Veteran Affairs

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No. 183-99



April 21, 1999



The Department of Defense (DoD) has conveyed to Congress a report containing a proposed policy to improve the availability and delivery of military funeral honors for veterans. The policy, if accepted by Congress, will require the military Services for the first time, upon request by next of kin, to provide specified funeral honors for any veteran who has served honorably in the armed forces. The DoD report responds to a requirement in Section 567 of the fiscal 1999 Strom Thurmond National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The proposed policy responds to the report of the Conferees on the NDAA that indicated the intent of the Conferees that the requirements for funeral honors specified in the NDAA would become effective on Dec. 31, 1999, only if the Secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs did not recommend an acceptable alternative. If accepted by Congress, the new DoD policy will be implemented on Jan. 1, 2000. Commenting on the proposed DoD policy, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Rudy de Leon said "Working in concert with the leadership of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the military Services, and many military and veterans services organizations, we considered in a very deliberate and compassionate way how we can best use the resources we have to provide military funeral honors for our veterans. Our heartfelt, shared goal was to honor appropriately and consistently those veterans who have faithfully defended all Americans and our national interests. These proposals accomplish this important goal." The DoD plan would improve access to military funeral honors by establishing a toll-free "request" number and an Internet web site which fully explains the benefit. The Department would maximize its ability to honor requests by working in concert with local veterans service organizations that currently provide military funeral honors and by expanding the use of National Guard and Reserve forces. Under this plan the Department will honor every request by sending a team that will consist of at least two individuals who will conduct a ceremony involving the folding and presentation of the American flag. At least one of these individuals will be a member of the parent Service of the deceased. The playing of "Taps" will also be a required part of this ceremony, whether by bugler or by the use of a high quality audio recording. The military Services may provide additional honors subject to the availability of resources. Another major set of improvements under the proposed policy concerns streamlining the process for requesting funeral honors, communicating requests to the providers, and tracking the provision of honors. The Department will maintain a toll-free number and Internet web site for use by funeral directors to obtain funeral honors when veterans' families request honors. The Department will also provide information packages to the funeral directors to aid in this effort. As is current practice, both active and Reserve forces will be used to perform military funeral honors. Members of the National Guard and Reserve have volunteered countless hours to perform funeral honors for veterans. To recognize and encourage volunteer service by Guard and Reserve members, under the proposed DoD plan new incentives for the performance of funeral honors duty would be provided. The performance of funeral honors duty would be equivalent to inactive-duty training but could not substitute for required training.

Retirement credit above the current cap would be provided for funeral honors duty. More than 16 million of our nation's 26 million military veterans served during the World War II era. The nation mourned the passing of 537,000 veterans in 1997, an increase of 18 percent compared to 1989. By 2008, veterans' deaths are projected to increase 36 percent compared to 1989. Conversely, the size of the active duty military has decreased by 35 percent, from 2.1 million in 1989 to 1.4 million today, and the Reserve forces have decreased in size by 25 percent.

Of the 1.4 million active duty Service members, more than 300,000 are stationed or deployed outside of the United States at any given time. The geographical challenge has increased as well. Over the past decade, 81 of 495 major military installations in the United States have closed, with 16 more major installations scheduled to close by 2001. As a result, funeral honor guard details must often travel greater distances than in years past to provide support. The proposed DoD policy was developed through a joint effort to determine the best solution to the

increasing challenges. As part of this effort, the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs hosted an Executive Roundtable on Nov. 17, 1998, in Washington, D.C. Eighteen military and veterans service organizations participated, including the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Paralyzed Veterans of America, The Retired Officers Association (TROA), American Veterans (AMVETS), American Ex-Prisoners of War, the Blinded Veterans Association, Gold Star Wives, The Retired Enlisted Association, the Military Chaplains Association, the Fleet Reserve Association, the Air Force Association, the American GI Forum, the Korean War Veterans Association, the Marine Corps League, the Noncommissioned Officer Association, the Army Aviation Association of America, and the Reserve Officers Association. Senior officials from two national funeral directors associations and congressional staff also participated. While Congress considers the proposed DoD policy, the military Services will continue to emphasize the fullest possible implementation of existing DoD policy.

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Message From

Subject Korea Vet exposed to Agent Orange Department of Veterans Affairs Contacts and Complaints


Veteran exposed to Agent Orange in Korea during the 1960's wins battle with the VA.

---Taken from an article Appearing in the Dayton Daily News--- / Veteran

of Korea wins fight (04/19/99), By Mark Fisher Thomas-Wolfe of Dayton (age 53 of Ohio) has won a ruling from the Department of Veterans Affairs Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA). He has been battling the VA for six years to obtain benefits he says are linked to Agent Orange exposure in South Korea during the late 1960's. This could open the doors to other veterans and their dependents to obtain VA benefits for exposure and disability from Agent Orange.

In its ruling the BVA acknowledged that the cancer Wolfe has, non-Hodgkins lymphoma (currently in remission) was tied to his exposure to Agent Orange while stationed in South Korea between 1968-69. The military confirmed that they used Agent Orange in the Korean DMZ during that period. Wolfe is one of 55,000 to 62,000 service persons who served in Korea in the 1967-69 time frame.

The U.S. Army had insisted for years that no Agent Orange had been used in Korea, but declassified documents reveal that it had been used.

Mr. Wolfe was assisted by the Montgomery Veterans Service Center in his VA claim. And Rep. Tony Hall U.S. Congressman.  For more information on Agent Orange, Go to the Vietnam Veterans of America Website link below. And Contact Denver Combs, Director/Service Officer of the Montgomery County Veteran's Service Center.

Denver Combs, Director/Service Officer
Montgomery County Veterans Service Center 2090 Hewitt Avenue,
Kettering, Ohio 45440.

Telephone 1-937-435-VETS and
Fax: 1-937-439-2745
or e-mail  

VVA Agent Orange Information  

Your Editor,
Ray B. Davis, Jr.

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May 14, 1999

VA Investigates Unprocessed Mail

Washington, D.C. -- As the result of an internal investigation, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Board of Veterans' Appeals (BVA) recently discovered more than 1,000 pieces of mail that had been delivered to the Board, but had not been processed. The mail ranged from several days to more than a year old.

"Veterans depend on BVA to provide a fair hearing on their claims, and this is absolutely unacceptable," said Eligah D. Clark, chairman of the BVA. "We are taking immediate steps to notify the affected veterans and their representatives. While this one instance does not point to a system-wide failure, we must assure the people who depend on us that their cases are reviewed completely, and that decisions are made on all the information we should have before us."

BVA staff are evaluating the information in the mail to determine whether it includes evidence that could have due process implications or would change the outcome of a Board decision.

Those cases will be reopened and readjudicated.

The states from which the mail originated are Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

The Board is working with VA's Inspector General on an extensive investigation into this matter.

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Date: June 3, 2000

Who: Korean War Veterans National Museum and Library

What: Annual Meeting, Ground Breaking, Social Hour and Commemorative Dinner

Where: KWVNM&L Site and Tuscola Community Building

 When: Saturday, June 3, 2000 

This is a big day for the Korean War Veterans National Museum and Library. It means we are another step closer to having our museum and library .The Annual Meeting will start at 9:30 A.M. in the Tuscola Community Building. Ground Breaking will be at the KWVNM&L Site at 3 :00 p .M. Following the ground breaking will be a social hour at the Community Building with the Commemorative Dinner following.

Speaker for the dinner will be Vincent Krepps, Editor of the Korean War Veterans Association magazine "Graybeards."

We are also selling raffle tickets for $1.00 or a book of6 for $5.00. Grand Prize will be two round trip tickets to Korea, second prize is $250.00 and third prize is $100.00.

We would like to invite the community to our festivities. You may purchase tickets to the dinner and raffle tickets from Sharon Corum or Dorothy Mc Cumber at the KWVNM&L office at 122 W. North Central. The dead line for dinner reservations is May 20,2000. If you have any questions just cal1217-253-5813 or 1-888-295- 7212.

If you are a veteran or a friend of a veteran, you might want to take out a membership to the KWVNM&L. If you do this before June 3,2000, you will be listed as a charter member. Membership is open to any interested party. Membership fees are: Ind. Veteran or Spouse $25.00, Veteran Family $30.00, General Public -$35.00, General Public Family $40.00, Corporate or Civic Group -$50.00, Sponsor- $100.00 and Live Member (one person) $1,000.00. So hurry and get your membership, so you will be listed as a CHARTER MEMBER.


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