VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA, INC
LZ WEBBER BENNINGTON CHAPTER 601
P. O. BOX 4146
BENNINGTON, VERMONT 05201

NEWSLETTER 166      A NOT-FOR-PROFIT VETERANS SERVICE ORGANIZATION         Mar 1, 2009
CHAPTER OFFICERS
JOHN J. MINER - PRESIDENT - PHIL YOUNG -VICE PRESIDENT ADMINISTRATION -
JAMES DAWSON - VICE PRESIDENT OPERATIONS -
DENNIS GAUTHIER - TREASURER - BOB FRITZ - SECRETARY - TOM MCDONOUGH - CHAPLAIN -BRIAN VESPER - CHAPTER COORDINATOR - MIKE DIMONDA - JIM SWEET - BILL CANNAVAN - AT - LARGE BOARD MEMBERS - SUE COOK AVVA ASSOCIATE CHAPTER LIAISON - BRUCE NILES - MIKE DIMONDA -- DELEGATES TO VERMONT STATE COUNCIL


PRESIDENT’S REPORT

This month we have a very important MEETING on March 17th at 7:00 PM at the Vermont Veterans Home Mutli-Purpose room. This month meeting will not only be about nomination of all officers and board members and delegates to the state council, but also to set our goals for the coming year. So it is important that you come and give us your in put on what our directions should be for the coming year. Also we will discuss if we want to continue the newsletter each month or change it after 14 years to a bi-monthly one instead. 

MEMBERSHIP REPORT

We have no new members to report on this month. I am sorry to report that one of our life members have past away last month and his name is John Trezzi from Bradford, Vt. He has been a member for a number of years. On behalf of our chapter our thoughts and prayer go out to his family.

We due have a number of member who have sent in their dues for the coming year and they are Tom Truex, John Welch, William Weeks, Sam Cottrell, Dean Dixon and Richard Dziadul. To each of you we say thank you for your continuing support of what this chapter does in our community, state and nation.

Our membership has under gone a few number changes as some member have not renew their membership for this year. So right now we have 120 active member which break down as 67 Individual, 1 incarcerated, 2 life member, time-payment, 48 life member paid in full and 2 permanently hospitalized for a total of
120. Lets keep trying to bring new members in to our chapter.


POW/MIA REPORT

SOLDIER MISSING IN ACTION FROM THE KOREAN WAR IS IDENTIFIED 

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors. 
He is Sgt. Stanley E. Baylor, U.S. Army, of Webster, N.Y. His funeral will be held on Aug. 1 in Warsaw, N.Y. 
Representatives from the Army’s Mortuary Office met with Baylor’s next-of-kin to explain the recovery and identification process, and to coordinate interment with military honors on behalf of the Secretary of the Army. 
Baylor was assigned to Company L, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. On Nov. 1, 1950, the 8th Cavalry was occupying a defensive position near Unsan, North Korea in an area known as the “Camel’s Head,” when elements of two Chinese Communist Forces divisions struck the 1st Cavalry Division’s lines, collapsing the perimeter and forcing a withdrawal. The 3rd Battalion was surrounded and effectively ceased to exist as a fighting unit. Baylor was reported missing on Nov. 2, 1950 and was one of the more than 350 servicemen unaccounted-for from the battle at Unsan. 
Between 1991-94, North Korea gave the U.S. 208 boxes of remains believed to contain the remains of 200-400 U.S. servicemen. Accompanying North Korean documents indicated that some of the remains were exhumed near Chonsung-Ri, Unsan County. This location correlates with Baylor’s last known location. 
Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA and dental comparisons in the identification of Baylor’s remains, which were turned over in 1993. 

“Cold Case”

At our last coffee break we discussed the story that was in the last Veteran that we received last month. Below is a letter to the membership from our National POW/MIA Committee and Veterans Initiative Program.

Gary Jones, chair POW/MIA Committee, Bill Duker Director of the Veterans initiative Program and the VVA POW/MIA Committee
In the VVA VETERAN (Vol. 29 No. 1, January/February 2009) an article about the POW issue by former Congressman Bill Hendon titled “Cold Case” was the front cover story. Nobody on the POW/MIA Committee and to my knowledge nobody on the Board of Directors or the Executive Board were aware of this article until it arrived in the membership’s mail boxes.
We strongly feel that Mr. Hendon has serious creditability problems among many individuals, groups and organizations, past and present, who have worked or who are directly affected by the POW/MIA issue. We recommend that everyone research the internet on Mr. Hendon and develop your own conclusions regarding this issue. At the very minimum, if the Editor and Publisher had decided to provide space to Mr. Hendon to publish his opinions in VVA’s National Publication, the committee should have been given the opportunity to submit a disclaimer. One only needs to read the National POW/MIA Resolutions to know the mandates that guide the Committee. 
The problem created by this unfortunate article is serious. Our work for the past two decades has been to build our credibility, sensitivity and trustworthiness with DPMO, JPAC, and the veteran’s organization and government of Viet Nam. By implying that the VVA supports the position advocated by Mr. Hendon and others of his belief, we have badly damaged if not destroyed all of this work. With that work goes our ability to influence the effort to continue bringing home our own.
We would like to state that we, the VVA’s POW/MIA Committee do not support the position of this article. We are greatly embarrassed by the implication of this article being in the National VVA Publication and we apologize to our friends and partners in the POW/MIA community for the damage this will cause


ABOVE & BEYOND






FITZ MAURICE, MICHAEL JOHN

Rank and organization: Specialist Fourth Class, U.S. Army, Troop D, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry, 101st Airborne Division

Place and date: Khesanh, Republic of Vietnam, 23 March 1971

Entered service at: Jamestown, North Dakota

Born: 9 March 1950, Jamestown, North Dakota

Citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp4c. Fitzmaurice, 3rd Platoon, Troop D, distinguished himself at Khesanh. Sp4c. Fitzmaurice and 3 fellow soldiers were occupying a bunker when a company of North Vietnamese sappers infiltrated the area. At the onset of the attack Sp4c. Fitzmaurice observed 3 explosive charges which had been thrown into the bunker by the enemy. Realizing the imminent danger to his comrades, and with complete disregard for his personal safety, he hurled 2 of the charges out of the bunker. He then threw his flak vest and himself over the remaining charge. By this courageous act he absorbed the blast and shielded his fellow-soldiers. Although suffering from serious multiple wounds and partial loss of sight, he charged out of the bunker, and engaged the enemy until his rifle was damaged by the blast of an enemy hand grenade. While in search of another weapon, Sp4c. Fitzmaurice encountered and overcame an enemy sapper in hand-to-hand combat. Having obtained another weapon, he returned to his original fighting position and inflicted additional casualties on the attacking enemy. Although seriously wounded, Sp4c. Fitzmaurice refused to be medically evacuated, preferring to remain at his post. Sp4c. Fitzmaurice's extraordinary heroism in action at the risk of his life contributed significantly to the successful defense of the position and resulted in saving the lives of a number of his fellow soldiers. These acts of heroism go above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect great credit on Sp4c. Fitzmaurice and the U.S. Army.


Bennington Honor Roll Project


This month on March 11th I will be going in from of the Board of Trustee’s of the Vermont Veterans Home to ask that a motion be passed to allow us to take out the two flag poles and put in our two monument , one being to our Gold Star Mothers and the other one to All Veterans who served in our Armed Forces. With the hope that we can do it before our Memorial Day parade which would end up there. Will keep you all posted.


FIFTH ANNUAL VETERANS MOTORCYCLE RIDE

Mark your calendars for July 25th for the ride. On March 1st I sent out letters to different business asking for them to co-sponsor the event. I also contacted Leader Distributor’s of Brattleboro to come on board again and they have said yes. Also we have asked that the Vermont Veterans Home put their Bus in the ride loaded with veterans from the Home and they have said yes. So please let me know if you can work that day cooking or just helping set up and take down.

VOICES FOR VETERANS TALK RADIO SHOW

This months show found us bring a special guest from over the mountain, Anne Black who along with two other people have been working on a very special program called “The Warrior Project” which is a program to work with returning Vets from the War on Terror. On Feb 24th Phil Young and I traveled over the mountain to attend a meeting with the towns people of Brattleboro where this program is being kicked off. Below is a picture of her at the radio station and at the meeting in Brattleboro. The second show this month was a recording of a early show as our guest couldn’t make it. On March 5th we will have a call in show. So get you question ready and give us a call

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At Phil’s Koffee Korner this coming month we will have specail guest for our March 5th and March 12th Koffee break. So plan on coming to those this month and also stay in touch with us all. Last month John Allard showed up as he hasn’t been to one in over a year. It was very nice to see him .



Shinseki Sworn In as Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric ShinsekiRetired Army Gen. Eric K. Shinseki took the oath of office as Secretary of Veterans Affairs on Jan. 21, 2009. 
"The overriding challenge I am addressing from my first day in office is to make the Department of Veterans Affairs a 21st century organization focused on the Nation's Veterans as its clients," Shinseki said. 
Key issues on his agenda include smooth activation of an enhanced GI Bill education benefit, streamlining the disability claims system, leveraging information technology, and opening VA’s health care system to Veterans previously unable to enroll in it, while facilitating access for returning Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans.

VA To Re-open Enrollment 

The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to re-open enrollment in its health care system by July 2009. These changes do not open enrollment to all Priority 8 Veterans. Each VA Medical Center has an enrollment coordinator available to provide information about eligibility under this new provision.

VA BUDGET 2010: President Obama's first proposed budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) expands eligibility for health care to an additional 500,000 deserving Veterans over the next five years, meets the need for continued growth in programs for the combat Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, and provides the resources to deliver quality health care for the Nation's 5.5 million Veteran patients. The 2010 budget request is a significant step toward realizing a vision shared by the President and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki to transform VA into an organization that is people-centric, results-driven and forward-looking. If accepted by Congress, the President's budget proposal would increase VA's budget from $97.7 billion this fiscal year to $112.8 billion for the fiscal year beginning 1 OCT 09. This is in addition to the $1.4 billion provided for VA projects in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The 2010 budget:

1. Represents the first step toward increasing discretionary funding for VA efforts by $25 billion over the next five years. The gradual expansion in health care enrollment that this would support will open hospital and clinic doors to more than 500,000 Veterans by 2013 who have been regrettably excluded from VA medical care benefits since 2003. 
2. Provides the resources to achieve this level of service while maintaining high quality and timely care for lower-income and service-disabled Veterans who currently rely on VA medical care.
3. Provides greater benefits for Veterans who are medically retired from active duty, allowing for the first time all military retirees to keep their full VA disability compensation along with their retired pay. 
4. Provides the resources for effective implementation of the post-9/11 GI Bill – providing unprecedented levels of educational support to the men and women who have served our country through active military duty.
5. Supports additional specialty care in such areas as prosthetics, vision and spinal cord injury, aging, and women's health. New VA Centers of Excellence will focus on improving these critical services.
6. Addresses the tragic fact of homelessness among Veterans. It expands VA's current services through a collaborative pilot program with non-profit organizations that is aimed at maintaining stable housing for vulnerable Veterans at risk of homelessness, while providing them with supportive services to help them get back on their feet through job training, preventive care, and other critical services.
7. Provides the necessary investments to carry VA services to rural communities that are too often unable to access VA care. 
8. Expands VA mental health screening and treatment with a focus on reaching Veterans in rural areas in part through an increase in Vet Centers and mobile health clinics. New outreach funding will help rural Veterans and their families stay informed of these resources and encourage them to pursue needed care.


VETERANS HEALTH COUNCIL
IMPROVING VETERAN HEALTH THROUGH INFORMATION AND ADVOCACY


VVA Introduces Collaboration Between Veterans and Private Sector to Address Healthcare Needs for Vets
New Veterans Health Council and Web Site Provide Information and Resource Safety Net

(Washington, D.C., February 25) -- Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) today formally debuted a new alliance that will offer veterans, their families, and health professionals a new resource for information about healthcare risks experienced by those who served in the military. The Veterans Health Council, made up of veterans and health organizations, announced its mission, participants, and Web site, 1. www.veteranshealth.org, at a media event today at the National Press Club. 

"The mission of the Veterans Health Council is to improve the health of veterans by creating an ongoing forum for health professionals, employee representatives, advocacy organizations, and healthcare firms," said John Rowan, VVA National President. "We want to inform veterans and their families about health risks related to their military service and the healthcare available to them; educate healthcare communities about the multiple health issues associated with military service; develop educational materials for medical schools, nursing schools, teaching hospitals, and related entities; and advocate on behalf of healthcare initiatives for veterans." 

Up to 80 percent of veterans do not use the VA -- the Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities -- for their healthcare needs. VVA attributes this significant underutilization to the fact that most veterans are simply unaware that they may have health problems related to their military service--diseases, conditions, and maladies which entitle them to compensation and medical care from the VA, if they so choose.

The Veterans Health Council Web site provides information on health conditions associated with military service and provides links to healthcare sites related to specific diseases. Most importantly, it offers general information on how to file a claim for disability compensation and provides a locator service for accredited veterans' service representatives 
Opening Statement - Hearing on Caring for Veterans in Rural Areas
February 26, 2009
I extend my warmest welcome and Aloha to our Committee members and to our witnesses visiting the Nation's capital from small communities as close as Southern Virginia and as far away as Montana. Today's hearing brings together small communities with VA to discuss the health care problems our newest veterans face when they return to homes in rural areas. 
Many of our veterans live in small towns and communities. This includes a large number of Guard members and Reservists, who have been such a big part of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Members of the Guard and Reserve face challenges different from their active duty counterparts, who return to military bases with the support of their unit and programs geared toward re-acclimating them to life outside of the combat zone. 
When a Guardsman or Reservist returns home, he or she can be isolated from their unit and must reintegrate without a strong VA or DoD presence or support system. Frequently, these servicemembers live up to, and beyond, 50 miles from their home base. 
When health care is needed, a rural community may not have providers who offer mental health services like group counseling or therapy. The doctors may not be familiar with treating combat-related disorders. 

Nevertheless, we have an obligation to care for all our veterans in need, regardless of location. We must ensure that adequate resources are available in our small communities, and that VA engages fully with local health care providers. Every resource must be united in the effort to care for our wounded warriors, be it a community hospital or VA clinic. When there is no VA presence available, this may mean paying community providers for the reasonable costs of care. 
As a Committee, we will be focusing much effort on improving veterans' health care in rural areas, and I welcome any new approaches to meet this goal. 






Until next month remember

To stay low

From your editor john miner