June 9, 2015

Sgt. Shaft caricatureDear Sgt Shaft
I understand that a member of Congress is reaching out for nominations to honor the service of distinguished veterans.  Are you aware of this effort?

Silver Spring

Dear RS
I know that Congressman John Carter (R-TX31) recently announced that he is accepting nominations for the 2015 Congressional Veteran Commendation (CVC) program. This program formally honors distinguished veterans across the 31st district of Texas for their wartime sacrifices and peacetime community involvement.  The nomination-based program is designed to recognize veterans within the 31st district of Texas and preserves their stories for future generations of America.

“The CVC program is a great way to honor the brave men and women across our community for their faithful service to protect our Great Nation.  I encourage you to nominate a family member or friend that you see as a fine American and exceptional veteran so that our community can say thank you.  Central Texas has a proud tradition of serving in the armed forces and I have personally met with many who deserve his honor and exemplify the essence of the American spirit. “

Anyone may serve as a nominator and you may nominate as many people as you see fit for this award. In order to qualify, nominees must currently reside in Texas’ 31st district, have served as active duty military personnel or been reservists called to active duty, and be retired or honorably discharged from a branch of the United States Armed Forces. Leadership and service to the community will be strongly considered during the selection process.

The 2015 CVC honorees will be announced and recognized by Congressman John Carter at a special ceremony. Complete nomination packets and more information can be found online at http://carter.house.gov/cvc-nomination/.  The deadline for submitting nominations is August 28, 2015. The Veterans selected will be announced in October of this year.

Rep. Carter represents Texas District 31, which includes Fort Hood, the largest military installation in the free world. He serves as Chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Appropriations, is on the Subcommittee for Commerce, Justice and Science and the Defense Subcommittee.

Shaft Notes
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will conduct a series of one-day events to raise awareness and celebrate the stories of women Veterans. The events, to be held in five locations across the country, will provide an overview of services and benefits available to women Veterans. Experts will be available to answer Veterans’ questions, and exhibitors will share information on their many resources.

“We have found that our women Veterans often put the needs of others’ first,” said Elisa Basnight, Director of VA’s Center for Women Veterans (CWV). “We encourage them to make themselves a priority, to learn about the benefits and services which they’ve earned through their dedicated service. We are bringing our experts to them, where they are.”

VA staff, as well as local community supporters and agencies that assist women Veterans, will be available for face-to-face interaction. All VA facilities are encouraged to participate in activities to celebrate and honor the women who answered the nation’s call.

The scheduled events and local activities are part of a new national VA campaign, Women Veterans: Celebrating Our Stories of Service, which launched in late March 2015. The vision for the national VA campaign was born out of the realization that when our women Veterans from all eras and generations surrender the uniform, they retain the intangible—that combination of resolute resilience and the unbeatable skills they will incorporate into their reintegration and readjustment process.  Through this campaign, CWV will be engaged in going to these women Veterans to raise the awareness of VA’s commitment to them, and to facilitate the conversation around what more needs to be done in serving the unique needs of women Veterans.

The sessions for women Veterans will be held between June and September at the following locations:

  • St. Petersburg, FL – June 12, 2015
  • San Diego (Oceanside), CA – July 10, 2015
  • Houston, TX – August 7, 2015
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN  – September 14, 2015
  • Washington, DC –  September 22, 2015

Women Veterans represent one of the fastest growing segments of the Veterans population—about 9.2 percent of the total Veterans population. Today there are an estimated 2 million women Veterans nationwide. VA continues to improve benefits and services for women Veterans and is diligently transforming its culture to embrace this growing population, through other collaborative initiatives with Federal/state/local governmental and non-governmental stakeholders.

For more information about VA’s Women Veterans Campaign and VA’s commitment to women Veterans, visit www.va.gov/womenvet.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is calling on Congress and the Department of Veterans Affairs to work through a funding impasse for a new VA medical center in Aurora, Colo. If an agreement is not reached by the end of this week, VA will hit a mandatory spending cap that will force the project to shut down for the second time in six months, and with the very real possibility of never restarting.

“There is a lot of justified anger about this construction project,” said VFW National Commander John W. Stroud, “but the focus must be on completing it so that more wounded, ill and injured veterans in the Denver metropolitan area can be better served.”

The new medical center was originally budgeted at $604 million under current design plans. The completion estimate now exceeds $1.7 billion due to a number of factors, such as the VA’s failure to provide completed blueprints, which caused excessive change orders. In a memorandum sent Monday to House and Senate VA Committee leadership, VA Secretary Bob McDonald requested a $200 million increase to the current authorization level, and offered to reallocate $150 million in unobligated funding to the project. To further reduce costs, McDonald also said he would delay building a community living center and a post-traumatic stress rehabilitation facility that were not part of the medical center’s original design.


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