"Latest Update from National Headquarters"
November 08, 2019
The House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs held an oversight hearing on the efforts by the Department of Veterans Affairs to implement the Agent Orange Blue Water Navy Act (H.R.299-P.L.116-23). The effective date for the Act is Jan. 1, 2020. Under Secretary for Veterans Benefits Administration Paul Lawrence, was a no-show at the hearing. Subcommittee members stressed the importance of providing timely benefits to Blue Water Navy veterans and reducing the complexity of the disability claims process. Members of the subcommittee urged VA to adjudicate claims before the effective date of January 1, especially for veterans who are critically ill. The FRA welcomes this oversight hearing to keep pressure on the VA to implement a claims process for Blue Water Navy veterans that is timely and not overly bureaucratic.
Supreme Court to Review Constitutionality of CFPB
The Supreme Court of the United States has indicated it will hear a case challenging the constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB is an independent agency controlled by one person. The agency's funding does not come from Congress and the leader of the agency cannot be fired by the president. Lower courts have made conflicting rulings on the agency.
The CFPB was created in 2010 as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (S.3712-P.L.111-203). As this gigantic bill moved through the process, the FRA successfully advocated including in the bureau an Office of Servicemember Affairs (OSA). The CFPB became operational in June 2011. This was part of the FRA's overarching effort to ensure that the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is enforced by regulatory agencies, including the CFPB, Office of Servicemembers Affairs and work to ensure that active duty personnel are protected from predatory lenders, under the Military Lending Act (MLA) that was an FRA-supported provision in the FY2007 National Defense Authorization Act.
Although the act created the OSA, it did not specifically empower the OSA to enforce the MLA. The need for the OSA was demonstrated when the House Veterans Affairs Committee held hearings in 2011, on banks that were ignoring the SCRA. This long-established law provides a wide range of protections for individuals joining the military, being called to active duty or deploying. The SCRA postpones or suspends certain civil obligations so a service member can devote their attention to military duties.
PDBR Review of Disability Claims Continues
The Physical Disability Board of Review was created by an FRA-supported provision in the FY2008 Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that reassess the accuracy and fairness of combined disability ratings of 20 percent or less for service members who were separated from service, rather than medically retired because of medical conditions.
In order to be eligible for a PDBR review, service members must have been medically separated between Sept. 11, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2009, with a combined disability rating of 20 percent or less and found ineligible for retirement. According to Military.com only 19,000 of the more than 71,000 eligible have requested a review of their claim. The Physical Disability Board of Review claims that more than half of the reviewed claims have been upgraded to a disability rating of 30 percent or more.
The review panel is authorized to recommend an increase in a disability rating, uphold the previous finding or issue a disability rating when the previous board did not assign one. The board, however, is NOT able to recommend a lower rating. Eligible veterans can request a board review by submitting a Department of Defense Form 294, Application for Review of Physical Disability Separation from the Armed Forces of the United States, which is available online.
Veterans requesting a review must mail their completed and signed DD Form 294 to SAF/MRBR, 550 C St. W., Suite 41, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas 78150-4743. Applicants may submit statements, briefs, medical records or affidavits supporting their application. For more information about the PDBR go online.
Veterans' Day 11-11-2019 and the Marine Corps' 244th Birthday
In accordance with a long-standing tradition, FRA shipmates will be participating in Veterans' Day ceremonies around the country on Monday, Nov. 11th, 2019, which also marks the FRA's 95th anniversary. The FRA National President Donna Jansky will be attending a Veterans Day breakfast in Washington, DC with other VSO organizations before attending the ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery. NP Jansky will be joined by National Vice President Michael "Mick" Fulton and others at a special wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns, following the scheduled address from Vice President Mike Pence to veterans and their families.
The FRA staff wants to thank members for their service in defending the nation, and for their FRA membership. Please note that the FRA National Headquarters will be closed on Monday, November 11 in observance of Veterans' Day.
Earlier this month, DLP John Davis and ADVP Brian Condon attended the annual luncheon ceremony that was held in observance of the Marine Corps Birthday at the Marine Corps Commandant's residence/MCHQ in Washington, DC.
Veteran's Day is also known as Armistice Day and was originally created to recognize the end of World War I. This Veteran's Day marks the 100th anniversary the armistice or temporary cessation of hostilities between the warring nations that ended World War I. It went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
Here is a list of restaurants offering free meals and other items for veterans. Some of the participating restaurants include Applebee's, Olive Garden, Golden Corral and more!
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