The official blog of American Veteran Magazine, the national quarterly publication of AMVETS.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Looking for Answers on Student-Veterans' Centers

This week, Cleveland State University professor John Schupp, founder of Supportive Education for the Returning Veteran, or SERV, is in Washington looking for answers on how colleges and universities can take advantage of the recently-approved federal grants to establish student-veterans' centers of excellence.

Thanks to the hard work of Schupp and the AMVETS legislative team, the provision commissioning such grants was included in the Higher Education Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2008 and funding was secured in the Department of Education budget for FY2010.

Though Congress approved $6 million for a pilot program, the Department of Education has yet to clarify how these initial grants will be administered.

Since news of the grants became public in December, AMVETS and SERV have been inundated with calls, e-mails and letters from colleges and universities asking how their campuses could take advantage of the new program.

Some of the nation's top public schools, such as Indiana University, Kent State, University of California Santa Cruz, Mississippi State and Washington State, have formally inquired about how they can become involved. For this week’s meetings in Washington, Schupp has brought more than 60 of these letters with him to show key decision-makers.

AMVETS National Legislative Director Ray Kelley said he hopes that the Department of Education will start the grant process shortly to ensure that funds will be delivered in time to have true centers of excellence up and running for the fall 2010 semester.

AMVETS and SERV originally recognized the need for student-veterans' centers once the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill was signed into law, offering unprecedented educational opportunities for 21st century veterans.

American Veteran will continue to follow this story. Check back regularly for updates.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New Issue of American Veteran Magazine Available Online

In the winter issue of American Veteran magazine, we share the inspiring story of Dana Bowman, the new AMVETS national spokesman and elite paratrooper who lost both of his legs in a skydiving accident in 1994. To read the latest issue of American Veteran magazine, Click Here.

This winter, we also highlight the work of Doug Sterner, the Vietnam veteran who has single-handedly compiled the nation's most comprehensive database of military valorous award citations. Sterner played an integral role in the launch of AMVETS' new Web site,, in December, and in this issue's "Outside the Wire," he discusses his work and his motivation preserving the veterans' historical record.

In this issue's "Off the Shelf" feature, we discuss "As You Were" by Washington Post reporter Christian Davenport, who followed a Virginia National Guard unit to Iraq and back, chronicling the personal stories of today's citizen-soldiers.

We also discuss one of AMVETS' top legislative priorities for 2010, rural and remote veterans' access to VA care, and the recent success of the AMVETS Task Force DVD holiday drive.

Be on the look-out for the print edition of American Veteran magazine in mailboxes soon.

(Photos: Top: Dana Bowman shakes hands with AMVETS National Commander Duane J. Miskulin outside the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas. Photo courtesy of Dana Bowman. Bottom: Doug Sterner working in his home office in Alexandria, Va. Photo by Jay Agg.)

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Live from Capitol Hill: AMVETS to Testify on VA's Benefits Delivery on Discharge Program

This afternoon, AMVETS Legislative Director Ray Kelley will appear before the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs to discuss the VA's Benefits Delivery on Discharge program, or BDD.

A video feed from the hearing may be available in the early afternoon for the 2 p.m. hearing. Check back shortly for an update.

Kelley will appear alongside leaders from other veterans' organizations, including IAVA and Independent Budget partners DAV and VFW.

AMVETS supported VA's implementation of BDD as a way to streamline the VA claims process for Iraq and Afghanistan-era veterans. However, as Kelley points out, improvements can be made.

During his testimony, Kelley will focus on VA's need to expand its program, allowing for all VA Regional Offices to rate BDD claims, places where VA can improve communication and outreach to eligible service members, and ways in which VA can improve the paperwork process for claims across the board.

Kelley will also discuss the program's use of DoD, VA, and contracted assets and the need for better understanding of local Memorandums of Understanding to avoid duplicate exams.

AMVETS Deputy Legislative Director Christina Roof also submitted testimony for the record for this morning's full House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on the relationship between medication and suicide.

This morning's hearing brings together top medical minds from VA and the private sector to discuss whether prescription practices for today's veterans have exacerbated the suicide issue.

To view live video from the hearing, which commences at 10 a.m., Click Here.

American Veteran will follow both of these hearings closely. Check back later for updates.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

This Week at American Veteran

This week at American Veteran, we will once again follow AMVETS' legislative team to Capitol Hill for a series of hearing on critical veterans' issues ranging from benefits-delivery, veterans' suicide, Gulf War illness, and pending veterans' legislation. Several of these hearings were rescheduled from the back-to-back blizzards that struck Washington prior to the district work period.

This week, we will also keep you posted on plans for upcoming Capitol Hill visits with AMVETS and Paws With A Cause to discuss responsible service dog legislation. The Paws hill visits will correspond with a barrage of AMVETS and Sons of AMVETS meetings with legislators on critical veterans' issues, as well as National Commander Duane Miskulin's testimony before the joint session of the House and Senate committees on Veterans Affairs and the presentation of the Congressional Silver Helmet Award to Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.). As details become available (and as AMVETS develops a clever name), American Veteran will keep you up to date.

Cmdr. Miskulin is visiting the AMVETS Department of Illinois this week, meeting with AMVETS and veterans' advocates across the state and participating in the State Executive Committee meeting on Sunday.

Last week, Miskulin and AMVETS National Service Foundation President Joe Piening were in Nevada for the Special Olympics national bowling championship--an event AMVETS has supported for more than 25 years. American Veteran will post photos and highlights in the coming days.

Next, the new issue of American Veteran is on its way. We will post highlights on this blog in the coming days.

As always, we're eager to how what you think, so please feel free to post in the comments section on this blog.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

SCOOTER Store Donates Scooters to North Dakota AMVETS

Yesterday, the SCOOTER Store donated two new Go-Go scooters to AMVETS Post No. 4 in Jamestown, N.D., to assist veterans visiting the local Flags Across America site, featuring one of the nation's most prominent veterans' memorials and a tribute to North Dakota's Medal of Honor recipients.

J.A. Carlascio, a member of AMVETS Post No. 4 and a WWII veteran, sent a letter to the SCOOTER Store earlier this year, asking for assistance for veterans who were unable to visit the memorial due to mobility restrictions and service-connected conditions.

SCOOTER Store made the donation to AMVETS as part of their Gift of Mobility program, which provides mobility equipment to those who do not have the financial resources for their own powered wheelchairs and scooters.

"Mr. Carlascio and his fellow veterans proudly served this country during World War II; the least we can do now is serve them," said Doug Harrison, CEO of the SCOOTER Store. "We started the Gift of Mobility program because we understand that mobility and the ensuing independence is fundamental to the freedom these veterans helped us keep. We hope the scooters remind the veterans how much their service is appreciated."

Since its inception in 2002, the SCOOTER Store Gift of Mobility Program has provided more than $350,000-worth of wheelchairs and scooters each year to individuals and community organizations to assist those with limited mobility.

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Phony AMVETS Facebook Page

Since launching the AMVETS National Headquarters Facebook page last year, AMVETS has received dozens of complaints about another page claiming to represent the organization on the social networking site.

This phony page uses the AMVETS Ladies Auxiliary logo and the AMVETS name without the permission of the national organization and posts misleading information about AMVETS and the AMVETS thrift store operation.

AMVETS has contacted Facebook administrators repeatedly, asking for the page to be removed, in accordance with their own policies. However, AMVETS has not received a response and no action has been taken.

Most recently, AMVETS National Communications Department attempted to file a copyright infringement claim using Facebook's online forms. American Veteran will keep you informed, as this moves forward.

AMVETS leaders encourage all AMVETS members and membership-eligible veterans to ignore this page and its misleading content until further action can be taken.

If you are looking for the authorized AMVETS Facebook page, Click Here.

To date, the legitimate AMVETS National Headquarters Facebook page has more than 700 fans and AMVETS encourages all members to check out the page, as Facebook has become an invaluable tool in communicating the AMVETS message.

Many posts and departments have started their own Facebook pages, as well, and AMVETS leadership hopes more posts and departments will take advantage of this tremendous free resource.

Unfortunately, the open format that allows Facebook to effectively connect millions of users also allows for this kind of misuse from time to time.

(Image: Screengrab of the phony AMVETS Facebook page, accessed Feb. 19, 2010.)

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Last Day to Donate Blankets Through AMVETS/Sears Operation Blanket

Today is the last day to donate gently used blankets for homeless veterans at participating Sears stores around the country and receive up to 20 percent off a Sears purchase through Operation Blanket.

Last month, AMVETS partnered with Sears to collect blankets around the country to be distributed to homeless veterans through AMVETS posts and departments. Sears also committed $5,000 directly to benefit AMVETS' national programs.

Sears stores participating in Operation Blanket can be found in California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Sears representatives said this is their latest effort to support the military and veterans' communities. Over the last few years, Sears has raised more than $11 million to support military families through programs such as Operation Blanket and the ongoing Heroes at Home program.

(Image: Sears Blue Crew employee Billy Turner presents AMVETS Department of Illinois Commander Rudy Spaulding at AMVETS Post No. 66 in Wheeling, Ill. Photo courtesy of Sears.)

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Post-9/11 G.I. Bill Update: VA Emergency Check Collections

VA announced this week that it will send a second round of notifications to veterans who took advantage of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill emergency checks in the fall semester.

According to Military Times, VA plans to offer several repayment options for veterans, including possible debt waivers for those experiencing financial hardships.

AMVETS leaders were surprised to hear of VA's recoupment plan earlier this year and continue to call on VA to hold off on collections until all back pay issues from the fall semester have been sorted out.

AMVETS continues to receive e-mails and phone calls from concerned veterans who have received some payments, but for whom back pay from fall semester remains a critical missing piece.

VA recently told AMVETS that a high percentage of emergency checks may have been issued to ineligible active duty personnel around military installations, prompting VA to seek swift recovery of its funds. However, AMVETS leaders remain concerned that casting a wide net to recover bad checks could lead to more headaches for legitimate student-veterans.

"While we understand that VA wants to collect from folks who didn't deserve checks in the first place, many recipients of Chapter 33 are struggling to make ends meet because they haven't received their back pay from the fall," said AMVETS National Legislative Director Ray Kelley. "VA's focus should be on ensuring that this money is provided to these veterans before adding another stress by insisting on recoupment of the emergency payment."

AMVETS originally suggested a similar emergency payment program to VA in late August, when reports of Post-9/11 G.I. Bill delays started to surface. VA implemented its emergency check program in October with the intent of recovering check funds quickly once the backlog was sorted out.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Military Times: 13 Percent of Eligible Vets Applied For Stop Loss Pay

Yesterday, Military Times reported that only 13 percent of the estimated 120,000 eligible Army veterans have registered for retroactive stop loss compensation.

Veterans retained beyond their original contract date anytime between Sept. 11, 2001 and Sept. 30, 2008 are eligible to receive $500 per month for their time of involuntary service.

AMVETS leaders encourage anyone who was held beyond their military contract within the eligibility period to sign up for the benefit online by Clicking Here.

If you are having trouble viewing the Web site, you may need to add a security exception for the site's certificate. Information sent through the Web site is secure and maintained by the Department of Defense.

"Stop loss put additional burdens on soldiers and their loved ones for more than seven years and Congress authorized these payments in recognition of this involuntary sacrifice in our nation's time of need," said AMVETS National Legislative Director Ray Kelley. "This is an earned entitlement, which is why AMVETS wants all eligible veterans to take advantage of the program."

Applications for the benefit were first accepted on Oct. 21, 2009. To date, Military Times reports that only 16,000 soldiers have signed up for benefits and only 2,500 have received compensation.

The $500 billion program was authorized as part of the FY 2010 Defense Authorization.

American Veteran will work to ensure news of the stop loss benefit will reach the other 87 percent of eligible soldiers in the coming weeks.

(Image: Banner from the U.S. Army's Retroactive Stop Loss compensation Web site.)

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AMVETS Joins Twitter

AMVETS National Headquarters joined Twitter this morning. Follow AMVETS' leadership @AMVETSNational.

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This Week at American Veteran

This week at American Veteran, we will follow AMVETS National Commander Duane Miskulin and AMVETS National Service Foundation President Joe Piening to Reno, Nevada, as they honor AMVETS' partners with the Special Olympics.

This week is a district work period for members of Congress, so AMVETS National Legislative Department will be collecting itself for upcoming hearings--including those rescheduled as a result of the recent blizzards.

The winter issue of American Veteran also made its way to the printer on Friday, meaning the new issue should be available online later this week and should arrive in your mailboxes soon.

AMVETS continues to receive inquiries about the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, with reports of veterans still waiting on payment for the spring. Fortunately, many veterans have received confirmation that their benefits have been processed and payments should be flowing throughout the month of February. Associated Press reported on the new G.I. Bill last week.

American Veteran will continue to follow the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill throughout the semester, along with dozens of other critical veterans' issues. Check back regularly for updates.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

This Week at American Veteran

This week, American Veteran has been seriously hampered by the back-to-back blizzards affecting the Washington metro area.

As weather permits, we plan to be back online in the next couple of days.

With the near-total federal government shut-down, all veterans' affairs hearings have been postponed, along with VSO coordination meetings. We will keep you posted as the schedule evolves in the next couple of weeks.

However, with the blizzard, the work continues. This week, the Associated Press published a story about the continued inequities in dependent indemnity compensation and survivor benefits program (DIC/SBP) offsets for military widows. The veterans' community also lost a vocal, and sometimes controversial, advocate in Congressman John Murtha (D-Pa.), who died from complications in surgery. Military Times covered the story here.

Murtha was a Marine Corps Vietnam veteran and the first Vietnam veteran elected to Congress in 1974. During his time in office, Murtha fought for improved veterans' benefits, but became a controversial figure when he criticized the actions of American troops involved in the 2005 Haditha killings in Iraq.

Finally, reports of Post-9/11 G.I. Bill payment issues continue to trickle in, with more questions on back pay from fall 2009 and inconsistent payments. AMVETS leaders will continue to look for answers, though the government shut-down has hindered these efforts for the moment. Veterans should continue to monitor their bank accounts as VA continues to bring its accounts current.

Barring further complications from the weather, the winter issue of American Veteran should go to print this week. We will keep you posted on this blog with more details.

(Photo: M Street NW in Washington after Friday's first wave of the blizzard. Cell phone photo by Ryan Gallucci.)

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Keeping Posted Online: Illinois AMVETS Honor Local VA Employees

Over the last few months, AMVETS Department of Illinois Commander Rudy Spaulding has been traveling across the state, presenting special honors to VA administrators and staff who have demonstrated a sustained commitment to Illinois' veterans.

Spaulding presents each honoree with an AMVETS plaque featuring a clock and a Commander's Certificate of Appreciation that reads, "In Appreciation for Outstanding Dedication to our Nation’s Brave Veterans."

(Photo: Cmdr. Spaulding honors the staff at the Joliet VA Outpatient Clinic. Photo courtesy of AMVETS Department of Illinois.)

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AMVETS and Independent Budget Partners Testify on VA Budget for FY2011

Yesterday AMVETS and its partner organizations on the Independent Budget testified before the House Veterans Affairs Committee on the proposed FY2011 VA budget. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki also appeared before the committee to answer questions on the Administration's budget proposal, which was released on Monday. To view video from yesterday's hearing, Click Here.

In his testimony, Shinseki said his goals for VA were to eliminate the claims backlog, improve access, and end homelessness. To read Shinseki's prepared remarks, Click Here.

However, with new presumptions for Agent Orange conditions and a continued influx of complex Iraq and Afghanistan-related benefits claims, VA admitted that the lag time for VA claims may worsen in the short term. VA's goal is to reduce the wait time to 125 days by 2012, completely eliminating the backlog by 2015.

When asked about why claims were more complex, Shinseki deferred to Acting Undersecretary of Benefits Michael Walcoff who explained that successful outreach efforts have made veterans more keenly aware of their entitlements.

"We used to see only two or three issues on each claim, now we're seeing more than four," said Walcoff. "We've had better outreach to veterans and the service organizations are doing a good job of informing veterans--which are all good things--but it adds to the complexity of the work."

In an effort to improve the backlog, VA has asked for an additional 4,000 full time claims processors. However, AMVETS and the nation's other leading VSOs believe that simply more staff will not be enough to solve the problem. AMVETS National Legislative Director Ray Kelley said many options remain on the table to help streamline an antiquated paper-based process.

AMVETS has also proposed shifting VA evaluation criteria to focus on quality of output, rather than quantity, which could significantly reduce the number of appeals in the system.

House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner (D-Calif.) discussed a proposal for VA similar to an IRS auditing system to help deliver benefits in a more timely manner--a proposal that has raised significant concerns for AMVETS and other leading VSOs.

DAV Assistant National Legislative Director John Wilson briefly discussed the backlog during his testimony on behalf of the IB partners.

This is the 24th year that AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America and VFW have partnered to author the IB, which Filner called his Bible when considering how to properly fund VA each fiscal year.

The FY2011 IB is the first to include advance appropriations for the following fiscal year since President Barack Obama signed the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009 into law last October. The IB partners called on Congress to provide $54.2 billion as a baseline for VA health care in FY2012.

Kelley testified on the VA's National Cemetery Administration and its funding needs on behalf of the IB, applauding NCA for its efficiency. NCA recently expanded its eligibility threshold, affording more veterans with the opportunity to be buried in national cemeteries. To read Kelley's prepared remarks, Click Here.

American Veteran will continue to follow the VA budget process for FY2011. Check back regularly for updates.

(Photos: Top: VA Secretary Shinseki discusses the proposed VA budget before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. Bottom: Kelley testifies on the Independent Budget alongside VFW's Eric Hillman, DAV's John Wilson, and PVA's Carl Blake. Photos by Ryan Gallucci.)

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Live from Capitol Hill: Independent Budget Partners Unveil VA Budget Proposal

This morning, AMVETS will join its partners on Capitol Hill to unveil the Independent Budget for VA in FY2011. AMVETS National Legislative Director Ray Kelley will testify on behalf of AMVETS. To view live video from this morning's hearing, Click Here.

For the last 24 years, AMVETS has partnered with DAV, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and VFW to develop a comprehensive budget proposal for VA discretionary spending, known throughout the veterans' community as the IB.

Congress has often considered the IB as one of the best barometers for how VA funds should be allocated each fiscal year.

This year's IB calls on Congress to provide $61.5 billion in discretionary funding for VA--$1.2 billion more than the Obama Administration asked for in its budget proposal earlier this week. To view this year's IB, Click Here.

American Veteran will be on hand for the hearing. Check back later for updates.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Post-9/11 G.I. Bill Update: Feb. 1 Deadline

Yesterday was VA's self-imposed Feb. 1 deadline to process spring 2010 Post-9/11 G.I. Bill claims. Preliminary reports from student-veterans' advocates around the country indicate that payments are flowing. However, anonymous reports continue to trickle in, indicating that veterans may still be slipping through the cracks. If you are an enrolled Chapter 33-eligible veteran who has not received timely payment for either the fall or spring semesters, please contact me via email at AMVETS National Headquarters:

Ryan Gallucci

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Live from Capitol Hill: Pentagon to Discuss Plan for "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

This afternoon, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen will discuss the Pentagon's plan to address the controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee will be broadcast live on C-SPAN 3 at noon eastern time. For a live video link on C-SPAN's Web site, Click Here.

President Barack Obama asked Congress and the military to find ways to responsibly overturn the policy during last week's State of the Union address.

AMVETS delegates voted on a resolution at this summer's national convention--Resolution 10-17--calling for continued support to the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" until Congress and the military addressed broader social issues associated with overturning the policy during a time of war. To read the resolution, Click Here.

AMVETS leaders demanded equitable treatment for all service members with regard to benefits and entitlements, should the policy be overturned--something that hasty legislative changes could not guarantee. To read AMVETS' full response to last week's announcement, Click Here.

Preliminary reports indicate that the Pentagon may seek a long-term solution to ensure the policy is changed in a responsible manner, taking into consideration many of the concerns voiced by AMVETS.

American Veteran will follow today's developments closely. Check back later for details.

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Monday, February 1, 2010

VA Unveils FY2011 Budget Proposal

This afternoon VA unveiled its budget proposal for the FY2011 VA budget, including advance appropriations for veterans' health care in FY2012. AMVETS leaders were on hand, as VA officials gave a comprehensive breakdown of the budget proposal to the nation's top veterans' organizations.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and Deputy Secretary Scott Gould explained VA's vision behind the new budget proposal and deputy secretaries from each VA administration were on hand to field questions. In his opening remarks, Shinseki said the FY2011 budget would focus on three areas: improved access to benefits, faster disability claims decisions and putting an end to veterans' homelessness.

VA's total budget proposal calls on Congress to approve $125 billion for VA in FY2011 and an additional $54.3 billion in advance appropriations for VA health care in FY2012. VA officials noted that the proposed figure would represent a 20 percent increase in the total VA budget over the last two years.

The proposed budget provided for increases in funding to meet some of the most significant needs, as identified by AMVETS members for the 2010 Legislative Agenda, including the claims backlog, female veterans' health care, rural and remote veterans' health care, education and mental health.

One of the most significant new investments comes in the form of more than $800 million dedicated to transitional housing programs to assist homeless veterans, as part of the Secretary's five-year plan to end homelessness.

However, with new presumptions for Agent Orange-related conditions, VA is actually expecting the processing time for claims to increase in the short term, before a series of remedies help to alleviate the strains on the current system. While the average wait time in 2009 stood at 161 days, veterans may be waiting up to 190 days in FY2011 due to the influx of Agent Orange claims and continued new claims from Iraq and Afghanistan.

VA's Acting Under Secretary for Benefits Michael Walcoff assured the assembled veterans' groups that the VA's goal was the bring the total processing time down to fewer than 125 days over the next two years, with the addition of more than 4,000 full time employees handling claims and additional resources dedicated to the Veterans Benefits Management System, or VBMS, which would provide a comprehensive IT solution to the current analog claims process.

AMVETS and the Independent Budget partners will unveil their budget proposal to Congress on Thursday. Check back tomorrow for further reaction to VA's announcement and more details about Thursday's hearing on the FY2011 VA budget.

(Image: Cover to the VA's FY2011 budget proposal. Hyperlink to VA's Web page with details on the proposal.)

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This Week at American Veteran

This week at American Veteran, we will be following VA's announcement of its FY2011 budget proposal, which takes place at VA headquarters in Washington this afternoon. AMVETS National Executive Director Jim King and National Legislative Director Ray Kelley will be on hand for the announcement. VA will formally present its budget proposal to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs on Thursday.

AMVETS is a partner in the Independent Budget, a comprehensive line-by-line analysis, compiled by the nation's top VSOs, explaining how the veterans' community believes Congress should allocate funds for VA each fiscal year. To learn more about the IB, Click Here.

American Veteran will also be following several key hearings in the House and Senate this week, such as tomorrow's hearing before the Senate Armed Service Committee where Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen will announce their plans for addressing the military's controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

In the wake of last week's State of the Union address, AMVETS clarified its stance on the issue, as voted on by AMVETS membership.

American Veteran will also follow Wednesday's hearing in the House Committee on Veterans Affairs where VA and Humana will discuss the Project HERO pilot program, which was designed to offer critical health care services to rural and remote veterans consistent with VA standards. AMVETS has made rural and remote veterans' access to care a top legislative priority for 2010.

Next, today is Feb. 1--the day VA claimed all Post-9/11 G.I. Bill requests would be processed, should all necessary paperwork be received by Jan. 19. AMVETS leaders will be following the situation closely, though initial reports suggest that veterans are already receiving payment for their spring semester living stipends. If you hear otherwise, please let us know by posting on this blog or contacting the AMVETS National Communications Department via email.

AMVETS will also participate in meetings this week with the Department of Labor to further discuss the Veterans Employment Initiative, which is designed to help veterans enter the federal workforce. AMVETS is one of the few VSOs working directly with the Department of Labor to ensure the program succeeds.

As always, we're eager to hear from our readers and from AMVETS posts and departments around the country. Last week, we posted our first Keeping Posted Online story. We're eager to share as much as we can down the road. Check back regularly for updates.

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