VFW Pays Its Respects To The Fallen During Memorial Day
In recognition of Memorial Day, the VFW honored the legacy of the men and women who served in our nation’s military and made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of freedom. While many Americans signal Memorial Day as the start of summer, the less than one percent who have donned the uniform, and military families worldwide, understand the true meaning and significance of this sacred day.
Comrades, many of you have walked the hallowed grounds of our national veteran’s cemeteries solemnly laying eyes on the headstones of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast Guardsmen who honorably served and placed the freedom of their nation before their very own safety,” said VFW National Commander William “Doc” Schmitz. “We have lost hundreds of thousands of men and women since the founding of our nation in 1775, and unfortunately, as the global fight on terror continued today, we will lose more protectors of freedom.”
This Memorial Day was different considering the physical distancing and stay-at-home orders issued across the nation because of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. While many Americans will be unable to physically visit loved ones or traditionally gather to memorialize their sacrifice, the VFW encouraged the nation to make this Memorial Day as significant as any other in our nation’s history.
“On this Memorial Day, like all others before, I’m asking all Americans to spend this day solely on reflecting and remembering the service men and women we have lost over the course of history,” said Schmitz. “Today, and every day, we honor and salute every man and woman—and the remarkable families of these heroes—who gave their lives for our nation. Hence, Memorial Day will forever be a day that means everything to the VFW because our warriors decided we meant everything to them.”
VA Begins To Reopen Selected Medical Centers
The VA recently reopened 20 medical centers as part of a three-phase timeline. The speed of the phases will depend upon the VA medical center’s ability to minimize and control exposure to COVID-19. Even though these VA medical centers are not fully open, certain non-emergency in-person appointments and some elective procedures may be permitted. Physical distancing mandatory face masks, screening processes and other rigorous safety measures remain in place for now. Telework, telemedicine, phone consults and wellness checks will continue whenever possible. The VA continues to strongly suggest that a veteran contact their local VA medical center before arriving at a facility. The initial sites will indicate how other VA medical centers reopen in the coming weeks and months.
Legislation Introduced To Preserve 48-Hour Claims Review
Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) recently introduced VFW-supported S.3761, the Veterans Claim Transparency Act. This important legislation would reinstate VA’s former policy of permitting VSOs to review claims decisions within 48-hours preceding promulgation to ensure all claims were properly evaluated and are error-free prior to a veteran receiving notification of a rating decision.
“The 48-hour review period is an essential feature of the VA claim process,” VFW National Legislative Service Associate Director Matthew Doyle said. “It functions as an independent quality review check on claims decisions before final rating are sent to veterans.”
The VFW thanks Senator Tester and all cosponsors for introducing this important legislation.
Legislation Introduced To Expand Survivors’ Benefits
Rep. TJ Cox (D-CA) recently introduced VFW-supported H.R. 6933, the Caring for Survivors Act of 2020. This important legislation would increase Dependence and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) payments to an amount equal to 55 percent of the permanent and total disability monthly compensation rate and would make survivors eligible for DIC after a veteran has consistently held a permanent and total disability rating for five years. This idea was put forth in the Independent Budget Report, co-authored by the VFW, Disabled American Veterans and Paralyzed Veterans of Americana. The VFW thanks Rep. Cox and all cosponsors for their efforts to expand survivors’ benefits.
Cares Act Extends VA Home Loan Pre-Foreclosure Options
The Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, was signed into law to help Americans economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic avoid home foreclosure. The VA’s Loan Guaranty Service is focused on ensuring veterans and their families facing temporary or more long-term difficulty paying their monthly mortgage understand their options. If you experience financial hardship caused directly or indirectly by COVID-19, you should immediately contact your loan service and explore option to avoid foreclosure on your VA home loan.