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In This Issue April 4, 2014
Queens Vietnam Vets organize blood drive for Pat Toro

Hagel Orders Overhaul of POW/MIA Identification Agencies

Veterans Affairs Scrutinized Over Rehiring of Employee After Fatal Incident

VA Says Disability Claims Backlog Reduced by 44 Percent since Peaking One Year Ago

Arrowhead Device

Call for Art for Women Veterans

VVA National Leadership & Education Conference

Agent Orange Town Hall Meetings

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Veterans Crisis Line

VA Caregiver Hotline

As Reported in the Times Ledger
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Queens Vietnam Vets organize blood drive for Pat Toro

Pat Toro Jr.

Sarina Trangle reports in the Times Ledger, April 3, on VVA’s own Pat Toro, Director At-Large, Vietnam Veterans of American National Board of Directors:
After years of advocating for fellow veterans, Pat Toro is turning to the troops for support in fighting off an illness stemming from Agent Orange.

Pastor “Pat” Toro Jr., former president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 32 in Queens, was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a precursor to leukemia, six months ago.

His daughter, JoAnn Marie Toro, said the syndrome likely was caused by Agent Orange, a herbicide the military sprayed on vegetation during the Vietnam War that has been linked to cancers, birth defects, and other diseases. Despite months of treatment and chemotherapy, Toro still currently requires about three blood transfusions a week, his daughter said.

VVA Chapter 32 President Paulie Narson said the group has organized a blood drive in Toro’s name at its Whitestone headquarters, at 19-12 149th St., on April 15 from noon to 5 p.m. All donations will be sent to Orange Regional Medical Center upstate, where Toro is being treated. In exchange, the hospital will supply Toro with the blood he needs.  

Read story here

American Forces Press Service

Hagel Orders Overhaul of POW/MIA Identification Agencies

Defense Secretary Chuck HagelDefense Secretary Chuck Hagel

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced March 31 that he's ordered an overhaul of the Pentagon agencies responsible for recovering and identifying the remains of America's war dead, reported Nick Simeone of the American Forces Press Service. The reorganization seeks to consolidate the mission, improve efficiency, and increase the number of remains identified by the two key agencies charged with POW-MIA accounting efforts—the Defense Prisoner of War Missing Personnel Office and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, Hagel told a Pentagon news conference.

Read more

NBC News4 I-Team Investigation

Veterans Affairs Scrutinized Over Rehiring of Employee After Fatal Incident

Scott MacFarlane, reporting for NBC News4, reported April 3 that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is under congressional scrutiny for its handling of a high-level employee in the wake of a NBC News4 I-Team investigation.
Police records and personnel documents obtained by the I-Team under the Freedom of Information Act reveal Veterans Affairs Department financial manager Jed Fillingim was involved in a deadly incident while traveling on business for the agency in 2010.

Police and federal investigators found Fillingim drove a government truck after drinking with two colleagues at a bar near Dallas while attending a June 2010 conference for federal employees. One of the two colleagues, Mississippi-based VA employee Amy Wheat, who had also been drinking that night, fell out of the truck while it was moving and died. She suffered severe head injuries and a severed leg in the fall. Blood covered the truck and one of its wheel wells, according to police reports.

Though he resigned from his position with the agency’s Jackson, Miss., medical center five months later, the News4 I-Team has learned Fillingim was rehired in March 2011 and has since assumed a high-level managerial position in Augusta, Ga., earning more than $100,000 per year.

Read MacFarlane’s article in full

VA Press Release

VA Says Disability Claims Backlog Reduced by 44 Percent since Peaking One Year Ago

From a Department of Veterans Affairs press release issued April 1: One year after the backlog of pending disability compensation claims peaked at over 611,000 in March 2013, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) states it has reduced that number by approximately 44 percent to 344,000 claims, the lowest level since Agent Orange cases were added in 2011 — a reduction of more than 267,000 — while at the same time improving the accuracy of the decisions being made on veterans’ disability claims. Additionally, on average, veterans are waiting 119 days less for a decision than they were at this time last year.

Miniature Bronze Arrowhead

Arrowhead Device

Arrowhead Device

The Arrowhead device is a miniature bronze arrowhead that may be worn on campaign, expedition, and service medals and ribbons to denote participation in an amphibious assault landing, combat parachute jump, helicopter assault landing, or combat glider landing by a service member of the United States Army. A soldier must be assigned or attached as a member of an organized force carrying out an assigned tactical mission. A soldier must actually exit the aircraft or watercraft to receive assault credit. Individual assault credit is tied directly to the combat assault credit decision for the unit to which the soldier is attached or assigned at the time of the assault. Should a unit be denied assault, no assault credit will accrue to the individual soldiers of the unit.

The arrowhead device must be authorized for wear in order to be worn on the suspension and service ribbons of the medal and is placed in position to the wearer's right of other devices on the ribbons including the "V" device, 3/16 inch service star, and 3/16 inch campaign star. Though more than one arrowhead may be authorized for wear, no more than one arrowhead may be worn on a medal and service ribbon. As of 2004, the medals which are authorized the arrowhead device are as follows: Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal (a campaign medal), Korean Service Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal.

6th Annual SHOUT! For Women Veterans

Call for Art for Women Veterans

SHOUT For Women Veterans Art Show

Submissions are being accepted for the 6th Annual SHOUT! For Women Veterans art show. SHOUT! is an annual celebration of women veterans through the arts. We invite all artists to join us in honoring and celebrating the service of women veterans. Previous events featured the artwork of many women veteran artists, and hundreds of community supporters attended and shared in their artistic expression. This year we will feature multiple pieces by artists whose works give voice to women veterans, service members, and families, friends and loved ones of women who served in the military.

The theme of this year's art show is "Celebrating Women in Service, Honoring Their Sacrifice." The Women Veterans Art Show will be held Thursday, June 12, 2014, from 6-9 pm at  Fort Mason, Conference Center 2, Marina Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94123

Deadline for Submissions: May 9, 2014

Submit Art Here

August 5 - 9, 2014 — Wichita, Kansas

VVA National Leadership & Education Conference

VVA National Leadership Conference

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Agent Orange Town Hall Meetings

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