WASHINGTON--()--On Thursday, February 28, 2013, National Commander Bruce McKenty will testify on behalf of the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) before a Joint Hearing of the Senate and House Committees on Veterans’ Affairs.
“Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011”
This annual event brings together the leaders of all of the major Veteran Service Organizations (VSO), and allows those Members of Congress directly responsible for Veterans’ Affairs to hear first-hand the issues of most concern to veterans. This year, Commander McKenty will address many of the issues that veterans face, especially the top MOPH priorities for the remainder of the 113th Congress.
MOPH’s priorities for the 113th Congress are as follows:
TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI):
The signature wound of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan is TBI, with over 126,000 diagnosed cases in the Army alone, seriously impacting the lives of those injured and the lives of their loved ones. MOPH supported the “Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitative Services Improvements Act of 2011;” however, like many needed pieces of legislation, this Act did not pass. MOPH urges the Congress to reconsider this legislation.
POST TRAUMATIC STRESS (PTS):
After a decade of war with an all-volunteer force, many of whom have endured multiple deployments to combat zones, many members of the military are suffering from the effects of PTS. PTS not only affects the military member or veteran, but his or her family as well. It is one of the significant contributing causes of suicide, homelessness, substance abuse and acts of violence, including domestic violence, sexual assaults and unemployment. MOPH commends the 112th Congress for including in the 2013 NDAA a provision to standardize the suicide prevention programs throughout DOD, and urges Congress to provide necessary funding to ensure that additional numbers of medical and mental health specialists are available at VA facilities to provide service to veterans suffering from PTS.
VA CLAIMS BACKLOG:
The VA claims’ backlog and rating system is one of the most common complaints that veterans have with the VA. Currently, the VA has a backlog of more than 886,000 claims, with 66 percent of claims facing more than 120 days to process; an increase of 389,000 since 2009. MOPH urges Congress to ensure that VA has sufficient funding to continue to update its information technology systems, and to have qualified professionals to process these claims in a timely manner. It is also imperative that the VA concentrate on accuracy and gets it right the first time. Finally, the VA should, once and for all, perfect their partnership with DOD to immediately implement a truly seamless transition system and a common medical records’ format.
ELIMINATION OF THE SURVIVOR BENEFIT PROGRAM (SBP) AND THE DEPENDENT INDEMINITY COMPENSATION (DIC) OFFSET:
This issue is one that MOPH and other VSOs have supported for many years, but legislation introduced in the last several sessions of Congress have all been defeated. MOPH urges the Congress to support and move H.R. 32 the “Military Surviving Spouse Equity Act,” through the Legislative process in the 113th Congress. The military member paid for SBP, just as we all do for an insurance policy to provide for the surviving spouse. DIC, which is administered by the VA, is paid when a military retiree dies of a service connected injury or a disability. This Congress has the chance to show financial compassion and the willingness to correct a historic wrong.
JOINT PRISONERS OF WAR, MISSING IN ACTION ACCOUNTING COMMAND (JPAC):
MOPH has an unwavering commitment to obtain the fullest possible accounting of all Americans still listed as missing in action and unaccounted for. Guaranteeing the return of fallen warriors from the many battlefields is a most sacred of missions; none of our members will rest until this mission has been fulfilled. MOPH urges Congress to provide full funding for JPAC for as many years as it takes.
FUNDING FOR THE VA HEALTH CARE ADMINISTRATION (VHA):
The healthcare of America’s veterans should not be subject to the sequestration provisions of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act. This country sends our men and women to war and we must recognize our responsibility to care for them when they return. MOPH supported H.R. 3895 the “Protect VA Healthcare Act of 2012” and urges its reconsideration in the 113th Congress.
MOPH believes that all military retirees, regardless of VA disability ratings, should be authorized to receive both their earned military retirement for their many years of dedicated service in uniform and the VA compensation, which is a benefit that they receive for being injured or diagnosed with an illness as a result of their military service. MOPH supports H.R. 303 the "Retired Pay Restoration Act" and H.R. 333 the "Disabled Veterans Tax Termination Act." These two Bills, which were recently introduced, would rectify this unfair situation.
Other issues raised by Commander McKenty include: Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB) And Veteran Owned Small Businesses (VOSB); MOPH support of H.R. 357 “GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act of 2013”; MOPH concern about DOD and VA announced decisions to back away from a truly integrated, single electronic health care record; MOPH urges Congressional monitoring of implementation of the “Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011,” and, MOPH support of S. 210 and H.R. 258 the “Stolen Valor Act of 2013.”
The organization now known as the "Military Order of the Purple Heart of the U.S.A. Inc.," (MOPH) was formed in 1932 for the protection and mutual interest of all who have received the decoration. Chartered by the Congress, The MOPH is unique among Veteran Service Organizations in that all its members were wounded in combat. For this sacrifice, they were awarded the Purple Heart Medal. With grants from the MOPH Service Foundation, the MOPH and its Ladies Auxiliary promote Patriotism, Fraternalism, and the Preservation of America's military history. Most importantly, they provide comfort and assistance to all Veterans and their families, especially those requiring claims assistance with the VA, those who are homeless, and those requiring employment assistance. Through the VAVS program, MOPH volunteers provide assistance to hospitalized veterans at VA sites and State Veterans Homes.