Good morning Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Monday, September 24, 2018 which is Family Day, Gallbladder Good Health Day, Kiss Day and National Cherry Jubilees Day. The Cleveland Browns have a better record than the Patriots, tied with Minnesota and Green Bay at 1-1-1. (Abandon all hope ye who come from New England…)
This Day in History:
- The Judiciary Act of 1789 is passed by Congress and signed by President George Washington, establishing the Supreme Court of the United States as a tribunal made up of six justices who were to serve on the court until death or retirement. That day, President Washington nominated John Jay to preside as chief justice, and John Rutledge, William Cushing, John Blair, Robert Harrison, and James Wilson to be associate justices. On September 26, all six appointments were confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
- On this day in 1941, the Japanese consul in Hawaii is instructed to divide Pearl Harbor into five zones and calculate the number of battleships in each zone—and report the findings back to Japan.
- 1963: Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and Gen. Maxwell Taylor, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrive in Vietnam. At President John F. Kennedy’s request, they were to determine whether South Vietnam’s military situation had deteriorated as a result of the continuing clash between the Ngo Dinh Diem government and the Buddhists over Diem’s refusal to institute internal political reform. Earlier in the month, Kennedy had sent Marine Corps Gen. Victor Krulak and State Department official Joseph Mendenhall to Saigon on a fact-finding mission. They returned with a conflicting report that left Kennedy unsure of the actual situation in Saigon.
- On this day in 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson receives a special commission’s report on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which had occurred on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- Military Times: Trump signs the largest VA budget ever
- Army Times: Former Special Forces medic to receive Medal of Honor for valor in Afghanistan
- Military.com: After $23M Spent, Plans for Vietnam Wall Education Center Have Been Scrapped
- Stripes: World War I cross under siege: The fallen 49 behind the Peace Cross in Maryland
- Military.com: VA Sends Mobile Units to North Carolina to Aid Veterans After Hurricane
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Military Times: Trump signs the largest VA budget ever
By:Leo Shane III 2 days ago
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump signed the Department of Veterans Affairs fiscal 2019 budget into law on Friday, giving the department a funding boost of more than 6 percent and pushing the agency’s total spending over $200 billion for the first time.
The president finalized the bill at a ceremony held in the North Las Vegas VA Medical Center, surrounded by federal officials and local veterans. He praised the massive spending measure as another promise kept by his administration.
“With this funding bill we have increased the VA’s budget to the largest ever,” he said. “We are delivering the resources to implement crucial VA reforms.”
The bill includes $1.1 billion for the start of a VA electronic health records overhaul and $400 million for opioid abuse prevention within the department, both efforts touted by Trump in the past.
The final deal also includes a $1.75 billion increase in money tied to the VA Mission Act, passed at the start of the summer. The legislation will rewrite the department’s community care programs, expanding veterans ability to access private health care at taxpayer expense.
That money had stalled negotiations on the budget bill for months, and Democrats said they still are not satisfied with the short-term spending plug to cover what is expected to be an even bigger financial hole next year.
“The bill the president signed today leaves a funding gap in May of 2019, expected to grow to more than $8 billion in fiscal year 2020,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in a statement after the signing.
“We do our veterans no favors when we make promises we do not keep, and I will continue to fight in Congress to make sure they receive the care they deserve.”
The VA funding legislation also includes $10.3 billion in military construction funding for fiscal 2019 as well as the full-year budgets for the legislative branch and federal energy programs.
Trump’s signature came just a day after he blasted a similar sprawling budget package focused on the Department of Defense as a “ridiculous spending bill” because it omitted border wall funding he has demanded from Congress.
The House is expected to finalize that legislation next week. If the president chooses to veto it, most federal departments would face a partial government shutdown. VA would be exempted from those problems, however, since their fiscal 2019 funding is now in place.
Army Times: Former Special Forces medic to receive Medal of Honor for valor in Afghanistan
By: Michelle Tan 2 days ago
An Army Special Forces soldier will receive the Medal of Honor for fighting through an enemy ambush and saving his teammates’ lives 10 years ago in Afghanistan, the White House announced Friday.
Former Staff Sgt. Ronald Shurer II, who had already received a Silver Star for his actions, will be honored with the nation’s highest award for valor by President Donald Trump during an Oct. 1 ceremony at the White House.
Shurer served as a Special Forces medic with 3rd Special Forces Group.
On April 6, 2008, Shurer and his team were assigned to take out high-value targets of the Hezeb Islami al Gulbadin in Shok Valley, according to the Army.
As the soldiers moved through the valley, they were attacked by enemy machine gun, sniper and rocket-propelled grenade fire, according to the White House.
The lead assault element suffered several casualties and became pinned down on the mountainside. Shurer ran through enemy fire to treat a soldier who had been hit in the neck by shrapnel from an RPG blast.
He then fought for an hour through a barrage of bullets and enemy fighters and up the mountain to the rest of the lead element, the White House said.
There, Shurer treated and stabilized four more wounded soldiers before evacuating them, carrying and lowering them down the mountainside, using his body to shield them from enemy fire and debris, according to the White House.
He simultaneously fought the enemy and treated the wounded for several hours, including a teammate who had suffered a traumatic amputation to his right leg, according to the Army.
After loading the wounded soldiers into the medevac helicopter, Shurer took control of the remaining team and rejoined the fight.
Shurer was initially awarded the Silver Star, the third-highest award for valor. The award is being upgraded after an extensive review.
In January 2016, the Pentagon ordered the services to conduct a sweeping review of valor medals awarded since the 9/11 terror attacks and directed service leaders to determine whether individual military members were shortchanged in the medals they received.
Shurer joined the Army in 2002 and was deployed with Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force in Afghanistan from November 2007 to May 2008. He was honorably discharged in May 2009.
He went on to serve with the Secret Service, working as a special agent assigned to the Phoenix Field Office before being selected for the agency’s Counter Assault Team and assigned to its Special Operations Division.
He lives in Burke, Virginia, with his wife and two sons.
Military.com: After $23M Spent, Plans for Vietnam Wall Education Center Have Been Scrapped
In a stunning move, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund announced Friday that its long-stalled plan to build an education center next to the iconic "Wall" is being scrapped for lack of funding and general interest.
Following a meeting of the fund’s board of directors, Chairman John Dibble said agreement had been reached to "terminate efforts to construct a physical building on the National Mall."
In a statement, he said, that "funding simply has not materialized" for the project, which originally was to have dealt with the history, context and legacy of the Vietnam War, and later was expanded in concept to include the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Instead of an underground center next to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the fund said it will now focus education efforts on mobile exhibits, online resources and "partnerships with military museums to teach visitors about the Vietnam War and honor those names that appear on the Memorial."
The decision by the board of directors followed a lengthy article by Task and Purpose on the internal struggles over the purpose of the Education Center, the failure to generate private donations, and the public’s loss of interest in the project.
The concept for the education center was announced in 2000 by Jan Scruggs, an Armyveteran who served in Vietnam, the founder and president of the Memorial Fund and the prime mover in the project that resulted in the Wall listing the names of the more than 58,000 killed in Vietnam.
The memorial was dedicated in 1982.
The project eventually won approval from Congress and the Washington Fine Arts Commission for a parcel of land next to the memorial to be used for the education center.
At a symbolic groundbreaking in 2012, Scruggs said the center would also serve as a temporary memorial for the fallen of Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The veterans of Vietnam know what it is like to wait for a memorial — a healing place — to be authorized and constructed. Today’s heroes shouldn’t have to wait. Our goal is to have the education center at the Wall open in time to welcome home our last troops returning from Afghanistan," he said at the time.
The goal for an actual groundbreaking was set for 2020, but funding dried up. The center was projected to cost about $84 million, but funding pledges reportedly stalled at about $45 million, and that figure was in doubt.
Scruggs retired as president of the fund in 2014. It will now have to make arrangements to return the five-acre parcel of land reserved for the education center to the National Park Service.
In its statement, the fund said it had received a total of $45 million in donation commitments, and $5 million of that had yet to be received. About $23 million has already been spent on construction design, exhibit planning, awareness building, and preliminary work necessary for specific exhibits, it said.
About $17 million in donations had been limited to actual construction, it added, and those contributions might be returned after discussions with donors.
In his statement, Dibble said, "We know many veterans and supporters are disappointed in this outcome. We also are disappointed that the early enthusiasm and support did not result in a completed building. Since the idea was developed in early 2001, the world is a very different place."