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In This Issue January 24, 2014

Taliban Confirm Still Holding Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

VA's eBenefits Suffers Data Breach

Senate Hearing on COLA Cuts

VVA's Drug Experiment Case Gets Uglier

Sen. Gillibrand Fights On Against MST

Yet Another Case of VA Waste…

VA-sponsored Webinar on Home Loan Guaranty Program

2013 VVA Convention Highlights

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As Reported by NBC
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Holiday Stress

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Taliban Confirm Still Holding Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

Holiday Stress

In an article by NBC’s Mushtaq Yusufzai, filed from Peshawar, Pakistan, members of the Afghan Taliban confirmed January 16 to NBC News that they are still holding U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who disappeared from his base in Afghanistan in 2009. Early last week, the United States revealed it had intercepted a "proof of life" video of Bergdahl, the only U.S. service member held captive by enemy forces in Afghanistan.  

To read NBC coverage: http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2014/01/16/22327013-afghan-taliban-us-soldier-bergdahl-a-precious-bird?lite

As Reported on fedscoop

VA's eBenefits Suffers Data Breach

On January 15, while a performance-improvement update was being conducted on the Department of Veterans Affairs eBenefits website, it was found that veterans’ accounts were overlapped; a veteran who was logged onto the system could log off, then log back on and accidentally be routed to a different veteran’s account. Due to the nature of the glitch, the decision was made to roll back to the previous version. Because of the sensitive nature of this error, the eBenefits website was taken down January 16 so that the necessary steps could be taken to ensure the glitch had been corrected. Initially VA anticipated the glitch only affected 5,351 veterans; however, that’s not exactly what has happened.

See updated story by Dan Verton on fedscoop, January 20 at http://fedscoop.com/va-software-glitch-allowed-data-altered-exposed-tens-thousands-veterans/

Impact on Military Retirees Examined 

Senate Hearing on COLA Cuts

From The Army Times on January 20 by Patricia Kime:  Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) has scheduled a hearing to examine the impact of the pending cost-of-living adjustment cuts for military retirees. The Senate Armed Services Committee will meet at 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 28 to hear from Defense Department officials and military advocacy groups on the COLA reductions, which were implemented in December as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act.  

Read story here:  Army Times >>  

See related story by Jordain Carney in January 21 National Journal on ways Congress wants to fix cuts to military benefits:  Defense One >>  

Project Paperclip

VVA's Drug Experiment Case Gets Uglier

The 9th Circuit battle over U.S. veterans subjected to Cold War-era drug experiments just got uglier as the Army filed a cross-appeal Tuesday. The notice of appeal comes five years after Vietnam Veterans of America led a class action suit against various government entities, claiming that at least 7,800 soldiers had been used as guinea pigs in Project Paperclip.

See the latest report by Barbara Leonard in the January 20 edition of the Courthouse News Service >>

As Reported by MSNBC

Sen. Gillibrand Fights On Against MST

According to a January 18 article by Meredith Clark on the MSNBC website, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) won’t take no for an answer. Widely credited with shining a harsh spotlight in the past year on sexual abuse in the U.S. military, Gillibrand is standing by a proposed radical change to the system of prosecuting such cases that goes far beyond other compromise measures advocated by other Democrats and has invited strong pushback from military leaders. 

Read updated story here:  MSNBC >>

As Reported by The Washington Times

Yet Another Case of VA Waste…

According to a January 16 article by Phillip Swarts in The Washington Times, the VA has wasted more than $3 billion over 10 years on medical implant purchases — and is now losing track of those implants once they’ve been put into patients, potentially putting veterans’ health at risk, according to a new watchdog report that’s drawing attention from members of Congress. 

Read complete story here:  Washington Times >>

Veterans Loans Webinar

VA-sponsored Webinar on Home Loan Guaranty Program

On Wednesday, January 29, between 9:30-11:30 AM ET and 1:30-3:30 PM ET, the VA will host a webinar on the VA’s Home Loan Guaranty Program, focusing on the benefits of using it and how to go about securing the loan.  A VA-guaranteed home loan protects lenders against loss if payments are not made, allowing them to offer veterans loans with more favorable terms. These loans can be used to buy, build, or renovate a home or to refinance an existing loan. You must register to participate in the webinar. 

The registration links for the two sessions are as follows: 

YouTube Video 

2013 VVA Convention Highlights

See highlights of the 2013 VVA National Convention in Jacksonville, Florida. Check out the knock-out Opening Ceremony performance we got from the one and only Jolie Holliday!

View on YouTube

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