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thedrifter
08-04-02, 01:07 PM
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V F W W A S H I N G T O N W E E K L Y
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DATE: August 2, 2002

In this issue:


1. House & Senate Conferees named for Defense Authorization
2. HVAC Subcommittee holds hearing to update SSRA and SSCRA
3. Senate Hearing held on Mental Health & VA
4. Senate passes Resolutions honoring Veterans
5. Senate passes Emergency Preparedness Bill - HR 3253

1. The House and Senate Conferees have been named to consider
the FY 2003 National Defense Authorization.

The House conferees are: Stump(AZ), Hunter(CA),
Hansen(UT), Weldon (PA), Hefley(CO), Saxton(NJ), McHugh(NY),
Everett(AL), Bartlett(MD), McKeon(CA), Watts(OK), Thornberry(TX),
Hostettler(IN), Chambliss(GA), Jones(NC), Hilleary(TN),
Graham(SC), Skelton(MO), Spratt(SC), Ortiz(TX), Evans(IL),
Taylor(MS), Abercrombie(HI), Meehan(MA), Underwood(GU),Allen(ME),
Snyder(AR), Reyes(TX), Turner(TX) and Tauscher(CA).

The Senate conferees are: Levin(MI), Kennedy(MA),
Byrd(WV), Lieberman(CT), Cleland(GA), Landrieu(LA), Reed(RI),
Akaka(HI), Nelson(FL), Nelson(NE), Carnahan(MO), Dayton(MN),
Bingaman(NM), Warner(VA), Thurmond(SC), McCain(AZ), Smith(NH),
Inhofe(OK), Santorum(PA), Roberts(KS), Allard(CO), Hutchinson(AR),
Sessions
(AL), Collins(ME) and Bunning(KY).

The following additional House conferees will meet on only those
issues that will affect veterans and active duty military,
i.e. Concurrent Receipt, military pay, Housing,and VA Health and
Educational Benefits - Smith(NJ), Bilirakis(FL), Miller(FL),
Filner(CA), and Carson(IN).
Both Chambers will be on recess until after Labor Day at which time
they are expected to take up this important legislation.


2. The House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Benefits held a
hearing to consider two bills (HR 4017 & HR 5111) that
would expand and update the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief
Equity Act(SSCRA). HR 4017 would grant protection under the current
Act to National Guard called up by the Governor (Title 32).
Presently only Guard personnel called to duty under Title 10
(Department of Defense)are protected.
HR 5111 is a rewrite of the present SSCRA incorporating
provisions and changes to reflect today's society.

The VFW testified in support of both bills. Our testimony can be
viewed at http://www.vfwdc.org/


3. The Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee recently held a hearing
on VA Mental Health Care.The hearing focused on whether VA is
meeting the full spectrum of veterans' mental health care needs.
Last year, VA treated over 700,000 veterans in specialty mental
health services, with more than 455,000 of them service connected
for mental illness. The hearing found that due to VA's shift from
inpatient to outpatient care, and given VA's budget, it is impossible
to provide adequate case management everywhere it is needed.
The VA's testimony can be found at
http://www.va.gov/OCA/testimony/24jy0210_usa.htm


4. The Senate recently passed three resolutions honoring veterans,
SRES 293 - Designates the week of November 10-16 as
"National Veterans Awareness Week"
SRES 242 - Designates August 16, 2002 as "National Airborne Day"
SRES 97 - Honors the Buffalo Soldiers and Colonel Charles Young


5. Before adjourning for the August recess, the Senate passed,
by voice vote, HR 3252 that will bring the Department of Veterans'
Affairs facilities into the nation's Homeland Security plans.The
legislation would authorize $100 million over five years for four
emergency preparedness centers that would conduct research and prepare
responses in the event of chemical, biological and radiological
threats. The Senate-passed version would incorporate parts of S 2132
that would allow the VA to decide how each center operates.
The VFW testified before the House Veterans' Affairs Committee
earlier this year in support of the bill. You can read our past
testimony at http://www.vfwdc.org/



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**Dennis Cullinan, Director
National Legislative Service


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ +++++++++++++++
The best place to keep track of all the developments here in
Washington, including the key bills and the strategies, is our
website, http://www.vfwdc.org.

Looking for issues you may have missed? Visit the Washington
Weekly Archive at:
http://www.vfwdc.org/nls/weekly.htm

Sempers,

Roger