is to return home. Under the new payment policy, which was mandated by Congress, the department will give each eligible service member or veteran $500, which is in addition to regular pay, for every month served under stop-loss. Families of troops who died while on stop-loss are also eligible for compensation, of the same amount. There are now 5,200 troops still serving under stop-loss. They are already receiving $500 a month in extra pay.

Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said that the compensation was long overdue and that he hoped its cost would keep the Pentagon “from abusing this policy as often as it has done in the past.” Samuel B. Retherford, director of officer and enlisted personnel management at the Pentagon, said in an interview with Armed Forces News Service, “We’re doing everything we can to discontinue the use of this authority.” Of the 185,000 troops at issue, the Army had a vast majority, 136,000 soldiers, who served an average of seven extra months, said Lt. Col. Les A. Melnyk, a Defense Department spokesman. The Air Force had the second-largest number, 39,000, followed by the Marine Corps, with 9,600. The Navy had the fewest cases of stop-loss, 250, but the extension of duty for those sailors averaged 15 months. Congress allocated $534.4 million to the program in JUN 09, but the Defense Department may need about $600 million to make all the payouts. Applicants have one year or until 21 Oct 2010 to apply for retroactive payment and must provide a servicemember’s DD-214, a copy of their contract, and proof that the individual was stop-lossed. Current and former service personnel, as well as surviving spouses, can apply for the compensation. Each service branch has set up a Web site or e-mail addresses for military personnel or families to apply for the compensation as indicated:

• Army: www.stoplosspay.army.mil/Default.aspx

• Navy: NXAG_N132C@navy.mil

• Air Force: www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/stoploss/index.asp

• Marines: www.manpower.usmc.mil/stoploss

[Source: New York Times James Dao article 22 Oct 09 ++]

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VIETNAM MEMORIAL WALL Update 04: Repair work was under way 21 OCT at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall as a private memorial fund took over landscaping and maintenance of 13 acres from the National Park Service. Over the next two weeks, workers are restoring the flagpole’s bronze finish and its decorative base with five military branch insignias. They will also restore the bronze finish for five stands that hold directories that help people find names on famous V-shaped memorial wall, which draws millions of visitors each year. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, which built the memorial, also has repaired an irrigation system and is reseeding and sodding the grass. Last month, the group announced plans to pay for maintenance at the site because of scarce funding from the federal government. They plan to raise more than $1 million to care for the memorial and grounds, including $500,000 to buy replacement granite if sections of the wall need to be replaced in the future. “Everybody has the same goal: We want it to look good,” said fund spokeswoman Lisa Gough. “We want it to shine.” The memorial’s bronze fixtures — including the flagpole and a statue of three soldiers — will be restored for the first time since they were installed more than 25 years ago, said James Cummings, who was part of the memorial’s original architecture team the project. The fund is working to raise $100,000 to restore the statue in the next year. The bronze is worn down and has turned green on the soldiers’ noses and arms, Cummings said. The weather caused some of the damage, along with the hands of many visitors. “No one expected the memorial itself would have such an impact with the culture,” said Cummings. “There’s a plan now to take care of it.” [Source: MarineCorpsTimes Brett Zongker article 21 Oct -09 ++]

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PTSD Update 31: Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder face an increased risk for dying after surgery, even if the surgery is performed years after they have completed their service, according to a U.S. study. Researchers analyzed data on 1,792 male veterans who had major non-cardiac, non-emergency surgeries between 1998 and 2008. Of that group, 129 (7.8%) had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) before their surgery. Men with PTSD were an average of seven years younger than those without PTSD — 59 versus 66 years old — but were much more likely to have cardiac risk factors, the study noted. One year after surgery, the death rate among men with PTSD was 25% higher than for those without PTSD — 8.5% versus 6.8%. After the researchers adjusted for age and preexisting medical conditions — including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking and depression — they found that veterans with PTSD were 2.2 times more likely to die within a year of surgery than those without PTSD.

The findings were scheduled to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists 17-21 OCT in New Orleans. “This study is the first of its kind, with groundbreaking findings,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Marek Brzezinski, of the San Francisco VA Medical Center and University of California, San Francisco, said in a news release from the society. “The magnitude of the detrimental effect of PTSD diagnosis on postoperative mortality is unexpectedly large — greater than that of diabetes, which is an established risk factor for patients undergoing surgery.” The results highlight “the need to consider potential treatments to help reduce risk in the veteran PTSD population, “Brzezinski said. “The number of veterans returning from our current conflicts with PTSD who require surgical treatment is expected to increase in the future.” PTSD affects 15 to 31% of Vietnam veterans and 20% of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, according to background information in the news release. For more info on PTSD refer to The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health site www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml. [Source: American Society of Anesthesiologists news release 17 Oct 09 ++]

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VET BENEFIT FUNDING: MOAA’s Director of Government Relations and co-chair of The Military Coalition Col. Steven P. Strobridge, USAF-Ret., wrote the following commentary in the MOAA News Exchange on anticipated future Budget Battles which will impact on veteran benefits. A good read on what to expect:

As I See It — Bitter Budget Winds Ahead

If you’re going to be in the military personnel and compensation lobbying business for any length of time, you’d better be an optimistic person. By that, I mean you have to believe the U.S. system of government — as flawed as it usually is in the short term — eventually does the right thing. But in the short term, you can expect some serious disappointments and periods of very tough sledding. One particularly bitter disappointment this year was Congress’ failure to provide any concurrent-receipt relief to severely disabled military retirees forced into medical retirement for noncombat injuries. Under current law, a 20-year retiree with a 10% combat-related disability gets to keep his or her retired pay and VA disability compensation for the combat-related injury. But someone forced into medical retirement with a 100% disabling noncombat injury has to fund his or her own VA disability compensation out of earned retired pay. When President Obama proposed a fix for that in the FY 2010 defense budget — the first president of either party ever to support a concurrent receipt plan — MOAA thought at long last this terrible inequity would be fixed. House Armed Services Committee Chair Ike Skelton (D-MO) put his personal prestige on the line to find budget offsets to fund the president’s proposal and won the fix in the House. So we were shocked to learn last week it had been dropped from the final defense bill “for lack of sufficient budget offsets.” What happened? The answer offers a bitter lesson in congressional budget politics and a sobering assessment of the budget environment the country faces for 2010 and beyond.

Under congressional budget rules, any proposed increase in mandatory spending — a category that includes military retired pay, survivor benefits, and Tricare For Life (TFL) — must be offset by an equal reduction in other mandatory spending or an equivalent increase in tax or other revenue. The savings have to fully offset the one-year, five-year, and 10-year costs of the initiative. And the congressional committee that proposes the plus-up has to come up with the offsetting savings within its own jurisdiction, get leadership approval to take it from some other committee’s jurisdiction, or get congressional agreement to borrow the money/increase the deficit. According to MOAA’s sources, the problem on this year’s concurrent-receipt initiative was most of the savings identified were in the first year and came from jurisdiction other than the Armed Services committees’. House leaders had signed off on the deal, but at least one Senate committee with jurisdiction over the proposed offsets wouldn’t agree, and efforts to identify alternative offsets failed. On an issue-specific level, using budget hardball rules to stymie relatively low-cost relief ($160 million in 2010) for totally disabled military retirees is maddening when Congress regularly has waived the offset rules to approve trillions of dollars in stimulus packages, bailouts, and more (including — to be fair — tax cuts, the new GI Bill, and military home owner tax relief).

From a bigger-picture standpoint, this strenuous battle over a relatively tiny budget offset offers an ominous portent for the future. Dropping concurrent receipt is not something Hill leaders wanted to do or took lightly. After all, this was a personal initiative by a new Democratic president, and House and Senate leaders (already on record as endorsing concurrent receipt) wanted to support the president. If they couldn’t come up with the necessary $160 million, they had some reasons. And if I’m right on speculating about those reasons, it doesn’t bode well for the next few years:

• First, and most obviously, the Armed Services committees don’t have any offsets to offer. They’re not going to cut TFL or survivor benefits to fund concurrent receipt.

• Second, Congress has much bigger fish to fry (e.g., national health care reform) that are consuming almost all possible budget offsets.

• Third, Congress’ past approval of massive spending packages has driven the deficit to unprecedented levels that seem to be forcing tighter budget rules for “nonessential” issues.

How bad is it? The 2009 deficit will be about $1.4 trillion — with a “T.” That’s 10% of the value of total U.S. national output of goods and services — a truly staggering figure. Meanwhile, Congress faces huge challenges to extend health care coverage to all Americans, find a way to keep Medicare and Social Security from going broke with the coming retirement of the baby boomers, and fight two wars, while trying to continue national recovery from a massive economic and employment slump. In the words of an old Bob Dylan song, “You don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” I remain an optimist for the long term. But the country — and the military, wars or no wars — faces some extremely trying budget years ahead. I don’t think the real magnitude of that has sunk in for most Americans yet. If you think we’ve had some tough budget battles in recent years, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” [Source: MOAA News Exchange 21 Oct 09 ++]

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PERSONALITY DISORDER DISCHARGE Update 01: In the Senate, Barack Obama fought for better mental-health care for troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Now that he’s president, some of his former colleagues want him to pick up the gauntlet once more and make sure troops are getting the benefits they deserve. “In 2007, we were partners in the fight against the military’s misuse of personality disorder discharges”, four senators Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Kit Bond (R-MO) and Sam Brownback (R-KS) wrote in an OCT letter asking Obama for a report to Congress on the current use of the discharges. “Today we urge you to renew your commitment to address this critical issue facing thousands of returning service members.” Because the military views personality disorders as a pre-existing condition, many service members returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with mental health problems have been unable to receive health benefits. There have been questions, however, about how scrupulous the military has been in making sure that the personality disorder discharges were proper. A Pentagon spokeswoman said the department would have no immediate comment.

Obama was the junior Democratic senator from Illinois two years ago when he and other lawmakers asked the military to examine how it treated troops who came home with mental disorders. Failing to get a response from the Pentagon, several senators, including Bond, Obama and Democrat Claire McCaskill of Missouri, asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate. They were concerned about the rising number of troops who were returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions. Many were diagnosed with personality disorders. “In many instances, service members discharged with ‘personality disorders’ are forced to repay thousands of dollars to the federal government in re-enlistment bonuses they deserved while serving in hazardous combat conditions,” the senators said in their letter this week to the president.

In a report last year, the GAO studied troops who’d been discharged with personality disorders from 2001 to 2007 and found that the Pentagon often failed to meet all the necessary criteria. Compliance, for instance, with mandatory counseling requirements ranged from 40% of the time to 99%. The Pentagon “does not have reasonable assurance that its key personality disorder-separation requirements have been followed,” the GAO concluded. It said military officials “could not explain why these separations were approved.” In the wake of the report, the military established a system to ensure that all the proper discharge steps were followed. Bond, Brownback, Lincoln and Grassley want Obama to make sure that they are. Paul Sullivan, the executive director of Veterans for Common Sense, a nonprofit activist group, said the Defense Department hadn’t done a good job of ensuring that veterans with mental health disorders were being diagnosed correctly. “We urge them to fix the problem now and share the information with Congress and veterans groups,” he said. [Source: McClatchy Newspapers David Goldstein article 20 Oct 09 ++]

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VET GRAVE LOCATOR Update 02: The Nationwide Graveside Locator service is available on handheld devices with Internet capability. The service provides locations and driving directions to both national cemeteries and private burial grounds. “This innovative program continues VA’s commitment to use the latest technology to provide veterans and their families with information they need,” VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said. “It will simplify and enhance the experience of many who visit our national cemeteries.” The VA introduced an Internet-based nationwide gravesite locator in 2004. It is linked to electronic burial records to help people find the cemeteries where their relatives are buried. For veterans and eligible family members buried in national cemeteries, or whose graves are marked with a government headstone, the location of the graves can be found on your personal computer and at national cemetery kiosks.

The Web site http://gravelocator.cem.va.gov/j2ee/servlet/NGL_v1 allows for searches by name and by cemetery, if the location is known. A search will provide a grave location, a link to a Google map and driving directions, and a link to the cemetery map if available. The locator includes burial records from many sources. These sources provide varied data; some searches may contain less information than others. Information on veterans buried in private cemeteries was collected for the purpose of furnishing government grave markers, and the locator does not have information available for burials prior to 1997. Erroneous information can be corrected, but there is no capability to add to the information contained in the existing record. If your search returns incorrect information about a veteran or family member buried in a national cemetery, contact the cemetery directly to discuss your findings. To report incorrect information about a veteran buried in a private cemetery go to https://iris.va.gov/scripts/iris.cfg/php.exe/enduser/home.php and submit an input. Names cannot be added to the listing if a government grave marker was not furnished for the grave, or if the existing government grave marker was furnished prior to 1997. For more complete information concerning individual records, we suggest you contact the cemetery or local officials. The VA adds about 1,000 new records to the database each day.

The American Battle Monuments Commission (www.abmc.gov ) provides information on service members buried in overseas cemeteries. If you cannot locate the person you are searching for, provide the following information on each individual:

• Full name, including any alternate spellings

• Date and place of birth

• Date and place of death

• State from which the individual entered active duty

• Military service branch

Most requests take approximately four weeks for a reply. Be sure to include your return mailing address, phone number or Internet e-mail address with your request and send it to: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, National Cemetery Administration (41C1), Burial Location Request, 810 Vermont Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20420. [Source: Federal Computer week Alice Lipowicz article 19 Oct 09 ++]

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BOARD OF VETERANS’ APPEALS Update 01: Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced the addition of four new Veterans Law Judges to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA), which will enable the board to increase the number of cases being decided. “Veterans have earned the right to prompt, exhaustive and professional review of their claims for benefits,” Secretary Shinseki said. “This expansion of BVA will enable Veterans to receive more expeditious decisions on their appeals.” BVA is an appeals body to which Veterans, their dependents or their survivors can go when they are not satisfied with decisions about claims for benefits administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). BVA reviews decisions on benefit claims made by local VA offices and issues decisions on appeals. The board currently has 60 Veterans Law Judges. These law judges are attorneys experienced in Veterans law and in reviewing benefit claims. They are the only ones who can issue BVA decisions. Staff attorneys, also trained in Veterans law, review the facts of each appeal and assist the board members.

In fiscal year 2008, the board decided 43,757 appeals and handled 48,804 cases in fiscal year 2009. Most of the cases involve claims for disability compensation and pensions. “We must foster a responsive approach when we consider Veterans,” Shinseki said. “Reducing the backlog of benefits decisions and waiting times are essential to providing our Veterans and their families with the service they deserve.” VA provides a pamphlet entitled, How Do I Appeal, to anyone who is not satisfied with the results of a benefits claim that was decided by a VA regional office, medical center or another local VA office. The pamphlet explains the steps involved in filing an appeal. For more information about BVA or to download a copy of VA Pamphlet 01-02-02A, April 2002 refer to www.va.gov/vbs/bva. [Source: VA Press release 21 Oct 09 ++]

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WE CARE FOR VETERANS PROGRAM: Homewatch CareGivers is offering up to 20 hours of free in-home care to a disabled or injured U.S. military veteran in honor of their service and sacrifice through the We Care for Veterans Program. They feel the best way to pitch in and show their support is by providing their services to those who have sacrificed so much for our nation. If eligible sign up at 1-800-777-9770 or contact your area location to apply. You can find a list of nationwide locations by entering your zip code at www.homewatchcaregivers.com/Blog.aspx# . Promotion Rules are:

• The offering is available only in participating Homewatch CareGivers locations.

• The promotion is available to one Disabled U.S. Military Veteran per participating location, issued on a first come, first serve basis.

• Applicants must live within the service area of a participating Homewatch CareGivers location.

• Care can be purposed for any use that falls within the parameters of Homewatch CareGivers existing service offering.

• The 20 hours of free care can be used in increments determined by the Homewatch location.

• Applicants must be signed up for the We Care for Veterans promotion by November 30th.

Homewatch CareGivers gives back to the community through its Veterans Outreach Program, which provides guidance and education about the Aid and Attendance Benefit to veterans as well as surviving spouses. Homewatch CareGivers make every effort to put potential claimants together with service offices from groups like Legion and Purple Heart who will represent the claimant before the VA for no charge. Contact your area location for more information. [Source: www.homewatchcaregivers.com 21 Oct 09 ++]

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HUGO SALUTES OUR VETERANS: A national program will provide 25,000 canes at no charge to veterans of the United States Armed Forces in need of mobility assistance to honor them for their incredible contributions to our country. The program “Hugo Salutes Our Veterans” will be launched Veterans Day, 11 NOV 09 and will provide Hugo Folding Canes at all Sam’s Club locations nationwide, while supplies last. Sam’s Club Membership is not required. Proof of U.S. military service may be required in order to be eligible. AMG Medical Inc., headquartered in Alpharetta, Georgia, first launched the Veterans program in 2007, giving away 5,000 canes. The program was to honor the parents and relatives of its employees who served in the U.S. military and to give back to those who graciously gave so much to America. This year, with the backing of Sam’s Club, Procter and Gamble, Novartis, Wyeth, Johnson & Johnson, US Nutrition, First Quality, Schiff Nutrition and AMG Medical, the program has been greatly expanded.

The Hugo Folding Cane to be given out on Veterans Day, which retails for about $29.99, is a beautiful metallic blue with an ergonomic comfort grip handle, appropriate for both left and right handed users. Sturdy, functional and stylish, it has multiple height settings to comfortably meet the needs of most people. The Hugo Cane easily unfolds and locks into position for use. To store, the cane conveniently folds into four sections and also includes a handle safety strap for extra confidence. The cane can be viewed at www.hugosalutes.com.

Philip delBuey, Global President of AMG Medical Inc., said, “The Veterans have helped to secure the prosperity that many of us now enjoy. Were it not for the selfless service of our Vets, companies such as ours would probably not exist. All of us at AMG Medical want to celebrate our success with those who directly or indirectly made it possible. Our company mission is all about helping people stay active and connected to family, friends and the community.” Christopher Scheer, Public Affairs Supervisor at the Department of Veterans Affairs said, “The Hugo Salutes our Veterans Program which is of an incredibly generous scale, is indicative of the appreciation and respect for our Veterans that both private citizens and corporations have. We deeply appreciate AMG Medical, Sam’s Club and all the sponsors who support our Veterans.” For additional information about The Hugo Salutes Our Veterans program, refer to www.hugosalutes.com. [Source: VVA msg 20 Oct 09 ++]

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MEDICARE FRAUD Update 25: Solomon Nathaniel of Sterling Heights, Mich., pleaded guilty 19 OCT in U.S. District Court in Detroit to participating in a conspiracy to defraud the Medicare program. In his guilty plea today, Nathaniel, 51, a licensed physical therapist, admitted that he worked as a contract therapist for Suresh Chand, a co-conspirator who pleaded guilty to similar charges on 29 SEP 09. Chand owned and controlled several companies operating in the Detroit area that purported to provide physical and occupational therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries. Nathaniel admitted that he, Chand and others created fictitious therapy files appearing to document physical and occupational therapy services provided to Medicare beneficiaries, when in fact no such services had been provided. According to court documents, the fictitious services reflected in the files were billed to Medicare through sham Medicare providers controlled by Chand and other co-conspirators.

According to plea documents, Chand acknowledged that in order to create the fictitious therapy files, he and his co-conspirators paid cash kickbacks and other inducements to Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for the beneficiaries’ Medicare numbers and signatures on documents falsely indicating that they had received physical or occupational therapy. Nathaniel admitted that:

• He was among the licensed physical or occupational therapists from whom Chand obtained signatures on fictitious “progress notes” and other documents falsely indicating that the therapists had provided services to the Medicare beneficiaries.

• During the course of the scheme, he signed approximately 1,250 fictitious physical therapy files indicating that he had provided physical therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries, when in fact he had not.

• Between approximately DEC 03 and JUL 06 he falsified physical therapy files that supported claims to the Medicare program totaling approximately $6,250,000. Medicare actually paid approximately $2,875,000 on those claims.

• During his participation in the scheme, he was aware that Medicare was being billed for services he falsely represented he had performed.

The case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Since their inception in MAR 07, Strike Force operations in four districts have resulted in indictments of 310 individuals who collectively have falsely

billed the Medicare program for more than $680 million. In addition, HHS’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers. To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action

Team (HEAT), refer to www.stopmedicarefraud.gov. [Source: Reuters PRNewswire-USNewswire article 19 Oct 09 ++]

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MEDICARE FRAUD Update 26: Eighteen defendants, most of them residing in the Los Angeles area, have been charged in five indictments for allegedly participating in Medicare fraud schemes that resulted in approximately $25 million in fraudulent bills to the Medicare program. Federal and state agents arrested five of the defendants on 21 OCT and seven others were taken into custody the prior week as the result of an investigation by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force that targeted fraudulent durable medical equipment (DME) providers. The cases involve DME company owners and marketers who are accused of engaging in a variety of schemes that defrauded the Medicare program through fraudulent bills which total approximately $25.5 million. The five charging documents outline criminal schemes involving the fraudulent ordering of power wheelchairs, orthotics (devices designed to assist with orthopedic problems) and hospital beds. In addition to the arrests, federal agents today executed search warrants at four locations in Los Angeles County.

Michael Martinez, 30, of Long Beach, Calif., and six other defendants were charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and for making false statements to the government. Martinez allegedly recruited relatives and individuals linked to the Santa Ana-based Brook Street Gang to act as straw owners for four fraudulent DME companies. The six other defendants — Angel Michel, 36, of San Diego; Guadalupe Alcaraz, 30, of Corona, Calif.; Theresa Padilla, 23, of Moreno Valley, Calif.; Pedro Franco, 28, of Torrance, Calif.; Ricardo Navarro, 49, of Corona; and Martin Padilla, 42, of Moreno Valley — allegedly each received approximately $5,000 from a Martinez associate to act as the nominal owners of the fraudulent DME companies. In this way, they could deceive Medicare by concealing the true identities of those who actually owned the companies. The indictment alleges that as part of the conspiracy, the fraudulent DME companies — Mercy Medical Supplies Inc.; Chatsworth Medical Equipment Inc.; All Your Needs Healthcare Products Inc.; and Global Meridian Management Inc. — submitted approximately $11.2 million in fraudulent Medicare claims for medically unnecessary power wheelchairs and orthotic devices. If convicted on all counts in the indictment, Martinez faces a maximum statutory penalty of 75 years in federal prison, and the other six defendants each face maximum sentences of 15 years in prison.

The owners of four DME companies and two of their employees were arrested on 15 OCT after being indicted for allegedly submitting more than $12 million in false claims to Medicare for power wheelchairs, orthotics and other medical equipment that the conspirators either did not supply, supplied to beneficiaries who did not need the equipment, or allegedly supplied to deceased beneficiaries. Christopher Iruke, 57, of Los Angeles, the owner of Pascon Medical Supply, and employee Darawn Vasquez, 25, of Inglewood, Calif., are alleged to have acquired fraudulent prescriptions and documents from individuals who recruited Medicare beneficiaries or were associated with fraudulent medical clinics. Iruke, Vasquez and Iruke’s wife, Connie Ikpoh, 47, also of Los Angeles; as well as Jummal Joy Ibrahim, 54, of Las Vegas; and Asia Fowler, 38, of Pacoima, Calif.; who were the alleged owners of Horizon Medical Equipment and Supply Inc., Contempo Medical Equipment Inc., and Ladera Medical Equipment Inc., are alleged to have used the fraudulent prescriptions and documents Iruke and Vasquez acquired to submit approximately $12.1 million in false claims to Medicare. The indictment charges a sixth defendant, Aura Marroquin, 28, of Los Angeles, with participating in the scheme. If convicted on the charges alleged in the indictment, the six defendants face maximum possible sentences ranging from 50 years to 180 years in federal prison. A trial in this case has been scheduled for November 24. [Source: DOJ release to PR Newswire 21 Oct 09 ++]

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TRICARE FLU SHOTS: Tricare covers the following vaccines for the seasonal flu:

• Flu shot: an inactivated vaccine containing a killed virus and given with a needle. This form of the vaccine may be used in all age groups.

• Flu mist: nasal-spray flu vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses. This form of the vaccine is limited for use in people who are between the ages of 2 and 49 years, and who are not pregnant at the time they receive the vaccination.

Tricare covers the Seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccines as long as the vaccine is obtained from a Tricare-authorized provider. Understand that pharmacists are not recognized by Tricare as authorized providers to administer immunizations. Certain people should get vaccinated each year because they are at high risk of serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for high-risk persons. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following people should be vaccinated each year:

• All children aged six months to 18 years

• Adults aged 50 years and older

• Persons with underlying chronic medical conditions

• All women who are be pregnant during the influenza season

• Health care workers involved in direct patient care

• Child care and elderly care workers

• Persons at high risk of severe complications from influenza

The CDC has determined that the H1N1 virus is contagious and spreading from human to human. The vaccine is expected to be available in OCT/NOV 09 and beneficiaries are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated. To ensure Tricare Prime enrollees can receive the vaccine as quickly as possible, Tricare is suspending requirement for them to have a referral and authorization from their primary care manager allowing them to receive the H1N1 vaccine from any Tricare-authorized provider, including non-network providers. The requirement is suspended from 1 OCT 09 thru 30 APR 10. This will allow Tricare Prime enrollees to receive the H1N1 vaccine from any Tricare-authorized provider without being subject to point-of-service charges for visiting a non-network provider. Again, understand that pharmacists are not recognized by Tricare as authorized providers to administer immunizations. For more information about the seasonal and H1N1 flu and to learn about preventing the flu, refer to the Tricare Flu Resources Page www.tricare.mil/flu. [Source: Tricare Medical http://tricare.mil/mybenefit/home/Medical?

Covered Services 20 Oct 09 ++]

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TEXAS VETERAN LOTTERY: The Texas Lottery Commission on 9 NOV (two days before Veterans Day) will start selling the first scratch-off ticket dedicated to a cause other than public education. The Veterans Cash scratch-off ticket is predicted to pour $9 million a year into veterans’ services when fully operational, and $5 million through the end of next August. The tickets will cost $2 each, with a top prize of $20,000. Officials said the lottery commission has printed more than 8.1 million of the scratch-offs, comparable to other $2 games. Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, and Rep. Chris Turner, D-Burleson, said 19 OCT the dedicated ticket, backed by veterans’ groups and created under a new state law, was a tough sell. “I found out quickly that there’s a reason we’ve had a lottery for nearly 20 years in Texas and no one has ever managed to pass a bill to create a dedicated game like this,” said Turner. The lawmakers said they assured colleagues that, based on the experience of other states with similar games dedicated to veterans, the new approach would not siphon money from education. Backers said they expect that people who normally may not play the lottery will buy the vet tickets, as well as others. Veterans groups plan a push to let their members know about the new game. John Miterko of the Vietnam Veterans of America called it “veterans helping veterans.” After the usual deduction for prizes and other costs, 23% of ticket proceeds will go to the Permanent Fund for Veterans’ Assistance. The fund was created by the Legislature in 2007 to be funded by grants and gifts. The money will be used for such services as transportation to veterans’ hospitals, counseling and housing for homeless veterans. [Source: Houston Chronicle Peggy Fikac article 19 OCT 09 ++]

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U.S. SAVINGS BONDS Update 04: The federal government is facing a lawsuit over billions in unclaimed bonds that date back to the patriotic fundraising efforts of World War II, leading to a showdown between states who say they should be given the money and a Treasury Department that claims ownership. World War II sparked an unprecedented bond buying campaign, spurred on by one of the largest advertising campaigns ever seen — a drive wrapped in dutiful pleas from celebrities, politicians and cartoon characters alike. Most American families bought at least one bond at the time and many never cashed them in — thanks in part to a 40-year maturity in the bonds. And those same “Series E” war bonds continued to be sold by the federal government until 1980. More than $16 billion worth of the bonds are unclaimed, either lost or forgotten about with the death of the original purchasers. The state attorneys general suing the Treasury Department charge that the federal government made no effort to find those people. They want the money given to the states, who have a legal system in place for finding the owners of unclaimed funds. “It’s better for the millions of American who are the rightful owners to have it returned to the states, because the states will make a real effort to find them,” said David Bishop, a partner at Kirby McInerney who is representing the states in the suit. “And if after searching for them they can’t find them, the money can go to work in the communities where the bonds were purchased.”

The Treasury Department counters that it indeed tries to find owners of the unclaimed bonds, and says it has a Web site (www.savingsbonds.gov/indiv/tools/tools_treasuryhunt.htm ) where people can simply type in their Social Security number to see if they have one. And it points out that the money is not just laying around somewhere. “One of the misunderstandings out there is that there is a lot of cash sitting somewhere in a drawer. Money from savings bonds was used to run the daily operating expenses of the government,” said Joyce Harris, with the Bureau of the Public Debt. “These are obligations of the federal government, not the states. There is no pot of gold out there just waiting for someone to grab it.” The Treasury also points out that most of the unclaimed bonds are far more recent than the original World War II era bonds. And overall, 99% of people claim their bonds. And those who don’t cash them often choose to do so for tax reasons, or perhaps out of a sense of patriotism, Harris said. “Quite frankly, people are aware of the bonds,” she said. “A majority, when you contact them, are aware of the bonds.”

It’s not like the states will get the money free of obligation, about $55 million in the case of Montana. The states would be obligated to pay bondholders no matter if it takes them decades or longer to show up. In the meantime, though, states usually earmark the interest earned on such unclaimed money for schools or other purposes. Steve Bullock, the attorney general for Montana, said states, not the federal government, have legally been granted the right to deal with unclaimed money. “First and foremost I think it is the right thing to do. I think it is money that should be with Montanans,” Bullock said. “It’s an important action to bring just to protect the state’s interest. The complaint was first filed in Federal court in New Jersey in 2004 with New Jersey and North Carolina as the plaintiffs. Montana, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Missouri later joined the case. All states would benefit if the lawsuit is successful. The case will come down to constitutional arguments. Attorneys for the federal government are arguing the states don’t have standing on what they see as a contract issue between the original purchasers and the Treasury Department. The states expect arguments in the case to be made later this year on a motion from the federal government to dismiss the case. [Source: Associated Press Writer Matt Gouras 18 Oct 09 ++]

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MILITARY HOLIDAY MAILING: The 2009 Christmas holiday mailing deadlines for APO/FPO mail is as indicated below:

Destination Zip Express 1st Class Priority PAL SAM Parcel Post

APO/FPO AE 090-092 18 Dec 11 Dec 11 Dec 04 Dec 27 Nov 13 Nov

APO/FPO AE 093 N/A 04 Dec 04 Dec 01 Dec 20 Nov 13 Nov

APO/FPO AE 094-098 18 Dec 11 Dec 11 Dec 04 Dec 27 Nov 13 Nov

APO/FPO AA 340 18 Dec 11 Dec 11 Dec 04 Dec 27 Nov 13 Nov

APO/FPO AP 962-966 18 Dec 11 Dec 11 Dec 04 Dec 27 Nov 13 Nov

EMMS: Express Mail Military Service is available to selected military post offices. Check with your local Post Office to determine if this service is available to your APO/FPO of address.

PAL: PAL is a service that provides air transportation for parcels on a space-available basis. It is available for Parcel Post items not exceeding 30 pounds in weight or 60 inches in length and girth combined. The applicable PAL fee must be paid in addition to the regular surface rate of postage for each addressed piece sent by PAL service.

SAM: SAM parcels are paid at Parcel Post postage rate of postage with maximum weight and size limits of 15 pounds and 60 inches in length and girth combined. SAM parcels are first transported domestically by surface and then to overseas destinations by air on a space-available basis.

[Source: Military Postal Service Agency http://hqdainet.army.mil/mpsa/xmas.htm 19 Oct 09 ++]

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DOD to VA TRANSITION Update 11: An innovative, far-sighted partnership between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) will improve the health care system for Veterans and dramatically change the way health care is delivered to all Americans, according to Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs W. Scott Gould. “The future will see VA and DoD working even closer together,” said Gould, “as we fulfill the President’s requirement for a single Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record that will support Veterans from their day of induction to their day of interment.” Gould spoke 15 OCT at the second annual DoD “Breakthrough Convention” devoted to improving business practices in the nation’s largest government agency. Noting that VA’s budget requirements are substantially affected by DoD’s strategic decisions and operations, he reassured the audience that the President’s proposed 2010 budget for VA addresses the issue and builds on increases Congress added to the Department’s budget in the last two years. VA’s 2010 budget request for $113 billion would fund increased education benefits for post-9/11 Veterans, health care for some Veterans who were previously ineligible, more mental health and cognitive-injury services — especially in rural areas — and upgraded technology for data transmission and records. Gould said the long-term solution for correcting procedural delays that affect Veterans is to redesign business processes and improve information technology. VA’s new strategic plan, he said, is focused on Veterans, with whom VA has an ongoing — sometimes, life-long — relationship. Employees have a natural desire to achieve client satisfaction, but their ability to act on the desire can be diminished by poor systems, policies or lack of training, Gould said. VA’s second-ranking executive credited Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki with providing the leadership to create an organizational culture of performance on behalf of Veterans. [Source: Stars and Stripes Tom Philpott article 17 Oct 09 ++]

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GI BILL Update 61: Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki got a bipartisan hug from the House Veterans Affairs Committee on 14 OCT as lawmakers accepted his plan to fix Post-9/11 GI Bill payment delays, and blamed their own rush to enact the complex education benefit last year for some of the challenges VA now faces. Many veterans using new GI Bill benefits for fall classes had not received their monthly living allowance or lump sum book stipend by early October. In response, Shinseki authorized emergency payments of up to $3,000, supplied through VA’s 57 regional offices or by registering for the payment online. Within two days of the 2 OCT start of emergency payments, 25,000 students either had received checks or expected them soon by mail. A number of complications caused the payment delays, Shinseki explained. One factor was VA officials underestimated the number of claim processors they needed by the 3 AUG start date. Early estimates were based on processing time under the Montgomery GI Bill program, he said. But processing Montgomery GI Bill payments involves two to three steps and takes an average of 15 minutes versus nine steps and more than an hour to process a Post-9/11 GI Bill application, Shinseki explained. Unlike Montgomery GI Bill benefits, Post-9/11 payments vary by school location and other unique factors.

Though processors get an assist from computers, they review applications manually. By mid-November, Shinseki said, an upgrade should speed the process enough to clear the current backlog and avoid payment delays in the spring semester. Another factor is that some colleges have been slow in sending certificates of enrollment for students using the GI Bill to the VA. VA needs the certificates before reimbursing schools for tuition and fees or paying living allowances and book stipends directly to students. Shinseki said he liked an idea, raised by Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN) ranking member on the committee, to modify the law so that future payments to students are handled separately from school reimbursements. Committee leaders exchanged congratulations with Shinseki on working together on a bill the president will sign this month that allows Congress, starting next year, to fund VA health care budgets a year in advance, thus ending annual funding delays for VA facilities tied to politics. More kind words were exchanged with Shinseki over his cooperation on a 2010 VA budget that surpasses last year’s budget by $14.5 billion, and will exceed for a third straight year the “Independent Budget” proposed annually for VA by major veterans’ service organizations. Both Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) committee chairman, and Buyer praised Shinseki for integrity and candor in promptly revealing and addressing problems that have surfaced at VA since he took charge last February. “We think you’re doing a great job,” said Filner. “I know you were called a soldier’s soldier when you were in the Army. And now I’m calling you a veteran’s veteran.”

Shinseki listed the major challenges and mistakes of recent months in his opening statement. Besides a rough start launching the new GI Bill, they include a rising backlog of veterans’ benefit claims, lapses at several VA medical centers in disinfecting endoscopes and other reusable VA medical equipment; and a mailing to 1,800 veterans advising them erroneously that they had been diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. As if encouraging Shinseki to remain as secretary despite the challenges, lawmaker after lawmaker said Congress must share the blame for GI Bill payment delays that generated plenty of phone calls and e-mails to their offices from student veterans in financial binds. “Congress should accept some of the blame for creating such a complex and difficult benefit to administer,” said Buyer. “I will acknowledge we created this challenge and the burden lies upon you to supervise and find a way to prevent the delays that are causing the financial difficulties.” “The great thing about a good organization is when you don’t get the assumptions right, you react,” Shinseki said, explaining that it took only a week for program officials to put the emergency payment plan together.

He praised Veterans’ Benefits Administration employees for working hard to implement the program as best they could with too small a staff and with computer technology that couldn’t be upgraded in a timely way. “We do have some problems. It’s not the VA’s fault. You guys have been working very, very hard,” said Rep. John Boozman, (R-AR). Rep. Vic Snyder (D-AR) recalled a conversation he had with Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., who chairs a subcommittee that oversees VA education benefits, on the House floor last year as the new GI Bill was passed. “She said to me, ‘It’s not ready yet. … We’ve got some technical issues that we need to work out. It’s going to cause problems when we try to implement it,’?” Snyder recalled. “Of course, in the legislative process, sometimes you have to go when it’s time to go and get the bill passed.” [Source: Stars & Stripes Tom Philpott article 17 Oct 09 ++]

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GI BILL Update 62: Representatives of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will be telephoning Veterans across the country to explain their education benefits under the new Post-911 GI Bill and ensure beneficiaries are able to receive payments due them. “The Post-9/11 GI Bill is one of our highest priorities,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “Instead of making people wait to hear from us, we’re reaching out to Veterans, so they can get the money they need to stay in school.” The Department is conducting this telephone outreach in response to the large numbers of Veterans who have applied for education benefits for the fall 2009 semester. The calls are scheduled to go to Veterans who have applied for benefits under the new educational assistance program. Those who registered for advanced payments will be called, too, in ensure they received their benefits. To protect the personal identity of Veterans, VA representatives making calls will not ask for any personal information, such as birthdates, bank account or social security numbers, but they may ask family members for information to contact Veterans who are away at school. “Our procedures and policies to provide advanced payments remain in effect,” Shinseki said. “Meanwhile, we’re completing the on-time development of our automated processing system that will ensure timely delivery of checks in the future.” [VA News Release 19 Oct 09 ++]

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GI BILL Update 63: On 28 OCT the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issued a solicitation for temporary contractor support to assist in processing the increased volume of education claims received since implementing the new Post-9/11 GI Bill. “This contract will assist VA in delivering education benefits to our Veterans as quickly as possible,” said Under Secretary for Benefits Patrick W. Dunne. “Veterans are depending on VA to provide the benefits they earned through their service to our nation. We will do everything in our power to minimize delays for our Veteran-students.” The Post-9/11 GI Bill, which went into effect on 1 AUG has generated an unprecedented number of new applications. When combined with the standard high volume of school enrollment claims in August and September (normally, the busiest months for education claims), the number of claims has exceeded anticipated levels. The contractor will provide its own work site and personnel to perform claims processing tasks. Contract staff will validate enrollment information provided by schools and provide recommendations on claim status to VA personnel, who will finalize claims decisions and generate payments (if applicable). All work will be reviewed and authorized by VA personnel. VA will provide training on security and claims processing procedures. The contract personnel will assist in handling the least complex cases, which allows for rapid implementation of this initiative. Information about the Post-9/11 GI Bill, as well as VA’s other educational benefit programs, is available at VA’s Web site www.gibill.va.gov or by calling 1-888-442-4551. [Source: VA News Release 21 OCT 09 ++]

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DATA BREACH BLUE CROSS/SHIELD: A computer belonging to an employee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association got filched from a vandalized car in August, the Chicago Tribune reports. On the laptop: personal info on hundreds of thousands of doctors and their practices, including, in some cases, such details as Social Security numbers and ID numbers used by insurers to pay docs. Nearly all practicing docs in the country, or about 800,000, have been warned about the breach. A spokesman for the insurance group told the Tribune the info shouldn’t have been transferred to the employee’s personal computer and wouldn’t say what happened to the worker. So far, there haven’t been any reports of identity theft or fraud as a result of the theft. Still, the association is offering credit monitoring services to people whose Social Security numbers were exposed. Unfortunately, this is just the latest instance of a wayward PC potentially compromising confidential data. A laptop stolen from the trunk of an National Institutes of Health scientist’s car last year carried confidential information on 2,500 patients in a clinical study. And earlier this year, another laptop theft put at risk confidential information for than 14,000 patients of Moses Cone Health System in North Carolina. [Source: NPR Health Blog Scott Hensley article 15 Oct 09 ++]

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MANILA VARO & OPC: The VA Regional Office (VARO) & Outpatient Clinic (OPC), Manila is the only VA activity located in a foreign country. A VA office has been in operation in the Philippines continuously since the U.S. Veterans Bureau was opened in 1922 (except during the Japanese occupation of WW II), and it is an integral part of the United States mission to the Republic of the Philippines. The VARO is located within the U.S. Embassy Compound at 1131 Roxas Blvd., Ermita, 0930 Manila, PI 96440 Tel: 632-528-2500 or Fax: 632-523-1224. Callers within the Philippines but outside of Manila can use 1-800-1-888-5252 without any long distance charges. It is currently staffed by 8 Americans and 137 Filipinos. The Regional Office administers compensation, pension, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment and education benefits to 18,600 beneficiaries. Monthly disbursement is approximately $17.5 million to 16,600 beneficiaries. VA also administers the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) in the Philippines. About $8 million is disbursed monthly to 18,400 SSA beneficiaries. Effective 2 JAN 09 the Department of Veterans Affair Manila Regional Office (VA) implemented an appointment system for all visitors to their public contact section. They will no longer entertain walk-in visitors; all visitors will be required to have an appointment before they are admitted to the Embassy.

The VA OPC, Manila is a part of the VA Sierra Pacific Network (VISN 21), which also includes facilities throughout the Pacific Islands, northern California, and northern Nevada. The VA OPC, Manila consists of a stand alone ambulatory care leased facility, which is located about 2 miles south of the U.S. Embassy, where the VARO is located. The OPC offers health care services to eligible persons throughout the Philippines. The OPC provides ambulatory care to service-connected U.S. military veterans for their service-connected and non service-connected disabilities and conducts compensation and pension examinations for eligibility purposes. The criteria for care in the Philippines are different than what a veteran may receive in the United States. Veterans residing in the Philippines, veterans planning to travel to the Philippines, and VA Health Care providers should contact the Clinic Manager concerning specific eligibility criteria. Health care services are provided at the OPC by primary care staff physicians utilizing the primary care concept and by contracted specialist consultants. Most specialties are available in house or by contract Outpatient services which include general medicine; internal medicine with subspecialties in cardiology, pulmonary, renal and nephrology; psychiatry and mental health; neurology; dermatology; ENT; audiology; and orthopedics. Ancillary services include nursing, radiology, social work, pharmacy, laboratory, prosthetics and a number of other professional and support services. Inpatient care and fee basis services are limited to treatment of service-connected conditions. The OPC is located at 2201 Roxas Blvd., Pasay City, PI 1300 Tel: 632-833-4566 or Fax 632-831-4454. Callers outside Manila but within the Philippines can reach the OPC via 1-800-1-888-8782. It is staffed by 2 Americans and 82 Filipinos.

All e-mail inquiries for the Manila VA Regional Office and the Manila VA Clinic can be sent via VA’s main inquiry website at: https://iris.va.gov. Use the “Ask a Question” section to ask questions or submit compliments, and suggestions. It provides answers to 368 frequently asked questions. If the information you are seeking is not there you have the option of filling out an IRIS Customer Entry form which contains a section for you to type in your question. All inquiries should be responded to within five business days. If you are experiencing a medical emergency or in need of immediate crisis counseling, go to your nearest medical facility Emergency Room or call 911. This web site is not intended to provide medical diagnosis or emergency care. [Source: http://www2.va.gov/directory/guide/facility.asp?ID=682 Sep 09 ++] Note: Corrected phone number for calling the VARO from outside Manila.

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UTAH PROPERTY TAX INTERPRETATION: Thousands of disabled military veterans are being asked to prove their U.S. citizenship to qualify for a property-tax break in Salt Lake County UT, a side effect of a new stricter state immigration law that is generating criticism. According to the county, disabled veterans aren’t exempt from the law passed earlier this year by the Utah Legislature that requires governments to verify that those receiving a “public benefit” are living in the country legally. The treasurer’s office has sent notices to more than 3,500 wounded or ill veterans requiring them to attest to their citizenship or provide paperwork proving their legal status to qualify for the tax break. County Treasurer Larry Richardson argues he simply followed the law. The district attorney’s office advised him that property-tax relief — even for disabled vets — is a public benefit. “It was clear that those receiving benefits needed to prove residency,” District Attorney Lohra Miller said. “As ridiculous as the result might be, that was the intent. It was not ambiguous.”

Terry Schow, executive director of the Utah Department of Veteran Affairs, said he knows of no other Utah counties taking such an approach to the new law. Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, calls it a gross misinterpretation of the law, which he co-sponsored. The intent, he says, was to ensure that undocumented immigrants aren’t accessing public benefits such as food stamps, not to pile paperwork on veterans. “That is absolutely appalling,” Noel said. “What in the world were they thinking?” But the trouble, county officials say, is the law leaves room for interpretation. County Council Chairman Joe Hatch characterized the $3,300 mass mailing as an “enormous waste of government dollars” that placed an undue burden on veterans. So far, officials have found no disabled vets in the county who are in the U.S. unlawfully. The military doesn’t recruit people who aren’t citizens or legal residents. [Source: ArmyTimes AP article 17 Oct 09 ++]

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FPO MAIL DELIVERY POLICY Update 01: The flow of mail – including prescription drugs sent through the Tricare Mail-Order Pharmacy program – is about to slam to a halt for about 4,800 military retirees and their survivors living overseas who use APO and FPO addresses at U.S. embassies and consulates. Neither State Department nor Defense Department officials would confirm a date when mail will stop, but other sources said the effective date at the moment is 31 DEC. The change will not affect others with APO or FPO mail privileges on overseas military installations, including about 20,000 military retirees who have such addresses because of some other connection to the military community – having a Defense Department civilian job, or being married to an active-duty member assigned overseas, for example. Nor will it affect Defense Department personnel, both military and civilian officially assigned to embassies and consulates.

The change will limit affected retirees to using foreign mail systems that in some parts of the world can be slow, unreliable or expensive. “Eliminating embassy mail privileges for American military retirees overseas was a poor decision on a number of levels,” said Joe Davis, a spokesman for Veterans of Foreign Wars. “Not only will the U.S. government have to pay higher postage rates, they will no longer be able to guarantee delivery once it enters a foreign postal system.” Some retirees who have received APO/FPO mail through embassies and consulates are particularly concerned about the effect on Tricare Mail-Order Pharmacy prescriptions. “Congress needs to get involved immediately,” Davis said. Tricare will continue to process prescriptions through 1 DEC to allow time for delivery before the mail service ends, said spokeswoman Bonnie Powell. Tricare will begin sending out letters to affected retirees in the next few weeks to let them know of the change and their prescription options, she said.

The core issue is a change in mail delivery responsibility for embassies and consulates, said a government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. For about two years, officials from the State Department and Pentagon have been working to shift mail delivery to State Department facilities overseas from the traditional APO/FPO addresses to a new designation to be known as DPO, for Diplomatic Post Offices. Under the current system, the Defense Department covers the cost of getting APO/FPO mail from the U.S. port of embarkation to overseas locations, which is the most expensive part of the process. The State Department covers similar costs for diplomatic mail. The sender – whether Tricare, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the Veterans Affairs Department, or a relative or friend of a retiree – pays only regular domestic rates to get the mail to the postal facility at the U.S. port of embarkation where APO/FPO mail is processed for overseas delivery. As part of the initiative to separate State Department and military mail, State has said it cannot be responsible for the costs of mail going to military retirees at embassies and consulates. Although no firm cost estimates are available, sources said the cost is considerable. State Department retirees living in overseas areas have never been authorized to receive APO/FPO mail, nor will they be authorized to receive DPO mail, the source said.

Complicating the issue further, the Defense Department, by law, cannot pay the State Department for delivery of military retiree mail, the source said. Defense and service officials reportedly are considering whether to pursue legislation that would allow the Defense Department to pay for military retiree mail to embassies and consulates, but cost is part of that decision. The source said there has been “significant emotional discussion” about the fact that if retirees and their survivors are not notified in time to make alternate plans for getting their medications through Tricare, their health and even lives could be in jeopardy. The source said this only applies to post offices that will be converted to DPOs, and they will not be converted before this issue has been resolved.

The largest number of affected retirees are in Panama. Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Jose Claudio, commander of the Latin America/Caribbean chapter of the VFW, said about 900 military retirees are registered with the U.S. Consulate in Panama for mail purposes. “It’s a mess for a lot of people living in Panama, especially the widows,” Claudio said. “This will have a big impact on the veterans, widows and children,” said retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Floyd Skoubo, who handles Tricare issues for the VFW in Panama. Many retirees also get Social Security, military retirement and disability benefit checks through embassy and consulate post offices, Skoubo said. Using local foreign mail, those checks would become lucrative targets for theft, he said. In addition, he said, veterans living abroad must also file U.S. tax returns, and mail in their payments for taxes. “These could also be lost in local postal offices and mail forwarders,” he said. [Source: ArmyTimes Karen Jowers article 17 Oct 09 ++]

Editors Note: Conversion of existing State Department Embassy and Consulate mail handling facilities to Diplomatic Post Offices (DPO) is indicated as the criteria under which retirees will lose FPO service. In this era of tightening budgets the state Department obviously wants to reduce their mail handling expense. In the Philippines we have our own FPO zip (96517) funded by DoD whereas the Embassy uses a DPO zip 96515 for their mail. Because of this the State Department is not directly involved with handling or issuing retiree mail nor would they be as long as the zip 96517 remains active. Word from the Philippine FPO Postal Officer is that this change does not affect us at this time as he has not been told to close zip 96517. He has been recording volume data for our location and reporting it to D.C. in recent months. Bottom line it is not anticipated we will lose our service in the Philippines. Official word has been promulgated to retirees in Portugal that their FPO service will terminated 31 DEC 09.

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SBP DIC OFFSET Update 20: The President has requested authorization for a one time stimulus payment of $250 to seniors in lieu of Social Security COLA. The National Association of Uniformed Services (NAUS) and many others consider this proposal to be a bribe. A “cash for clunker seniors” is another limited-benefit waste of taxpayer money. Consider the arithmetic: $250 divided by 365 days per year is $0.69 per day. That might buy a plain cup of coffee! Assuming the average Social Security Payment is $1000 per month that $250 represents 2.1% of the annual total of $12,000. Approximately 57 million seniors and disabled veterans would qualify for this payment. That $250 for 57 million people represents an outlay of $14 billion. Where is that money coming from? A more appropriate use of the $14 billion should be considered. One such use is correcting the injustice to our veterans and widows on SBP and CRDP. Included in the initial 2010 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) but rejected because offsetting funds could not be located were:

• SBP/DIC Widows – Eligible widows were again excluded from the benefit their spouses had paid for. They suffer loss SBP due to offset by VA DIC. 61,000 widow’s SBP benefit offset by $1000 per month DIC comes to $732 Million annually … that $14 Billion would restore SBP+DIC for 19 years.

• Full Restoration of Concurrent Receipt — 500,000 disabled military retirees were again excluded from restoration of their retired pay as offset by VA disability compensation because they have less than 50% service connected disability or were retired for medical disability with less than 20 years of service. Full restoration of concurrent disability retirement pay to this group is $1.3 billion per year … that $14 Billion would carry that program for 10 years.

• Alternatively, $14 billion would carry the combination of SBP/DIC and Full Concurrent Receipt for 7 years!

Thus, looking at these numbers, the Congress and the Administration have again deprived our veterans and widows from their earned and purchased benefits … we could have restored both SBC/DIC widows and the 500,000 disabled military retirees with that $14 billion that President Obama wants to squander. If Congress could not find funds for our disabled veterans and their widows, where are they going to find funds for the President’s proposal? NAUS has provided an Action Alert preformatted editable message for you to let your legislators know how you feel on this issue. Anyone wanting to contact their legislators and send them a message can go to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=14192481&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id] to review or edit it accordingly and forward it to their legislators. [Source: NAUS Action Alert 17 Oct 09 ++]

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TRICARE OVERSEAS PROGRAM Update 02: International SOS Assistance, Inc., Trevose, Pa., has been selected by Tricare Management Activity (TMA) as the contractor for the Tricare Overseas Program (TOP) in locations outside the 50 United States and the District of Columbia. International SOS Assistance will provide Department of Defense (DoD) beneficiaries with comprehensive health care support services for operating an integrated health care delivery system, incorporating positive changes for beneficiary satisfaction. The total potential contract value, including the transition/base period with five one-year option periods is estimated at $269,052,427 plus the actual cost of health care. The TOP contract will lead to more comprehensive, patient centered and customer-focused service for nearly half a million beneficiaries overseas. “In addition to preserving the host nation relationships that have supported and served us so well, the new overseas contract establishes host nation provider networks with military treatment facilities at their center.” said Ellen Embrey, who is the acting director of TMA and also performing the duties of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs). “Tricare is keeping the best of the present system by continuing to offer top quality health care coverage in MTF and remote locations to active duty service members and their command-sponsored family members, as well as other Tricare Prime-eligible beneficiaries living overseas,” Embrey said.

The Tricare contract consolidates several current overseas contracts, including those for overseas enrollment, Tricare Service Center operations, Tricare Global Remote Overseas, Tricare Puerto Rico and overseas claims processing. There are no significant changes for retirees under TOP. Retirees are still eligible for Tricare Standard. Retirees will be able to contact the call center to get a list of providers that accept Tricare, or to get information on their Standard benefits. Rear Adm. Christine Hunter, deputy director, Tricare Management Activity said, “A government transition management team is in place and functioning already. The team will oversee all contractor start-up tasks and ensure a smooth transition. We look forward to working in partnership with military leaders and International SOS Assistance to provide this more comprehensive level of service to our nearly half million beneficiaries overseas.” A ten-month transition period will ensure outstanding customer service remains in place. Health care delivery under TOP is scheduled to begin 31 AUG 10. Some Tricare Service Center and call center numbers will likely change, but new numbers will be made available during the transition. The Tricare Overseas Program contractor will maintain call centers available 24/7 with extensive translation capability. For more information and to stay up-to-date on the Tricare Overseas Program go to http://www.tricare.mil/TOPcontract. [Source: Tricare Press release 09-64 dtd 16 Oct 09 ++]

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VA LAWSUIT – LEISHMANIASIS: The family of an Army veteran who claims the government failed to diagnose an illness that spread to his wife and two children lost the case 15 OCT at a federal appeals court, ending five years of litigation. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said there is insufficient evidence that doctors at the Department of Veterans Affairs should have known that Arvid Brown Jr. had symptoms of the parasitic disease leishmaniasis after serving in Saudi Arabia in 1991. Because of that, the three-judge panel said, the VA cannot be held liable for failing to warn that the disease might spread to Brown’s family. Its decision affirmed a 2008 ruling by a federal judge in Detroit. The court “just continues the pervasive and ongoing effort of the Department of Veterans Affairs to ignore those who have been injured in the first Gulf War,” said the family’s attorney, Robert Walsh. A VA representative did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Leishmaniasis (pronounced LEASH’-ma-NYE’-a-sis) is spread by the bite of infected sand flies. Symptoms include weight loss, fever and an enlarged liver. For seven years, Brown, a Swartz Creek resident, received medical care from the VA for various problems but blood tests were negative for leishmaniasis. Private tests, however, revealed a different result. Brown’s wife, Janyce, and two children were plaintiffs in a lawsuit that sought millions of dollars. It said leishmaniasis was passed to Brown’s wife through sexual contact and then again to the children before their birth. During the litigation, Janyce Brown died of liver cancer in 2005, although there was no definite link to leishmaniasis. [Source: AP writer Ed White article 15 Oct 09 ++]

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SSA PROJECTIONS Update 01: The lack of a COLA for 2010 triggers several provisions in law. Among them, the amount of wages subject to Social Security payroll taxes will remain unchanged. The first $106,800 of a worker’s earned income is currently subject to the tax. Also Medicare Part B premiums for the vast majority of Social Security recipients will remain frozen at 2009 levels, thanks to a “hold harmless” provision in the law. Those not covered, some 11 million Americans, are newly enrolled in Medicare, do not have their Part B premiums withheld from their Social Security checks or pay a higher Part B premium based on their higher income (over $85,000 for singles, $170,000 for couples). Also, premiums for the Medicare prescription drug program, known as Part D, will increase.” In late SEP, the House passed H.R.3631, the “Medicare Premium Fairness Act,” which would eliminate the scheduled monthly premium increases for everyone on Social Security Part B next year including the two groups noted. The Senate has yet to take action on the bill. [Source: NAUS Weekly Update 16 Oct 09 ++]

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USCG/NOAA PERSONNEL LOCATOR: If you are searching for a Coast Guard/NOAA retired individual, place your personal correspondence to that individual in a sealed envelope, making sure to include how they can get in touch with you. On the outside of that envelope, address it to them with their full name and rank/rate (for military). Write your return address and attach a stamp on the envelope. Then, place that envelope in a larger envelope and address it to: Commanding Officer (RAS), USCG Pay & Personnel Center, 444 SE Quincy Street, Topeka, KS 66683-3591.Retiree & Annuitant Services (RAS) will complete the person’s address and place it in the mail. [Source: USCG/NOAA Retiree Newsletter Oct-Dec 09 ++]

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DISABLED RETIREE BACK TAX Update 02: If you retired from the USCG or NOAA based on years of service and are later given a retroactive service connected disability rating by the VA, your retirement pay for the retroactive period is excluded from taxable income up to the amount of VA disability benefits that you would have been entitled to receive. The form 1099R reports the entire distribution because the income, when paid, was taxable under the law. A corrected form 1099R which could support the decrease in taxable income will not be issued by the PPC (Pay and Personnel Center). This policy is contained in the DOD Financial Management Regulations, VOL 7B and also is stated in the IRS instructions for form 1099R, which directs that the entire income distribution will be reported if a part is taxable and a part is not taxable. When preparing your 1040A/1040 you should provide copies of the Form 1099R and the VA Award Letter to claim a refund of taxes paid on the excludable amount. You may also claim a refund of any taxes paid on an excludable amount in previous years by filing an amended return on Form 1040X, subject to Statute of Limitations. If in doubt on how to proceed consult a tax preparer for assistance. [Source: USCG/NOAA Retiree Newsletter Oct-Dec 09 ++]

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LONG TERM CARE FLTCIP Update 05: Republicans and Democrats found common ground 14 OCT blasting premium increases in the Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP). “If seniors are ripped off, they’re not interested in politics. …They’re interested in results,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) during a joint hearing of the Senate Special Committee on Aging and a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on the federal workforce. In May 09, the Office of Personnel Management announced that a new seven-year contract with John Hancock Life and Health Insurance Co. for long-term care insurance would result in premium hikes of up to 25% for certain enrollees with the automatic compound inflation option — even though many of those policyholders thought they had locked in a permanent rate. Some senators suggested that the government and John Hancock should work to ensure policyholders don’t pay the increase. “This is a typical example of the large print giveth, and the small print taketh away,” said Sen. George LeMieux (R-FL) “If we got it wrong in the government, it’s not [policyholders’] fault. They shouldn’t have to pay it.” Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) proposed legislation to ensure that current enrollees are grandfathered in to the new policy without a rate increase. He asked that the legislation be added as an amendment to a bill (S.1177) from Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), to increase oversight of long-term care programs.

John Hancock and OPM officials acknowledged that promotional materials advertising the automatic compound inflation option as way to guard against future rate hikes were misleading because they didn’t explain that an increase was possible with a new contract. “I do think that it caused a lot of confusion, and I do regret that,” said Marianne Harrison, president and general manager of long-term care insurance for John Hancock. “It wasn’t up to our standards,” said Daniel Green, deputy associate director for employee and family support policy at OPM. But Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) accused Harrison of continuing to provide misleading information by stating in testimony that policyholders could avoid the rate increase without a cut in current benefits, by agreeing to coverage that includes 4% annual benefit increases instead of 5%. A difference of 1 percentage point might seem small, but over the long term it could add up to a significant loss of benefits, Collins noted. “I think that is extraordinarily misleading,” she said. Green and Harrison said the premium increase was necessary because of changes in the economy and increased costs of care. “We believe it would be irresponsible not to increase premiums at this time,” Green said.

National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) President Margaret L. Baptiste testified that the increase could have been mitigated had earlier warning signs been heeded. “Lower-than-expected lapsed rates, which increase the number of individuals likely to submit claims, and low interest rates, which reduce the expected return on investments, were already an industry problem in 2003, according to the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office,” Baptiste said. “We have to ask: ‘when did these shortfalls become apparent in the FLTCIP’ and ‘when did Long Term Care Partners [the program’s third party administrator] and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) consider whether rates should be adjusted in response?'” Baptiste testified that Congress must take steps to restore confidence in the program. “It is our understanding that fewer insurance carriers competed for the FLTCIP contract this year. Many of us are concerned that the downturn in the industry and further consolidation could make matters worse in 2016 when the contract is re-bid. Consolidation means there is less competitive pressure on carriers to offer the best possible product. For that reason, now may be the time for Congress to consider whether the FLTCIP should self-insure,” she remarked.

Also testifying during the hearing was Chester Joy, a former Government Accountability Office employee who paid $60,000 in premiums since enrolling in the program in 2002 , believing that the rate had been locked in. “What’s really galling to me is that, as current and former federal employees, what tipped the balance in favor of this program was that OPM was behind it,” said Joy, adding that had he known all of the details of the plan, he likely wouldn’t have signed up for it. “We could trust them.” At Kohl’s request, Green said he would consider giving enrollees more time to consider their options under the new contract and to change their benefits to avoid a rate hike. The current deadline for making a decision is 14 DEC, and employees who do not make an election will remain at their current coverage level and be charged any accompanying premium increases in JAN 2010. Harrison said there was a “silent grace period” for enrollees to make changes after the deadline, although she didn’t say how long this period was. Collins and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) both chided OPM Director John Berry for not appearing at the hearing, which was well-attended both by the public and by legislators. [Source: GOVExec.com Alex M. Parker article 14 Oct 09 ++]

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VA HEALTH CARE BILLING: On 15 OCT, the Subcommittee on Health of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs (HVAC) held an oversight hearing on Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) billing practices to identify why, in certain instances, it is inappropriately billing veterans for health care. VA is authorized to collect reasonable charges from veterans’ health insurance companies to offset the cost of treatment for non service-connected conditions. However, the Subcommittee has been informed by veterans’ service organizations that VA is billing veterans and their insurers for care provided for conditions directly related to the service-connected disabilities. Subcommittee Ranking Member Henry Brown, Jr. (R-SC) expressed concern that service-connected veterans are being saddled with inappropriate bills, and sought to find out what steps VA has taken to address the issue and ensure no further occurrences take place. “It is the solemn mission of VA and the federal government to care for the men and women in uniform who sustain injuries and illnesses as a result of their service to our nation,” Brown said. “Therefore, I find it deeply troubling to hear about veterans being inappropriately billed for copayments for medical care and medications to treat service-connected conditions. It is unacceptable for VA not to have and put in force policies and procedures to ensure that veterans are not frustrated and burdened by receiving inappropriate and multiple billing statements.” [Source: TREA Washington Update 16 Oct 09 ++]

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STATE of the VA: VA Secretary Eric Shinseki delivered his “State of the VA” address 14 OCT to the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee (HVAC). He addressed three major areas of concern: the disability claims backlog, accessibility to VA health care, and solving the homeless veteran issue. The testimony was a nine-month progress report since his previous appearance before the HVAC in Feb 09. It addressed where the VA was in pursuing the President’s two goals for the VA. Namely, transforming VA into a 21st-Century organization and ensuring that the VA provides timely access to benefits and high quality care to our veterans over their lifetimes, from the day they first take their oaths of allegiance, until the day they are laid to rest. The complete text of Shinseki’s written statement can be found at http://veterans.house.gov/hearings/hearing.aspx?newsid=472. It is also included as an attachment to this RAO Bulletin. [Source: VA News Release 14 OCT -09 ++]

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SSA COLA 2010 Update 02: President Barack Obama called on Congress 14 OCT to approve $250 payments to more than 50 million seniors to make up for no increase in Social Security next year. The Social Security Administration is scheduled to announce that there will be no cost of living increase next year. By law, increases are pegged to inflation, which has been negative this year. It would mark the first year without an increase in Social Security payments since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975. Obama’s proposal is similar to several bills in Congress. The $250 payments would also go to those receiving veterans’ benefits, disability benefits, railroad retirees and retired public employees who don’t receive Social Security. The plan would apply only to citizens living in the United States, Puerto Rico or Guam. An estimated 2 million veterans would be eligible for the payments, not including those among the 49 million Social Security beneficiaries who could receive checks. Recipients would be limited to one payment, even if they qualified for more. The White House put the cost at $13 billion. Obama said he would not allow the payments to come out of the Social Security trust funds, further eroding the finances of the retirement program. Social Security already is projected to pay out more in benefits than it collects in taxes in each of the next two years. However, Obama did not offer any alternatives to finance the payments. A senior administration official said Obama was open to borrowing the money, increasing the federal budget deficit. The official, who requested anonymity, was not authorized to speak on the record.

The $250 payments would match the ones issued to seniors earlier this year as part of the massive economic recovery package enacted in February. Several key members of Congress have said they are open to providing relief to seniors to make up for no increase in Social Security payments. “We’re looking at a way to address it,” said Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees Social Security. “I’m not sure what the exact answer is yet, but we’re looking at ways to address that.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said he supports the $250 payments, as did Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over Social Security in the House. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, has introduced a bill calling for similar payments. “I think that the Obama administration and many members of Congress understand that we simply can’t turn our backs on senior citizens,” Sanders said. Other lawmakers said seniors shouldn’t get the extra payments because the formula doesn’t call for it. “I think it would be inappropriate,” said Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH). “The reason we set up this process was to have the Social Security reimbursement reflect the cost of living.”

Social Security payments increased by 5.8% in JAN 09 (the largest increase since 1982). The big increase was largely because of a spike in energy costs in 2008. Inflation has been negative this year largely because energy prices have fallen. Gasoline prices have dropped 30% over the past year while overall energy costs have dropped 23%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Social Security payments, however, cannot go down. The average monthly Social Security payment for retirees is $1,160. Advocacy groups said the payment will be welcomed by seniors hit hard by falling home values and shrinking investment portfolios. “The likelihood of losing an average annual COLA increase of about $200 to $300 in 2010 may sound like no big deal to some, but for millions of seniors who’ve already seen a third of their Social Security eaten up by health care costs, this proposed COLA relief could truly make the difference” said Barbara B. Kennelly, a former Democratic member of Congress from Connecticut who now heads the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. AARP CEO A. Barry Rand said, “For nearly 35 years, millions of Americans have counted on an annual increase in their monthly Social Security checks to make ends meet.” [Source: Associated Press Writer Stephen Ohlemacher article 14 Oct 09 ++]

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SSA COLA 2010 Update 03: President Barack Obama’s plan to give $250 checks to Social Security recipients next year is being criticized by some congressional Democrats worried that it could swell the deficit. The Obama Administration is considering a payment of $250 to seniors to ease the burden of the recession. The proposal came a day after the Social Security Administration said there wouldn’t be a cost-of-living increase in payments for 2010 because consumer prices declined this year. The Obama administration has said the extra $250 is needed to help 57 million seniors, veterans and disabled people weather the recession, and could help stimulate the economy at a time of rising joblessness. The $13 billion plan, announced by the White House, would require congressional approval and enjoys broad support among Democratic lawmakers. Some fiscally conservative Democrats and Republicans will likely oppose it, but it can be politically risky to buck measures that favor seniors, members of both parties say.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has been among the plan’s most vocal opponents. The Maryland Democrat has been working to rein in rising entitlement costs, which he sees as a danger to the nation’s fiscal health. Mr. Hoyer is among a growing number of Democrats who argue that measures to help those hit by the economic downturn should include the means to pay for them without adding to the deficit. “Seniors at the beginning of this year got a 5.8% [cost-of-living] adjustment. They also got a $250 payment in the Recovery and Reinvestment Act. So it is not as if the Congress has forgotten seniors,” Mr. Hoyer said after the plan was announced. Other fiscally conservative Democrats privately agreed, but expressed reluctance to voice their views publicly, for fear of angering seniors. The White House said officials are willing to work with lawmakers to find a way to offset the plan’s cost. Both Democrats and Republicans have voiced growing concern about the federal deficit, which totaled $1.4 trillion for the fiscal year ended 30 SEP. An aide to Mr. Hoyer said that Democrats don’t yet have the votes necessary to defeat the proposal.

Mr. Obama has said the $250 would be equivalent to a 2% increase over 2009 for the average retiree receiving Social Security payments. Administration officials have said they envision a one-time payment. But budget-watchdog groups worry that the program could be continued at least through 2011, since the cost of living isn’t projected to rise significantly next year either. Lawmakers face midterm elections in 2010, and some critics say the administration would likely extend the payments for another year. “This is an issue where [budget watchdog] groups on all ends of the political spectrum all happen to agree,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the bipartisan think tank Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. To budget watchers, the payment proposal represents “the horrible realization that policy makers are going to keep making this situation worse,” she said. The committee’s board members include Paul Volcker, chairman of the president’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. The Senior Citizens League (TSCL), a nonpartisan group dedicated to protecting seniors’ benefits, said $250 wouldn’t go far enough for many elderly people struggling with high health-care costs. The group wants an emergency cost-of-living increase of 3%, rather than the White House’s one-time payment. [Source: Wall Street Journal Elizabeth Williamson/Henry J. Pulizzi article 22 Oct 09 ++]

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VA VistA Update 04: The Industry Advisory Council (IAC), a blue-chip group of information technology (IT) companies, met on 14 OCT to consider the work required to modernize a decades-old Federal electronic health record system that stores the medical files for millions of veterans and their families, with the underlying implication the system could become a platform for the national health record network President Obama envisions. The council, a 550-member group of technology companies that works to foster dialogue with Federal agencies about IT solutions and procurement, invited executives from about 40 high-tech corporations to form the VistA working group. VistA stands for the Veterans Health Information System and Technology Architecture, an electronic health record system that the Veterans Affairs Department has operated for two decades. IAC, which includes technology giants AT&T, Cisco, Dell, IBM, Oracle, Unisys and Verizon, met behind closed doors in Tysons Corner, Va., to discuss the possibility of upgrading the system, which might include using open source code, a move that would make a relatively cheap electronic health records alternative to clinicians nationwide.

The agenda for the meeting, which an invitation described as one of the most significant projects IAC has ever undertaken, has staggering implications for the IT industry if VistA could become a platform for a national heath care IT standard, said an industry source who declined to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the discussions. High-tech conglomerates are investing millions of dollars in developing electronic health records systems businesses, hoping to cash in on the billions of dollars that hospitals and doctors’ offices will spend deploying the systems. The stimulus package that Obama signed into law in February includes about $20 billion for electronic health records. Some physicians have criticized the government’s push to a nationwide network of digitized medical records, arguing they cannot afford to buy the computer systems. Technicians say many of today’s electronic health record systems cannot share records because they operate on different standards. But upgrading Vista, especially to operate on open source, could answer many of those objections, sources said.

Roger Baker, chief information officer at VA who requested IAC to form the working group, said in an interview with Nextgov that VistA is “the best in the world” and he has asked the IT industry to look into leveraging the system for the betterment of the country. Baker said one of the questions he wants the working group to consider is how VistA can improve the American health care system, including the use of the software in the private sector. He added that industry must help improve VistA, which has widespread acceptance by VA clinicians. “Doctors love VistA and we would be crazy to walk away from it,” he said. VA has a long-term project to replace VistA, but Baker said he is not ready to abandon the network and hopes IT companies that are part of the working group can determine what the government would need to do to modernize the old system. Ed Meagher, director of strategy for health affairs for SRA International who served as deputy CIO at VA from 2001 to 2006, chairs the working group. He could not be reached for comment.

Baker said any effort to push the system, which is owned by the American public, into the private health care industry, which is served by hundreds of commercial electronic health record vendors looking to cash in on the billions of dollars expected to be spent on health systems in the coming years, has to consider the role of the government in a free market. Aneesh Chopra, whom Obama appointed as federal chief technology officer in May, agreed that VistA was popular among doctors, but added the government must remain platform neutral when it comes to electronic health record systems. Chopra said he viewed the working group as a powerful example of collaboration between government and industry to support VA. But he added that an improved VistA might be only one of the many alternatives that could serve as a platform for an electronic health record system in the private sector. Michael Doyle, president and chief executive officer of Medsphere Systems Corp., which sells an open source version of VistA, said he supports the effort to take VistA to the masses. Medsphere’s version sells for about a third of the cost of commercial health record systems, which have an estimated price tag of between $10 million and $70 million. In its letter to members of the working group, IAC said it expected to complete the VistA project in six months. [Source: NextGov Bob Brewin article 14 Oct 09 ++]

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VA FRAUD WASTE & ABUSE Update 25: A nurse’s aide who was employed at Veterans Affairs Medical Center near Martinsburg was sentenced recently to two years and six months in prison for stealing more than $50,000 belonging to two veterans receiving care at the facility. Susan A. Watts, 39, of Martinsburg, was ordered to pay $54,353.79 in restitution to the estate of one victim and $1,812.10 to a second victim, according to an announcement last week by acting U.S. Attorney Betsy C. Jividen’s office. Watts entered a guilty plea in JUN 09 to one count of unauthorized use of an access device and was sentenced last month, according to Jividen’s office. The illegal use of patients’ debit cards began in SEP 07 and continued through MAR 08 and included $13,175 in purchases made after one victim had died, according to the release. Chief Judge John P. Bailey ordered Watts on Sept. 29 to also serve three years of supervised release.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin K. Reisenweber and investigated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General in conjunction with the Martinsburg VA Medical Center’s police department, according to Jividen’s office. In a separate case also investigated by the inspector general’s office and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center’s police department, Jividen’s office announced that Carl D. Helton, 54, of Martinsburg was sentenced to nine years and one month in prison for his conviction on one count of possession of child pornography. Helton’s prison sentence is to be followed by 10 years of supervised release, and he must also register as a sex offender. He entered a guilty plea to the charge in JUL 09, and is expected to self-report next month, according to Jividen’s office. [Source: A Hagerstown Herald-Mail article 13 Oct 09 ++]

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CAMP LEJEUNE TOXIC EXPOSURE Update 08: A former Camp Lejeune Marine who received partial disability benefits because of exposure to contaminated water on base believes other veterans should go to their doctors to get their claims substantiated. John Hartung of Waukesha, Wis., was awarded a 30% disability from the Veterans Benefits Administration in SEP 09 after his doctor drafted and signed a “nexus letter” verifying his medical belief that Hartung’s ailments were more likely than not caused by exposure to toxic water. Hartung was stationed at Lejeune for six months in 1977 and said he “got sick right away” after exposure to base water, which contained significant amounts of leaked solvents including TCE and PCE between the 1950s and the 1980s. Hartung said he developed large cysts on the back of his neck as well as chronic fatigue and was discharged from the Marine Corps in 1978 because of continuing medical problems. Hartung said he learned about the possibility of writing a nexus letter from Terry Dyer, a Wilmington resident who lived on Camp Lejeune as a civilian and now runs a Web site, watersurvivors.com, that reaches out to other former Lejeune residents who believe their medical problems can be linked to the water. Dyer said she links to information about drafting a letter on the Web site links page and in the newsletters she sends out. “It’s a welcome, exciting time for us,” she said of Hartung’s success in securing benefits. “My doctors believe me 100% and are behind me 100 percent,” Hartung said. He said that he is not stopping with 30% of his benefits, but will continue to work with his doctor on letters specific to the various other ailments he has identified, including bone spurs and degenerative joint disease, to get full coverage.

Jerry Ensminger, a Richlands resident and former Marine who works full-time to lobby for legislation that will grant VA healthcare to all who were affected by contact with Lejeune water, said he believes the number of veterans who have been granted benefits because of ties to the base is small. “Every case is different,” he said. “You’re not going to find a doctor who’s going to sign a letter for everybody for every type of ailment they have.” Ensminger said the process of trying to prove a case for healthcare individually is prohibitive for most veterans. “What we’re trying to do with this legislation is to try to take these hoops and hurdles away from the people so they don’t have to deal with this stuff,” he said. “The only hurdle these people will have to clear is to prove they were at Camp Lejeune during the years of contamination.” Two pieces of legislation concerning Camp Lejeune veterans and toxic water are now in the U.S. Legislature. An amendment that would prevent the military from adjudicating water cases until water testing is complete has passed the Senate and is now in conference committee, with action expected near the end of OCT. And a bill, the Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act, which would grant VA healthcare to all with links to the contaminated water, is in the Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee. North Carolina Congressman Brad Miller is expected to introduce a companion bill in the House in coming weeks. Meanwhile, the number of former Lejeune residents who have the rare condition of male breast cancer that they’ve been able to locate has increased to 51, Ensminger said. [Source: Jacksonville www.jdnews.com Hope Hodge article 29 Oct 09 ++]

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VET TOXIC EXPOSURE LEGISLATION Update 02: Legislation has been introduced that would offer long-term care to any veterans exposed to environmental hazards in the line of duty, even if there is no textbook evidence to link the exposure to an illness. The “Health Care for Veterans Exposed to Chemical Hazards Act of 2009 (S.1779) sponsored by Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) would amend Title 38 of the U.S. Code, which deals with veterans benefits, by adding a passage stating that a veteran exposed in the line of duty to “an occupational and environmental health chemical hazard of particular concern” is eligible for hospital care, medical services and nursing home care for any disability, even if there is “insufficient medical evidence to conclude that such disability may be associated with exposure.” The bill comes in the wake of a series of hearings about troops being exposed to carcinogenic material at Qarmat Ali water treatment plant in Iraq; a sulfur fire in Mosul, Iraq; and burn-pit smoke throughout Iraq and Afghanistan. The provision would not cover veterans with illnesses that the National Academy of Sciences says show limited evidence of a positive association of illness and exposure. But it would cover hazards that the Defense Department has determined are “of particular concern after considering appropriate guidelines and standards for exposure,” including those of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. [Source: NavyTimes Kelly Kennedy article 15 Oct 09 ++]

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BASRA TOXIC EXPOSURE Update 01: Six years after nearly 1,200 US soldiers in Iraq were potentially exposed to sodium dichromate, a sometimes deadly chemical linked to cancer, the “military and Veterans Affairs Department have been tracking them down and asking them to get a medical exam. The troops were protecting or in the area of workers hired by a subsidiary of the contractor, KBR Inc., based in Houston, to rebuild the Iraqi water treatment plant Qarmat Ali near Basra, Iraq. The chemical was sodium dichromate, and it had contaminated the area. Sickness with symptoms ranging from chest pain to lung disease and even death among troops who served there have been blamed on exposure at the site. The military is also asking the soldiers potentially exposed to enroll in a registry that is tracking such health problems, according to a 19 SEP letter sent by then-Army Secretary Pete Geren to U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND). The letter spells out the efforts to reach the troops, who were protecting or in the area of workers hired by a subsidiary of the contractor, KBR Inc., based in Houston, to rebuild the Iraqi water treatment plant Qarmat Ali near Basra, Iraq. Among those potentially exposed were about 600 members of the National Guard, primarily from West Virginia, Oregon, South Carolina and Indiana. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki told Dorgan in a separate letter dated 8 OCT that veterans potentially exposed will receive an annual exam, including a chest radiograph every five years. KBR, which is facing at least five pending related lawsuits, denies wrongdoing. It says its conduct was governed by its contract with the U.S. military, which was to ensure work sites were free from environmental hazards. Once the contamination was found, it says it notified the Army and helped clean up the site. [Source: AP Kimberly Hefling article 14 Oct 09 ++]

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VET TOXIC EXPOSURE – VIEQUES: A retired U.S. Marine sergeant, now 57 and terminally ill with cancer and other ailments, blames exposure to toxins released while he was stationed on Vieques Puerto Rico from 1970 to 1972. By coming forward to support similar claims by island residents he has become the public face of a new and bitter battle over Vieques, the Navy bombing range-turned-tourist destination off the U.S. territory’s east coast. Marrero is a key witness in a lawsuit seeking billions of dollars in compensation for illnesses that past and current Vieques residents have linked to the bombing range where the U.S. and its allies trained for conflicts from Vietnam to Iraq. The range closed in 2003 after years of protests over the environmental risks and the death of a Puerto Rican civilian guard who was killed in 1999 by an errant bomb. Many had long complained about clouds of smoke and dust wafting toward populated areas and explosions echoing across the hilly 18-mile-long island of less than 10,000 people. The U.S. has denied any link between illnesses and weapons that rained down on the island for six decades. With independent studies suggesting otherwise, however, a federal health agency recently began a new analysis of the situation.

Marrero, who was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in New York City, has had colon cancer twice. He is losing his vision and suffers from more than dozen other illnesses, including Lou Gehrig’s disease. He thinks these are lingering effects of his 18 months at Camp Garcia where among other things, guarded stores of Cold War-era chemical weapons. He said he was recently diagnosed with a new bout of cancer that is inoperable in part because of a lung disease that requires him to stay on oxygen around the clock. He is not party to the lawsuit because it is limited to Vieques residents and involves more than 7,000 of them. But he has been fighting his own battle to have his ailments recognized as service casualties. The chemicals he handled included canisters labeled “112” – a reference, he later surmised to the secret Project 112 program that tested chemical and biological agents and was declassified by the Pentagon earlier this decade. During some of the tests he said the military assessed how long it took an aerosol spray of chemicals to kill animals such as tethered goats. Though superiors said he was a safe distance from the tests he was overwhelmed by a smell like roach spray every time he opened the door to the chemical warehouses. He said he vomited constantly. “I asked ‘How dangerous is that stuff? I’m watching animals drop dead,'” Marrero said. “They told me I’d be fine.” The military also experimented with napalm, depleted uranium, and agent orange besides the millions of pounds of ordnance that Navy aircraft and ships dropped annually on Vieques. A cleanup began in 2005 to clear thousands of unexploded munitions from the former training range site that is now a Fish and Wildlife Service refuge and the island has placed new emphasis on tourism.

The lawsuit was originally filed in Washington in SEP 07 and transferred to U.S. district court in San Juan in March. It has been challenged on national security grounds by the federal government, which argues it should be dismissed because the U.S. had sovereign immunity in Vieques. The Navy and the Justice Department declined to discuss the lawsuit or Marrero’s claims. The main evidence for Navy critics is a 2004 study by a former Puerto Rico health minister that found the cancer rate was 27% higher for people on Vieques than the Puerto Rican mainland. The study, which found no significant differences in lifestyle between the two groups, also detected a higher prevalence of other illnesses including diabetes, asthma, and epilepsy. The U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry used its own research to conclude in 2003 there was essentially no health risk from the bombing range, but its studies were widely criticized by islanders and academics. The agency, which is part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is conducting a new review requested in April by Congressman Steve Rothman, a New Jersey Democrat who said independent studies and reports have documented “a toxic legacy and a health crisis” on Vieques.

After leaving the military in 1977, Marrero worked as a weapons machinist in the private sector until he retired in the mid 1980s because of mounting medical problems. “I’ve been sick since I left Vieques,” said Marrero

who uses a wheelchair and now lives in an apartment cramped with life-support equipment in this small town in northwestern Puerto Rico. He has a 2006 report from a Department of Veterans Affairs doctor in Washington who linked his symptoms to exposure to “noxious substances” at Camp Garcia, but he said a review board has denied his requests to formally acknowledge the connection. While his veterans’ benefits cover his medical bills, the only service-related ailment the military acknowledges is a shoulder injury. He said if he dies from anything else

his wife won’t get his pension. Katie Roberts, the press secretary for Veterans Affairs, said the department recognizes that service members are sometimes exposed to toxins “that can produce negative health effects.” But she said benefits claims are handled on a case-by-base basis, and she declined to address Marrero’s record specifically. [Source: MarineCorpsTimes Mike Melia AP article 11 Oct 09 ++]

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VET TOXIC EXPOSURE – ATSUKI: The U.S. Senate committee on veteran affairs (SVAC) requested that the VA report to them on what action they were taking regarding veteran toxic exposure to veterans. One of the four specific incidents they wanted input on was the Atsuki waste incinerator operations. Michael R. Peterson, DVM, MPH, DRPH, Chief Consultant, Environmental Health Strategic Healthcare Group, Office Of Public Health & Environmental Hazards, Veterans Health Administration, Department Of Veterans Affairs on 8 OCT 09 provided the committee the following input:.

Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan is located about 25 miles from Tokyo at the site of a Japanese Air Force base which the U.S. took control of in 1945. In 1985, a private waste incinerator, Shinkampo Incinerator Complex (SIC), began operations immediately southeast of the community areas of the base. The incinerator burned a variety of liquid and solid industrial waste, municipal solid waste, and construction debris. The incinerator released a plume of smoke, ash, particulate material, and fumes at ground level over the community area of the base. Complaints by residents regarding air quality led to multiple health risk assessments between 1988 and 1999. These assessments demonstrated health risks related to the incinerator plume which resulted in efforts by representatives of the United States Government to close the incinerator. This was accomplished in 2001. It is estimated that over the 15 years of operation, 18,000 adults and 8,000 children could have been exposed, with a typical exposure duration of 3 years.

The non-cancer health effects of primary concern are impairment of respiratory function from exposure to inhaled respiratory toxicants particularly among the resident children at the base. Permanent reduction in respiratory function can occur after several years of exposure to respiratory toxicants especially if exposure occurred before age 16. The final health risk assessment completed in 2002 by DoD noted an increased risk of cancer, above the U.S. background rate, among residents of Naval Air Facility Atsugi during incinerator operations. In 2007, Batelle Corporation was asked by the Department of the Navy to conduct a review of the various health risk assessments and recommend what, if any, population- based medical surveillance of residents of Naval Air Facility Atsugi might be warranted, as well as the parameters and expected outcomes from such screenings. Battelle published its report in JUN 08. The only recommendation from that report was that a health registry be established for residents of Naval Air Facility Atsugi. All medical surveillance recommendations were limited to the juvenile population at the base. Because all of the recommendations in this detailed report address medical surveillance of a population not within VA’s statutory authority, VA has not requested information regarding this cohort.

Any Veteran who served at the Naval Air Facility Atsugi who may develop either a respiratory condition or cancer that competent medical authority ascribes to exposure at Naval Air Facility Atsugi would be eligible to submit a claim for direct service connection for the condition, provided they meet other eligibility criteria for benefits. VA will inform regional offices of the Naval Air Facility Atsugi situation and alert them to the possibility of disability claims from Veterans who were stationed there. All such claims will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis with evidentiary weight given to medical examinations and opinions from both private and VA physicians. In all cases, the benefit of doubt will be provided to the Veteran. VA’s assessment of issues related to Naval Air Facility Atsugi continues to be coordinated through HEC and the Office of Public Health and Environmental Hazards and we continue to monitor study outcomes that could inform future policy decisions. For a transcript of the entire VA input to the committee which covered the a above Atsugi report, water contamination at Camp Lejeune, sodium dichromate at the Qarmat Ali Water Treatment Plant, and exposures to burn pits during the current conflicts refer to

http://veterans.senate.gov/hearings.cfm?action=release.display&release_id=b974df2c-0767-4d50-9caf-12cc16d5f198. [Source: http://veterans.senate.gov/hearings.cfm 8 Oct 09 ++]

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ENLISTMENT Update 02: In order to join the U.S. Military, you must either be a U.S. citizen, or you must be a legal permanent immigrant, physically living in the United States, with a green card. The US military cannot and will not assist with the immigration process. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you must legally and permanently immigrate to the United States first, via the regular immigration procedures and quotas, establish a residence, and then (if you meet the other qualifying criteria), visit a military recruiter’s office and apply for enlistment. For enlistment purposes, citizens of the United States include citizens of: Guam, Puerto Rico, The U.S. Virgin Islands, The Northern Marianas Islands, American Samoa, The Federated States of Micronesia, and The Republic of the Marshall Islands.

Not all legal immigrants may be eligible to enlist. Applicants who have been residents of countries considered hostile to the interests of the United States require a waiver. See your local recruiter for the most current list of countries considered hostile to the interests of the United States. While non-citizens may enlist, they will find their job choices extremely limited. DOD policy prohibits granting security clearances to non-U.S. Citizens. Therefore, non-Citizens. who enlist in the United States military will be limited to those jobs which do not require a security clearance. For legal immigrants who do enlist, there are accelerated citizenship procedures for non-citizens on active duty. One source for details is http://usmilitary.about.com/od/theorderlyroom/a/citizenship.htm.

[Source: About.com: U.S. Military Rod Powers article 19 Sep 09 ++]

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MILITARY HISTORY ANNIVERSARIES:

• Nov 00 1965 – Vietnam: Battle of Chu Pon-ia Drang River. U.S. 1st Calvary fought North Vietnamese regulars for four days.

• Nov 01 1943 – WWII: American troops invade Bougainville in the Solomon Islands.

• Nov 01 1968 – Vietnam: President Lyndon B. Johnson calls a halt to bombing in Vietnam, hoping this will lead to progress at the Paris peace talks.

• Nov 02 1775 – American Revolution: Americans under General Richard Montgomery capture the British fort of Saint Johns.

• Nov 04 1967 – Vietnam: American troops broke a North Vietnamese 6 day assault at Loc Ninh, near the Cambodian border (Vietnam War).

• Nov 04 1979 – At the American Embassy in Teheran, Iran, 90 people, including 63 Americans, are taken hostage for 444 days by militant student followers of Ayatollah Khomeini. The students demand the return of Shah Mohammad Reza Pablavi, who was undergoing medical treatment in New York City.

• Nov 05 1814 – War of 1812: Having decided to abandon the Niagara frontier, the American army blows up Fort Erie.

• Nov 05 1917 – WWI: General John Pershing leads U.S. troops into the first American action against German forces near the Rhine-Marne Canal in France.

• Nov 06 1945 – The first landing of a jet on a carrier takes place on USS Wake Island when an FR-1 Fireball touches down

• Nov 06 1986 – The Iran arms-for-hostages deal is revealed, damaging the Reagan administration.

• Nov 07 1957 – Cold War: The Gaither Report calls for more American missiles and fallout shelters.

• Nov 08 1942 – WWII: Operation Torch begins with Allied landings in northwest Africa.

• Nov 09 1989 – Cold War: The Berlin Wall is opened after dividing the city for 28 years.

• Nov 10 1775 – American Revolution: Continental Congress establishes two battalions of Marines.

• Nov 10 1782 – American Revolution: In the last battle of the Revolution, George Rodgers Clark attacks Indians and Loyalists at Chillicothe, in Ohio Territory.

• Nov 11 1865 – Civil War: Dr. Mary E. Walker, the first female surgeon in the Union Army, is presented with the Medal of Honor, the first woman to receive that award.

• Nov 11 1918 – WWI: War ends at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month with the signing of an Armistice.

• Nov 11 1909 – Construction begins on the naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

• Nov 11 1921 – The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery is dedicated.

• Nov 11 1970 – Vietnam: U.S. Army Special Forces raid the Son Tay prison camp in North Vietnam but find no prisoners.

• Nov 12 1948 – Hikedi Tojo, Japanese prime minister, and seven others are sentenced to hang by an international tribunal.

• Nov 12 1951 – Korea: The U.S. Eighth Army is ordered to cease offensive operations and begin an active defense.

• Nov 14 1910 – First airplane flight from the deck of a ship (USS Birmingham at Hampton Roads to Norfolk VA).

• Nov 14 1961 – Vietnam: President Kennedy increases the number of American advisors in Vietnam from 1,000 to 16,000.

• Nov 14 1964 – Vietnam: First ground combat for American troops. The U.S. First Cavalry Division battles with the North Vietnamese Army in the Ia Drang Valley.

• Nov 15 1864 – Civil War: Union General W.T. Sherman’s troops set fires that destroy much of Atlanta Georgia as he began his march to the sea in an effort to cut the Confederacy in two.

• Nov 15 1960 – Cold War: The first submarine with nuclear missiles, USS George Washington, takes to sea from Charleston, South Carolina.

• Nov 15 1969 – Vietnam: A quarter of a million anti-War demonstrators march in Washington, D.C.

[Source: Various Oct 09 ++]

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TAX BURDEN for INDIANA RETIREES: Many people planning to retire use the presence or absence of a state income tax as a litmus test for a retirement destination. This is a serious miscalculation since higher sales and property taxes can more than offset the lack of a state income tax. The lack of a state income tax doesn’t necessarily ensure a low total tax burden. Following are the taxes you can expect to pay if you retire in Indiana:

State Sales Tax: 7% (food and prescription drugs exempt)

Fuel & Cigarette Tax:

• Gasoline Tax: 29.7 cents/gallon

• Diesel Fuel Tax: * 41.5 cents/gallon (Includes local county taxes)

• Cigarette Tax: 99.5 cents/pack of 20

Personal Income Taxes

Tax Rate Range: Flat rate of 3.4% of federal adjusted gross income. Many counties also collect income tax. Refer to www.in.gov/dor/3810.htm and www.in.gov/dor/3799.htm#military.

Personal Exemptions: Single – $1,000; Married – $2,000; Dependents – $1,500; $1,000 for taxpayer and/or spouse if age 65 or over; $1,000 for taxpayer and/or spouse if blind; $500 additional exemption for each individual age 65 or over if federal adjusted gross income is less than $40,000.

Standard Deduction: None

Medical/Dental Deduction: None.

Federal Income Tax Deduction: None.

Retirement Income Taxes: Social Security is exempt. Taxpayers 60 and older may exclude $2,000 from military pensions minus the amount of Social Security and Railroad Benefits received. Taxpayers age 62 and older may deduct from their adjusted gross income $2,000 from a federal civil service annuity. Out-of-state pensions are fully taxed. Homeowners can deduct up to $2,500 from their income taxes for property taxes on their residence.

Retired Military Pay: Military retirees who are age 60 are entitled to deduct up to $2,000 of military or survivor benefits.

Military Disability Retired Pay: Retirees who entered the military before Sept. 24, 1975, and members receiving disability retirements based on combat injuries or who could receive disability payments from the VA are covered by laws giving disability broad exemption from federal income tax. Most military retired pay based on service-related disabilities also is free from federal income tax, but there is no guarantee of total protection.

VA Disability Dependency and Indemnity Compensation: VA benefits are not taxable because they generally are for disabilities and are not subject to federal or state taxes.

Military SBP/SSBP/RCSBP/RSFPP: Generally subject to state taxes for those states with income tax. Check with state department of revenue office.

Property Taxes

In Indiana property taxes are administered at the local level with oversight by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance. Refer to www.in.gov/dlgf/4988.htm.They are imposed on both real and personal property. Property, which is assessed at 100% of its true value, is subject to taxation by a variety of taxing units (schools, counties, townships, cities and towns, libraries, etc.) making the total tax rate the sum of the tax rates imposed by all of the taxing units in which the property is located. Homeowners are eligible for a credit against the property taxes that they pay on their homestead. The amount of credit to which the individual is entitled equals 10% of the individual’s property tax liability, which is attributable to the homestead during the calendar year. A taxpayer entitled to receive a homestead credit is also entitled to a standard deduction from the assessed value of the homestead. The deduction is the lesser of one-half of the assessed value of the real property or $35,000. Homeowners 65 and older who earn $25,000 or less are eligible to receive a tax reduction on property with an assessed value of $144,000 or less and the individual received no other property tax deductions except for mortgage, standard, and fertilizer storage deductions. A surviving spouse is entitled to the deduction if they are at least 60 years old. The amount of the deduction is the lesser of one-half of the assessed value of the real property or $12,480. Call 317-232-3777 or refer to www.in.gov/dlgf for details.

A circuit breaker program is aimed at helping residents by ensuring they don’t pay more than 2% of their property value in taxes. The goal is to provide predictability in tax bills and equity among Hoosier taxpayers. It became mandatory statewide for residential property in 2007. Homeowners will not see the potential impact until their 2008 tax bill. The circuit breaker expands to include all property types in 2009. Taxpayers will not see the impact of the expansion until their 2010 tax bill.

Inheritance and Estate Taxes – The inheritance tax (Class A) ranges from 1% to 10% based on fair market value of property transferred at death. The estate tax is the amount by which federal credit exceeds inheritance taxes paid to all states. Refer to www.in.gov/dor/3807.htm for details.

For further information, visit the Indiana Department of Revenue site www.in.gov/dor/index.htm. [Source: www.retirementliving.com Oct 09 ++]

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VETERAN LEGISLATION STATUS 30 OCT 09: For or a listing of Congressional bills of interest to the veteran community that have been introduced in the 111th Congress refer to the Bulletin’s Veteran Legislation attachment. Support of these bills through cosponsorship by other legislators is critical if they are ever going to move through the legislative process for a floor vote to become law. A good indication on that likelihood is the number of cosponsors who have signed onto the bill. Any number of members may cosponsor a bill in the House or Senate. At http://thomas.loc.gov you can review a copy of each bill’s content, determine its current status, the committee it has been assigned to, and if your legislator is a sponsor or cosponsor of it. To determine what bills, amendments your representative has sponsored, cosponsored, or dropped sponsorship on refer to http://thomas.loc.gov/bss/d111/sponlst.html.

Grassroots lobbying is perhaps the most effective way to let your Representative and Senators know your opinion. Whether you are calling into a local or Washington, D.C. office; sending a letter or e-mail; signing a petition; or making a personal visit, Members of Congress are the most receptive and open to suggestions from their constituents. The key to increasing cosponsorship on veteran related bills and subsequent passage into law is letting legislators know of veteran’s feelings on issues. You can reach their Washington office via the Capital Operator direct at (866) 272-6622, (800) 828-0498, or (866) 340-9281 to express your views. Otherwise, you can locate on http://thomas.loc.gov your legislator’s phone number, mailing address, or email/website to communicate with a message or letter of your own making. Refer to http://www.thecapitol.net/FAQ/cong_schedule.html for dates that you can access your legislators on their home turf. [Source: RAO Bulletin Attachment 30 Oct 09 ++]

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HAVE YOU HEARD:

The Navy Chief noticed a new seaman and barked at him “Get over here! What’s your name sailor?”

“John,” the new seaman replied.

“Look, I don’t know what kind of bleeding-heart pansy bull they’re teaching sailors in boot camp nowadays, but I don’t call anyone by his first name,” the chief scowled. “It breeds familiarity, and that leads to a breakdown in authority. I refer to my sailors by their last names only; Smith, Jones, Baker, whatever. And you are to refer to me as ‘Chief’. Do I make myself clear?”

“Aye, Aye Chief!”

“Now that we’ve got that straight, what’s your last name?”

The seaman sighed. “Darling, My name is John Darling, Chief.”

“Okay, John, here’s what I want you to do …..”

===============================

Lt. James “EMO” Tichacek, USN (Ret)

Associate Director, Retiree Assistance Office, U.S. Embassy Warden & IRS VITA Baguio City RP

PSC 517 Box RCB, FPO AP 96517

Tel: (951) 238-1246 in U.S. or Cell: 0915-361-3503 in the Philippines.

Email: raoemo@sbcglobal.net Web: http://post_119_gulfport_ms.tripod.com/rao1.html

AL/AMVETS/DAV/FRA/NAUS/NCOA/MOAA/USDR/VFW/VVA/CG33/DD890/AD37 member

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Medications Affected by Federal Pricing

These drugs will remain available in TRICARE mail order without needing a provider pre-authorization; the implementation date for these drugs will not take affect until after 1 JAN 10 and no later than 180 days after the TRICARE Management Activity (TMA) Director’s approval; and if a Price Agreement is received prior to 14 OCT the drug may stay in Tier 2 and not be moved to Tier 3. The P&T Committee recommended a transition period at Military Treatment Facilities allowing them the opportunity to keep the drug on Tier 2 rather than Tier 3 until 1 JAN 11. All of this information will be available on DoD’s TRICARE pharmacy website.

Table 5

(Tier 2)

Recommended to retain formulary on Uniform Formulary

Prod Name Subclass Manufacturer Sum of Patients

ACTIMMUNE Immunomodulators INTERMUNE 25

APOKYN Parkinsons medications TERCICA INC 47

DERMA-SMOOTHE-FS Topical corticosteroids HILL DERM 1421

DERMOTIC Otic medications anti-inflammatory HILL DERM 1886

INTAL Mast cell stabilizers, inhalation KING PHARM 439

PANRETIN Topical antineoplastic & premalignant lesion medic EISAI INC. 1

RADIOGARDASE Radiation exposure (cesium, thallium) HEYLTEX CORPORA

STROMECTOL Antihelmintic MERCK & CO. 514

THIOLA Kidney stone agents MISSION PHARM. 12

VANCOCIN HCL Misc antibiotics VIROPHARMA INCO 1491

Grand Total 5836

Table 6

(Tier 3)

Recommended to retain or be designated non-formulary on Uniform Formulary

Prod Name Subclass Manufacturer Sum of Patients

ACIPHEX PPIs EISAI INC. 2 5,129

ACLOVATE Topical corticosteroids Pharmaderm 1

AGRYLIN Platelet reducing agents SHIRE US INC. 8

ALA-HIST 1st gen AH POLY PHARM. 216

ALA-HIST D 1st gen AH-decongestant POLY PHARM. 590

ALTACE ACE inhibitors MONARCH PHRM 69

ANAPROX NSAIDs ROCHE LABS.

ANAPROX DS NSAIDs ROCHE LABS. 3

ANDROID Androgens/anabolic steroids VALEANT 57

APTIVUS HIV antivirals, protease inhibitors BOEHRINGER ING. 6

ATROVENT Nasal anticholinergics BOEHRINGER ING. 11

ATROVENT HFA Inhaled anticholinergics BOEHRINGER ING. 3,565

AZOR ARB / CCB combo DAIICHI SANKYO, 4,471

BREVOXYL-4 Keratolytics STIEFEL LABS. 296

BREVOXYL-8 Keratolytics STIEFEL LABS. 325

BROVEX 1st gen antihistamines MCR/AMERICAN PH 1

BROVEX CT 1st gen antihistamines MCR/AMERICAN PH

BROVEX SR 1st gen AH-decongestant MCR/AMERICAN PH

BROVEX-D 1st gen AH-decongestant MCR/AMERICAN PH

BUPHENYL Ammonia inhibitors MEDICIS DERM 7

CADUET Statin/CCB combo PFIZER US PHARM 129

CARBATROL Anticonvulsants SHIRE US INC. 1,311

CARNITOR Metabolic deficiency agents SIGMA-TAU 15

CARNITOR SF Metabolic deficiency agents SIGMA-TAU 2

CATAPRES Sympatholytics BOEHRINGER ING. 19

CETROTIDE LHRH (GNRH) antagonist, pituitary suppressant agen EMD SERONO, INC 34

CHROMAGEN Iron replacement THER-RX 511

CHROMAGEN FORTE Iron replacement THER-RX 225

CORDRAN Topical corticosteroids AQUA PHARMACEUT 145

CORGARD Beta blockers KING PHARM 42

CORTISPORIN Otic medications, anti-infective MONARCH PHRM 3

Topical antibiotics & combos MONARCH PHRM 298

CUTIVATE Topical corticosteroids Pharmaderm 1,355

CYTOMEL Thyroid replacement KING PHARM 2,955

CYTOXAN Alkylating agents BMS ONCO/IMMUN

DAYTRANA ADHD medications SHIRE US INC. 2,700

DECLOMYCIN Tetracyclines STONEBRIDGE PHA 2

DEGARELIX Antineoplastic LHRH agonists FERRING PH INC

DEPAKENE Anticonvulsants ABBOTT LABS. 12

DERMA-SMOOTHE-FS Topical corticosteroids HILL DERM 2,239

24 Sept 2009 Beneficiary Advisory Panel Meeting

Page 7 of 19

Table 6: (cont) Recommended to retain or be designated non-formulary on Uniform Formulary

ProdName Subclass Manufacturer Sum of Patients

DIBENZYLINE Alpha blockers, cardiovascular WELLSPRING PHAR 46

DIPENTUM Medications for inflammatory bowel disease ALAVEN PHARMACE 3

DYNEX 12 antitussive-decongestant ATHLON PHARM

DYNEX LA decongestant-expectorant ATHLON PHARM 4

DYNEX VR antitussive-expectorant ATHLON PHARM

DYRENIUM Potassium sparing diuretics WELLSPRING PHAR 277

ELDEPRYL Parkinsons medications SOMERSET PHARM 1

ELESTRIN Estrogens AZUR PHARMA, IN 26

ELIGARD Antineoplastic LHRH agonists SANOFI PHARM 20

EMSAM MAOIs BMS PRIMARYCARE 137

ENDOMETRIN Pregnancy facilitating/maintaining agent FERRING PH INC 350

ESTRACE Vaginal estrogen preparations WC PROF PRODS 8,663

EURAX Topical antiparasitics RANBAXY BRAND D 54

EVOXAC Parasympathetic agents DAIICHI SANKYO, 1,399

EXELDERM Topical antifungals RANBAXY BRAND D 231

FIORICET Analgesic combos WATSON PHARMA 300

FLEXERIL Skeletal muscle relaxants MC NEIL CONS. 1

FLOMAX selective alpha blockers for BPH BOEHRINGER ING. 2 9,039

FLOXIN Otic medications, anti-infective DAIICHI SANKYO, 77

FOSRENOL Phosphate binders SHIRE US INC. 635

GESTICARE Prenatal vitamins AZUR PHARMA, IN 57

GYNAZOLE-1 Vaginal antifungals THER-RX 908

HALOG Topical corticosteroids RANBAXY BRAND D 261

HEMATRON Iron replacement SEYER INC. 22

HEMATRON-AF Iron replacement SEYER INC. 131

HYCODAN antitussive-anticholinergic ENDO PHARM INC.

INTELENCE HIV antivirals, NNRTIs ORTHO BIOTECH 20

KADIAN Higher potency single analgesic agents ALPHARMA BPD 1,512

KAON-CL 10 Potassium replacement SAVAGE LAB. 35

KAPIDEX PPIs TAKEDA PHARM 1,435

KENALOG Topical corticosteroids RANBAXY BRAND D 638

KINERET Targeted immunomodulatory biologics BIOVITRUM 27

KLONOPIN Anticonvulsants ROCHE LABS. 199

K-PHOS NO.2 Urinary pH modifiers BEACH PRODUCTS 7

K-PHOS ORIGINAL Urinary pH modifiers BEACH PRODUCTS 85

KYTRIL 5HT3 antiemetics ROCHE LABS. 3

LAC-HYDRIN Emollients RANBAXY BRAND D 25

LACTINOL Emollients PEDINOL PHARM. 13

LACTINOL-E Emollients PEDINOL PHARM. 22

LEVULAN Acne meds DUSA PHARM

LIALDA Medications for inflammatory bowel disease SHIRE US INC. 1,677

LIMBITROL TCAs & combos VALEANT

LITHOSTAT Ammonia inhibitors MISSION PHARM. 1

LOCOID Topical corticosteroids TRIAX PHARMACEU

LUVERIS Luteinizing hormones EMD SERONO, INC 17

METANX Vitamin B preparations PAN AMERICAN 7,475

MICRO-K Potassium replacement THER-RX 55

MINOCIN Tetracyclines TRIAX PHARMACEU

MIRAPEX Parkinsons medications BOEHRINGER ING. 8,405

MOBIC NSAIDs BOEHRINGER ING. 18

MONODOX Tetracyclines AQUA PHARMACEUT 2

MS CONTIN Higher potency single analgesic agents PURDUE PHARMA L 18

MUSE Prostaglandins for ED VIVUS 686

24 Sept 2009 Beneficiary Advisory Panel Meeting

Page 8 of 19

Table 6: (cont) Recommended to retain or be designated non-formulary on Uniform Formulary

MYAMBUTOL Antitubercular medications X-GEN PHARMACEU 1

NEOBENZ MICRO Keratolytics SKINMEDICA 223

NIFEREX GOLD Iron replacement THER-RX 44

NIFEREX-150 FORTE Iron replacement THER-RX 378

NIRAVAM Anxiolytics AZUR PHARMA, IN 181

NOVASTART Prenatal vitamins AZUR PHARMA, IN 2

NUZON Topical corticosteroids WRASER PHARMA 25

OBSTETRIX EC Prenatal vitamins SEYER INC. 81

OMNICEF 3rd gen cephalosporins ABBOTT LABS. 7

OXANDRIN Androgens/anabolic steroids SAVIENT PHARMAC 2

OXISTAT Topical antifungals Pharmaderm 2,460

OXSORALEN Hyperpigmentation agents VALEANT 9

PAMINE Anticholinergics/antispasmodics KENWOOD LAB. 4

PAMINE FORTE Anticholinergics/antispasmodics KENWOOD LAB. 1

PAMINE FQ Anticholinergics/antispasmodics KENWOOD LAB. 2

PCE Macrolide ABBOTT LABS. 16

PEDIAPRED Oral corticosteroids UCB PHARMA 4

PENTASA Medications for inflammatory bowel disease SHIRE US INC. 1,553

PERCODAN Higher potency narcotic analgesic combos ENDO PHARM INC. 34

PERPHENAZINE Typical antipsychotics SANDOZ 356

PERSANTINE Platelet aggregation inhibitors BOEHRINGER ING. 4

PHOSLO Phosphate binders FRESENIUS MED 24

PLETAL Platelet aggregation inhibitors OTSUKA AMERICA 9

POLY HIST DM antitussive-1st gen AH-decongestant POLY PHARM. 98

POLY HIST FORTE 1st gen AH-decongestant POLY PHARM. 514

POLY HIST PD 1st gen AH-decongestant POLY PHARM. 19

POLY TAN D 1st gen AH-decongestant POLY PHARM. 63

POLY TAN DM antitussive-1st gen AH-decongestant POLY PHARM. 154

POLY-TUSSIN DHC antitussive-1st gen AH-decongestant POLY PHARM. 939

POLY-TUSSIN DM antitussive-1st gen AH-decongestant POLY PHARM. 132

POTASSIUM CHLORIDE Potassium replacement SCHERING CORP G 8,159

PRECARE Prenatal vitamins THER-RX 245

PRECARE CONCEIVE Prenatal vitamins THER-RX 51

PRECARE PREMIER Prenatal vitamins THER-RX 473

PREFERA-OB Prenatal vitamins ALAVEN PHARMACE 279

PREMESIS RX Prenatal vitamins THER-RX 68

PROAMATINE Adrenergic vasopressors SHIRE US INC. 4

PROCRIT RBC Stimulants ORTHO BIOTECH 2,201

P-TEX 1st gen antihistamines POLY PHARM.

QUIXIN Ophthalmic antibiotics, quinolones VISTAKON PHARMA 350

RESPA A.R. 1st gen AH-decongestant-anticholinergic RESPA PHARM. 503

RESPA-BR 1st gen antihistamines RESPA PHARM. 85

RHEUMATREX Antirheumatics DAVA PHARMACEUT 10

RIOMET Biguanides RANBAXY BRAND D 105

SAIZEN Growth hormone EMD SERONO, INC 31

SALAGEN Parasympathetic agents EISAI INC. 10

SEDAPAP Analgesic combos MERZ

SEPTRA Sulfonamides/folate antagonists MONARCH PHRM

24 Sept 2009 Beneficiary Advisory Panel Meeting

Page 9 of 19

Table 6: (cont) Recommended to retain or be designated non-formulary on Uniform Formulary

ProdName Subclass Manufacturer Sum of Patients

SEPTRA DS Sulfonamides/folate antagonists MONARCH PHRM 3

SEROSTIM Growth hormone EMD SERONO, INC 3

SILVADENE Topical sulfonamides MONARCH PHRM 7

SONATA Newer sedative hypnotics KING PHARM 282

SORIATANE CK Psoriasis medications, oral STIEFEL LABS. 577

SULFAMYLON Topical sulfonamides UDL 13

TAPAZOLE Antithyroid medications KING PHARM 6

TEMOVATE Topical corticosteroids Pharmaderm 4

TEMOVATE EMOLLIENT Topical corticosteroids Pharmaderm 2

TENEX Sympatholytics PROMIUS PHARMA 19

TESTRED Androgens/anabolic steroids VALEANT 72

THALITONE Thiazides MONARCH PHRM 29

TIGAN Other antiemetics MONARCH PHRM 2

TINDAMAX Antiprotozoal MISSION PHARM. 691

TRANSDERM-SCOP Other antiemetics BAXTER HEALTHCA 974

NOVARTIS CONSUM 6,163

TRETIN-X Acne meds TRIAX PHARMACEU 94

ULTRAVATE Topical corticosteroids RANBAXY BRAND D 8

ULTRAVATE PAC Topical corticosteroids RANBAXY BRAND D 144

VALIUM Anxiolytics ROCHE LABS. 249

VESANOID Misc antineoplastics ROCHE LABS. 7

VIRAMUNE HIV antivirals, NNRTIs BOEHRINGER ING. 52

VIROPTIC Ophthalmic antivirals MONARCH PHRM 5

VYVANSE ADHD medications SHIRE US INC. 1 4,885

WELCHOL Bile acid sequestrants DAIICHI SANKYO, 7,541

WESTCORT Topical corticosteroids RANBAXY BRAND D

ZAROXOLYN Thiazides UCB PHARMA 9

ZONEGRAN Anticonvulsants EISAI INC. 85

ZORBTIVE Growth hormone EMD SERONO, INC

[Source: www.tricare.mil/pharmacy/bap/ 24 Sep 09 Handout Table 5 & 6 ++]

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VETERAN LEGISLATION 10/13/2009

Of the 3787 House and 1762 Senate pieces of legislation introduced in the 111th Congress to date, the following are of interest to the non-active duty veteran community. Bill titles in green are new additions to this summary. A good indication on the likelihood a bill of being forwarded to the House or Senate for passage and subsequently being signed into law by the President is the number of cosponsors who have signed onto the bill. An alternate way for it to become law is if it is added as an addendum to another bill such as the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and survives the conference committee assigned to iron out the difference between the House and Senate bills. At http://thomas.loc.gov you can review a copy of each bill’s text, determine its current status, the committee it has been assigned to, who your representative is and his/her phone number, mailing address, or email/website to communicate with a message or letter of your own making, and if your legislator is a sponsor or cosponsor of it. To separately determine what bills, amendments your representative has sponsored, cosponsored, or dropped sponsorship on refer to http://thomas.loc.gov/bss/d111/sponlst.html. To review a numerical list of all bills introduced refer to http://thomas.loc.gov/bss/111search.html. The key to increasing cosponsorship is letting legislators know of their constituent’s views on issues. Those bills that include a website in red are being pushed by various veterans groups for passage and by clicking on that website you can forward a preformatted message to your legislator requesting he/she support the bill.

House

H.R.23 : Belated Thank You to the Merchant Mariners of World War II Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish the Merchant Mariner Equity Compensation Fund to provide benefits to certain individuals who served in the United States merchant marine (including the Army Transport Service and the Naval Transport Service) during World War II.

Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 1/6/2009) Cosponsors (168)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/13/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/naus/issues/alert/?alertid=12497121

________________________________________

H.R.32 : Veterans Outreach Improvement Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the outreach activities of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes. Companion Bill S.315

Sponsor: Rep McIntyre, Mike [NC-7] (introduced 1/6/2009) Cosponsors (37)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/31/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Discharged.

________________________________________

H.R.33 : Disability Benefit Fairness Act of 2009 to amend title II of the Social Security Act to eliminate the 5-month waiting period for entitlement to disability benefits and to eliminate reconsideration as an intervening step between initial benefit entitlement decisions and subsequent hearings on the record on such decisions.

Sponsor: Rep McIntyre, Mike [NC-7] (introduced 1/6/2009) Cosponsors (3)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

________________________________________

H.R.82 : Veterans Outreach Improvement Act of 2009 to expand retroactive eligibility of the Army Combat Action Badge to include members of the Army who participated in combat during which they personally engaged, or were personally engaged by, the enemy at any time on or after December 7, 1941.

Sponsor: Rep Brown-Waite, Ginny [FL-5] (introduced 1/6/2009) Cosponsors (17)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 1/30/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

________________________________________

H.R.84 : Veterans Timely Access to Health Care Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish standards of access to care for veterans seeking health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Brown-Waite, Ginny [FL-5] (introduced 1/6/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

________________________________________

H.R.108 : Disabled Veterans Commissary and Exchange Store Benefits Act to amend title 10, United States Code, to extend military commissary and exchange store privileges to veterans with a compensable service-connected disability and to their dependents.

Sponsor: Rep Fortenberry, Jeff [NE-1] (introduced 1/6/2009) Cosponsors (7)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 1/30/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

________________________________________

H.R.114 : Veterans Entrepreneurial Transition Business Benefit Act to allow veterans to elect to use, with the approval of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, certain financial educational assistance to establish and operate certain business, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Fortenberry, Jeff [NE-1] (introduced 1/6/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

________________________________________

H.R.147 : Designate a Portion of Tax Payment for Homeless Vets. To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow taxpayers to designate a portion of their income tax payment to provide assistance to homeless veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Israel, Steve [NY-2] (introduced 1/6/2009) Cosponsors (84)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 3/4/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12922516&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

________________________________________

H.R.161 : Social Security Beneficiary Tax Reduction Act to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the 1993 increase in taxes on Social Security benefits.

Sponsor: Rep Paul, Ron [TX-14] (introduced 1/6/2009) Cosponsors (6)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

________________________________________

H.R.162 : Senior Citizens’ Tax Elimination Act to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the inclusion in gross income of Social Security benefits.

Sponsor: Rep Paul, Ron [TX-14] (introduced 1/6/2009) Cosponsors (3)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

________________________________________

H.R.174 : Colorado Vet Cemetery. To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a national cemetery for veterans in the southern Colorado region.

Sponsor: Rep Salazar, John T. [CO-3] (introduced 1/6/2009) Cosponsors (7)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 9/28/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Discharged.

________________________________________

H.R.177 : Depleted Uranium Screening and Testing Act to provide for identification of members of the Armed Forces exposed during military service to depleted uranium, to provide for health testing of such members, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Serrano, Jose E. [NY-16] (introduced 1/6/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 1/30/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.190 : Veterans Health Equity Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to ensure that veterans in each of the 48 contiguous States are able to receive services in at least one full-service hospital of the Veterans Health Administration in the State or receive comparable services provided by contract in the State. Companion Bill S.239.

Sponsor: Rep Shea-Porter, Carol [NH-1] (introduced 1/6/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.198 : Health Care Tax Deduction Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow a deduction for amounts paid for health insurance and prescription drug costs of individuals.

Sponsor: Rep Stearns, Cliff [FL-6] (introduced 1/6/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.208 : National Guardsmen and Reservists Parity for Patriots Act to amend title 10, United States Code, to ensure that members of the reserve components of the Armed Forces who have served on active duty or performed active service since September 11, 2001, in support of a contingency operation or in other emergency situations receive credit for such service in determining eligibility for early receipt of non-regular service retired pay, and for other purposes. Companion Bill S.644.

Sponsor: Rep Wilson, Joe [SC-2] (introduced 1/6/2009) Cosponsors (113)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 1/30/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/vfw/dbq/officials and /or http://capwiz.com/ngaus/mail/compose/?mailid=13672261&azip=92571&bzip=7311

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H.R.210 : Vet Cemetery South Carolina Land Acquisition Study. To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct a study on the acquisition of a parcel of land adjacent to Beaufort National Cemetery, Beaufort, South Carolina.

Sponsor: Rep Wilson, Joe [SC-2] (introduced 1/6/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.217 : Vet Cemetery South Carolina Land Acquisition Purchase. To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to acquire a parcel of land adjacent to Beaufort National Cemetery, Beaufort, South Carolina.

Sponsor: Rep Wilson, Joe [SC-2] (introduced 1/6/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.228 : Visual Impairment VA Scholarship Program to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a scholarship program for students seeking a degree or certificate in the areas of visual impairment and orientation and mobility.

Sponsor: Rep Jackson-Lee, Sheila [TX-18] (introduced 1/7/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/19/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee by Voice Vote.

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H.R.236 : Social Security Protection Act to amend the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 to protect Social Security beneficiaries against any reduction in benefits.

Sponsor: Rep Brown-Waite, Ginny [FL-5] (introduced 1/7/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Rules; House Budget

Latest Major Action: 1/7/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Rules, and in addition to the Committee on the Budget, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.237 : Military Retiree Health Care Relief Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow a refundable credit to military retirees for premiums paid for coverage under Medicare Part B.

Sponsor: Rep Emerson, Jo Ann [MO-8] (introduced 1/7/2009) Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/7/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12921516&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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H.R.247 : Protect Our Veterans Memorials Act of 2009 to amend section 1369 of title 18, United States Code, to extend Federal jurisdiction over destruction of veterans’ memorials on State or local government property.

Sponsor: Rep Green, Gene [TX-29] (introduced 1/7/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Judiciary

Latest Major Action: 2/9/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.

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H.R.270 : TRICARE Continuity of Coverage for National Guard and Reserve Families Act of 2009 to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for continuity of TRICARE Standard coverage for certain members of the Retired Reserve. Companion Bill S.731.

Sponsor: Rep Latta, Robert E. [OH-5] (introduced 1/7/2009) Cosponsors (68)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 1/30/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12923561&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id] or http://www.ngaus.org/content.asp?bid=1805&False&False

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H.R.293 : Homeless Women Veteran and Homeless Veterans with Children Reintegration Grant Program Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Labor to carry out a grant program to provide reintegration services through programs and facilities that emphasize services for homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children.

Sponsor: Rep Buyer, Steve [IN-4] (introduced 1/8/2009) Cosponsors (13)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/8/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.294 : Veteran Owned Small Business Promotion Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the reauthorization of the Department of Veterans Affairs small business loan program, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Buyer, Steve [IN-4] (introduced 1/8/2009) Cosponsors (18)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/24/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.295 : More Jobs for Veterans Act of 2009 to authorize appropriations for the veterans’ workforce investment programs.

Sponsor: Rep Buyer, Steve [IN-4] (introduced 1/8/2009) Cosponsors (11)

Committees: House Education and Labor

Latest Major Action: 1/8/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness.

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H.R.296 : Armed Forces Disability Retirement Enhancement Act of 2009 to amend title 10, United States Code, to revise the process by which a member of the Armed Forces is retired for disability and becomes eligible for retirement pay, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Buyer, Steve [IN-4] (introduced 1/8/2009) Cosponsors (7)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 1/30/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.297 : Veteran Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Subsistence Allowance Improvement Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for an increase in the amount of subsistence allowance payable by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to veterans participating in vocational rehabilitation programs, and for other purposes. Companion Bill S.514

Sponsor: Rep Buyer, Steve [IN-4] (introduced 1/8/2009) Cosponsors (9)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/4/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.303 : Retired Pay Restoration Act to amend title 10, United States Code, to permit additional retired members of the Armed Forces who have a service-connected disability to receive both disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs for their disability and either retired pay by reason of their years of military service or Combat-Related Special Compensation and to eliminate the phase-in period under current law with respect to such concurrent receipt.

Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 1/8/2009) Cosponsors (112)

Committees: House Armed Services; House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/30/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.309 : American Heroes’ Homeownership Assistance Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow certain current and former service members to receive a refundable credit for the purchase of a principal residence.

Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 1/8/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/8/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.333 : Disabled Veterans Tax Termination Act to amend title 10, United States Code, to permit retired members of the Armed Forces who have a service-connected disability rated less than 50 percent to receive concurrent payment of both retired pay and veterans’ disability compensation, to eliminate the phase-in period for concurrent receipt, to extend eligibility for concurrent receipt to chapter 61 disability retirees with less than 20 years of service, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Marshall, Jim [GA-8] (introduced 1/8/2009) Cosponsors (115)

Committees: House Armed Services; House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/6/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12406456&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id] and http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12888756

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H.R.341 : Suspend Limitations Period for Tax Refund on VA Retroactive Payments. To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to suspend the running of periods of limitation for credit or refund of overpayment of Federal income tax by veterans while their service-connected compensation determinations are pending with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Sponsor: Rep Platts, Todd Russell [PA-19] (introduced 1/8/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/8/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.347 : Congressional Gold Medal Award. To grant the congressional gold medal, collectively, to the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, United States Army, in recognition of their dedicated service during World War II.

Sponsor: Rep Schiff, Adam B. [CA-29] (introduced 1/8/2009) Cosponsors (297) – Related bill S.1055

Committees: House Financial Services; House Administration

Latest Major Action: 5/18/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

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H.R.379 : State and Local Sales Tax Deduction Expansion Act to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to ensure that all taxpayers have the ability to deduct State and local general sales taxes. Companion Bill S.35.

Sponsor: Rep Blackburn, Marsha [TN-7] (introduced 1/9/2009) Cosponsors (26)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/9/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.394 : Medal of Honor Pension. To amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to increase the amount of the Medal of Honor special pension provided under that title by up to $1,000.

Sponsor: Rep Brown, Henry E., Jr. [SC-1] (introduced 1/9/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/9/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

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H.R.403 : Homes for Heroes Act of 2009 to provide housing assistance for very low-income veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Green, Al [TX-9] (introduced 1/9/2009) Cosponsors (41)

Committees: House Financial Services; House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 6/17/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

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H.R.423 : Samuel B. Moody Bataan Death March Compensation Act to provide compensation for certain World War II veterans who survived the Bataan Death March and were held as prisoners of war by the Japanese.

Sponsor: Rep Mica, John L. [FL-7] (introduced 1/9/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 2/6/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.433 : Ready Employers Willing to Assist Reservists’ Deployment (REWARD) Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow employers a credit against income tax equal to 50 percent of the compensation paid to employees while they are performing active duty service as members of the Ready Reserve or the National Guard and of the compensation paid to temporary replacement employees.

Sponsor: Rep Poe, Ted [TX-2] (introduced 1/9/2009) Cosponsors (39)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/9/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.442 : Veterans’ Heritage Firearms Act of 2009 to provide an amnesty period during which veterans and their family members can register certain firearms in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Rehberg, Denny [MT] (introduced 1/9/2009) Cosponsors (129)

Committees: House Judiciary; House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 2/9/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.

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H.R.449 : Health Care for America’s Heroes Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand the availability of health care provided by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs by adjusting the income level for certain priority veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Sestak, Joe [PA-7] (introduced 1/9/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/9/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.456 : Disabled Veteran Small Business Eligibility Expansion Act of 2009 to amend the Small Business Act to make service-disabled veterans eligible under the 8(a) business development program.

Sponsor: Rep Wittman, Robert J. [VA-1] (introduced 1/9/2009) Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Small Business

Latest Major Action: 1/9/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Small Business.

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H.R.466 : Wounded Veteran Job Security Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to prohibit discrimination and acts of reprisal against persons who receive treatment for illnesses, injuries, and disabilities incurred in or aggravated by service in the uniformed services.

Sponsor: Rep Doggett, Lloyd [TX-25] (introduced 1/13/2009) Cosponsors (8)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/9/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.482 : Frank Buckles World War I Memorial Act to authorize the rededication of the District of Columbia War Memorial as a National and District of Columbia World War I Memorial to honor the sacrifices made by American veterans of World War I.

Sponsor: Rep Poe, Ted [TX-2] (introduced 1/13/2009) Cosponsors (33)

Committees: House Natural Resources

Latest Major Action: 2/4/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands.

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H.R.484 : Chiropractic Health Parity for Military Beneficiaries Act to require the Secretary of Defense to develop and implement a plan to provide chiropractic health care services and benefits for certain new beneficiaries as part of the TRICARE program.

Sponsor: Rep Rogers, Mike D. [AL-3] (introduced 1/13/2009) Cosponsors (36)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 2/6/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.531 : Social Security Number Fraudulent Use Notification Act of 2009 to amend title II of the Social Security Act to require that the Commissioner of Social Security notify individuals of improper use of their Social Security account numbers.

Sponsor: Rep Myrick, Sue Wilkins [NC-9] (introduced 1/14/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/14/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.568 : Veterans Health Care Quality Improvement Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the quality of care provided to veterans in Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities, to encourage highly qualified doctors to serve in hard-to-fill positions in such medical facilities, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Costello, Jerry F. [IL-12] (introduced 1/15/2009) Cosponsors (4)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Oversight and Government Reform

Latest Major Action: 1/15/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.593 : CRSC for DoD Disability Severances Pay. To amend title 10, United States Code, to expand the authorized concurrent receipt of disability severance pay from the Department of Defense and compensation for the same disability under any law administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs to cover all veterans who have a combat-related disability, as defined under section 1413a of such title.

Sponsor: Rep Smith, Adam [WA-9] (introduced 1/15/2009) Cosponsors (42)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 2/6/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12918951&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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H.R.598 : American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009 to provide for a portion of the economic recovery package relating to revenue measures, unemployment, and health.

Sponsor: Rep Rangel, Charles B. [NY-15] (introduced 1/16/2009) Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Ways and Means; House Energy and Commerce; House Science and Technology; House Education and Labor; House Financial Services

House Reports: 111-8 Part 1, 111-8 Part 2

Latest Major Action: 1/28/2009 Supplemental report filed by the Committee on Ways and Means, H. Rept. 111-8, Part II.

Note: For further action, see H.R.1, which became Public Law 111-5 on 2/17/2009.

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H.R.612 : Disabled Veterans Insurance Act of 2009 to amend section 1922A of title 38, United States Code, to increase the amount of supplemental insurance available for totally disabled veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Jones, Walter B., Jr. [NC-3] (introduced 1/21/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.613 : Military Retiree Survivor Comfort Act to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for forgiveness of certain overpayments of retired pay paid to deceased retired members of the Armed Forces following their death.

Sponsor: Rep Jones, Walter B., Jr. [NC-3] (introduced 1/21/2009) Cosponsors (57)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 2/6/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12489731&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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H.R.620 : Jobs for Veterans Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow an increased work opportunity credit with respect to recent veterans.

Sponsor: Rep King, Peter T. [NY-3] (introduced 1/21/2009) Cosponsors (12)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.627 : Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2009 to amend the Truth in Lending Act to establish fair and transparent practices relating to the extension of credit under an open end consumer credit plan, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Maloney, Carolyn B. [NY-14] (introduced 1/22/2009) Cosponsors (128) Related Bill S.235 Companion Bill S.414

Committees: House Financial Services

House Reports: 111-88

Latest Major Action: Became Public Law No: 111-24

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H.R.656 : Unemployed Early Retirement Plan Withdrawal without Penalty. To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow certain individuals who have attained age 50 and who are unemployed to receive distributions from qualified retirement plans without incurring a 10 percent additional tax.

Sponsor: Rep Platts, Todd Russell [PA-19] (introduced 1/22/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/22/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.667 : Heroes at Home Act of 2009 to improve the diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injury in members and former members of the Armed Forces, to review and expand telehealth and telemental health programs of the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Salazar, John T. [CO-3] (introduced 1/23/2009) Cosponsors (43)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 2/6/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.668 : Critical Access Hospital Flexibility Act of 2009 to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide flexibility in the manner in which beds are counted for purposes of determining whether a hospital may be designated as a critical access hospital under the Medicare Program and to exempt from the critical access hospital inpatient bed limitation the number of beds provided for certain veterans. Companion Bill S.307

Sponsor: Rep Walden, Greg [OR-2] (introduced 1/23/2009) Cosponsors (9)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 1/23/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.671 : In Memory Medal for Forgotten Veterans Act to direct the Secretary of Defense to issue a medal to certain veterans who died after their service in the Vietnam War as a direct result of that service.

Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 1/26/2009) Cosponsors (3)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 2/6/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.731 : Jenny’s Law to amend title 38, United States Code, to exclude individuals who have been convicted of committing certain sex offenses from receiving certain burial-related benefits and funeral honors which are otherwise available to certain veterans, members of the Armed Forces, and related individuals, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Shadegg, John B. [AZ-3] (introduced 1/27/2009) Cosponsors (24)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/27/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.746 : Safeguarding America’s Seniors and Veterans Act of 2009 to provide for economic recovery payments to recipients of Social Security, railroad retirement, and veterans disability benefits.

Sponsor: Rep Adler, John H. [NJ-3] (introduced 1/28/2009) Cosponsors (11)

Committees: House Ways and Means; House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/28/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, and in addition to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.761 : Vet Parent Burial in National Cemeteries. To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the eligibility of parents of certain deceased veterans for interment in national cemeteries.

Sponsor: Rep Frank, Barney [MA-4] (introduced 1/28/2009) Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/8/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.775 : Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act to repeal the requirement for reduction of survivor annuities under the Survivor Benefit Plan to offset the receipt of veterans dependency and indemnity compensation.

Sponsor: Rep Ortiz, Solomon P. [TX-27] (introduced 1/28/2009) Cosponsors (294) Companion Bill S.535

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 2/17/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/alert/?alertid=12848666&type=CO or http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12541746

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H.R.784 : VA Reports to Congress. To amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to submit to Congress quarterly reports on vacancies in mental health professional positions in Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities.

Sponsor: Rep Tsongas, Niki [MA-5] (introduced 1/28/2009) Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/3/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.785 : VA Outreach Training. To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot program to provide outreach and training to certain college and university mental health centers relating to the mental health of veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, and for other purposes. Companion Bill S.543

Sponsor: Rep Tsongas, Niki [MA-5] (introduced 1/28/2009) Cosponsors (4)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/3/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.806 : TRICARE Mail-Order Pharmacy Pilot Program Act to establish a mail-order pharmacy pilot program for TRICARE beneficiaries.

Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 2/3/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 2/24/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.809 : Widow Remarriage Age Decrease for DIC. To amend title 38, United States Code, to reduce from age 57 to age 55 the age after which the remarriage of the surviving spouse of a deceased veteran shall not result in termination of dependency and indemnity compensation otherwise payable to that surviving spouse.

Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 2/3/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/3/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/?bill=12993371

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H.R.811 : Retired Pay Restoration Act to amend title 10, United States Code, to permit certain retired members of the uniformed services who have a service-connected disability to receive both disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs for their disability and either retired pay by reason of their years of military service or Combat-Related Special Compensation. Companion Bill S.546

Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 2/3/2009) Cosponsors (5)

Committees: House Armed Services; House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/24/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.816 : Military Retirees Health Care Protection Act to amend title 10, United States Code, to prohibit certain increases in fees for military health care.

Sponsor: Rep Edwards, Chet [TX-17] (introduced 2/3/2009) Cosponsors (191)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 2/24/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12591151&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id] or http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/?bill=12603596 or http://capwiz.com/naus/issues/alert/?alertid=12607551 or http://capwiz.com/trea/issues/alert/?alertid=12710751

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H.R.819 : POW DIC Eligibility Date. To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the payment of dependency and indemnity compensation to the survivors of former prisoners of war who died on or before September 30, 1999, under the same eligibility conditions as apply to payment of dependency and indemnity compensation to the survivors of former prisoners of war who die after that date.

Sponsor: Rep Holden, Tim [PA-17] (introduced 2/3/2009) Cosponsors (17)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/3/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.870 : Medicare Medically Necessary Dental Care Act of 2009 to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for coverage under part B for medically necessary dental procedures.

Sponsor: Rep Cohen, Steve [TN-9] (introduced 2/4/2009) Cosponsors (17)

Committees: House Energy and Commerce; House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 2/4/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committee on Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.879 : Affordable Health Care Expansion Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow individuals a refundable credit against income tax for the purchase of private health insurance.

Sponsor: Rep Granger, Kay [TX-12] (introduced 2/4/2009) Cosponsors (4)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 2/4/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.883 : Social Security 1993 Tax Increase Repeal. To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the 1993 increase in income taxes on Social Security benefits.

Sponsor: Rep King, Peter T. [NY-3] (introduced 2/4/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 2/4/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.917 : Combat-Related Injury Death Dependent Health Benefits. To increase the health benefits of dependents of members of the Armed Forces who die because of a combat-related injury.

Sponsor: Rep Guthrie, Brett [KY-2] (introduced 2/9/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.919 : Veterans’ Medical Personnel Recruitment and Retention Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to enhance the capacity of the Department of Veterans Affairs to recruit and retain nurses and other critical health-care professionals, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Johnson, Eddie Bernice [TX-30] (introduced 2/9/2009) Cosponsors (4)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/9/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.929 : VA Vet Training Program. To amend title 38, United States Code, to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a program of training to provide eligible veterans with skills relevant to the job market, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Welch, Peter [VT] (introduced 2/9/2009) Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/4/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.931 : Veterans Employment Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow the work opportunity credit with respect to certain unemployed veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Nye, Glenn C., III [VA-2] (introduced 2/10/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 2/10/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.942 : Veterans Self-Employment Act of 2009 to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct a pilot project on the use of educational assistance under programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs to defray training costs associated with the purchase of certain franchise enterprises.

Sponsor: Rep Alexander, Rodney [LA-5] (introduced 2/10/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 6/3/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee (Amended) by Voice Vote .

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H.R.944 : Prisoner of War Benefits Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide improved benefits for veterans who are former prisoners of war.

Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 2/10/2009) Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/10/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.950 : Vet Distance Learning Assistance. To amend chapter 33 of title 38, United States Code, to increase educational assistance for certain veterans pursuing a program of education offered through distance learning.

Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 2/10/2009) Cosponsors (17)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/4/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.952 : Compensation Owed for Mental Health Based on Activities in Theater Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify the meaning of “combat with the enemy” for purposes of service-connection of disabilities.

Sponsor: Rep Hall, John J. [NY-19] (introduced 2/10/2009) Cosponsors (94)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/10/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Ordered to be Reported (Amended) by Voice Vote.

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H.R.953 : Veterans Travel Tax Relief Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for a deduction for travel expenses to medical centers of the Department of Veterans Affairs in connection with examinations or treatments relating to service-connected disabilities.

Sponsor: Rep Heller, Dean [NV-2] (introduced 2/10/2009) Cosponsors (50)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 2/10/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.954 : Social Security Benefits Fairness Act of 2009 to amend title II of the Social Security Act to provide that a monthly insurance benefit thereunder shall be paid for the month in which the recipient dies, subject to a reduction of 50 percent if the recipient dies during the first 15 days of such month, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Holden, Tim [PA-17] (introduced 2/10/2009) Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 2/10/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.972 : Retired Reserve Age for Health Benefits. To amend title 10, United States Code, to eliminate the requirement that certain former members of the reserve components of the Armed Forces be at least 60 years of age in order to be eligible to receive health care benefits.

Sponsor: Rep Wilson, Joe [SC-2] (introduced 2/10/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 3/17/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/?bill=12992881

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H.R.1004 : Veterans Health Care Full Funding Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide an enhanced funding process to ensure an adequate level of funding for veterans health care programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs, to establish standards of access to care for veterans seeking health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Smith, Christopher H. [NJ-4] (introduced 2/11/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/11/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.1016 : Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide advance appropriations authority for certain medical care accounts of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 2/12/2009) Cosponsors (125)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

House Reports: 111-171

Latest Major Action: 8/6/2009 Passed/agreed to in Senate. Status: Passed Senate in lieu of S.423 with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12704096

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H.R.1017 : Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act to amend the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Programs Enhancement Act of 2001 and title 38, United States Code, to require the provision of chiropractic care and services to veterans at all Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers and to expand access to such care and services.

Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 2/12/2009) Cosponsors (25) Related bill S.1204

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/1/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.1036 : Veterans Physical Therapy Services Improvement Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish the position of Director of Physical Therapy Service within the Veterans Health Administration and to establish a fellowship program for physical therapists in the areas of geriatrics, amputee rehabilitation, polytrauma care, and rehabilitation research.

Sponsor: Rep Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie [SD] (introduced 2/12/2009) Cosponsors (8)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/1/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.1037 : Pilot College Work Study Programs for Veterans Act of 2009 to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct a five-year pilot project to test the feasibility and advisability of expanding the scope of certain qualifying work-study activities under title 38, United States Code.

Sponsor: Rep Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie [SD] (introduced 2/12/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

House Reports: 111-162

Latest Major 10/7/2009 Passed/agreed to in Senate. Status: Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

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H.R.1038 : Shingles Prevention Act to amend part B of title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide coverage for the shingles vaccine under the Medicare Program.

Sponsor: Rep Hirono, Mazie K. [HI-2] (introduced 2/12/2009) Cosponsors (12)

Committees: House Energy and Commerce; House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 2/12/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committee on Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.1042 : Enemy POW Hospitalization Policy. To prohibit the provision of medical treatment to enemy combatants detained by the United States at Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in the same facility as a member of the Armed Forces or Department of Veterans Affairs medical facility.

Sponsor: Rep Miller, Jeff [FL-1] (introduced 2/12/2009) Cosponsors (9)

Committees: House Armed Services; House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/13/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.1075 : Restoring Essential Care for Our Veterans for Effective Recovery (RECOVER) Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand access to hospital care for veterans in major disaster areas, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Scalise, Steve [LA-1] (introduced 2/13/2009) Cosponsors (19)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/13/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.1088 : Mandatory Veteran Specialist Training Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for a one-year period for the training of new disabled veterans’ outreach program specialists and local veterans’ employment representatives by National Veterans’ Employment and Training Services Institute.

Sponsor: Rep Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie [SD] (introduced 2/13/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/20/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.1089 : Veterans Employment Rights to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the enforcement through the Office of Special Counsel of the employment and unemployment rights of veterans and members of the Armed Forces employed by Federal executive agencies, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie [SD] (introduced 2/13/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/20/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.1098 : Veterans’ Worker Retraining Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to increase the amount of educational assistance payable by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to certain individuals pursuing internships or on-job training.

Sponsor: Rep Perriello, Thomas S.P. [VA-5] (introduced 2/13/2009) Cosponsors (12)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 6/10/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Ordered to be Reported (Amended) by Voice Vote.

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H.R.1114 : National Cemetery Availability. To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a process for determining whether a geographic area is sufficiently served by the national cemeteries located in that geographic area.

Sponsor: Rep Rehberg, Denny [MT] (introduced 2/23/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/23/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.1163 : Establish Nebraska National Cemetery. To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a national cemetery in the Sarpy County region to serve veterans in eastern Nebraska, western Iowa, and northwest Missouri.

Sponsor: Rep Terry, Lee [NE-2] (introduced 2/24/2009) Cosponsors (3)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 2/24/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.1168 : Veterans Retraining Act of 2009 to amend chapter 42 of title 38, United States Code, to provide certain veterans with employment training assistance.

Sponsor: Rep Boozman, John [AR-3] (introduced 2/25/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/22/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.1169 : VA Adapted Housing/Automobile Assistance. To amend title 38, United States Code, to increase the amount of assistance provided by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to disabled veterans for specially adapted housing and automobiles and adapted equipment.

Sponsor: Rep Boozman, John [AR-3] (introduced 2/25/2009) Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/24/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.1170 : Adapted Housing Technology Grants. To amend chapter 21 of title 38, United States Code, to establish a grant program to encourage the development of new assistive technologies for specially adapted housing.

Sponsor: Rep Boozman, John [AR-3] (introduced 2/25/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/20/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.1171 : Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to reauthorize the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program for fiscal years 2010 through 2014.

Sponsor: Rep Boozman, John [AR-3] (introduced 2/25/2009) Cosponsors (4)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/31/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.1172 : VA Website Scholarship Info Addition. To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to include on the Internet website of the Department of Veterans Affairs a list of organizations that provide scholarships to veterans and their survivors.

Sponsor: Rep Boozman, John [AR-3] (introduced 2/25/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

House Reports: 111-164

Latest Major Action: 6/24/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.1182 : Military Spouses Residency Relief Act to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to guarantee the equity of spouses of military personnel with regard to matters of residency, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Carter, John R. [TX-31] (introduced 2/25/2009) Cosponsors (189)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/24/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.1197 : Medal of Honor Health Care Equity Act of 2009 to assign a higher priority status for hospital care and medical services provided through the Department of Veterans Affairs to certain veterans who are recipients of the medal of honor.

Sponsor: Rep Mitchell, Harry E. [AZ-5] (introduced 2/25/2009) Cosponsors (15)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/9/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee by Voice Vote.

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H.R.1203 : Federal and Military Retiree Health Care Equity Act to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow Federal civilian and military retirees to pay health insurance premiums on a pretax basis and to allow a deduction for TRICARE supplemental premiums. Companion Bill S.491

Sponsor: Rep Van Hollen, Chris [MD-8] (introduced 2/25/2009) Cosponsors (196)

Committees: House Ways and Means; House Oversight and Government Reform; House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 6/26/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Post Office, and the District of Columbia.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12787701&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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H.R.1211 : Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand and improve health care services available to women veterans, especially those serving in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes. Companion Bill S.597

Sponsor: Rep Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie [SD] (introduced 2/26/2009) Cosponsors (51)

House Reports: 111-165

Latest Major Action: 6/24/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12833716&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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H.R.1232 : Far South Texas Veterans Medical Center Act of 2009 to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to construct a full service hospital in Far South Texas.

Sponsor: Rep Ortiz, Solomon P. [TX-27] (introduced 2/26/2009) Cosponsors (6)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/26/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.1263 : Federal Retirement Reform Act of 2009 to amend title 5, United States Code, to provide for the automatic enrollment of new participants in the Thrift Savings Plan, and to clarify the method for computing certain annuities based on part-time service; to allow certain employees of the District of Columbia to have certain periods of service credited for purposes relating to retirement eligibility; and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Lynch, Stephen F. [MA-9] (introduced 3/3/2009) Cosponsors (5)

Committees: House Oversight and Government Reform; House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 3/3/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and in addition to the Committee on Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.1289 : Social Security Fairness for the Terminally Ill Act of 2009 to amend title II of the Social Security Act to eliminate the five-month waiting period in the disability insurance program, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Wilson, Charles A. [OH-6] (introduced 3/3/2009) Cosponsors (12)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 3/3/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.1293 : Disabled Veterans Home Improvement and Structural Alteration Grant Increase Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for an increase in the amount payable by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to veterans for improvements and structural alterations furnished as part of home health services.

Sponsor: Rep Buyer, Steve [IN-4] (introduced 3/4/2009) Cosponsors (16)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/29/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.1305 : Perpetual Purple Heart Stamp Act to provide for the issuance of a forever stamp to honor the sacrifices of the brave men and women of the armed forces who have been awarded the Purple Heart. Companion Bill S.572

Sponsor: Rep King, Peter T. [NY-3] (introduced 3/4/2009) Cosponsors (75)

Committees: House Oversight and Government Reform

Latest Major Action: 3/4/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

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H.R.1317 : Mortgage Payment Tax Credit. To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide a tax credit to individuals who pay their mortgages on time.

Sponsor: Rep Shuster, Bill [PA-9] (introduced 3/4/2009) Cosponsors (14)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 3/4/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.1335 : VA Catastrophically Disabled Copay. To amend title 38, United States Code, to prohibit the Secretary of Veterans Affairs from collecting certain copayments from veterans who are catastrophically disabled.

Sponsor: Rep Halvorson, Deborah L. [IL-11] (introduced 3/5/2009) Cosponsors (39)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/9/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee (Amended) by Voice Vote.

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H.R.1336 : Veterans Education Improvement Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to make certain improvements in the basic educational assistance program administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie [SD] (introduced 3/5/2009) Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1377 : VA Emergency Treatment Reimbursement to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand veteran eligibility for reimbursement by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for emergency treatment furnished in a non-Department facility, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 3/6/2009) Cosponsors (2) Companion Bill S.404.

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/31/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=13048301&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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H.R.1388 : Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education (GIVE) Act to reauthorize and reform the national service laws. Passed 321-105 and placed on the Senate calendar.

Sponsor: Rep McCarthy, Carolyn [NY-4] (introduced 3/9/2009) Cosponsors (37) Related Bills: H.RES.250, H.RES.296, S.277

Committees: House Education and Labor,

House Reports: 111-37

Latest Major Action: Became Public Law No: 111-13

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H.R.1401 : VET Corps Act of 2009 to create a service corps of veterans called Veterans Engaged for Tomorrow (VET) Corps focused on promoting and improving the service opportunities for veterans and retired members of the military by engaging such veterans and retired members in projects designed to meet identifiable public needs with a specific emphasis on projects to support veterans, including disabled and older veterans and retired members of the military.

Sponsor: Rep Sarbanes, John P. [MD-3] (introduced 3/9/2009) Cosponsors (14)

Committees: House Education and Labor

Latest Major Action: 4/29/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Healthy Families and Communities.

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H.R.1416 : Southern New Jersey Veterans Comprehensive Health Care Act to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to expand the capability of the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide for the medical-care needs of veterans in southern New Jersey.

Sponsor: Rep LoBiondo, Frank A. [NJ-2] (introduced 3/10/2009) Cosponsors (3)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/13/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.1428 : VA Parkinson’s Disease Compensation. To amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide wartime disability compensation for certain veterans with Parkinson’s disease.

Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 3/11/2009) Cosponsors (78)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/13/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12986021&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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H.R.1474 : Servicemembers Access to Justice Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the enforcement of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, and for other purposes. Companion Bill S.263.

Sponsor: Rep Davis, Artur [AL-7] (introduced 3/12/2009) Cosponsors (28)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Armed Services; House Oversight and Government Reform

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1478 : Carmelo Rodriguez Military Medical Accountability Act of 2009 to amend chapter 171 of title 28, United States Code, to allow members of the Armed Forces to sue the United States for damages for certain injuries caused by improper medical care, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Hinchey, Maurice D. [NY-22] (introduced 3/12/2009) Cosponsors (9)

Committees: House Judiciary

Latest Major Action: 5/19/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee (Amended).

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H.R.1496 : Child Health Care Affordability Act to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow individuals a credit against income tax for medical expenses for dependents.

Sponsor: Rep Paul, Ron [TX-14] (introduced 3/12/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 3/12/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.1513 : Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2009 to increase, effective as of December 1, 2009, the rates of disability compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for survivors of certain service-connected disabled veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Kirkpatrick, Ann [AZ-1] (introduced 3/16/2009) Cosponsors (10) Related bill S.407

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/31/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=13048376&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

________________________________________

H.R.1519 : Social Security Benefits Tax Relief Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the 1993 income tax increase on Social Security benefits.

Sponsor: Rep Johnson, Sam [TX-3] (introduced 3/16/2009) Cosponsors (7)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 3/16/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.1522 : United States Cadet Nurse Corps Equity Act to provide that service of the members of the organization known as the United States Cadet Nurse Corps during World War II constituted active military service for purposes of laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Sponsor: Rep Lowey, Nita M. [NY-18] (introduced 3/16/2009) Cosponsors (17)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 5/22/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.1532 : CMOH Statute of Limitations Elimination. To amend title 10, United States Code, to eliminate the statute of limitations on the award of the congressional medal of honor.

Sponsor: Rep Sestak, Joe [PA-7] (introduced 3/16/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1544 : Veterans Mental Health Accessibility Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for unlimited eligibility for health care for mental illnesses for veterans of combat service during certain periods of hostilities and war.

Sponsor: Rep Driehaus, Steve [OH-1] (introduced 3/17/2009) Cosponsors (7)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/17/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.1546 : Caring for Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish the Committee on Care of Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury.

Sponsor: Rep McNerney, Jerry [CA-11] (introduced 3/17/2009) Cosponsors (7)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/9/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee by Voice Vote .

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H.R.1592 : Pay Increase Guarantee. To amend title 37, United States Code, to guarantee a pay increase for members of the uniformed services for fiscal years 2011 through 2014 of one-half of one percentage point higher than the Employment Cost Index.

Sponsor: Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] (introduced 3/18/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/?bill=13002241

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H.R.1600 : TRICARE Autism Care. To amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for the treatment of autism under TRICARE.

Sponsor: Rep Sestak, Joe [PA-7] (introduced 3/18/2009) Cosponsors (22)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1647 : Veterans’ Employment Transition Support Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow employers a credit against income tax for hiring veterans.

Sponsor: Rep McCotter, Thaddeus G. [MI-11] (introduced 3/19/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 3/19/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.1657 : Notification of Exposure to Harmful Material/Contaminants. To direct the Secretary of Defense to notify members of the Armed Forces and State military departments of exposure to potentially harmful materials and contaminants.

Sponsor: Rep Schrader, Kurt [OR-5] (introduced 3/19/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1658 : Veterans Healthcare Commitment Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to prohibit the recovery by the United States of charges from a third party for hospital care or medical services furnished to a veteran for a service-connected disability.

Sponsor: Rep Tiahrt, Todd [KS-4] (introduced 3/19/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/19/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.1681 : Veterans Transitional Assistance Act of 2009 to improve the coordination between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to better provide care to members and the Armed Forces and veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Boswell, Leonard L. [IA-3] (introduced 3/24/2009) Cosponsors (15)

Committees: House Armed Services; House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1694 : Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Protection Act to authorize the acquisition and protection of nationally significant battlefields and associated sites of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 under the American Battlefield Protection Program.

Sponsor: Rep Holt, Rush D. [NJ-12] (introduced 3/24/2009) Cosponsors (12) Related Bill S.1168

Committees: House Natural Resources; Senate Energy and Natural Resources

Latest Major Action: 7/15/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee on National Parks held.

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H.R.1695 : Reserve Retired Pay Age Reduction. To amend title 10, United States Code, to reduce the minimum age for receipt of military retired pay for non-regular service from 60 to 55.

Sponsor: Rep LoBiondo, Frank A. [NJ-2] (introduced 3/24/2009) Cosponsors (48)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1701 : PTSD/TBI Guaranteed Review For Heroes Act to amend title 10, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Defense to establish a special review board for certain former members of the Armed Forces with post-traumatic stress disorder or a traumatic brain injury, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Jones, Walter B., Jr. [NC-3] (introduced 3/25/2009) Cosponsors (11)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1708 : Ending the Medicare Disability Waiting Period Act of 2009 to amend title II of the Social Security Act to phase out the 24-month waiting period for disabled individuals to become eligible for Medicare benefits, to eliminate the waiting period for individuals with life-threatening conditions, and for other purposes. Companion Bill S.700.

Sponsor: Rep Green, Gene [TX-29] (introduced 3/25/2009) Cosponsors (97)

Committees: House Ways and Means; House Energy and Commerce; House Transportation and Infrastructure

Latest Major Action: 3/26/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.

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H.R.1712 : Savings for Seniors Act of 2009 to amend title II of the Social Security Act to establish a Social Security Surplus Protection Account in the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund to hold the Social Security surplus, to provide for suspension of investment of amounts held in the Account until enactment of legislation providing for investment of the Trust Fund in investment vehicles other than obligations of the United States, and to establish a Social Security Investment Commission to make recommendations for alternative forms of investment of the Social Security surplus in the Trust Fund.

Sponsor: Rep Blackburn, Marsha [TN-7] (introduced 3/25/2009) Cosponsors (20)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 3/25/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.1716 : Property Tax Relief Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow the deduction for real property taxes on the principal residences to all individuals whether or not they itemize other deductions.

Sponsor: Rep Hill, Baron P. [IN-9] (introduced 3/25/2009) Cosponsors (12)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 3/25/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.1767 : Fair Housing Tax Credit Extension Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to make the first-time homebuyer credit retroactive to the beginning of 2008 and to permanently extend the credit.

Sponsor: Rep Paul, Ron [TX-14] (introduced 3/26/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 3/26/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.1804 : Federal Retirement Reform Act of 2009 to amend title 5, United States Code, to make certain modifications in the Thrift Savings Plan, the Civil Service Retirement System, and the Federal Employees’ Retirement System, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Towns, Edolphus [NY-10] (introduced 3/31/2009) Cosponsors (4) Related Bill H.R.108

Committees: House Oversight and Government Reform; House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/2/2009 Pursuant to the provisions of H. Res. 307 , H.R. 1804 is laid on the table.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=13048556&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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H.R.1809 : TRICARE Prime Geographic Expansion. To amend title 10, United States Code, to expand the geographical coverage of TRICARE Prime to include Puerto Rico and Guam.

Sponsor: Rep Pierluisi, Pedro R. [PR] (introduced 3/31/2009) Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1818 : Disabled Veterans Commissary and Exchange Store Benefits Act to amend title 10, United States Code, to extend military commissary and exchange store privileges to veterans with a compensable service-connected disability and to their dependents.

Sponsor: Rep Burton, Dan [IN-5] (introduced 3/31/2009) Cosponsors (11)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1849 : World War I Memorial and Centennial Act of 2009 to designate the Liberty Memorial at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, as the National World War I Memorial, to establish the World War I centennial commission to ensure a suitable observance of the centennial of World War I, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Cleaver, Emanuel [MO-5] (introduced 4/1/2009) Cosponsors (51) Related Bill S.760

Committees: House Oversight and Government Reform; House Natural Resources

Latest Major Action: 6/26/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Post Office, and the District of Columbia.

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H.R.1851 : DOL Transitional Services. To amend title 10, United States Code, to require that certain members of the Armed Forces receive employment assistance, job training assistance, and other transitional services provided by the Secretary of Labor before separating from active duty service.

Sponsor: Rep Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie [SD] (introduced 4/1/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1872 : Secure Electronic Military Separation Act to require the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, to develop and implement a secure electronic method of forwarding the Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD Form 214) to the appropriate office of the Department of Veterans Affairs for the State or other locality in which a member of the Armed Forces will first reside after the discharge or release of the member from active duty.

Sponsor: Rep Space, Zachary T. [OH-18] (introduced 4/2/2009) Cosponsors (14)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1879 : National Guard Employment Protection Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for employment and reemployment rights for certain individuals ordered to full-time National Guard duty.

Sponsor: Rep Coffman, Mike [CO-6] (introduced 4/2/2009) Cosponsors (4)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/22/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via www.ngaus.org/content.asp?bid=1805

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H.R.1902 : Providing Real Outreach for Veterans Act of 2009 to provide veterans with individualized notice about available benefits, to streamline application processes for the benefits, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Brown-Waite, Ginny [FL-5] (introduced 4/2/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1919 : Federal Withholding Tax Repeal Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the withholding of income and social security taxes.

Sponsor: Rep Foxx, Virginia [NC-5] (introduced 4/2/2009) Cosponsors (12)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 4/2/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.1963 : Military Separation Transitional Services. To amend title 10, United States Code, to ensure that members of the Armed Forces who are being separated from active duty receive comprehensive employment assistance, job training assistance, and other transitional services, to require that such members receive a psychological evaluation in addition to the physical examination they receive as part of their separation from active duty, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Rangel, Charles B. [NY-15] (introduced 4/2/2009) Cosponsors (10)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.1982 : Veterans Entitlement to Service (VETS) Act of 2009 to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to acknowledge the receipt of medical, disability, and pension claims and other communications submitted by veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Kilpatrick, Carolyn C. [MI-13] (introduced 4/21/2009) Cosponsors (9)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/22/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.1994 : Citizen Soldier Equality Act of 2009 to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide equity between active and reserve component members of the Armed Forces in the computation of disability retired pay for members wounded in action.

Sponsor: Rep Davis, Geoff [KY-4] (introduced 4/21/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Armed Services.

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H.R.2014 : WASP Gold Medal Award. To award a congressional gold medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (“WASP”).

Sponsor: Rep Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana [FL-18] (introduced 4/21/2009) Cosponsors (335) Companion Bill S.614

Committees: House Financial Services; House Administration

Latest Major Action: 4/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Financial Services, and in addition to the Committee on House Administration, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.2017 : MOAA Federal Charter. To amend title 36, United States Code, to grant a Federal charter to the Military Officers Association of America, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Van Hollen, Chris [MD-8] (introduced 4/21/2009) Cosponsors (134) Companion Bill S.832 Related Bill S.1449

Committees: House Judiciary

Latest Major Action: 5/26/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law.

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H.R.2059 : SBP Disabled Child Trust. To amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for the payment of monthly annuities under the Survivor Benefit Plan to a supplemental or special needs trust established for the sole benefit of a disabled dependent child of a participant in the Survivor Benefit Plan.

Sponsor: Rep Foster, Bill [IL-14] (introduced 4/23/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 5/15/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.2127 : Veterans Travel Equity Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to eliminate the income eligibility and service-connected disability rating requirements for the veterans beneficiary travel program administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Sponsor: Rep Souder, Mark E. [IN-3] (introduced 4/27/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/1/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.2138 : Services, Education, and Rehabilitation for Veterans Act to provide grants to establish veteran’s treatment courts.

Sponsor: Rep Kennedy, Patrick J. [RI-1] (introduced 4/28/2009) Cosponsors (17) Related Bill S.902

Committees: House Judiciary

Latest Major Action: 5/26/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy.

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H.R.2180 : Disabled Vet Housing Loan Fee Waiver. To amend title 38, United States Code, to waive housing loan fees for certain veterans with service-connected disabilities called to active service.

Sponsor: Rep Teague, Harry [NM-2] (introduced 4/29/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

House Reports: 111-163

Latest Major Action: 6/18/2009 Placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 81.

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H.R.2243 : Surviving Spouses Benefit Improvement Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for an increase in the amount of monthly dependency and indemnity compensation payable to surviving spouses by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Sponsor: Rep Buyer, Steve [IN-4] (introduced 5/5/2009) Cosponsors (68)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/8/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=13303636&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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H.R.2244 : Single Parent Protection Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow an individual who is entitled to receive child support a refundable credit equal to the amount of unpaid child support and to increase the tax liability of the individual required to pay such support by the amount of the unpaid child support.

Sponsor: Rep Lofgren, Zoe [CA-16] (introduced 5/5/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 5/5/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.2254 : The Agent Orange Equity Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify presumptions relating to the exposure of certain veterans who served in the vicinity of the Republic of Vietnam.

Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 5/5/2009) Cosponsors (165)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/8/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=13301656&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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H.R.2257 : Veterans Outreach Improvement Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the outreach activities of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Johnson, Eddie Bernice [TX-30] (introduced 5/5/2009) Cosponsors (None) – Related Bill S.315

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/5/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.2263 : Disability Equity Act to amend title II of the Social Security Act to eliminate the waiting periods for people with disabilities for entitlement to disability benefits and Medicare, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Sutton, Betty [OH-13] (introduced 5/5/2009) Cosponsors (4)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 5/5/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.2270 : Benefits for Qualified World War II Veterans Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the establishment of a compensation fund to make payments to qualified World War II veterans on the basis of certain qualifying service.

Sponsor: Rep Buyer, Steve [IN-4] (introduced 5/6/2009) Cosponsors (6)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/3/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee by Voice Vote .

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H.R.2302 : Military Retired Pay Fairness Act of 2009 to amend title 10, United States Code, to limit recoupments of separation pay, special separation benefits, and voluntary separation incentive from members of the Armed Forces subsequently receiving retired or retainer pay.

Sponsor: Rep Shea-Porter, Carol [NH-1] (introduced 5/7/2009) Cosponsors (5) Companion bill S.1008

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 6/8/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

To support this bill and/or contact your legislators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=13682556&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id] or http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=13967481&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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H.R.2342 : Wounded Warrior Project Family Caregiver Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a family caregiver program to furnish support services to family members certified as family caregivers who provide personal care services for certain disabled veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Michaud, Michael H. [ME-2] (introduced 5/11/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/15/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.2365 : Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers Act of 2009 to require the establishment of a Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers to compute cost-of-living increases for Social Security and Medicare benefits under titles II and XVIII of the Social Security Act.

Sponsor: Rep DeFazio, Peter A. [OR-4] (introduced 5/12/2009) Cosponsors (47)

Committees: House Ways and Means; House Energy and Commerce; House Education and Labor

Latest Major Action: 5/12/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, and in addition to the Committees on Energy and Commerce, and Education and Labor, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.2379 : Veterans’ Group Life Insurance Improvement Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide certain veterans an opportunity to increase the amount of Veterans’ Group Life Insurance.

Sponsor: Rep Buyer, Steve [IN-4] (introduced 5/13/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/9/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee by Voice Vote.

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H.R.2389 : Veterans’ Group Life Insurance Improvement Act of 2009 to require the Secretary of Defense to establish registries of members and former members of the Armed Forces exposed in the line of duty to occupational and environmental health chemical hazards, to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide health care to veterans exposed to such hazards, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Hill, Baron P. [IN-9] (introduced 5/13/2009) Cosponsors (11)

Committees: House Armed Services; House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/15/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.2405 : Richard Helm Veterans’ Access to Local Health Care Options and Resources Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide veterans enrolled in the health system of the Department of Veterans Affairs the option of receiving covered health services through facilities other than those of the Department.

Sponsor: Rep Latham, Tom [IA-4] (introduced 5/14/2009) Cosponsors (3)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/15/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.2412 : Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act to exempt children of certain Filipino World War II veterans from the numerical limitations on immigrant visas.

Sponsor: Rep Hirono, Mazie K. [HI-2] (introduced 5/14/2009) Cosponsors (9)

Committees: House Judiciary

Latest Major Action: 5/14/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

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H.R.2419 : Military Personnel War Zone Toxic Exposure Prevention Act to require the Secretary of Defense to establish a medical surveillance system to identify members of the Armed Forces exposed to chemical hazards resulting from the disposal of waste in Iraq and Afghanistan, to prohibit the disposal of waste by the Armed Forces in a manner that would produce dangerous levels of toxins, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Bishop, Timothy H. [NY-1] (introduced 5/14/2009) Cosponsors (23)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 6/8/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Readiness.

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H.R.2429 : Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers Act of 2009 to require the establishment of a Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers to compute cost-of-living increases for Social Security benefits under title II of the Social Security Act.

Sponsor: Rep Gonzalez, Charles A. [TX-20] (introduced 5/14/2009) Cosponsors (15)

Committees: House Ways and Means; House Education and Labor

Latest Major Action: 5/14/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, and in addition to the Committee on Education and Labor, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.2456 : Veterans Education Tuition Support Act of 2009 to amend section 484B of Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide for tuition reimbursement and loan forgiveness to students who withdraw from an institution of higher education to serve in the uniformed services, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Davis, Susan A. [CA-53] (introduced 5/18/2009) Cosponsors (32) Related Bills: H.R.2561, S.1603

Latest Major Action: 5/18/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor.

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H.R.2474 : Veterans Educational Equity Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide that in the case of an individual entitled to educational assistance under the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance program who is enrolled at an institution of higher education in a State in which the public institutions charge only fees in lieu of tuition, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall allow the individual to use all or any portion of the amounts payable for the established charges for the program of education to pay any amount of the individual’s tuition or fees for that program of education.

Sponsor: Rep McKeon, Howard P. “Buck” [CA-25] (introduced 5/19/2009) Cosponsors (48)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/19/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.2486 : Vet Organization Funeral Detail Support. To amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for support of funeral ceremonies for veterans provided by details that consist solely of members of veterans organizations and other organizations, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Gohmert, Louie [TX-1] (introduced 5/19/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 6/8/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.2504 : Homeless Vet VA Appropriation Increase. To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for an increase in the annual amount authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out comprehensive service programs for homeless veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Teague, Harry [NM-2] (introduced 5/19/2009) Cosponsors (3)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/19/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.2505 : Reaching Rural Veterans through Telehealth Act to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot program to utilize tele-health platforms to assist in the treatment of veterans living in rural areas who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury.

Sponsor: Rep Teague, Harry [NM-2] (introduced 5/19/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/19/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.2506 : Veterans Hearing and Assessment Act to direct the Secretary of Defense to ensure the members of the Armed Forces receive mandatory hearing screenings before and after deployments and to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to mandate that tinnitus be listed as a mandatory condition for treatment by the Department of Veterans Affairs Auditory Centers of Excellence and that research on the preventing, treating, and curing of tinnitus be conducted.

Sponsor: Rep Teague, Harry [NM-2] (introduced 5/19/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 6/8/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.2546 : Right to Display Service Flag. To ensure that the right of an individual to display the Service flag on residential property not be abridged.

Sponsor: Rep Boccieri, John A. [OH-16] (introduced 5/21/2009) Cosponsors (11)

Committees: House Financial Services

Latest Major Action: 5/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services.

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H.R.2553 : Atomic Veterans Service Medal Act to authorize the award of a military service medal to members of the Armed Forces who were exposed to ionizing radiation as a result of participation in the testing of nuclear weapons or under other circumstances.

Sponsor: Rep Tiahrt, Todd [KS-4] (introduced 5/21/2009) Cosponsors (12) Related bill S.1128

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 6/8/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.2559 : Help Our Homeless Veterans Act to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a national media campaign directed at homeless veterans and veterans at risk for becoming homeless.

Sponsor: Rep Hare, Phil [IL-17] (introduced 5/21/2009) Cosponsors (11)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.2561 : Help Student Soldiers Act to amend section 484B of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to forgive certain loans for servicemembers who withdraw from an institution of higher education as a result of service in the uniformed services, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Kind, Ron [WI-3] (introduced 5/21/2009) Cosponsors (20) Related Bills: H.R.2456, S.1603

Latest Major Action: 5/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor.

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H.R.2573 : Atomic Veterans Relief Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to revise the eligibility criteria for presumption of service-connection of certain diseases and disabilities for veterans exposed to ionizing radiation during military service, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Abercrombie, Neil [HI-1] (introduced 5/21/2009) Cosponsors (12)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.2583 : Women Veterans Access to Care Act to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to improve health care for women veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Boswell, Leonard L. [IA-3] (introduced 5/21/2009) Cosponsors (8)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.2585 : Protecting the Retirement of Our Troops by Ensuring Compensation is Timely Act to delay any presumption of death in connection with the kidnapping in Iraq or Afghanistan of a retired member of the Armed Forces to ensure the continued payment of the member’s retired pay.

Sponsor: Rep Broun, Paul C. [GA-10] (introduced 5/21/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 6/8/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.2586 : Honor Guard 13-fold Flag Recitation Option. To prohibit the Secretary of Veterans Affairs from authorizing honor guards to participate in funerals of veterans interred in national cemeteries unless the honor guards may offer veterans’ families the option of having the honor guard perform a 13-fold flag recitation, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Broun, Paul C. [GA-10] (introduced 5/21/2009) Cosponsors (46)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.2594 : Dependent State Plot VA Allowance. To amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide a plot allowance for spouses and children of certain veterans who are buried in State cemeteries.

Sponsor: Rep Garrett, Scott [NJ-5] (introduced 5/21/2009) Cosponsors (46)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.2598 : Bataan/Corregidor/Luzon Gold Medal. To grant a congressional gold medal to American military personnel who fought in defense of Bataan/Corregidor/Luzon between December 7, 1941 and May 6, 1942.

Sponsor: Rep Heinrich, Martin [NM-1] (introduced 5/21/2009) Cosponsors (21)

Committees: House Financial Services; House Administration

Latest Major Action: 5/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Financial Services, and in addition to the Committee on House Administration, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.2621 : Travel Expense Reimbursement Time Requirement. To amend title 10, United States Code, to use a time requirement for determining eligibility for the reimbursement of certain travel expenses.

Sponsor: Rep McCarthy, Kevin [CA-22] (introduced 5/21/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 6/8/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.2638 : Veterans Stamp to Honor American Veterans Act to provide for the issuance of a veterans health care stamp.

Sponsor: Rep Shuler, Heath [NC-11] (introduced 5/21/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Oversight and Government Reform; House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and in addition to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.2642 : Veterans Missing in America Act of 2009 to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to assist in the identification of unclaimed and abandoned human remains to determine if any such remains are eligible for burial in a national cemetery, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Tiberi, Patrick J. [OH-12] (introduced 5/21/2009) Cosponsors (5)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/21/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.2647 : National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2010 for military activities of the Department of Defense, to prescribe military personnel strengths for fiscal year 2010, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Skelton, Ike [MO-4] (by request) (introduced 6/2/2009) Cosponsors (1) Related Bill H.R.2990

Committees: House Armed Services

House Reports: 111-166, 111-166 Part 2

Latest Major Action: 10/8/2009 Conference report agreed to in House. Status: On agreeing to the conference report Agreed to by recorded vote: 281 – 146 (Roll no. 770).

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H.R.2672 : Help Veterans Own Franchises Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow credits for the establishment of franchises with veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Schock, Aaron [IL-18] (introduced 6/3/2009) Cosponsors (13)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 6/3/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.2673 : Surviving Spouse Pension Upgrade. To amend title 38, United States Code, to match the pension amount paid to surviving spouses of veterans who served during a period of war to the pension amount paid to such veterans.

Sponsor: Rep DeFazio, Peter A. [OR-4] (introduced 6/3/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/5/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

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H.R.2683 : To establish the American Veterans Congressional Internship Program.

Sponsor: Rep Holt, Rush D. [NJ-12] (introduced 6/3/2009) Cosponsors (3)

Committees: House Administration

Latest Major Action: 6/3/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on House Administration.

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H.R.2689 : D-Day Memorial. To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to study the suitability and feasibility of designating the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, as a unit of the National Park System.

Sponsor: Rep Perriello, Thomas S.P. [VA-5] (introduced 6/3/2009) Cosponsors (7) Related bill S.1207

Committees: House Natural Resources

Latest Major Action: 10/1/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.2696 : Servicemembers’ Rights Protection Act to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to provide for the enforcement of rights afforded under that Act.

Sponsor: Rep Miller, Brad [NC-13] (introduced 6/4/2009) Cosponsors (4)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/8/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee (Amended) by Voice Vote .

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H.R.2698 : Veterans’ and Survivors’ Behavioral Health Awareness Act to improve and enhance the mental health care benefits available to veterans, to enhance counseling and other benefits available to survivors of veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Giffords, Gabrielle [AZ-8] (introduced 6/4/2009) Cosponsors (14)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/5/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.2699 : Armed Forces Behavioral Health Awareness Act to improve the mental health care benefits available to members of the Armed Forces, to enhance counseling available to family members of members of the Armed Forces, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Giffords, Gabrielle [AZ-8] (introduced 6/4/2009) Cosponsors (15)

Committees: House Armed Services; House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/24/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.2713 : Disabled Veterans Life Insurance Enhancement Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to make certain improvements in the service disabled veterans’ insurance program of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Sponsor: Rep Donnelly, Joe [IN-2] (introduced 6/4/2009) Cosponsors (12)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/24/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.2734 : Health Care for Family Caregivers Act of 2009 to amend section 1781 of title 38, United States Code, to provide medical care to family members of disabled veterans who serve as caregivers to such veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Perriello, Thomas S.P. [VA-5] (introduced 6/4/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/18/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.2735 : Homeless Vet Service Program Improvements. To amend title 38, United States Code, to make certain improvements to the comprehensive service programs for homeless veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Rodriguez, Ciro D. [TX-23] (introduced 6/4/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/1/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.2738 : Family Caregiver Travel Expense Compensation. To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide travel expenses for family caregivers accompanying veterans to medical treatment facilities.

Sponsor: Rep Teague, Harry [NM-2] (introduced 6/4/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/18/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.2756 : Veterans Home Loan Refinance Opportunity Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow eligible veterans to use qualified veterans mortgage bonds to refinance home loans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Davis, Susan A. [CA-53] (introduced 6/8/2009) Cosponsors (15)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 6/8/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.2771 : Military Overpayment Fairness Act of 2009 to amend titles 10 and 37, United States Code, to provide a more equitable process by which the military departments may recover overpayments of military pay and allowances erroneously paid to a member of the Armed Forces when the overpayment is due to no fault of the member, to expand Department discretion regarding remission or cancellation of indebtedness, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Shea-Porter, Carol [NH-1] (introduced 6/9/2009) Cosponsors (6)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 6/24/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.2774 : Families of Veterans Financial Security Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to make permanent the extension of the duration of Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance coverage for totally disabled veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Halvorson, Deborah L. [IL-11] (introduced 6/9/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/9/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee by Voice Vote.

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H.R.2788 : Distinguished Flying Cross National Memorial Act to designate a Distinguished Flying Cross National Memorial at the March Field Air Museum in Riverside, California.

Sponsor: Rep Calvert, Ken [CA-44] (introduced 6/10/2009) Cosponsors (20)

Committees: House Natural Resources

Latest Major Action: 6/12/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.

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H.R.2830 : Providing Access to Healthcare (PATH) for Veterans Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to give priority to unemployed veterans in furnishing hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care to certain veterans assigned to priority level 8.

Sponsor: Rep Courtney, Joe [CT-2] (introduced 6/11/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/12/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.2836 : National Guard and Reservist Suicide Prevention and Community Response Act to amend the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 to improve and expand suicide prevention and community healing and response training under the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program.

Sponsor: Rep Hodes, Paul W. [NH-2] (introduced 6/11/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Latest Major Action: 6/24/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.2879 : Rural Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve health care for veterans who live in rural areas, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Kirkpatrick, Ann [AZ-1] (introduced 6/15/2009) Cosponsors (5)

Latest Major Action: 6/19/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.2898 : Wounded Warrior Caregiver Assistance Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide support services for family caregivers of disabled veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Halvorson, Deborah L. [IL-11] (introduced 6/16/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Latest Major Action: 6/19/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.2926 : VA Special Care for Vietnam-era & Persian Gulf War Vets Exposed to Herbicides. To amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide, without expiration, hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care for certain Vietnam-era veterans exposed to herbicide and veterans of the Persian Gulf War.

Sponsor: Rep Nye, Glenn C., III [VA-2] (introduced 6/17/2009) Cosponsors (5)

Latest Major Action: 7/9/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee (Amended) by Voice Vote.

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H.R.2928: Post-9/11 GI Bill Apprenticeship/OJT Program. To amend title 38, United State Code, to provide for an apprenticeship and on-job training program under the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Program.

Sponsor: Rep Perriello, Thomas S.P. [VA-5] (introduced 6/17/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Latest Major Action: 9/24/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.2965 : Enhancing Small Business Research and Innovation Act of 2009 to amend the Small Business Act with respect to the Small Business Innovation Research Program and the Small Business Technology Transfer Program, and for other purposes.: Amended with H.AMDT.291 by Rep. David Reichert, D-WA to give preference to organizations that are located in under represented states and regions, or are women-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned, or minority-owned when awarding grants for Small Business Administration (SBA) outreach efforts authorized under Title III (rural development and outreach).

Sponsor: Rep Altmire, Jason [PA-4] (introduced 6/19/2009) Cosponsors (9)

Committees: House Small Business; House Science and Technology

House Reports: 111-190 Part 1, 111-190 Part 2

Latest Major Action: 7/13/2009 Passed/agreed to in Senate. Status: Passed Senate in lieu of S. 1233 with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

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H.R.2968 : SGLI/VGLI Accelerated Death Benefit. To amend title 38, United States Code, to eliminate the required reduction in the amount of the accelerated death benefit payable to certain terminally-ill persons insured under Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance or Veterans’ Group Life Insurance.

Sponsor: Rep Kirkpatrick, Ann [AZ-1] (introduced 6/19/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Latest Major Action: 7/9/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee by Voice Vote .

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H.R.2970 : Federal Law Enforcement Officer Vet Age Limit. To amend title 5, United States Code, to increase the maximum age limit for an original appointment to a position as a Federal law enforcement officer in the case of any individual who has been discharged or released from active duty in the Armed Forces under honorable conditions, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Bishop, Rob [UT-1] (introduced 6/19/2009) Cosponsors (2)

Latest Major Action: 6/19/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

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H.R.2974 : Disabled Vet Health Savings Account Eligibility. To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow individuals eligible for veterans health benefits to contribute to health savings accounts.

Sponsor: Rep Campbell, John [CA-48] (introduced 6/19/2009) Cosponsors (4)

Latest Major Action: 6/19/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.2980 : Survivor Benefit Time Limit for 100% Disabled Vets. To amend title 38, United States Code, to reduce the period of time for which a veteran must be totally disabled before the veteran’s survivors are eligible for the benefits provided by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for survivors of certain veterans rated totally disabled at time of death.

Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 6/19/2009) Cosponsors (2)

Latest Major Action: 6/26/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

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H.R.2990 : Disabled Military Retiree Relief Act of 2009 to provide special pays and allowances to certain members of the Armed Forces, expand concurrent receipt of military retirement and VA disability benefits to disabled military retirees, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Skelton, Ike [MO-4] (introduced 6/23/2009) Cosponsors (25) Related Bill H.R.2647

Committees: House Armed Services; House Oversight and Government Reform; House Natural Resources; House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/25/2009 Pursuant to the provisions of H. Res. 572 , H.R. 2990 is laid on the table.

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H.R.3067 : Health Security for All Americans Act of 2009 to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to reform Medicare payments to physicians and certain other providers and improve Medicare benefits, to encourage the offering of health coverage by small businesses, to provide tax incentives for the purchase of health insurance by individuals, to increase access to health care for veterans, to address the nursing shortage, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Latham, Tom [IA-4] (introduced 6/26/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Energy and Commerce; House Education and Labor; House Ways and Means; House Veterans’ Affairs; House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 8/3/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

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H.R.3073 : Pending Vet Homeless Grant Program. To amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs establish a grant program to provide assistance to veterans who are at risk of becoming homeless.

Sponsor: Rep Nye, Glenn C., III [VA-2] (introduced 6/26/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/1/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.3087 : Establish VA Claim Decision Deadlines. To amend title 38, United States Code, to establish a deadline for decisions with respect to claims for benefits under laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Butterfield, G. K. [NC-1] (introduced 6/26/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/10/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

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H.R.3155 : Caregiver Assistance and Resource Enhancement Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide certain caregivers of veterans with training, support, and medical care, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Michaud, Michael H. [ME-2] (introduced 7/9/2009) Cosponsors (9)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/28/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.3199 : Emergency Medic Transition (EMT) Act of 2009 to amend the Public Health Service Act to provide grants to State emergency medical service departments to provide for the expedited training and licensing of veterans with prior medical training, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Harman, Jane [CA-36] (introduced 7/14/2009) Cosponsors (3)

Committees: House Energy and Commerce

Latest Major Action: 7/14/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

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H.R.3200 : America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 to provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans and reduce the growth in health care spending, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Dingell, John D. [MI-15] (introduced 7/14/2009) Cosponsors (8)

Committees: House Energy and Commerce; House Ways and Means; House Education and Labor; House Oversight and Government Reform; House Budget

Latest Major Action: 7/31/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Ordered to be Reported (Amended) by the Yeas and Nays: 31 – 28.

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H.R.3223 : Vet Owned Businesses VA Contracts. To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the Department of Veterans Affairs contracting goals and preferences for small business concerns owned and controlled by veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Buyer, Steve [IN-4] (introduced 7/15/2009) Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/24/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.3266 : Veteran Assistance Dog Grant Program. To establish a grant program to encourage the use of assistance dogs by certain members of the Armed Forces and veterans.

Sponsor: Rep Klein, Ron [FL-22] (introduced 7/20/2009) Cosponsors (18) Related Bill S.1485

Committees: House Armed Services; House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/24/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity.

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H.R.3280 : Rural Vet Transportation Grant Program. To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a grant program to assist veterans in highly rural areas by providing transportation to medical centers.

Sponsor: Rep Rodriguez, Ciro D. [TX-23] (introduced 7/21/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/24/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.3281 : Vet Care Rural Area Demonstration Project. To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out demonstration projects related to providing care for veterans in rural areas.

Sponsor: Rep Rodriguez, Ciro D. [TX-23] (introduced 7/21/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/24/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.3282 : Vet Readjustment and Mental Health Care Services. To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide certain veterans with readjustment and mental health care services, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Rodriguez, Ciro D. [TX-23] (introduced 7/21/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/24/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.3283 : VA Travel Reimbursement for Veterans Annual Review. To amend title 38, United States Code, to allow for reimbursement of certain travel at a set rate, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Rodriguez, Ciro D. [TX-23] (introduced 7/21/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/24/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.3324 : Stable Future for Veterans’ Children Act to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for the payment of monthly annuities under the Survivor Benefit Plan to a supplemental or special needs trust established for the sole benefit of a disabled dependent child of a participant in the Survivor Benefit Plan.

Sponsor: Rep Cantor, Eric [VA-7] (introduced 7/24/2009) Cosponsors (2)

Committees: House Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 7/24/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Armed Services.

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H.R.3337 : Post-9/11 Veterans’ Job Training Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the use of entitlement under Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Program for the pursuit of apprenticeships and on-job training.

Sponsor: Rep DeLauro, Rosa L. [CT-3] (introduced 7/24/2009) Cosponsors (14)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/31/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity.

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H.R.3349 : NAIV Charter. To grant a Federal charter to the National American Indian Veterans, Incorporated.

Sponsor: Rep Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie [SD] (introduced 7/27/2009) Cosponsors (None) Related Bill S.1520

Committees: House Judiciary

Latest Major Action: 7/27/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

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H.R.3365 : Medicare VA Reimbursement Act of 2009 to provide Medicare payments to Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities for items and services provided to Medicare-eligible veterans for non-service-connected conditions.

Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 7/28/2009) Cosponsors (21)

Committees: House Ways and Means; House Energy and Commerce; House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/31/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.3366 : Illegal Garnishment Prevention Act to prohibit the use of funds to promote the direct deposit of Veterans and Social Security benefits until adequate safeguards are established to prevent the attachment and garnishment of such benefits.

Sponsor: Rep Gordon, Bart [TN-6] (introduced 7/28/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Ways and Means; House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/31/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

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H.R.3368 : Honor Act of 2009 to enhance benefits for survivors of certain former members of the Armed Forces with a history of post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury, to enhance availability and access to mental health counseling for members of the Armed Forces and veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Markey, Betsy [CO-4] (introduced 7/28/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs; House Armed Services; House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 7/31/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.3403 : Supporting Military Families Act of 2009 to amend the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 and title 5, United States Code, to provide leave for family members of members of regular components of the Armed Forces, and leave to care for covered veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Woolsey, Lynn C. [CA-6] (introduced 7/30/2009) Cosponsors (4)

Committees: House Education and Labor; House Oversight and Government Reform; House Administration

Latest Major Action: 7/30/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Education and Labor, and in addition to the Committees on Oversight and Government Reform, and House Administration, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.3407 : Severely Injured Veterans Benefit Improvement Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to make certain improvements to laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs relating to benefits for severely injured veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Buyer, Steve [IN-4] (introduced 7/30/2009) Cosponsors (15)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/31/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

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H.R.3441 : Combat Vet VA Enrollment. To provide for automatic enrollment of veterans returning from combat zones into the VA medical system, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Arcuri, Michael A. [NY-24] (introduced 7/31/2009) Cosponsors (9)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/1/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.3467 : Veterans Education Enhancement and Fairness Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for a monthly housing stipend under the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs for individuals pursuing programs of education offered through distance learning, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Carney, Christopher P. [PA-10] (introduced 7/31/2009) Cosponsors (7)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/11/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity.

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H.R.3484 : VA Work Study Authority. To amend title 38, United States Code, to extend the authority for certain qualifying work-study activities for purposes of the educational assistance programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Sponsor: Rep Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie [SD] (introduced 7/31/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/11/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity.

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H.R.3485 : Veterans Pensions Protection Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide that monetary benefits paid to veterans by States and municipalities shall be excluded from consideration as income for purposes of pension benefits paid by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Sponsor: Rep Higgins, Brian [NY-27] (introduced 7/31/2009) Cosponsors (3)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/8/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.3491 : Thomas G. Schubert Agent Orange Fairness Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish a presumption of service connection for certain cancers occurring in veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam and were exposed to certain herbicide agents, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Kagen, Steve [WI-8] (introduced 7/31/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/11/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

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H.R.3507 : VA Survivor Education Rate Increase. To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for an increase in the rates of survivors’ and dependents’ educational assistance payable by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Sponsor: Rep Paulsen, Erik [MN-3] (introduced 7/31/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/11/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

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H.R.3522 : Veterans Hardship Outreach for Priority Eights (HOPE) Act to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide grants and assistance to States to conduct outreach to veterans regarding hardship and priority under the Department of Veterans Affairs patient enrollment system.

Sponsor: Rep Space, Zachary T. [OH-18] (introduced 7/31/2009) Cosponsors (5)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/11/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.3544 : National Cemeteries Expansion Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide guidelines for the establishment of new national cemeteries by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 9/9/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/8/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.3554 : National Guard Education Equality Act to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the inclusion of certain active duty service in the reserve components as qualifying service for purposes of Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Loebsack, David [IA-2] (introduced 9/10/2009) Cosponsors (61)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/24/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.3573 : Call to Service Homebuyer Credit Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to prevent a change in residency as a result of extended official duty in the uniformed services, Foreign Service, or intelligence community from triggering the repayment provisions of the first time homebuyer credit, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Blumenauer, Earl [OR-3] (introduced 9/15/2009) Cosponsors (None) Related bills: H.R.2562

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 9/15/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.3575 : Vet Mortgage Life Insurance Increase. To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for an increase in the maximum amount of veterans’ mortgage life insurance available under laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Sponsor: Rep Perriello, Thomas S.P. [VA-5] (introduced 9/15/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/15/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.3577 : Education Assistance to Realign New Eligibilities for Dependents (EARNED) Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United State Code, to provide authority for certain members of the Armed Forces who have served 20 years on active duty to transfer entitlement to Post-9/11 Educational Assistance to their dependents.

Sponsor: Rep Rodriguez, Ciro D. [TX-23] (introduced 9/15/2009) Cosponsors (3)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/24/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

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H.R.3620 : Hiring Heroes Tax Incentive Act of 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow employers a credit against income tax for employing members of the Ready Reserve and National Guard and veterans recently separated from the Armed Forces.

Sponsor: Rep Alexander, Rodney [LA-5] (introduced 9/22/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 9/22/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.3657 : USPHS & NOAA GI Bill Benefit Transfer. To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for members of the United States Public Health Service and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Corps to transfer unused benefits under Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program to family members, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Rodriguez, Ciro D. [TX-23] (introduced 9/25/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/25/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.3661 : GI Bill Housing Stipend. To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for a monthly housing stipend under the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program for individuals pursuing programs of education offered through distance learning, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Rehberg, Denny [MT] (introduced 9/29/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/29/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.3672 : Social Security COLA Fix for 2010 Act to provide for an increase of $150 in Social Security benefits for one month in 2010 to compensate for the lack of a cost-of-living adjustment for that year, and to amend title II of the Social Security Act to eliminate the requirement that there be a Social Security cost-of-living adjustment for an adjustment in the contribution and benefit base to occur.

Sponsor: Rep McCarthy, Carolyn [NY-4] (introduced 9/29/2009) Cosponsors (8)

Committees: House Ways and Means

Latest Major Action: 9/29/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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H.R.3677: Save Our Seniors’ Social Security Act of 2009 to provide $280 relief payments to recipients of Social Security and railroad retirement benefits, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Granger, Kay [TX-12] (introduced 9/30/2009) Cosponsors (3)

Committees: House Ways and Means; House Transportation and Infrastructure; House Appropriations

Latest Major Action: 9/30/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, and in addition to the Committees on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Appropriations, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

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H.R.3685 : Inclusion of VetSuccess on VA Website. To require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to include on the main page of the Internet website of the Department of Veterans Affairs a hyperlink to the VetSuccess Internet website and to publicize such Internet website.

Sponsor: Rep Stearns, Cliff [FL-6] (introduced 9/30/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/30/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.3719 : Veterans Economic Opportunity Administration Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish in the Department of Veterans Affairs a Veterans Economic Opportunity Administration, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Buyer, Steve [IN-4] (introduced 10/6/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/6/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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H.R.3787 : Treat Certain Reserve Time as Active Duty Time. To amend title 38, United States Code, to deem certain service in the reserve components as active service for purposes of laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Sponsor: Rep Walz, Timothy J. [MN-1] (introduced 10/8/2009) Cosponsors (27)

Committees: House Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/8/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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Senate

S.35 : IRS Sales Tax Permanent Deduction. A bill to provide a permanent deduction for State and local general sales taxes. Companion Bill H.R.369.

Sponsor: Sen Hutchison, Kay Bailey [TX] (introduced 1/6/2009) Cosponsors (7)

Committees: Senate Finance

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

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S.66 : Disabled Vet Space A. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to permit former members of the Armed Forces who have a service-connected disability rated as total to travel on military aircraft in the same manner and to the same extent as retired members of the Armed Forces are entitled to travel on such aircraft.

Sponsor: Sen Inouye, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 1/6/2009) Cosponsors (2)

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

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S.67 : Disabled POW Commissary/Exchange Use. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to authorize certain disabled former prisoners of war to use Department of Defense commissary and exchange stores.

Sponsor: Sen Inouye, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 1/6/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

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S.68 : Filipino Service Certification. A bill to require the Secretary of the Army to determine the validity of the claims of certain Filipinos that they performed military service on behalf of the United States during World War II.

Sponsor: Sen Inouye, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 1/6/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.94 : Long-Term Care Family Accessibility Act. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for a nonrefundable tax credit for long-term care insurance premiums.

Sponsor: Sen Vitter, David [LA] (introduced 1/6/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Finance

Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

Major Action: 1/13/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.239 : Veterans Health Equity Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to ensure that veterans in each of the 48 contiguous States are able to receive services in at least one full-service hospital of the Veterans Health Administration in the State or receive comparable services provided by contract in the State.

Sponsor: Sen Shaheen, Jeanne [NH] (introduced 1/14/2009) Cosponsors (1) Companion Bill H.R.190

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/14/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.246 : Veterans Health Care Quality Improvement Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the quality of care provided to veterans in Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities, to encourage highly qualified doctors to serve in hard-to-fill positions in such medical facilities, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Durbin, Richard [IL] (introduced 1/14/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 1/14/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.252 : Veterans Health Care Authorization Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to enhance the capacity of the Department of Veterans Affairs to recruit and retain nurses and other critical health-care professionals, to improve the provision of health care veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 1/15/2009) Cosponsors (8)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/21/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Ordered to be reported without amendment favorably.

To support this bill and/or contact your Senators send a message via http://capwiz.com/dav/issues/alert/?alertid=14008476&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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S.263 : Servicemembers Access to Justice Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the enforcement of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, and for other purposes. Companion Bill H.R.1474.

Sponsor: Sen Casey, Robert P., Jr. [PA] (introduced 1/15/2009) Cosponsors (3)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/29/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.274 : Veterans Jobs Opportunity Act of 2009. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide an incentive to hire unemployed veterans.

Sponsor: Sen Baucus, Max [MT] (introduced 1/16/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: Senate Finance

Latest Major Action: 1/16/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

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S.296 : Fair Tax Act of 2009. A bill to promote freedom, fairness, and economic opportunity by repealing the income tax and other taxes, abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, and enacting a national sales tax to be administered primarily by the States.

Sponsor: Sen Chambliss, Saxby [GA] (introduced 1/22/2009) Cosponsors (4)

Committees: Senate Finance

Latest Major Action: 1/22/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

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S.307 : Critical Access Hospital Flexibility Act of 2009. A bill to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide flexibility in the manner in which beds are counted for purposes of determining whether a hospital may be designated as a critical access hospital under the Medicare program and to exempt from the critical access hospital inpatient bed limitation the number of beds provided for certain veterans. Companion Bill H.R.668

Sponsor: Sen Wyden, Ron [OR] (introduced 1/22/2009) Cosponsors (15)

Committees: Senate Finance

Latest Major Action: 1/22/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

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S.315 : Veterans Outreach Improvement Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the outreach activities of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes. Companion Bill H.R.32

Sponsor: Sen Feingold, Russell D. [WI] (introduced 1/26/2009) Cosponsors (1) Related Bill H.R.2257

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/29/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.347 : Vet Hand Loss Traumatic Injury Protection. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to allow the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to distinguish between the severity of a qualifying loss of a dominant hand and a qualifying loss of a non-dominant hand for purposes of traumatic injury protection under Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Ensign, John [NV] (introduced 1/29/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/29/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.402 : Keeping Our Promise to America’s Military Veterans Act. A bill to improve the lives of our Nation’s veterans and their families and provide them with the opportunity to achieve the American dream.

Sponsor: Sen Snowe, Olympia J. [ME] (introduced 2/10/2009) Cosponsors (4)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/10/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.404 : Veterans’ Emergency Care Fairness Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand veteran eligibility for reimbursement by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for emergency treatment furnished in a non-Department facility, and for other purposes. Companion Bill H.R.1377.

Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 2/10/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/10/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

To support this bill and/or contact your Senators refer to http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=13048301&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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S.407 : Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2009. A bill to increase, effective as of December 1, 2009, the rates of compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for the survivors of certain disabled veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 2/10/2009) Cosponsors (17) Related bill H.R.1513

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Senate Reports: 111-24

Latest Major Action: Became Public Law No: 111-37 [GPO: Text, PDF]

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S.423 : Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize advance appropriations for certain medical care accounts of the Department of Veterans Affairs by providing two-fiscal year budget authority, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 2/12/2009) Cosponsors (56)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 8/6/2009 Senate floor actions. Status: Returned to the Calendar. Calendar No. 101.

To support this bill and/or contact your Senators send a message http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12703276

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S.491 : Federal and Military Retiree Health Care Equity Act. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow Federal civilian and military retirees to pay health insurance premiums on a pretax basis and to allow a deduction for TRICARE supplemental premiums.

Sponsor: Sen Webb, Jim [VA] (introduced 2/26/2009) Cosponsors (41) Companion Bill H.R.1203

Committees: Senate Finance

Latest Major Action: 2/26/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

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S.498 : Vet Dental Insurance. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize dental insurance for veterans and survivors and dependents of veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Burr, Richard [NC] (introduced 2/26/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 2/26/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.514 : Veterans Rehabilitation and Training Improvements Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to enhance vocational rehabilitation benefits for veterans, and for other purposes. Companion Bill H.R.297.

Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 3/3/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/29/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.535 : SBP DIC Offset Elimination. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to repeal requirement for reduction of survivor annuities under the Survivor Benefit Plan by veterans’ dependency and indemnity compensation, and for other purposes. Companion Bill H.775.

Sponsor: Sen Nelson, Bill [FL] (introduced 3/5/2009) Cosponsors (52)

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 3/5/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

To support this bill and/or contact your Senator send a message via http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/alert/?alertid=12848666&type=CO

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S.543 : Veteran and Servicemember Family Caregiver Support Act of 2009. A bill to require a pilot program on training, certification, and support for family caregivers of seriously disabled veterans and members of the Armed Forces to provide caregiver services to such veterans and members, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Durbin, Richard [IL] (introduced 3/6/2009) Cosponsors (12) Companion Bill H.R.785.

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/6/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.546 : Retired Pay Restoration Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to permit certain retired members of the uniformed services who have a service-connected disability to receive both disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs for their disability and either retired pay by reason of their years of military service of Combat-Related Special Compensation. Companion Bill H.R.811.

Sponsor: Sen Reid, Harry [NV] (introduced 3/9/2009) Cosponsors (42)

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 3/9/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

To support this bill and/or contact your Senators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=12904686&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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S.572 : Purple Heart Forever Stamp. A bill to provide for the issuance of a “forever stamp” to honor the sacrifices of the brave men and women of the armed forces who have been awarded the Purple Heart. Companion Bill H.R.1305.

Sponsor: Sen Webb, Jim [VA] (introduced 3/11/2009) Cosponsors (16)

Committees: Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/23/2009 Referred to Senate subcommittee. Status: Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs referred to Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security.

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S.597 : Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand and improve health care services available to women veterans, especially those serving in operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes. Companion Bill H.R.1211

Sponsor: Sen Murray, Patty [WA] (introduced 3/16/2009) Cosponsors (20)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/16/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.606 : Veterans Corps Program. A bill to amend the National and Community Service Act of 1990 to establish a Veterans Corps program.

Sponsor: Sen Warner, Mark R. [VA] (introduced 3/17/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

Latest Major Action: 3/17/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

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S.614 : WASP Gold Medal Award. A bill to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (“WASP”).

Sponsor: Sen Hutchison, Kay Bailey [TX] (introduced 3/17/2009) Cosponsors (75) Companion Bill H.R.2014

Committees: Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

Latest Major Action: Became Public Law No: 111-40 [GPO: Text, PDF]

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S.642 : Health Care for Members of the Armed Forces Exposed to Chemical Hazards Act of 2009. A bill to require the Secretary of Defense to establish registries of members and former members of the Armed Forces exposed in the line of duty to occupational and environmental health chemical hazards, to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide health care to veterans exposed to such hazards, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Bayh, Evan [IN] (introduced 3/19/2009) Cosponsors (7)

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 3/19/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

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S.644 : National Guard and Reserve Retired Pay Equity Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to include service after September 11, 2001, as service qualifying for the determination of a reduced eligibility age for receipt of non-regular service retired pay.

Sponsor: Sen Chambliss, Saxby [GA] (introduced 3/19/2009) Cosponsors (13) Companion Bill H.R.208 Related Bill S.831

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 3/19/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

To support this bill and/or contact your Senators send a message via http://capwiz.com/ncoausa/issues/alert/?alertid=12995086&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id] or http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/?bill=12960556

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S.658 : Rural Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve health care for veterans who live in rural areas, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Tester, Jon [MT] (introduced 3/19/2009) Cosponsors (8)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/19/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.663 : Belated Thank You to the Merchant Mariners of World War II Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish the Merchant Mariner Equity Compensation Fund to provide benefits to certain individuals who served in the United States merchant marine (including the Army Transport Service and the Naval Transport Service) during World War II.

Sponsor: Sen Nelson, E. Benjamin [NE] (introduced 3/19/2009) Cosponsors (42)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/29/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.669 : Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify the conditions under which certain persons may be treated as adjudicated mentally incompetent for certain purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Burr, Richard [NC] (introduced 3/23/2009) Cosponsors (17)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/16/2009 Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 78.

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S.691 : Colorado National Cemetery for Veterans. A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a national cemetery for veterans in southern Colorado region, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Bennet, Michael F. [CO] (introduced 3/25/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/29/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.699 : South Texas Veterans’ Hospital. A bill to provide for the construction by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs of a full service hospital in Far South Texas.

Sponsor: Sen Cornyn, John [TX] (introduced 3/25/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/25/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

________________________________________

S.700 : Ending the Medicare Disability Waiting Period Act of 2009. A bill to amend title II of the Social Security Act to phase out the 24-month waiting period for disabled individuals to become eligible for Medicare benefits, to eliminate the waiting period for individuals with life-threatening conditions, and for other purposes. Companion Bill H.R.1708.

Sponsor: Sen Bingaman, Jeff [NM] (introduced 3/25/2009) Cosponsors (18)

Committees: Senate Finance

Latest Major Action: 3/25/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

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S.728 : Veterans’ Insurance and Benefits Enhancement Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to enhance veterans’ insurance benefits, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 3/26/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/7/2009 Senate floor actions. Status: Returned to the Calendar. Calendar No. 155.

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S.731 : TRICARE Coverage For “Gray Area” Reservists. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for continuity of TRICARE Standard coverage for certain members of the Retired Reserve. Companion Bill H.R.270

Sponsor: Sen Nelson, E. Benjamin [NE] (introduced 3/26/2009) Cosponsors (23)

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 3/26/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services. ‘

To support this bill and/or contact your Senators send a message via http://www.ngaus.org/content.asp?bid=1805&False&False

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S.734 : Rural Veterans Health Care Access and Quality Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the capacity of the Department of Veterans Affairs to recruit and retain physicians in Health Professional Shortage Areas and to improve the provision of health care to veterans in rural areas, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 3/30/2009) Cosponsors (2)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 3/30/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.746 : Nebraska National Cemetery. A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a national cemetery in the Sarpy County region to serve veterans in eastern Nebraska, western Iowa, and northwest Missouri.

Sponsor: Sen Nelson, E. Benjamin [NE] (introduced 3/31/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/29/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.760 : National World War I Memorial. A bill to designate the Liberty Memorial at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, as the “National World War I Memorial”.

Sponsor: Sen McCaskill, Claire [MO] (introduced 4/1/2009) Cosponsors (1) Related Bill H.R.1849

Committees: Senate Energy and Natural Resources

Latest Major Action: 4/1/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

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S.768 : Bataan Gold Medal Initiative. A bill to grant the Congressional Gold Medal to the soldiers from the United States who were prisoners of war at Bataan during World War II.

Sponsor: Sen Udall, Tom [NM] (introduced 4/1/2009) Cosponsors (7)

Committees: Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/1/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

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S.772 : Honor Act of 2009. A bill to enhance benefits for survivors of certain former members of the Armed Forces with a history of post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury, to enhance availability and access to mental health counseling for members of the Armed Forces and veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Bond, Christopher S. [MO] (introduced 4/1/2009) Cosponsors (12)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/1/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.793 : Department of Veterans Affairs Vision Scholars Act of 2009. A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a scholarship program for students seeking a degree or certificate in the areas of visual impairment and orientation and mobility.

Sponsor: Sen Brown, Sherrod [OH] (introduced 4/2/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/2/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.801 : Family Caregiver Program Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to waive charges for humanitarian care provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs to family members accompanying veterans severely injured after September 11, 2001, as they receive medical care from the Department and to provide assistance to family caregivers, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 4/2/2009) Cosponsors (24)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/25/2009 Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 167.

To support this bill and/or contact your Senators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=13104956&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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S.820 : Veterans Mobility Enhancement Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to enhance the automobile assistance allowance for veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Sanders, Bernard [VT] (introduced 4/2/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/29/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.821 : VA Copay Collection Prohibition. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to prohibit the Secretary of Veterans Affairs from collecting certain copayments from veterans who are catastrophically disabled, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Sanders, Bernard [VT] (introduced 4/2/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/2/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read the second time and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.831 : National Guard and Reserve Retired Pay Equity Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to include service after September 11, 2001, as service qualifying for the determination of a reduced eligibility age for receipt of non-regular service retired pay.

Sponsor: Sen Kerry, John F. [MA] (introduced 4/20/2009) Cosponsors (24) Related Bill S.644

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/20/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

To support this bill and/or contact your Senators send a message via www.ngaus.org/content.asp?bid=1805

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S.832 : MOAA Federal Charter. A bill to amend title 36, United States Code, to grant a Federal charter to the Military Officers Association of America, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Nelson, Bill [FL] (introduced 4/20/2009) Cosponsors (41) Companion Bill H.R.2017 Related Bill S.1449

Committees: Senate Judiciary

Latest Major Action: 4/20/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

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S.842 : VA Home Loan Payoff to Mortgagers. A bill to repeal the sunset of certain enhancements of protections of servicemembers relating to mortgages and mortgage foreclosures, to amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to pay mortgage holders unpaid balances on housing loans guaranteed by Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Kerry, John F. [MA] (introduced 4/21/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/21/2009 4/29/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.847 : SBP Education Assistance Limitation Exclusion. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide that utilization of survivors’ and dependents’ educational assistance shall not be subject to the 48-month limitation on the aggregate amount of assistance utilizable under multiple veterans and related educational assistance programs.

Sponsor: Sen Webb, Jim [VA] (introduced 4/21/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/29/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Hearings held.

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S.883 : Medal of Honor Coin. A bill to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in recognition and celebration of the establishment of the Medal of Honor in 1861, America’s highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States, to honor the American military men and women who have been recipients of the Medal of Honor, and to promote awareness of what the Medal of Honor represents and how ordinary Americans, through courage, sacrifice, selfless service and patriotism, can challenge fate and change the course of history.

Sponsor: Sen Kerry, John F. [MA] (introduced 4/23/2009) Cosponsors (61)

Committees: Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

Latest Major Action: 4/23/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

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S.902 : Veteran’s Treatment Courts. A bill to provide grants to establish veteran’s treatment courts.

Sponsor: Sen Kerry, John F. [MA] (introduced 4/27/2009) Cosponsors (3) Related Bill H.R.2127

Committees: Senate Judiciary

Latest Major Action: 4/27/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

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S. 944 – The Wounded Warrior Transition Assistance Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to require the Secretaries of the military departments to give wounded members of the reserve components of the Armed Forces the option of remaining on active duty during the transition process in order to continue to receive military pay and allowances, to authorize members to reside at their permanent places of residence during the process, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Feingold, Russell D. [WI] (introduced 4/30/2009) Cosponsors (5)

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 4/30/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

To support this bill and/or contact your Senators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=13266571&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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S.977 : Prisoner of War Benefits Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide improved benefits for veterans who are former prisoners of war, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Murray, Patty [WA] (introduced 5/5/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/5/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.998 : Arthur Woolweaver, Jr., Social Security Act Improvements for the Terminally Ill Act. A bill to amend title II of the Social Security Act to eliminate the five-month waiting period in the disability insurance program, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Brown, Sherrod [OH] (introduced 5/7/2009) Cosponsors (2)

Committees: Senate Finance

Latest Major Action: 5/7/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

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S.1008 : Military Retired Pay Fairness Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to limit requirements of separation pay, special separation benefits, and voluntary separation incentive from members of the Armed Forces subsequently receiving retired or retainer pay.

Sponsor: Sen Shaheen, Jeanne [NH] (introduced 5/7/2009) Cosponsors (5) Companion bill H.R.2302

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 5/7/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

To support this bill and/or contact your Senators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=13682656&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id] or http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=13967481&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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S.1015 : Enhanced Disability Compensation for Certain Disabled Veterans. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to enhance disability compensation for certain disabled veterans with difficulties using prostheses and disabled veterans in need of regular aid and attendance for residuals of traumatic brain injury, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Burr, Richard [NC] (introduced 5/11/2009) Cosponsors (2)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/11/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.1016 : Vet Disability Compensation Award upon Separation. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to modify the commencement of the period of payment of original awards of compensation for veterans who are retired or separated from the Uniformed services for disability.

Sponsor: Sen Burr, Richard [NC] (introduced 5/11/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/11/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.1042 : Illegal Garnishment Prevention Act. A bill to prohibit the use of funds to promote the direct deposit of Veterans and Social Security benefits until adequate safeguards are established to prevent the attachment and garnishment of such benefits.

Sponsor: Sen Kohl, Herb [WI] (introduced 5/14/2009) Cosponsors (2)

Committees: Senate Finance

Latest Major Action: 5/14/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

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S.1055 : Gold Medal Award for 100th Inf Bn & 442nd RCT. A bill to grant the congressional gold medal, collectively, to the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, United States Army, in recognition of their dedicated service during World War II.

Sponsor: Sen Boxer, Barbara [CA] (introduced 5/14/2009) Cosponsors (13) Related bill H.R.347

Committees: Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/14/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

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S.1106 : Selected Reserve Continuum of Care Act. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to require the provision of medical and dental readiness services to certain members of the Selected Reserve and Individual Ready Reserve based on medical need, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Lincoln, Blanche L. [AR] (introduced 5/20/2009) Cosponsors (7)

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 5/20/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

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S.1109 : PRO-VETS Act of 2009. A bill to provide veterans with individualized notice about available benefits, to streamline application processes or the benefits, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Gillibrand, Kirsten E. [NY] (introduced 5/20/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/20/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.1118 : DIC Compensation Rate Increase to 55%. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for an increase in the amount of monthly dependency and indemnity compensation payable to surviving spouses by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Lincoln, Blanche L. [AR] (introduced 5/21/2009) Cosponsors (3)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 5/21/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.1128 : Atomic Veterans Service Medal Act. A bill to authorize the award of a military service medal to members of the Armed Forces who were exposed to ionizing radiation as a result of participation in the testing of nuclear weapons or under other circumstances.

Sponsor: Sen Roberts, Pat [KS] (introduced 5/21/2009) Cosponsors (2) Related bill H.R.2553

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 5/21/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

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S.1160 : Homes for Heroes Act of 2009. A bill to provide housing assistance for very low-income veterans.

Sponsor: Sen Schumer, Charles E. [NY] (introduced 6/1/2009) Cosponsors (8)

Committees: Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/1/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

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S.1166 : Voluntary Support for Reservists and National Guard Members Act of 2009. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow taxpayers to designate part or all of any income tax refund to support reservists and National Guard members.

Sponsor: Sen Reid, Harry [NV] (introduced 6/3/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: Senate Finance

Latest Major Action: 6/3/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

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S.1168 : Nationally Significant Battlefields Protection. A bill to authorize the acquisition and protection of nationally significant battlefields and associated sites of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 under the American Battlefield Protection Program.

Sponsor: Sen Schumer, Charles E. [NY] (introduced 6/3/2009) Cosponsors (1) Related Bill H.R.1694

Committees: Senate Energy and Natural Resources

Latest Major Action: 7/15/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks. Hearings held. With printed Hearing: S.Hrg. 111-92.

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S.1169 : Uniformed Services with Autism (USA) Heroes Act . A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for the treatment of autism under TRICARE.

Sponsor: Sen Gillibrand, Kirsten E. [NY] (introduced 6/3/2009) Cosponsors (7)

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 6/3/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

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S.1204 : Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act of 2009. A bill to amend the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Programs Enhancement Act of 2001 to require the provision of chiropractic care and services to veterans at all Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Murray, Patty [WA] (introduced 6/8/2009) Cosponsors (4) Related bill H.R.1017

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/8/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.1237 : Homeless Women Veterans and Homeless Veterans with Children Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand the grant program for homeless veterans with special needs to include male homeless veterans with minor dependents and to establish a grant program for reintegration of homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Murray, Patty [WA] (introduced 6/11/2009) Cosponsors (3)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 6/11/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.1337 : Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act of 2009. A bill to exempt children of certain Filipino World War II veterans from the numerical limitations on immigrant visas.

Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 6/24/2009) Cosponsors (6)

Committees: Senate Judiciary

Latest Major Action: 6/24/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

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S.1347 : Carmelo Rodriguez Military Medical Accountability Act of 2009. A bill to amend chapter 171 of title 28, United States Code, to allow members of the Armed Forces to sue the United States for damages for certain injuries caused by improper medical care, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Schumer, Charles E. [NY] (introduced 6/24/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Judiciary

Latest Major Action: 6/24/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

To support this bill and/or contact your Senators send a message via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=13791596&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

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S.1394 : Veterans Entitlement to Service Act of 2009. A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to acknowledge the receipt of medical, disability, and pension claims and other communications submitted by claimants, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Gillibrand, Kirsten E. [NY] (introduced 7/6/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/6/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.1427 : Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital Quality Report Card Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish a Hospital Quality Report Card Initiative to report on health care quality in Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Wyden, Ron [OR] (introduced 7/9/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/9/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.1429 : Servicemembers Mental Health Care Commission Act. A bill to establish a commission on veterans and members of the Armed Forces with post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, or other mental health disorders, to enhance the capacity of mental health care providers to assist such veterans and members, to ensure such veterans are not discriminated against, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Wyden, Ron [OR] (introduced 7/9/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/9/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.1449 : MOAA Federal Charter. A bill to amend title 36, United States Code, to grant a Federal charter to the Military Officers Association of America, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Nelson, Bill [FL] (introduced 7/14/2009) Cosponsors (None) Related Bill H.R.2017 & S,832

Committees: Senate Judiciary

Latest Major Action: 7/14/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

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S.1450 : Deceased Servicemen Parental Nursing Home Care. A bill to enable State homes to furnish nursing home care to parents any of whose children died while serving in the Armed Forces.

Sponsor: Sen Ensign, John [NV] (introduced 7/14/2009) Cosponsors (1)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/14/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.1452 : COMBAT PTSD Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify the meaning of “combat with the enemy” for purposes of service-connection of disabilities.

Sponsor: Sen Schumer, Charles E. [NY] (introduced 7/14/2009) Cosponsors (5)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/14/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.1467 : Lance Corporal Josef Lopez Fairness for Servicemembers Harmed by Vaccines Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide coverage under Traumatic Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance for adverse reactions to vaccinations administered by the Department of Defense, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen McCaskill, Claire [MO] (introduced 7/16/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/16/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.1495 : Service Dogs for Veterans Act of 2009. A bill to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot program to assess the feasibility and advisability of using service dogs for the treatment or rehabilitation of veterans with physical or mental injuries or disabilities, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Franken, Al [MN] (introduced 7/22/2009) Cosponsors (7) Related Bill H.R.3266

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/22/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.1518 : Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to furnish hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care to veterans who were stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, while the water was contaminated at Camp Lejeune.

Sponsor: Sen Burr, Richard [NC] (introduced 7/27/2009) Cosponsors (6)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 7/27/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.1520 : NAIV Charter. A bill to grant a Federal charter to the National American Indian Veterans, Incorporated.

Sponsor: Sen Johnson, Tim [SD] (introduced 7/27/2009) Cosponsors (None) Related Bill H.R.3349

Committees: Senate Judiciary

Latest Major Action: 7/27/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

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S.1543 : Supporting Military Families Act of 2009. A bill to amend the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 and title 5, United States Code, to provide leave for family members of members of regular components of the Armed Forces, and leave to care for covered veterans, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Dodd, Christopher J. [CT] (introduced 7/30/2009) Cosponsors (4)

Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

Latest Major Action: 7/30/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

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S.1547 : Zero Tolerance for Veterans Homelessness Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, and the United States Housing Act of 1937 to enhance and expand the assistance provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to homeless veterans and veterans at risk of homelessness, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Reed, Jack [RI] (introduced 7/30/2009) Cosponsors (11)

Committees: Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 8/5/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.1556 : Veteran Voting Support Act of 2009. A bill to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to permit facilities of the Department of Veterans Affairs to be designated as voter registration agencies, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Feinstein, Dianne [CA] (introduced 8/3/2009) Cosponsors (5)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 8/3/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.1558 : Travel Reimbursement for Inactive Duty Training Personnel (TRIP) Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 37, United States Code, to provide travel and transportation allowances for members of the reserve components for long distance and certain other travel to inactive duty training.

Sponsor: Sen Lincoln, Blanche L. [AR] (introduced 8/3/2009) Cosponsors (6)

Committees: Senate Armed Services

Latest Major Action: 8/3/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

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S.1603 : Veterans Education Tuition Support Act of 2009. A bill to amend section 484B of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide for tuition reimbursement and loan forgiveness to students who withdraw from an institution of higher education to serve in the uniformed services, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Brown, Sherrod [OH] (introduced 8/6/2009) Cosponsors (None) Related Bills: H.R.2456, H.R.2561

Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

Latest Major Action: 8/6/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

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S.1668 : National Guard Education Equality Act. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the inclusion of certain active duty service in the reserve components as qualifying service for purposes of Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Bennet, Michael F. [CO] (introduced 9/14/2009) Cosponsors (5)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/14/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.1685 : Emergency Senior Citizens Relief Act of 2009. A bill to provide an emergency benefit of $250 to seniors, veterans, and persons with disabilities in 2010 to compensate for the lack of a cost-of-living adjustment for such year, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Sanders, Bernard [VT] (introduced 9/17/2009) Cosponsors (6) Related Bills: H.R.3597

Committees: Senate Finance

Latest Major Action: 9/17/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

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S.1695 : Congressional Gold Medal Award. A bill to authorize the award of a Congressional gold medal to the Montford Point Marines of World War II.

Sponsor: Sen Burris, Roland [IL] (introduced 9/23/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

Latest Major Action: 9/23/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

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S.1717 : VA Facility Leases. A bill to authorize major medical facility leases for the Department of Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 2010, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 9/25/2009) Cosponsors (1) Related Bill S.1310

Latest Major Action: 10/7/2009 Cleared for White House.

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S.1752 : Parkinson’s Disease VA Compensation. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide wartime disability compensation for certain veterans with Parkinson’s disease.

Sponsor: Sen Sanders, Bernard [VT] (introduced 10/5/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/5/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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S.1753 : Disabled Veteran Caregiver Housing Assistance Act of 2009. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to increase assistance for disabled veterans who are temporarily residing in housing owned by a family member, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Sanders, Bernard [VT] (introduced 10/5/2009) Cosponsors (None)

Committees: Senate Veterans’ Affairs

Latest Major Action: 10/5/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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[Source: http://thomas.loc.gov/bss/111search.html 27 Sep 09 ++]

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RAO BULLETIN 10/15/2009

THIS BULLETIN CONTAINS THE FOLLOWING ARTICLES

== Pennsylvania Veterans’ Homes [01] —————- Correction)

== Vet Cemetery California [06] ————- (NCVC$500 Waiver)

== Kidney Disease ——————————— (Exercise Impact)

== Federal Jobs [01] ——————————————– (Disabled)

== VA Presumptive Vietnam Vet Diseases ——– (3 More Added)

== USFSPA & Divorce [10] ——————————- (CA SB.285)

== Arlington National Cemetery [06] —- (Unknown’s Headstone)

== Allergy Relief [02] ———————————– (Fall allergies)

== VA Clinic Openings [12] ———————————- (15 More)

== NARA Data Breach —————————- (76M Vets Exposed)

== Chapter 61 Legislation [03] ———– (Obama Promise Broken)

== Vet Insurance [02] ————————— (S.728 Passes Senate)

== VA Health Care Funding [22] ————————— (H.R.1016)

== NROTC ——————————- (Service Obligation Change)

== VA Transparency ————————— (Protected Documents)

== Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act [01] —— (Private Lawsuits)

== DFAS myPay System [05] ———— (New ID/Password Rqmt)

== DFAS myPay System [06] ———— (Email Security Measure)

== NDAA 2010 [03] ——————————— (Broken Promises)

== SBP Withdrawal [03] ———— (Cancellation Consideration)

== VA Homeless Vets [11] ————————– ($17M in Grants)

== Medicaid Fraud [01] ————————— (Atlanta Ga $1.1M)

== NCIS Espionage Program ——————————– (Rewards)

== Tricare Uniform Formulary [31] —– (Federal Pricing Impact)

== Tricare Uniform Formulary [32] —– (BAP 24 SEP Comments)

== Enlistment [01] ——————————————- (Age Limits)

== Medicare Fraud [24] ————————— (Newark NJ $8.3M)

== TSP [23] ———————————– (Rally Continues in SEP)

== Health Care Reform [14] ———————- (Impact of Failure)

== Mojave Desert Veteran Memorial [02] — (7 OCT Court Date)

== Tricare User Fee [41] ———————— (DoD/Obama Renig)

== Tricare User Fee [42] ——————– (Freeze Expired Sep 09)

== VA Contracted Care —————— (Senators Question Value)

== VA Automatic Enrollment —————————— (H.R.3441)

== Flag Desecration ——————————- (Offender Pilloried)

== Military Funeral Disorderly Conduct [10] —– (Protests Legal)

== GI Bill [60] ——————————— (Quick Payment Online)

== Military History Anniversaries —– (October 15-31 Summary)

== Tax Burden for Illinois Retirees —————————– (2009)

== Veteran Legislation Status 13 Oct 09 ——- (Where we Stand)

== Have You Heard —————————————– (Dead Duck)

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Pennsylvania Veterans’ Homes Update 01: A Pennsylvania newspaper reported 19 SEP that an inspection at the Philadelphia VAMC Philadelphia Veterans Community Living Center last year found conditions endangering the welfare of residents. Inspectors found dried blood and feeding tubes on the floors, and one patient’s leg had to be amputated after maggots were seen falling from his foot, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review said, citing a report obtained through a federal Freedom of Information Act request. The report by the Wisconsin-based Long Term Care Institute concluded that the facility, the bed count of which has been cut from 240 to 120, “failed to provide a sanitary and safe environment for their residents.” It cites substandard treatment of wound care and multiple concerns regarding nursing competencies. There was a significant failure to promote and protect their residents’ rights to autonomy and to be treated with respect and dignity,” the report concluded. VA spokesman Dale Warman told the paper in an e-mail that many steps had been taken to improve care. A corrective action plan updated on 29 JUN including the hiring of consultants and additional staff and remedial training and retraining programs for staff, officials said.

The report said no action was taken on one unnamed veteran, even though his toes had turned black, until maggots were observed falling out of the resident’s foot, at which point an amputation was ordered. One inspector reported seeing a nurse use the wrong medication despite a week-old order from a physician changing the prescription, the report said. Some patients had substantial weight loss, including one veteran who lost 51 pounds for unknown reasons. “The potential for dehydration for these residents presents immediate jeopardy,” the report said. An internal investigation was triggered three months before the report was issued when David Allen, 56, a mute and disabled Vietnam veteran, choked to death on solid food although he was supposed to be on a soft-food diet. His death was not mentioned in the report, but the VA said in a statement that the contracts of two agency nurses were terminated and other staff members were given additional training on swallowing difficulties “as well as the effects of behavioral medications.”

Note: This is a correction to the previous article published in the 1 OCT 09 Bulletin. The home being reported on should have read the Philadelphia VAMC Philadelphia Veterans Community Living Center vice the Delaware Valley Veterans Home.

[Source: MarineCorpsTimes AP article 19 Sep 09 ++]

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Northern California Veterans

Vet Cemetery California Update 06: Legislation allowing eligible family members of veterans to be buried at no cost at the Northern California Veterans Cemetery (NCVC) in Igo has been signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The bill, authored by state Sen. Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley, gives the administrator of Northern California Veterans Cemetery the authority to waive the $500 burial fee for interment of spouses or children of veterans eligible for burial in that cemetery if they do not have the financial means to pay the fee. “Eligible veterans’ dependents should never be turned away from the NCVC or any other state-run veterans’ cemetery because of burial costs,” Aanestad said in a written statement. He said that his legislation does not place any additional burdens on state taxpayers or demands on the state’s general fund, noting that private donations will cover the costs of the burials. [Source: The Redding Searchlight News 12 Oct 09 ++]

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Exercise Impact

Kidney Disease: Many patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) die prematurely, but many of those deaths aren’t directly related to kidney problems, according to background information in the study. Researchers analyzed data collected from 15,368 adult participants of the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III. Of those people, 5.9% had CKD. Based on the frequency and intensity of physical activity, the participants were divided into inactive, insufficiently active and active groups. They were followed for an average of seven to nine years. The study found that 28% of CKD patients were inactive, compared with 13.5% of those without CKD. Active and insufficiently active CKD patients were 56% and 42% less likely to die during the study than inactive CKD patients. Similar exercise-related benefits were noted in those without CKD. “These data suggest that increased physical activity might have a survival benefit in the CKD population. This is particularly important as most patients with stage III CKD die before they develop end stage renal disease,” wrote Dr. Srinivasan Beddhu, of Salt Lake City Veterans Administration Healthcare System and University of Utah, and colleagues. The study appeared online 8 OCT in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. [Source: HealthDay News Robert Preidt article 8 Oct 09 ++]

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Federal Jobs Update 01: The White House and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced hiring initiatives aimed at halting a decline in the representation of disabled employees in the federal workforce. They intend to hold a daylong government wide job fair targeted at people with disabilities, and would offer federal hiring managers online seminars on attracting and retaining disabled workers. Obama is not the first president to use the federal government to promote workforce diversity. In 2000, President George W. Bush signed an order calling for the government to hire 100,000 people with disabilities within the next five years. Despite that order, representation of disabled workers decreased steadily. The percentage of federal employees with targeted disabilities such as blindness or deafness fell from 1.12% in fiscal 1999 to 0.88% in fiscal 2008, according to an annual report from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In fiscal 2008 the Commerce, Transportation and Treasury departments were the only Cabinet-level agencies that experienced an increase in representation of disabled employees. And only four agencies with more than 500 employees exceeded the government’s goal of participation rates higher than 2%. EEOC had the highest participation of employees with targeted disabilities, at nearly 3%.

Christine Griffin, acting vice chair of the commission, attributed EEOC’s success to attention from top officials. “I think there’s been a commitment from people in leadership positions that this is important to us,” she said. Griffin said Obama’s announcement was the first step toward a renewed focus on hiring the disabled. “Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what package the person comes in,” Griffin said. “If you’ve got the skills and qualifications that they need, that’s what they want.” As part of the initiative, the White House and OPM will work with the Labor Department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy to raise awareness of a hiring authority that allows agencies to recruit disabled workers noncompetitively under Schedule A, subject to a two-year probationary period. According to a March report from the National Council on Disability, agencies don’t use the Schedule A hiring authority enough. Only 326 of the 1,298 people with disabilities who joined government in fiscal 2006 were hired using Schedule A, the report said. OPM will hold online training sessions to educate hiring managers on the Schedule A authority beginning in November. “This should be a core objective of the federal government because it works,” said John Berry, director of OPM, in a statement. [Source: GOVExec.com Alex M. Parker article 9 Oct 09 ++]

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VA Presumptive Vietnam Vet Diseases: Relying on an independent study by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki decided to establish a service-connection for Vietnam Veterans with three specific illnesses based on the latest evidence of an association with the herbicides referred to Agent Orange. The illnesses affected by the recent decision are B cell leukemias, such as hairy cell leukemia; Parkinson’s disease; and ischemic heart disease. Used in Vietnam to defoliate trees and remove concealment for the enemy, Agent Orange left a legacy of suffering and disability that continues to the present. Between JAN 65 and APR 70, an estimated 2.6 million military personnel who served in Vietnam were potentially exposed to sprayed Agent Orange. In practical terms, Veterans who served in Vietnam during the war and who have a “presumed” illness don’t have to prove an association between their illnesses and their military service. This “presumption” simplifies and speeds up the application process for benefits.

The Secretary’s decision brings to 15 the number of presumed illnesses recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). “We must do better reviews of illnesses that may be connected to service, and we will,” Shinseki added. “Veterans who endure health problems deserve timely decisions based on solid evidence.” Following is the new list of 15 illnesses now recognized under VA’s presumption rule. For more information on each illness, refer to http://www1.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=1796:

• Acute and Subacute Transient Peripheral Neuropathy (Note: Must become manifest to a degree of 10% or more within a year after the last date on which the veteran was exposed to an herbicide agent during active military service and the condition is transient (temporary) and resolves within two weeks. Chronic peripheral neuropathy is not presumed by VA to be caused by exposure to Agent Orange.)

• AL Amyloidosis (ALS)

• Chloracne or other acneform disease similar to chloracne (Note: Must become manifest to a degree of 10% or more within a year after the last date on which the veteran was exposed to an herbicide agent during active military service)

• Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

• Diabetes Mellitus (Type 2)

• Hairy Cell Leukemia

• Hodgkin’s Disease

• Ischemic Heart Disease

• Multiple Myeloma

• Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

• Parkinson’s Disease

• Porphyria Cutanea Tarda (Note: Must become manifest to a degree of 10% or more within a year after the last date on which the veteran was exposed to an herbicide agent during active military service.)

• Prostate Cancer

• Respiratory Cancers (lung, bronchus, larynx, trachea)

• Soft Tissue Sarcoma (other than Osteosarcoma, Chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or Mesothelioma)

[Source: VA News Release 13 Oct 09 ++]

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USFSPA & Divorce Update 10: A bill to protect California disabled veteran’s disability compensation from illegal attachment and garnishments was signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger on 11 OCT 09. The bill (SB.285), authored by California Senator Rod Wright, was introduced at the request of the California Alliance for Families and Children (CAFC) in cooperation with the American Retirees Association (ARA). It codifies existing federal law, United States Code, Title 38, Section 5301 into the state’s statutes to assure it is followed in California state courts. Although federal law is very clear in its wording and intent, civil court judges nationwide have routinely ignored it. The result has been illegal attachments and garnishments of the disability compensation and erroneously calculating veterans’ disability compensation into divorce settlements as a divisible asset or income. SB 285 passed California legislature without a single no vote, even though similar efforts in Iowa, West Virginia and Oklahoma have failed so far. Of significance, this new state law provides precedent for all other states to follow and enact similar additional safeguards for their disabled veterans. Also, it can be a precursor for state legislation to modify state divorce laws to protect garnishments for USFSPA as is underway in Oklahoma with H.B.1053. CAFC announced they have already received commitments from legislators in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas to follow the California lead.

Retirees who are impacted by the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) and/or concerned about protecting their disability compensation concerns should be aware of the USFSPA Liberation Support Group (ULSG). Their mission is to support the rights of all service members active-duty/retired/ Guard & Reserve military members, Commissioned Corps of the US Public Health Service and Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in challenging the USFSPA, Pub. L. No. 97-252, 96 Stat. 730 (1982), currently codified as amended at 10 U.S.C. § 1408. This law, hastily passed by our Congress without forethought and little discussion, invalidated the United States Supreme Court’s 1981 majority 6-3 ruling (McCARTY v. McCARTY , 453 U.S. 210 1981) that asserted military retirement/retainer pay is not subject to division as common property in state divorce proceedings. ULSG challenges the USFSPA in our courts system, strongly urges the US Congress of the United States to repeal this unjust law, and informs the Media to overcome this injustice to all service men and woman who unselfishly have served their country and have earned the sole right to their retainer/retired pay vice being treated as common property during divorce. Retirees with ideas or concerns regarding the USFSPA can contact the following state ULSG representatives:

1. Alabama Bill Jones (334-517-4466) bill.jones@hasher.us

2. Arizona Stephanie Joyner (248-812-1501) slmjoyner@hotmail.com

Mark Beres (850-449-0834) markberes@msn.com

3. California Dwayne Lewis (951-656-1252) semperfi71@hotmail.com

4. Colorado Michael McKown (406-560-0340) m_mckown1066@hotmail.com

John Ellis (720-226-5444) jellis00@comcast.net

5. Florida Larry Allen (904-378-5507) dare2bare1@bellsouth.net

6. Georgia Nancy Dakin (517-414-4447) nmdakin@yahoo.com

7. Hawaii Daniel Dubois (808-489-3509) skindiver4605@yahoo.com

8. Idaho Ron Cleveland (208-433-0623) cleve53@vahoo.com

9. Indiana Paula Spall (260-433-0623) pmspall@aol.com

10. Kentucky Jeff Hale (502-538-6341) jahaleusmc@windstream.net

11. Maryland Debra Woodard-Bayes (410-549-1601) woodard-bayes@comcast.net

12. Montana Michael McKown (405-560-0340) m_mckown1066@hotmail.com

13. Nebraska Tom Miller (402-305-6222) cirrus114@vahoo.com

14. Nevada James Duggins (702-636-1492) jimjanduggins@yahoo.com

15. New York Bob Balick (315-336-0485) rbalick@twcny.rr.com

16. Oklahoma Frank Kurland (405-921-8708) frankevo99@aol.com

17. Pennsylvania Dale Hill (814-948-6322) csmhill@aol.com

18. Tennessee Bob Hutchings (902-756-7496) rhutchi535@hotmail.com

19. Texas Bob Throckmorton (830-438-7195) throck@gvtc.com

Ron King (915-759-9353) rjvj@elp.rr.com

Hal Cleveland (817-602-6826) hal.cleveland@sbcglobal.net

20. Virginia Steve Hanger (540-436-8414) shanger@shentel.net

21. Washington Lewis. E. Pugh, Jr. (253-720-9970) chieflpugh@comcast.net

22. Wyoming John Ellis (720-226-5444) jellis00@comcast.net

[Source: ULSG Update 12 Oct 09 ++

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Arlington National Cemetery Update 06: For the first time in a generation, Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) has marked the burial of an unknown on its storied grounds. Only this time, 25 years since the last interment at the Tomb of the Unknowns, the identity of the body remains a mystery not because the ravages of war made identification impossible, but because in a bureaucratic error the cemetery lost the paperwork showing the identity of the remains. Arlington recently installed a headstone marked “Unknown” above grave 449 in section 68 of the cemetery. This is the first time the cemetery has marked an unknown since 1984, when Arlington entombed the remains of a Vietnam veteran in the Tomb of the Unknowns in a ceremony rife with pomp and circumstance. Former President Reagan presided, posthumously awarding that service member the Medal of Honor. And that unknown soldier was supposed to be the last unknown interred in any U.S. military cemetery, given advances in DNA technology and a multimillion dollar effort to account for every soldier and identify all remains. A body that could not be identified was supposed to be a thing of the past.

Arlington’s newest unknown, buried without special ceremony, is the exception to what was intended to be the rule. The cemetery buried someone in grave 449 — likely relatively recently, since that section is an active part of the cemetery — and then lost track of the paperwork showing the identity of the remains. In 2003, workers went to bury a newly deceased service member in that plot, only to find unmarked remains in the ground. Paper records had listed the plot as vacant. Rather than publicly admit this error, Arlington quietly left the remains unmarked for six years. For those six years, passersby saw only an empty plot of green grass in spot 449, surrounded by stones etched with names. This remained the case until this past summer, when reporters for the Salon Media Group began working on tips from current and former workers at Arlington who said these kinds of mistakes occur with disturbing frequency at the cemetery, which calls itself “our nation’s most sacred shrine.”

At first, Arlington denied any problem. Salon asked the cemetery last summer, “Has the cemetery ever dug a grave only to find there is already someone there, though the grave is unmarked?” Cemetery spokeswoman Kaitlin Horst responded, “We are not aware of any situation like that.” Salon later produced internal paper records showing that the cemetery did not know the identity of the remains in grave 449. With that Horst then said, “Arlington National Cemetery officials have known about this situation since 2003, when in the process of preparing for a burial, a casket was discovered in grave 449 in Section 68 … At that time, a review of records took place to locate the corresponding documents. The files could not be matched.” Horst insisted that this was the only mistake of its kind. “At this time,” she said, “cemetery officials are not aware of any other instances.” In this case, the cemetery lost the paperwork among the blizzard of paper records the cemetery still uses to track around 30 burials a day.

While other cemeteries have computerized burial operations and now track grave locations via satellite, Arlington has failed to implement a similar system despite spending millions on favored contractors working on the fruitless effort for nearly a decade. Arlington admits that the cemetery’s burial paperwork does not match the location of some headstones in numerous cases, but cemetery officials insist that while the paperwork is wrong, all the headstones stand above the correct remains. This includes discrepancies in section 60, the final resting place of 600 veterans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The cemetery’s 2008 report to Congress showed an example where cemetery officials tried to locate grave 6 in section 60 using one of over 100 paper maps the cemetery uses to guide operations. “When ANC went to locate the grave by using the burial map, section 60 grave 6 was in a different location than the actual physical location of the headstone marked section 60 grave 6,” the report admits. The paperwork is wrong, the cemetery claims, but the headstone is in the right place.

Foster, the Army spokesman, said the Army is investigating how to identify the remains in grave 449, but would not reveal any details to Salon. “We cannot comment on an ongoing investigation,” he said. “However, once the investigation is complete and reviewed by officials at Arlington National Cemetery, it is our intent to inform you at the earliest opportunity of what course of action has been deemed appropriate.” But the fact that the cemetery installed a marble headstone marked “Unknown,” rather than the small temporary markers used at Arlington, suggests a degree of permanence. Also, the fact that the Army, which runs Arlington, has done little to identify these remains over the past 12 weeks suggests a reluctance to take the most rudimentary steps towards a possible identification. For example, current and former service members represent a large percentage of the remains at Arlington. Many are buried in their dress uniforms, which include a name tag. Discovering the identity of the remains in grave 449 might be as simple as using a backhoe and Google. However, this poses the risk of triggering a ripple-effect public relations disaster. The cemetery does not know if the remains in grave 449 are unknown because the intended headstone was mistakenly placed above another grave. If so, the identity of those remains then becomes unknown. And so on, and so on.

Foster did not return an e-mail asking why the Army has not disinterred the remains for purposes of identification. The idea that Arlington is creating unknown soldiers by bungling paperwork is particularly ironic given the military’s otherwise exhaustive and often valiant efforts to live up to the “leave-no-soldier-behind” ethos. In 2003, the Army consolidated various offices that had already been working for over 30 years to find and identify remains into the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command. Around 400 service members work full time, conducting roughly 50 missions per year, scouring the battlefields of Vietnam, Korea and even Germany for remains that are returned to the largest forensic anthropology laboratory in the world, located in Hawaii. The Department of Defense regularly issues news bulletins documenting the successful repatriation and identification of remains from long-ago conflicts, despite the obvious difficulty of the task. Remains that cannot be immediately identified are stored in Hawaii — but never buried anonymously. The idea is that continuing advances in DNA testing will eventually result in the identification of all remains. These efforts even resulted in the identification of the remains from Vietnam that Reagan helped lay to rest in Arlington’s Tomb of the Unknowns 25 years ago. In 1998, the remains were disinterred and identified as those of U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Blassie. Blassie was later laid to rest in his hometown, St. Louis. This unending dedication to preventing another unknown soldier lies in stark contrast to the paper-pushing going on at Arlington, which has resulted in at least one new unknown where most people would least expect it. [Source: Salon Media Group Mark Benjamin article 11 Oct 09 ++]

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Allergy Relief Update 02: Allergic reactions are inappropriate, overblown responses mounted by the body’s immune system against a harmless substance. For example, ragweed pollen is not poisonous, infectious, or in any way harmful to humans. But in some people, it triggers an attack by the immune system – an allergic reaction. When this happens, the ragweed pollen (or any other offending substance) is called an allergen. Many people associate seasonal allergies with springtime, when plants, flowers, and grasses begin to bloom. But fall is also a difficult time for allergy sufferers, particularly those sensitive to ragweed pollen. This yellow-flowered plant begins producing pollen in late summer, and continues into the fall. And like many types of pollen, ragweed pollen travels on the wind and can be carried hundreds of miles — so you don’t need to live near it to be affected by it.

Rhinitis, or inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nose (nasal mucosa), is the most common allergy in the United States, affecting 10% to 30% of adult Americans and about 40% of children. There are several categories of rhinitis, but allergic rhinitis, which is caused by allergens in the air, is what you’re experiencing if you suffer from seasonal allergies. Generally, an allergic rhinitis reaction occurs when you breathe in airborne allergens like pollen, molds, or dust mites (for a more complete list of common outdoor and indoor allergens. Within minutes, thanks to mast cells releasing histamine and other chemicals, sneezing, runny nose, and nasal congestion are in full swing. Regular exposure to these allergens leads to persistent symptoms. When the trigger for rhinitis is seasonal pollen (from trees, grasses, or weeds) or mold, the common term is “hay fever.” But allergic rhinitis can also be a year-round (perennial) condition that can lead to and exacerbate other allergies, such as allergic asthma and allergic conjunctivitis. Dust mites and animal dander are the chief culprits for perennial allergic rhinitis. Some people are afflicted with both seasonal and perennial allergies. The following dominant allergens differ in various climates and hence in different parts of the country:

• Trees: oak family, elm, western red cedar, ash, birch, poplar, hickory, sycamore, maple family, walnut, cypress

• Weeds: ragweed family, tumbleweed, sagebrush (mugwort), pigweed, cockleweed, Russian thistle

• Grasses: timothy, orchard, sweet vernal, Bermuda, sour dock, redtop, bluegrass, johnsongrass

• Molds: Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Penicillium

Repeated exposures to allergens can sensitize the nasal mucosa in a phenomenon called “priming.” This causes progressively lower levels of allergens to spark a reaction. It can also make you sensitive to nonspecific irritants in the air. This hypersensitivity is similar to a primed pump that is ready for action. As allergy season progresses, your innate immune system response becomes primed and ready to set in motion an allergic reaction. Here are some ways to minimize your pollen exposure:

• Stay indoors when the pollen count is high, especially on dry, windy days.

• Stay indoors between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., when airborne pollen is likely to be at its highest each day.

• Keep home windows closed at night, and turn on the air conditioner.

• Keep car windows closed when driving.

• Vacation at the coast during high pollen season.

• Don’t cut your grass; have someone else do it.

• Don’t hang clothing and bedding out to dry.

[Source: Harvard Health Publications HealthBeat Oct 09 ++]

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VA Clinic Openings Update 12: On 8 OCT S.1717, a bill to authorize major medical facility leases for the Department of Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 2010, passed the House and was cleared for submission to the President. It authorizes appropriations of $196,227,000 for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to use in fiscal year 2010 for opening new facilities at the following locations:

(1) Anderson, South Carolina, Outpatient Clinic, in an amount not to exceed $4,774,000.

(2) Atlanta, Georgia, Specialty Care Clinic, in an amount not to exceed $5,172,000.

(3) Bakersfield, California, Community Based Outpatient Clinic, in an amount not to exceed $3,464,000.

(4) Birmingham, Alabama, Annex Clinic and Parking Garage, in an amount not to exceed $6,279,000.

(5) Butler, Pennsylvania, Health Care Center, in an amount not to exceed $16,482,000.

(6) Charlotte, North Carolina, Health Care Center, in an amount not to exceed $30,457,000.

(7) Fayetteville, North Carolina, Health Care Center, in an amount not to exceed $23,487,000.

(8) Huntsville, Alabama, Outpatient Clinic Expansion, in an amount not to exceed $4,374,000.

(9) Kansas City, Kansas, Community Based Outpatient Clinic, in an amount not to exceed $4,418,000.

(10) Loma Linda, California, Health Care Center, in an amount not to exceed $31,154,000.

(11) McAllen, Texas, Outpatient Clinic, in an amount not to exceed $4,444,000.

(12) Monterey, California, Health Care Center, in an amount not to exceed $11,628,000.

(13) Montgomery, Alabama, Health Care Center, in an amount not to exceed $9,943,000.

(14) Tallahassee, Florida, Outpatient Clinic, in an amount not to exceed $13,165,000.

(15) Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Health Care Center, in an amount not to exceed $26,986,000.

[Source: HVAC Bob Filner Press Release 8 Oct 09 ++]

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NARA Data Breach: The inspector general of the National Archives and Records Administration is investigating a potential data breach affecting tens of millions of records about U.S. military veterans, Wired.com has learned. The issue involves a defective hard drive the agency sent back to its vendor for repair and recycling without first destroying the data. The hard drive helped power eVetRecs www.archives.gov/veterans/evetrecs/ , the system veterans use to request copies of their health records and discharge papers. When the drive failed in NOV 08, the agency returned the drive to GMRI, the contractor that sold it to them, for repair. GMRI determined it couldn’t be fixed, and ultimately passed it to another firm to be recycled. The incident was reported to NARA’s inspector general by Hank Bellomy, a NARA IT manager, who charges that the move put 70 million veterans at risk of identity theft, and that NARA’s practice of returning hard drives unsanitized was symptomatic of an irresponsible security mindset unbecoming to America’s record-keeping agency.

“This is the single largest release of personally identifiable information by the government ever,” Bellomy told Wired.com. “When the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) did the same thing, they provided credit monitoring for all their employees. We leaked 70 million records, and no one has heard a word of it.” But NARA says the lost drive is not a problem because its contractors signed privacy promises in their contracts, though the agency has since changed its policy to require that sensitive media be destroyed by NARA itself. The drive was part of a RAID array of six drives containing an Oracle database that held detailed records on 76 million veterans, including millions of Social Security numbers dating to 1972, when the military began using individuals’ Social Security numbers as their service numbers. When the unencrypted drive failed, Bellomy says he tried to subvert the longstanding recycling policy by hiding the drive in his safe. But it was taken out of his control when he was put on long-term leave. Under the conditions of the maintenance contract, if NARA did not return the drive, GMRI would have billed the agency $2,000 for a replacement. He adds that more drives failed after the NOV 08 incident, and that he performed a forensic scan on them to prove that they were full of sensitive data. “I said you can’t turn them back in. The data is Privacy Act – it’s against the law,” Bellomy told Wired.com. “We have no clue how many drives have been sent back over the past seven years since this system was in place. I am a government employee and I’m a veteran, and just this year had both my credit cards replaced because they were compromised. ”

The Pentagon requires that old drives be degaussed (de-magnified) or physically destroyed. In a 2006 report still in effect, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recommended purging and destruction methods while OMB rules dating to the same year require that agencies follow those NIST standards and encrypt sensitive data being sent or stored remotely. But NARA says that while it no longer will send back drives, no rules were broken, and that warning veterans would cause unnecessary fear. “NARA does not believe that a breach of PII (personally identifiable information) occurred, and therefore does not believe that notification is necessary or appropriate at this time,” NARA told Wired.com in an e-mailed background paper. “This view could change if the [inspector general] investigation of this incident later determines that GMRI … or their subcontractors took some illegal or unethical action that may have compromised sensitive data contained on the inoperable NOV 08 disk drive.”

As part of a six disk RAID 5 set-up, the drive likely contained about 18% of the database, and the disk also likely contained a quick look-up table that included all veterans’ names and service-record numbers, according to Bellomy. US-CERT, the nation’s clearinghouse for data breaches and hacks, was notified in FEB 09 by a NARA employee named Thomas Bennett, according to a document Bellomy provided to Wired.com. “The information system contains a significant amount of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and Sensitive PII about veterans,” wrote Thomas Bennett, a NARA employee. “As a result, we believe that is likely that the defective drive contains PII and SPII. At this time, we are trying to determine the location and status of the drive.” The status of the NARA investigation is unclear, though the incident was alluded to in a recent report on the inspector general’s activity. “We are aware of the incidents and are looking into it,” said Ross Weiland, the assistant inspector general for investigations at NARA. He declined further comment. NARA recently lost a hard drive full of data from the Clinton White House, including 100,000 Social Security numbers, political records and event logs. The data has still not been located. Both the House Oversight Committee for Veterans Affairs and an oversight committee for NARA were notified of the lost drive, but neither committee returned calls seeking comment. [Source: Wired.com News Ryan Segal article www.wired.com/threatlevel/author/ryan_singel 5 Oct 09 ++]

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Chapter 61 Legislation Update 03: Like a sequel to a bad horror movie, the Disabled Veterans’ Tax has once again reared its ugly head and The American Legion is furious. American Legion National Commander Clarence E. Hill said, “The 2010 National Defense Authorization Act should be renamed the Unfinished Business Act of 2009. For more than a century, disabled military retirees had to unfairly forfeit portions of their retirement pay to offset their disability, even though they were the only Americans required to do this. Finally, after way too long, Congress and the White House promised to correct the injustice. Their piecemeal approach now has service-connected military retirees in three distinct groups – those who get all, those who get some, and those who get none. The president’s promise, at least for Chapter 61 medical retirees who were forced by ailments or injuries to leave service before completing 20 years of service, is now being broken.”

Although there are some portions of the Defense Authorization Act that The American Legion fully supports, Hill promised to use all of The American Legion’s resources to reinstate the scheduled phase-out of the Disabled Veterans’ Tax, also known as concurrent receipt. The principle behind concurrent receipt is that the Department of Defense should pay retirees an annuity for total years served and VA should fully compensate them for their disabilities. For many thousands of disabled retirees, retired pay is still reduced or offset by their disability compensation. “There are good provisions such as a 3.4% pay raises for active-duty, Guard and Reserve members and a freeze on Tricare inpatient co-payment increases, so the baby does not necessarily need to be tossed with the bathwater,” Hill said. “But this bathwater is pretty contaminated and must be cleansed.” Moreover, the National Defense Authorization Act dropped a previously approved Senate provision that expressed the sense of Congress that military retirement and health benefits are the primary offset to the extraordinary demands and sacrifices inherent in a military career, that career members deserve a health benefit commensurate with their sacrifices, and that the Department of Defense needs to look at other ways to reduce health care spending than shifting more costs to military beneficiaries.

“When Congress drops language that would protect military beneficiaries from more cost- shifting, it means in plain English, ‘watch your wallet,'” Hill said. “These are not second-class citizens, but rather America’s heroes. It is time for a new bill to be introduced – Lest We Forget Act – to address the nation’s unfinished business concerning the military community. If Congress won’t budge, then it’s time for the Commander-in-Chief to take care of his troops – past, present and future service members. The American Legion is not about to let this go.” Another provision that The American Legion strongly objects to is the elimination of a measure that would have ended compensation penalties for survivors of military personnel who died of service-caused casualties. “So the Unfinished Business Act of 2009 reneges on the phase-out of the Disabled Veterans’ Tax, continues the Widows’ Death Tax and exposes countless military retirees and their families to massive Tricare fee increases,” Hill said. “Is Congress expressing the thanks of a grateful nation? Is this really the Year of the Military Family?” [Source: American Legion News Flash 9 Oct 09 ++]

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Vet Insurance Update 02: On 8 OCT, the Senate unanimously approved the Veterans’ Benefits Enhancement Act of 2009 (S.728) designed to enhance a number of benefits for veterans and their families, including insurance benefits, compensation, housing, employment, education, and burial. The bill incorporates the provisions of the previously passed House bill H.R.1037.. One key provision of the legislation would provide for retroactive payments to those servicemembers who suffered traumatic injury while on active duty on or between 7 OCT 01, and 30 NOV 05. Previously, this benefit was only available to servicemembers who suffered a traumatic injury in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom theaters of operation during that time period. U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and author of this bill, said. “I am pleased that the Senate passed this much needed legislation. Without it, some servicemembers who suffered traumatic injuries would be denied the same retroactive payment given to their wounded comrades.” Among other things, S.728, as amended, would:

• Increase from $20,000 to $30,000 the maximum amount of supplemental insurance provided through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for totally disabled veterans.

• Direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to grant level-premium term life insurance to veterans under age 65 with service-connected disabilities.

• Increase the maximum loan guarantee amount under the veterans’ mortgage life insurance program from $90,000 to $150,000, then to $200,000 after January 1, 2012.

• Remove a condition on the qualification of certain individuals for retroactive benefits from traumatic injury coverage under Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance.

• Remove the enrollment cap on the number of veterans allowed in VA’s Independent Living program.

• Ease the burden of proof on veterans seeking to establish that their disabilities are related to their service.

• Establish an annual cost-of-living adjustment for the temporary payment of dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) to a veteran’s surviving spouse with one or more children under the age of 18.

• Provide eligibility requirements for the payment of a special monthly pension based on disability for veterans who already qualify for a service pension based upon age.

• Increase amounts of DIC payable to surviving spouses and parents of deceased veterans.

• Increase, and authorize the annual adjustment of, pension amounts payable to hospitalized veterans and certain children of veterans of a period of war.

• Authorize and direct the Secretary to pay a: (1) supplemental benefit for the funeral and burial expenses of veterans, making such amount $900 with respect to a non-service-connected death and $2,100 with respect to a service-connected death; and (2) supplemental burial plot allowance for veterans eligible for the current allowance.

[Source: TREA Washington Update 9 Oct 09 ++]

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VA Health Care Funding Update 22: On 8 OCT 09 the House of Representatives approved an amendment to H.R. 1016, a bill to secure timely funding for veterans’ health care delivered through the Veterans Health Administration. The bill authorizes Congress to approve Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical care appropriations one year in advance of the start of each fiscal year. Over the last 23 years, 20 VA budgets have been passed late. As a result veterans pay the price with fewer doctors, longer waiting times, and more restricted access for the 6 million veterans using VA health care. An advance appropriation would provide VA with up to one year in which to plan how to deliver the most efficient and effective care to an increasing number of veterans with increasingly complex medical conditions. Unlike proposals to convert VA health care to a mandatory funding program, an advance appropriation does not create PAYGO concerns since VA health care funding would remain discretionary. Congress employs a PAYGO rule which demands that new proposals must either be budget neutral or offset with savings derived from existing funds. [Source: NAUS Weekly Update 9 Oct 09 ++]

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NROTC: The secretary of the Navy recently approved a plan to increase the active duty Minimum Service Requirement (MSR) for Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) Navy-option scholarship recipients. All NROTC Navy-option scholarship recipients who sign an NROTC contract for receipt of undergraduate educational assistance on or after 1 JUL 10, must obligate to serve in the Navy for five years active duty instead of the previous four years. The reason for the added year of obligation is to better manage the Navy’s surface warfare community stabilization and nuclear power accessions. For more information about the Navy NROTC refer to www.navy.com/careers/nrotc . [Source: NAUS Weekly Update 9 Oct 09 ++]

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VA Transparency: American Legion National Commander Clarence E. Hill says he is concerned about a VA directive that refuses public disclosure of inspection reports that might reflect negatively upon VA facilities. “I am bothered by VA’s practice of designating facility reports that measure timeliness and quality of care as ‘protected documents’ for internal use only. VA administrators as well as veterans who turn to VA for their health-care would benefit from knowing the state of affairs at VA facilities.” Hill’s statement was prompted by VA’s refusal to readily disclose information contained in a report issued by the Long Term Care Institute (LTCI), an organization hired by VA to provide quality reviews of its Community Living Centers (CLC). The reports issued by the LTCI assess the quality of care in VA facilities and provide recommendations for addressing any deficiencies. Of the more than 100 CLC reports, one from JUN 08, detailed incidents of wholesale neglect of some veterans residing in the Philadelphia CLC. This report was recently obtained by a Pittsburgh newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act and became the basis of a critical story in the paper. Many veterans objected to the fact that it took an investigative reporter to bring the matter to light.

VA maintains that information provided in the LTCI reports constitutes quality management activities protected by federal statue. This code (38 U.S.C. § 5705) provides that records and documents created by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) as part of a designated medical quality-assurance program are confidential and privileged and may not be disclosed to any person or entity except when specifically authorized by the statute. There is no authority contained within the statute for disclosure to members of the news media, says VA. The department argues further that congressional oversight committees are able to obtain copies of quality-assurance documents when they are requested for official oversight purposes. VA also points out that the situation in question occurred more than a year ago and that leadership took swift action once it surfaced. A VA spokesperson says: “Many changes have been implemented at the Philadelphia Veterans Community Living Center, including disciplining and terminating personnel contracts, installing a new leadership team, hiring specialists in the areas of wound care and staff training, installing new equipment in the Nutrition and Food area, and beginning nearly $10 million in construction projects. The Department of Veterans Affairs places the highest priority on the safety, security and dignity of all of our Veteran patients.”

“That is all well and good, but we still believe it is the responsibility of the VA to make the findings in this report, and others like it, accessible to its stakeholders – America’s veterans,” Hill said. “We can work together to improve the VA health-care system by identifying any deficiencies realized in these reports. If, for instance, The American Legion is aware of deficiencies and problems affecting the health and welfare of our veterans in VA care, we can assist with resolving them, as we have for decades. “In particular, The American Legion’s ‘A System Worth Saving’ program is employed to follow up on GAO reports, IG inspections and independent findings to identify where positive steps have been made by the VA to improve identified issues,” Hill added. “Without the ability to use all information available, an incomplete and misleading picture emerges. Conversely, a hand-in-hand cooperative approach is to everyone’s benefit, especially the most deserving parties of all – our nation’s veterans. [Source: American Legion Online Update 8 Oct 09 ++]

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Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act Update 01: A House subcommittee is considering legislation that would give individual service members the ability to personally sue for violations of the legal and financial protections afforded by the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The House Veterans’ Affairs economic opportunity panel could vote by the end of October on H.R.2696, or the Servicemembers’ Rights Protection Act. While the law “provides for penalties for violations, [it] does not specifically state whether service members have a private course of action for viola¬tion of the act,” said Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC) one of the bill’s sponsors. The bill would allow a service member to join in a civil action filed by the U.S. attorney general for the violation of rights under the SCRA and also allow a pri¬vate suit, which could be pressed even if the feder¬al government decided not to sue. The bill would allow service members to collect attorney’s fees if they win their lawsuit, a move Miller said would “encourage set¬tlements by those who might oth¬erwise refuse to pay damages, cal¬culating that the cost of litigation would keep people from pursuing relief.”

Miller said most courts “have recognized the inherent right of individual service members to bring suit for a violation of their rights” but that right is not clear. The bill, he said, would “end any ambiguity.” In one case still working its way through the courts, an Army Reserve officer is suing because he was evicted from two commercial spaces for not making franchise payments while he was deployed to Afghanistan. A federal court initially ruled in 2008 that the government could sue for violations of the SCRA, but not service members themselves. The federal district court reinstated the complaint, in which the officer, Army Reserve Lt. Col. Leon Batie Jr., is seeking compensatory and puni¬tive damages. A second recent reversed deci¬sion took place in a 2008 Michigan case in which a bank foreclosed on and sold Army National Guard Sgt. James Hurley’s home and evicted his family while he was deployed to Iraq. Initially, the court held that Hurley could not sue, but the judge changed his mind in March, according to the American Bar Association, which supports allowing private law¬suits over violations of service members’ rights. [Source: ArmyTimes Rick Maze article 5 Oct 09 ++]

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DFAS myPay System Update 05: Coming later this fall, DFAS will implement new myPay access requirements to increase the security of user information. One change will require users to establish a new user name (login ID) and password. Customized login IDs and passwords will allow you more flexibility and opportunities to increase the security of your personal information. To take action the following is germane:

• When logging into myPay the first time following implementation of the new security enhancements, you will be allowed to use your existing login ID and PIN and will be prompted to change your login credentials.

• New login IDs will require six to 129 alphanumeric characters that will be unique to one user only. If you attempt to create a login ID that has already been established you will be prompted to create a different login ID.

• Help screens will contain the login ID requirements. You will be required to establish a password to accompany your customized login ID. Passwords must be no less than eight and no more than 15 characters. Help screens will contain the password requirements.

• If you have established a Restricted Access PIN, you will also be prompted to establish a limited access login ID and password using the same requirements.

Use of the myPay interactive voice response system, which allows telephone access to certain pay information, may still be entered using the Social Security number and myPay PIN. While this security enhancement is intended to help keep your information secure and prevent unauthorized access to pay accounts, DFAS encourages you to take appropriate actions to keep your login IDs and passwords private. This can include storing them in a lockable and secure place, memorizing them and destroying any written record, and not sharing them with anyone. Questions regarding this myPay change may be directed to the Centralized Customer Support Unit at 1-888-332-7411, commercial (216) 522-5096, Defense Switching Network (DSN) 580-5096 (07-1830 EST). [Source: DFAS advisory 11 Oct 09 ++]

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DFAS myPay System Update 06: An advisory was added to the myPay Email Address option in SEP 08 to notify customers that myPay was phasing out the Personal Email Address that was used for general notifications. Coming later this fall, all existing Personal Email Addresses will be deleted from myPay. If you want a Personal Email Address you may enter it as a Secure Personal Email Address. It should be secure enough that sensitive information as well as general notifications may be sent to it and it may not match an existing Email Address on myPay. To add a Personal Email Address as your Secure Personal Email Address select the Email Address option located on your myPay main menu. You must enter the Secure Personal Email Address twice. Questions regarding this myPay change may be directed to the Centralized Customer Support Unit at 1-888-332-7411, commercial (216) 522-5096, Defense Switching Network (DSN) 580-5096 between 0700 and 1800 EST. [Source: DFAS Advisory 8 Oct 09 ++]

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NDAA 2010 Update 03: A House-Senate committee agreement has been reached on FY2010 Defense Authorization Bill. After review of the 2010 NDAA documents found at http://armedservices.house.gov/ and ballyhooed by the House Armed services Chairman Ike Skelton, the following “promised” provisions have been eliminated:

• BROKEN PROMISE #1: TRICARE — The Senate-passed Sec. 706 of S. 1390 to express the sense of Congress that military health benefits are a primary offset to the adverse conditions of service, that career military people have earned health benefits consistent with their decades of sacrifice, and that Defense leaders need to find other ways to cut health costs than imposing large fee hikes on beneficiaries was eliminated. (Now more than one million military retirees and families will suffer the DOD 21% increase. Both the President and Defense Secretary Gates promised fee increases would not happen!)

• BROKEN PROMISE #2: CONCURRENT RECEIPT — The House-passed Sec. 121 of Division D of H.R. 2647 to phase out compensation penalties for thousands forced from service due to service-caused disabilities was eliminated. (Hey, the President’s Budget for 2010 includes full restoration of concurrent receipt! So the “military retiree disability tax” continues for 500,000 military retirees! What happened?)

• BROKEN PROMISE #3: SBP/DIC — The Senate-passed Sec. 652 of S. 1390 that would end compensation penalties for survivors of military personnel who died of service-caused conditions was eliminated. (So 61,000 brave widows continue to suffer the “widow’s death tax” and be deprived of benefit purchased from the retirement pay of the military spouse!)

Veterans who want to express their disappointment with the Joint Committee’s decision can do so by sending an editable preformatted message to their elected officials via http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=14147886&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id]

[Source: USDR Action Alert 8 Oct 09 ++]

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SBP Withdrawal Update 03: You have an irrevocable option to cancel your SBP due to your survivor’s eligibility for the VA’s Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) survivor annuity. A service-connected VA disability rating of totally disabling (100%) for 10 continuous years, or at least 5 years at 100% if from the date of Service separation, makes a survivor eligible for DIC. Spousal concurrence is required to cancel SBP. This option was established because a survivor’s SBP annuity is reduced dollar-for-dollar if the survivor also receives DIC—the SBP-DIC offset. Cancelling SBP because of DIC allows a survivor to receive a refund of all SBP premiums linked to the denied SBP survivor payments. Here’s the catch before you cancel. Military associations and advocates are working diligently to have the SBP-DIC offset eliminated. Headway has been made in the last few years as survivors now receive a small portion of their SBP payments that were previously denied due to DIC. Amendments to cancel the offset has been included in the last five National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAA) but has never made it through the conference committee. The conference committee report for the 2010 NDAA is now in and once again it was not included in the final bill. Efforts to get the offset elimination included in the 2011 NDAA or enacted by separate legislation are anticipated. Should the SBP-DIC offset be totally eliminated, canceling your SBP now due to potential DIC payments denies your beneficiary the opportunity for full SBP and DIC payments in the future. Consider all the possibilities. [Source: MOAA News Exchange 23 Sep 09 ++]

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VA Homeless Vets Update 11: Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki has announced that 19 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico will share more than $17 million in grants to community groups to create 1,155 beds for homeless Veterans this year. For a list of recipients refer to http://www1.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=1795. A key tool in VA’s drive to eliminate homelessness among Veterans, the grants helped VA reduce the number of Veterans who are homeless on a typical night last year by 15% to about 131,000 Veterans. In other programs, VA provides health care to 100,000 homeless Veterans, compensation and assistance in obtaining foreclosed homes and excess federal property, including clothes, footwear, blankets and other items. That includes the Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program operating from 132 sites to provide outreach, physical and psychiatric examinations and referrals for more than 40,000 Veterans annually, while 2,100 beds in VA domiciliaries provide treatment to more than 5,000 Veterans each year. In addition, VA partners with volunteers and community organizations to serve tens of thousands of Veterans each year through “stand downs” offering Veterans who often are living lives in the shadows access to basic services and referrals.

VA works with a variety of federal agencies and Veterans organizations not only to mitigate and eliminate homelessness but toward a goal of preventing its occurrence in the first place. VA’s goal is to have a “no wrong door” phenomena, meaning Veterans who seek assistance should find it either in VA internal programs, from community partners or through contract services. In terms of dollars and number of Veterans served, VA has the largest integrated network of homeless assistance programs in the nation. In fiscal year 2009, VA expected to spend $2.8 billion to provide health care and specialized homeless programs, with an anticipated $400 million increase in the budget for fiscal year 2010. VA social workers and clinicians work with community and faith-based partners to conduct extensive outreach programs, clinical assessments, medical treatments, alcohol and drug abuse counseling and employment assistance. More information about VA’s homeless programs is available at http://www.va.gov/homeless. [Source: VA News Release 6 Oct 09 ++]

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Medicaid Fraud Update 01: Varian V. Scott was ruled guilty on 5 OCT for being part of a health-care fraud scheme that cost Georgia Medicaid $1.1 million. Scott, 36, of Miami, and his cousin Hezron Collie, 29, of Atlanta, were indicted in March on charges of conspiracy to commit health-care fraud and health-care fraud in connection with a scheme to present more than $1 million in forged prescriptions to pharmacies throughout metro Atlanta. The prescriptions were billed to Georgia Medicaid. Between SEP 05 and APR 06, Scott, Collie and others got blank doctors’ prescription pads from Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute — Collie’s former employer — and two other doctors. The defendants allegedly used names, dates of birth and Georgia Medicaid numbers of dozens of people, and allegedly forged multiple doctors’ prescriptions for Neupogen and related medications used to treat cancer and AIDS patients. The defendants then allegedly presented the forged prescriptions along with the patient information to CVS, Publix, Walgreens, Kroger, and Eckerd pharmacies around metro Atlanta. Scott and Collie also allegedly recruited a pharmacy employee at least one of the pharmacies as part of the scheme. That employee is cooperating with authorities and pleaded guilty to related charges in Gwinnett County Superior Court on 13 JAN 09. The pharmacies billed approximately $1.1 million to Georgia Medicaid for the cost of the medications Scott and Collie fraudulently acquired. Sentencing is set for 14 DEC. Scott faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on each of the 21 counts. “The defendant and his cronies harmed not only the taxpayers by defrauding the state Medicaid program, but they caused potential harm to the individuals who were on the receiving end of these re-sold prescriptions,” Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker said in a statement. “These cancer-fighting medications must be handled and stored with extreme care to preserve their effectiveness, and street sellers aren’t known for running hygienic operations or for making sure they properly handle these sensitive medications.” [Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle article 5 Oct 09 ++]

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NCIS Espionage Program: The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Far East field office in Yokosuka Japan wants to get the word out about rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of people who commit or conspire to commit espionage. The rewards can run as high as $500,000. The program is designed to make the public aware that spies target Naval personnel, and that espionage is a real and dangerous threat. To report suspicious behavior or inappropriate, probing questions directed to a DoN member, contact NCIS at navyspy@ncis.navy.mil or by telephone at 090-6174-5634. For more information about rewards, contact your local NCIS office. [Source: Military.com Military Report 6 Oct 09 ++]

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Tricare Uniform Formulary Update 31: The Beneficiary Advisory Panel (BAP) heard recommendations by the Department of Defense (DoD) Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee’s (P&T Committee) on drugs not included on a DoD Retail Refund Pricing Agreement. According to the P&T Committee these drugs were not compliant with the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY ‘08 regulation. The regulation provided if a drug was not covered by a pricing agreement that complied with Federal Ceiling Prices; the drugs would be designated non-formulary (Tier 3) under DoD’s Uniform Formulary and they would require a pre-authorization prior to use in a retail pharmacy. Federal pricing agreement allows DoD to purchase drugs at a lower rate and increase overall savings. It is important to note: these drugs will remain available in TRICARE mail order without needing a provider pre-authorization; the implementation date for these drugs will not take affect until after 1 JAN 10 and no later than 180 days after the TRICARE Management Activity (TMA) Director’s approval; and if a Price Agreement is received prior to 14 OCT 09 the drug may stay in Tier 2 and not be moved to Tier 3. The P&T Committee recommended a transition period at Military Treatment Facilities (MTFs) allowing them the opportunity to keep the drug on Tier 2 rather than Tier 3 until 1 JAN 11. All of this information will be available on DoD’s TRICARE pharmacy website. For a list of the affected drugs go to www.tricare.mil/pharmacy/bap/ and click on Handout – September 24, 2009, go to page 6, table 5 and 6 or refer to the “Medications Affected by Federal Pricing” attachment to this Bulletin. [Source: NMFA Government and You eNews 6 Oct 09 ++]

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Tricare Uniform Formulary Update 32: The Beneficiary Advisory Panel (BAP) met 24 SEP to provide comments to the Department of Defense (DoD) Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee’s (P&T Committee) recommendations on formulary status, pre-authorizations, and the effective date for a drug’s change from formulary to non-formulary status. Moving a drug to non-formulary status means it will still be available to beneficiaries, but usually at a higher price. It may also require medication authorization. Current and new drugs were reviewed. The BAP’s recommendations were:

Phosphodiesterase Type 5 Inhibitors (PDE-5 inhibitors) with an implementation time no later than 60 days following the TRICARE Management Activity (TMA) Director approval:

• Recommended for the Uniform Formulary were: Levitra (vardenafil).

• Recommended for non-formulary were: Viagra (sildenafil) and Cialis (tadalafil).

Newly Approved Agents with an implementation time no later than 60 days following the TRICARE Management Activity (TMA) Director approval:

• Recommended for the Uniform Formulary was Nuvigil (armodafinil), a nasal allergy drug.

• Recommended for non-formulary were: Golimumab injection (Simponi), Certolizumab injection (Cimzia), and Silodosin capsules (Rapaflo).

Prior Authorization Changes for a previously reviewed drug with an implementation time no later than 7 days following TMA Director’s approval: Prior authorization now required for modafinil tablets (Povigil), a narcolepsy and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) medication.

For a complete list of formulary medications and the most updated list of Section 703 drugs, go to: www.tricareformularysearch.org/dod/medicationcenter/default.aspx. For additional information on this or other BAP meetings, refer to www.tricare.mil/pharmacy/bap. [Source: NMFA Government and You eNews 6 Oct 09 ++]

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Enlistment Update 01: One would think that age to enlist in the U.S. military would be a simple category. One is old enough, or too old, right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work that way. By federal law (10 U.S.C., 505), the minimum age for enlistment in the United States Military is 17 (with parental consent) and 18 (without parental consent). The maximum age is 42. However, DOD policy allows the individual services to specify the maximum age of enlistment based upon their own unique requirements. The individual services have set the following maximum ages for non-prior service enlistment:

• Active Duty Non-Prior Service: Army – 42; Air Force – 27; Navy – 34; Marines – 28; Coast Guard – Age 27. Note: up to age 32 for those selected to attend A-school directly upon enlistment (this is mostly for prior service).

• Reserve Non-Prior Service: Army Reserves – 42; Army National Guard – 35 (changed from 42 in 2009); Air Force Reserve – 34; Air National Guard – 40 (Changed from 34 in Aug 2009); Naval Reserves – 39; Marine Corps Reserve – 29; Coast Guard Reserves – Age 39.

Age waivers for non-prior service enlistments are very rare and when they are granted are usually for only a few months. The age limit for prior service enlistment for most of the branches is the same as above, except that an individual’s total previous military time can be subtracted from their current age. For example, let’s say that an individual has four years of credible military service in the Marine Corps and wants to join the Air Force. The Air Force could waive the individual’s maximum enlistment age to age 31 (Maximum age of 27 for the Air Force, plus four years credible service in the Marines). For the Marine Corps and the Marine Corps Reserve, the maximum age of enlistment for prior service is 32, after computing the prior-service age adjustment. For the Army and Air National Guard, the maximum age for prior service enlistment is 59, as long as the member has enough years of prior service to be able to complete 20 years of creditable service for retirement by age 60. Source: About.com: U.S. Military Rod Powers article 19 Sep 09 ++]

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Medicare Fraud Update 24: The Justice Department announced 30 SEP that the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) has agreed to pay the government $8.3 million to settle allegations that it illegally paid kickbacks to cardiologists and caused the submission of false claims to Medicare. UMDNJ’s University Hospital, which is located in Newark, N.J., is a state-licensed Level 1 Trauma Center. To maintain funding and accreditation from the state, University Hospital was dependent on the annual performance of a certain number of cardiac procedures, including cardiac catheterizations and cardiothoracic surgery. The government alleged that beginning in 1995, University Hospital was experiencing a decline in these procedures, and to remedy the problem, embarked on a program to bring in more cardio surgery patients through part-time employment contracts with a number of community cardiologists. The government alleges that those employment contracts served as vehicles to pay illegal kickbacks to the cardiologists for their referrals. “Today’s settlement reflects the Justice Department’s ongoing commitment to protect the integrity of the doctor-patient relationship,” said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division. “Patients must have confidence that the medical advice and treatments they are getting from their doctors are for the right reasons.” In 2008, the government reached settlements with six of the cardiologists who had allegedly received kickbacks through their employment contracts with UMDNJ. Two other cardiologists pleaded guilty to criminal embezzlement charges in connection with the employment contract scheme. The government has also filed a civil suit against two other cardiologists who had allegedly illegal employment contracts with UMDNJ. “The Department of Justice continues to pursue those who make referrals based on financial, rather than patient health, considerations,” said Marc Larkins, 1st Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey. [Source: FBI Press Release 30 Sep 09 ++]

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TSP Update 23: All six funds in the Thrift Savings Plan continued to grow in September, and three of them made up losses incurred during the last year.

• The S Fund, which invests in small- and mid-size companies and tracks the Dow Jones Wilshire 4500 Index, saw the most growth last month, increasing 5.94%. The fund’s value is up 28.94% since the beginning of January, though overall it’s down 5.23% since October 2008. The data from 2008 no longer includes losses the funds sustained during the market crash in September of that year.

• The I Fund, which invests in overseas companies, rose 3.79% in September. The fund has increased 27.34% since the beginning of 2009, and is up 1.55% during the last 12 months.

• The C Fund, which invests in common stocks of large companies on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, increased 3.74% last month. While the C Fund has experienced the biggest losses of any TSP fund during the last year, it has gained 19.45% since January.

• The F Fund, which invests in fixed-income bonds, continued its steady but modest gains in September, inching up 1.07%. The fund is up 5.75% since the beginning of 2009, and boasts the largest increases during the past year among the offerings, gaining 10.6%.

• The TSP’s most stable offering, the G Fund, rose 0.26% in September. The government securities fund is up 2.19% in 2009 so far, and 3.07% during the last year.

The life-cycle funds, designed to shift from a riskier mix of investments to a more stable one as plan participants near retirement, all increased in value in September. The L 2040 Fund rose 3.56%; the L 2030 Fund grew 3.14%; the L 2020 Fund gained 2.63%; the L 2010 Fund climbed 1.32%; and the L Income Fund rose 1.08%. All the L funds have made positive gains since the beginning of 2009, some of them considerable. The L 2040 Fund is up 20.49% for that period; the L 2030 Fund rose 18.28%; the L 2020 Fund has grown 15.57%; the L 2010 Fund gained 8.11%; and the L Income Fund is up 6.86%. The L 2040 Fund, however, still has not recouped its losses during the past 12 months. The fund fell 0.54% during that period. The other funds have made gains, however. Since October 2008, the L 2030 Fund is up 0.5%, the L 2020 Fund rose 1.5%, the L 2010 fund increased 2.3%, and the L Income Fund has grown 3.56%. [Source: GovExec.com Alyssa Rosenberg article 1 Oct 09 ++]

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Health Care Reform Update 14: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute in late SEP released a study, “The Cost of Failure to Enact Health Reform: Implications for States,” underscoring the urgent need for reform. It concludes that if federal reform efforts fail, over the next decade in every state, the number of uninsured will increase, employer sponsored coverage will continue to erode, spending on public programs will balloon and individual and family out-of-pocket costs could increase by more than 35%.” It predicts that without health insurance reform, within ten years, we can expect:

• Individual and family out-of-pocket costs would increase by more than 35% in every state. In the best case, 12 states would see individual and family spending increase by more than 50%.

• As many as 65.7 million Americans to be uninsured—increasing costs to taxpayers. Today, there are more than 46 million uninsured.

• Every state would see at least a ten percent rise in the number of uninsured; the increase would be more than 30% in 29 states.

• Employers paying significantly higher health insurance premiums.

• In 46 states, employers could be paying more than 60% more for health insurance premiums. Employers in 27 states will see premiums more than double.

To read the entire report go to www.rwjf.org/files/research/49148.pdf. For more info on the House committee on Ways and Means refer to http://waysandmeans.house.gov. For more info on the Committee’s conclusions regarding Health Care reform refer to http://waysandmeans.house.gov/MoreInfo.asp?section=52. [Source: Ways and Means Digest 2 Oct 09 ++]

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Mojave Desert Veteran Memorial Update 02: It would be easy to miss among the yucca and Joshua trees of this vast place — a small plywood box, set back from a gentle curve in a lonesome desert road. It looks like nothing so much as a miniature billboard without a message. But inside the box is a 6 1/2 -foot white cross, built to honor the war dead of World War I. And because its perch on a prominent outcropping of rock is on federal land, it has been judged to be an unconstitutional display of government favoritism of one religion over another. Whether the Mojave cross is ever unveiled again — or taken down for good — is up to the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. On 7 OCT with Buono v. Salazar it got its first major chance to divine the meaning of the First Amendment command that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” If the court reaches the constitutional issues at hand, all sides agree it could provide clarity to the court’s blurry rules on church-and-state separations. It could also carry important implications for the fate of war memorials around the country that feature religious imagery — the Argonne Cross in Arlington National Cemetery, for instance, or the Memorial Peace Cross in Bladensburg.

The Mojave cross’s protectors, which include veterans groups and the federal government, say the symbol is a historic, secular tribute; its original plaque from the 1930s said it was erected to honor “the dead of all wars.” They argue that Congress has taken the steps to distance itself from any appearance of endorsing a religious display. But the American Civil Liberties Union, Jewish and Muslim veterans, and others say government actions have only deepened the problem. In an effort to avoid the lower courts’ rulings that it must come down, Congress has designated the site the country’s only official national memorial to the dead of World War I, elevating it to an exclusive group of national treasures that includes the Washington Monument and Mount Rushmore. Congress’s actions ensure that “the cross necessarily will reflect continued government association with the preeminent symbol of Christianity,” the ACLU said. It seems an improbable importance for this piece of desert land, where temperatures regularly hit three digits. An hour can go by without a passing car and somewhere nearby is likely to be a Mojave Green, the desert’s own highly lethal variety of rattlesnake. “It’s just a little cross in the middle of nowhere,” said Wanda Sandoz, who with her husband Henry is the cross’s unofficial caretaker. Henry built the cross that currently occupies the spot — there have been three — and the Sandozes say they are fulfilling a WWI veteran’s dying request to look after things.

Hiram Sasser, a lawyer with the Liberty Legal Institute, which represents the Veterans of Foreign Wars and assists the Sandozes, agreed. “I always say you have to risk life and limb to be offended by this cross,” he said. It is unlikely the veterans who erected the cross knew or cared that Sunrise Rock was on federal land. World War I vets had flocked to the desert, either for mining opportunities or because doctors had suggested the climate for those with “shell shock” or respiratory problems from the war. The men started VFW chapters throughout the region, and apparently were drawn to this particular granite outcropping because some looked at the rock’s shadings and conjured up the silhouette of a WWI doughboy. The original cross had a plaque, complete with a misspelling: “The Cross, Erected in Memory of the Dead of All Wars, erected in 1934 by Members Veterans of Foregin [sic] Wars, Death of Valley Post 2884.” That cross is gone, replaced first by a wooden one, and then by one Henry Sandoz erected in 1998, which he copied from studying old photographs. Despite what supporters say was its secular birth, the cross for years has been the scene of Easter sunrise services, and the challenges began in 1999, when the U.S. Park Service denied an application from a Buddhist to build a shrine nearby. Frank Buono, an assistant superintendent, informed his boss that the presence of the cross violated the Constitution’s establishment clause.

Buono is Catholic, but he said he was offended by the religious display on federal land. “The cross is important to me because it is the indispensable symbol of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,” Buono said in an interview. “But it isn’t right that the symbol of my religion, or any religion, be permanently affixed to federal land.” Park officials agreed to take down the cross, but before they could act, Congress and the courts got involved. Congress forbade the Park Service from using any funds to remove the display. A district judge agreed with Buono that he had standing to bring his complaint and that the cross violated constitutional standards. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirmed the decision. Then Congress declared the site a national memorial, and proposed to cure any constitutional problems by transferring one acre on which the cross stands to the VFW in exchange for five acres owned elsewhere in the preserve by the Sandozes. But Buono and the ACLU went to court again, and the courts agreed that such a plan would not resolve the constitutionality question. The deal “would leave a little donut hole of land with a cross in the midst of a vast federal preserve,” the appeals court said.

While the fighting has gone on, the cross has remained in place. But to comply with the court’s ruling, it was

covered first by a tarpaulin bag and now by the plywood box. The Supreme Court has had trouble coming up with an easily followed guideline on religious displays on government land. Instead, it has opted to issue opinions based on the specifics of a case. Thus, the court in 2005 ruled 5 to 4 that a large, granite Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Texas capitol, in place for decades and surrounded by other historical markers, could remain. The same day, the court ruled by the same margin that recently installed framed copies of the Ten Commandments in two Kentucky courthouses were unconstitutional. But changes on the court could make it more difficult for those challenging religious monuments. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor voted to find both displays of the Ten Commandments unconstitutional, but she has been replaced by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who seems more sympathetic to the other view. “I can’t see many votes for removing the cross,” said Charles Haynes, an expert on the establishment clause at the First Amendment Center. Justices could short-circuit the constitutional issues by deciding the lower courts were wrong in granting Buono standing to challenge the cross.

President Obama’s new solicitor general, Elena Kagan, inherited the case from the Bush administration. She told the court in her brief that Buono no longer lives near the preserve and his objection to the cross — that it was on federal land — is remedied by the land swap. Buono’s lawyer, Peter Eliasberg of the Southern California chapter of the ACLU, said Congress’s efforts to avoid taking down the cross make it even clearer that the cross is endorsed by the government. He rejected arguments that the image of the cross was a historical, rather than religious, symbol of sacrifice. “When the government chooses a cross to recognize the veterans of World War I, which included 250,000 Jews, which included my grandfather, that is an important message and an inappropriate message for the government to send,” Eliasberg said. On 7 OCT the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments. ACLU counsel Peter Eliasberg claimed a cross on federal lands violates the Establishment Clause, which prohibits the federal government from creating a national religion or endorsing one religion over another. The main issue to emerge was whether the 2002 congressional mandate to swap the one-acre memorial site for five acres of private land elsewhere within the Mojave Desert Preserve was an attempt by Congress to circumvent a lower court order to remove the cross. Eliasberg maintained that you cannot cure an Establishment Clause violation with a land swap, and said a land swap would result in a donut-hole plot of private land that would be indistinguishable from surrounding federal land. Elena Kagan countered that there was no Establishment Clause violation, and that there are approximately 1,000 private landowners who already own 1,800 plots of varying size within the 1.6 million-acre Desert Preserve. A final ruling is not expected till next year. [Source: Washington Post Robert Barnes article 29 Sep 09 ++]

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Tricare User Fee Update 41: The 2009Tricare Standard inpatient co-payment for military retirees is $535 a day. DoD has announced an increase of $110 a day to $645 per day or 25% of the total charge, whichever is less effective 1 OCT which is more than a 20% jump. Additionally, inpatient behavioral health service cost share at civilian hospitals has increased from $193 to $197 per day or 25% of the billed charge, whichever is less. Unlike the previous three years, neither the House nor the Senate bills included any provisions prohibiting Tricare fee increases in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2010 that they passed and sent to the Joint conference committee. They apparently also believed the Pentagon would follow the President’s lead. This increase would not affect beneficiaries of Tricare Prime or Tricare for Life (TFL), but it may very well indicate what is to come. In reaction to the announcement members of the Military Coalition (TMC) expressed their outrage and took the following actions:

• On 1 OCT, the day after the announcement, the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) sent a letter to Secretary Gates asking him to rescind the increase. On 2 OCT MOAA sent letters to House and Senate Armed Services Committee leaders asking them to prohibit any FY2010 increases and get additional data to evaluate adjustment methodologies for inpatient copays and Tricare Reserve Select premiums.

• The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA) immediately wrote to Secretary Gates urging him to immediately reverse this decision. They noted that this was contrary to his announcement that he would not propose any Tricare fee increases for FY2010! This co-pay is already extremely high and much more than most civilian health care plans. For the last 3 years Congress had barred any increase in this co-pay. It did not include a similar provision in this year’s NDAA based on the Secretary’s assurances.

• The National Association of Uniform Services (NAUS) expressed outrage that DoD would independently raise hospital inpatient co-payments. NAUS President MG Matz sent a letter to SecDef Gates expressing disbelief that in spite of President Obama and DoD’s assurances they would implement an increase and announce it on the day before it was to take effect. He urged Secretary Gates to restore confidence and honor regarding its word by rescinding the inpatient fee increase noting among many things that it breaks the sacred trust with those who have worn this country’s uniform. He wrote, “…Congress did not include prohibitions on Tricare fee increases in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2010. They did so believing your department would follow through on assurances given them that fees would not be raised. This shocking “October Surprise” must certainly be viewed as a “slap in the face” to them as it is to us…” He also asked for DoD to reaffirm their previous commitment not to raise Tricare fees. He pledged NAUS will also take this issue up with Congress if necessary.

As of this writing Secretary Gates has not responded to any of the above but Tricare spokesman Austin Camacho

said the military associations will receive one. He also said it is only a coincidence that the 30 SEP press release that announced the 1 OCT increases had been pulled from the Tricare web site. A new release with a more clear explanation of the fee increases is being prepared. In the interim Congress has stepped in and taken action to stop the increases. Congress included a provision in the Conference Report for the FY2010 National Defense Authorization Act (HR 2647) prohibiting the increase. The House on 8 OCT approved the Conference report by a vote of 281 to 146. It is anticipated that the Senate will vote on the conference report soon. [Source: Various 2 Oct 09 ++]

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Tricare User Fee Update 42: Defense Department health officials didn’t do the Obama administration any favors 30 SEP when they announced a “small” increase in the daily fee that military retirees under 65, their families and insured survivors must pay for inpatient care in civilian hospitals under Tricare Standard starting Oct. 1. The jump for working age retirees and their families is $110 per day, a 20.6% increase. Tricare Standard is the military’s fee-for-service insurance option. The inpatient cost share for retirees under age 65 and their family members was increased to $645 a day from $535. The actual formula for beneficiaries is $645 a day, or 25 percent of total hospital charges, whichever is less. Families of active duty members who use Standard for civilian hospital stays will see a more modest increase in their daily charge, from $15.65 a day to $16.30, or $25 per admission, whichever is greater. The increase for retirees stunned and angered at least one service association. “This shocking announcement is extremely disappointing, given your public assurances earlier this year that the Defense Department would not be proposing any Tricare fee increases,” retired Navy Vice Adm. Norbert R. Ryan Jr., president of the Military Officers Association of America told Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Ryan’s protest letter was sent hours after Tricare officials unveiled their new inpatient fees for Standard.

Austin Camacho, spokesman for Tricare Management Activity in Falls Church, Va. , said the increase results from a regulation. “The regulation also requires that we publish the rates annually,” Camacho said. “About three years ago Congress froze the per diem at $535 and later extended the freeze to 30 SEP 09. Hence, there is a large increase now that the freeze is no longer in effect.” MOAA’s criticism, likely to be echoed by other service associations, centers on Gates statements earlier this year that the department wouldn’t be seeking Tricare fees increases for fiscal 2010. It’s unclear now whether he meant that the department wouldn’t seek any new legislative authority to raise retiree Tricare fees, as the Bush administration did for the past three years, or whether he meant Defense Department would keep all fees frozen through the year. Service associations presumed, from Gates’ statements, that they would not have to lobby Congress again this year to insert language in the defense bill to block fee increases for Standard users through 2010. “They believe, as we do, that the current $535 per day retiree inpatient co-pay is already far larger than inpatient co-pays under most civilian insurance plans,” said Ryan, urging Gates to reverse the decision. “We don’t understand how a further 21% increase to $645 meets any standard of equity or reasonableness for the most seriously ill and injured beneficiaries to whom it would apply.”

The increase also caught White House political operatives by surprise. It comes amid an emotional debate over national health care reform. The fee increase, and service association criticism, almost certainly will be used by Republicans to deepen doubts about the president’s intentions regarding his health care initiatives. In his letter, however, Ryan gave Gates the benefit of the doubt. “Because of your previous assurances, we believe these increases were undertaken without your knowledge or approval,” Ryan told the defense chief. But he urged Gates to “repudiate and overturn this inappropriate and unfair increase.” Camacho confirmed that the impact of the $110-a-day increase in hospital charges is leavened by the annual $3000 catastrophic cap on Tricare fees that remains in effect for military beneficiaries. That means the maximum number of days the higher inpatient fees can be charged to Standard plan users is four, for an annual out-of-pocket increase of $440. Most Standard users hospitalized in civilian facilities actually will pay the higher fee for even fewer days than four. That’s because the catastrophic cap is reached using most out-of-pocket cost under Tricare Standard including the annual deductible payment, pharmacy co-pays, outpatient cost shares and costs exceeding Tricare-allowable charges. Tricare for Life, the golden supplement to Medicare for retirees and dependents age 65 and older, is unaffected by the new inpatient fees.

Before this year, the largest annual increase in Standard inpatient fees for retirees was 16%, from $441 a day to $512, in OCT 04. Retirees and their family members who use Standard for hospital care also pay 25% of what Tricare deems to “allowable charges” for separately billed professional services received as inpatients. They also must cover any costs that exceed allowable Tricare rates. Gates said in April that rising costs for military health are “eating the Department alive.” He made clear then that he wanted Congress to allow fees increases. But Gates said the department this year would not be proposing any plan to increase fee and then leave a hole in its health budget on the presumption Congress would agree to the changes. [Source: Stars & Stripes Tom Philpott article 30 Sep 09 ++]

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VA Contracted Care: A Senate committee reviewing the increased use of contracted health care for veterans disability exams and treatment is growing increasingly skeptical that this is a cheaper or higher-quality alternative to using Veterans Affairs Department health care workers. About one-quarter of the medical exams required for compensation and pension claims are handled by contract doctors as part of an effort launched in 1996 to address delays in getting appointments. VA also has turned to contractors under a pilot project to provide specialty care not available — or not available without a long wait — at veterans hospitals and clinics, and general and specialty care in rural areas or other locations far from VA facilities. But the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, which endorses the idea of reducing appointment wait times, is not sure the increased reliance on contract health care is a good thing.

• Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) said he doubts that an exam to determine a veteran’s disability rating could be done as accurately by a contract doctor as by a VA physician with years of experience.

• Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) said he has heard from a North Carolina urologist who has decided to stop providing contract care to veterans because VA does not provide enough information about a veteran’s medical condition in advance of an appointment, and does not do a good enough job monitoring patients who had a one-time visit with a contract specialist.

• Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) pressed VA officials — without getting a direct answer — about why the department does not try to hire more doctors in places like the Washington, D.C., area, rather than rely on a contractor to provide disability exams.

A psychiatric clinical nurse testifying before the committee on behalf of the American Federation of Government Employees, an employee union, called contract care “over-utilized and under-scrutinized by many VA facilities in both rural and urban areas” and questioned whether reliance on contracts as a short-term fix for staff shortages and long patient waiting lists was in the best interests of veterans. “Contract care requires that VA give up a certain degree of control to a for-profit outside entity,” said Mary Curtis, a nurse and clinical care coordinator at the VA medical center in Boise, Idaho. “In the short term, the effect is that VA may be less able to control costs, quality of care, provider qualifications and medical privacy or ensure that care is delivered timely and is geographically accessible,” Curtis said. “In the long term, excessive use of contract care may deplete the VA health care system of the staff, equipment and other resources it needs to continue to provide veterans with a full range of services. The diversion of large numbers of veterans to contract providers may also weaken VA’s research capacity and academic affiliations.” VA officials and representatives of the major health care contractors defended the quality and cost of care. Tim McClain, president and chief executive officer of Humana Veterans Health Services, which provides specialty care, said his company does not undermine VA. He called his company’s work an “effective backstop.” VA officials said they are restructuring their contract oversight from local authority to more centralized control so they can better monitor services and costs. [Source: NavyTimes: Rick Maze article 30 Sep 09 ++]

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VA Automatic Enrollment: A bill to automatically enroll returning combat veterans in the veterans health care system is gaining some key support. The nation’s largest veteran’s service organization, the American Legion, has endorsed the bill, H.R. 3441, as has Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, founded in 2004 specifically to look out for the interests of people who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. A