Week Round-up (May 8-12)
Some of the stories circulating the veteran community.
VA refocusing on pre-need eligibility forms and benefits. The Veteran Benefits Administration (VBA) announced through a press release December 8 that it now “provides eligibility determinations for interment in a VA national cemetery prior to the time of need. Through the Pre-Need Determination of Eligibility Program, upon request, individuals can learn if they are eligible for burial or memorialization in a VA national cemetery.” The VBA express that they recognize families of deceased veterans often have trouble financing funeral services. Some of these benefits include burial in any open VA national cemetery, grave liners, perpetual care of the grave, government-furnished headstones, burial flags, and Presidential Memorial Certificates. Pre-Need applications can be found at http://www.cem.va.gov/preneed.
An Assemblywoman in California is looking to provide legal help for deported veterans. The California state assembly passed a bill created by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher Monday that aims to provide legal representation for honorably discharged veterans who were deported.
“It’s time we bring our deported vets back,” said Gonzalez Fletcher. “California can lead the way by trying to bring them home.”
The bill unanimously passed the assembly and now goes to the Senate.
Lawmakers made another run at accountability legislation Thursday. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled Congress’ legislation that aimed to ease termination rules for the Department of Veteran Affairs unconstitutional Tuesday. In light of the accountability legislation passed earlier this year, House Democrats continue to voice concerns that the legislation is still too restrictive.
VA Secretary David Shulkin issued a statement Tuesday evening that the ruling “underscores yet again the need for swift congressional action to afford the secretary effective and defensible authority to take timely and meaningful action against VA employees whose conduct or performance undermines veteran’s trust in VA care or services.”
However, on Thursday a bipartisan group of Senators introduced a new piece of accountability legislation that contains a process for quicker termination for employees who have displayed misconduct, the ability to strip those employees of ill-gotten bonuses, and an endorsement from key Congressional leaders.
According to MilitaryTimes, a majority of House Democrats oppose Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Phil Roe’s support of the legislation, but it already has several Democratic co-sponsors.
Riders honor post Chaplain during the annual “Blessing of the Bikes.” The AMVET Riders of Post 91 conducted the annual “Blessing of the Bikes” in Monticello, Indiana, May 7. The event also honored past post chaplain George Hagle, who passed March 18 after a long battle with cancer. The riders provided George’s wife, Connie, with a signed, framed photo of George to commemorate his time with AMVETS.
“George was a great guy. He was one of our past presidents and our chaplain for a number of years,” Post 91 Riders President Don Kiselus said Sunday. “George was very active in the AMVETS organization, as well as the VFW and American Legion. He’s definitely going to be missed, especially by myself, as he was my mentor as well as my friend. Looks like we have a great turnout here today. I am just so glad and happy that he had so many friends that have some here to honor him today.”