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Monthly Archives: August 2011

Remarks by Chairman Miller at the 93rd National Convention of The American Legion


To watch the speech, please click here.

 

CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON VETERANS AFFAIRS, REP. JEFF MILLER: Thank you very much, National Commander Foster, for that gracious introduction, and let me thank and recognize your lovely wife, Rehta, for all you have both done for The American Legion. I would also like to thank the American Legion Auxiliary, especially President Carlene Ashworth, for her service. Secretary Shineski, thank you for your leadership at VA over these past two and a half years. I have enjoyed working with you, and I am proud to call you friend.

 

I am honored to be here at the 93rd American Legion National Convention. Thank you for inviting me, and for the warm welcome.

 

Two weeks ago, just two days after one of our Chinook helicopters had been shot down in Afghanistan – I stood on the tarmac at Bagram Air Base for a battlefield memorial – and witnessed what is perhaps the most solemn ceremony in the military – a ramp ceremony. Forty souls were honored that night. All died fighting a hero’s fight. I stood shoulder to shoulder with members of our Armed Forces to pay our final respects to the soldiers, the Navy SEALs, and airmen as they prepared for their journey home for the last time. We stood united in our grief, in our pain, and in our anger over such a horrific loss of life.

 

As we watched, I reflected on one truth we must always remember – these heroes died for a Nation they loved, doing a job that they loved, knowing that their sacrifice would advance the cause of liberty. None of us should ever lose sight of that dedication to duty and to country.

 

Later that night, our military, with infinite resolve, continued the mission on behalf of their fallen comrades. This is what they do, day in, day out, year in and year out, as our servicemen and women have done since those early days in Lexington and Concord.

 

Our military and you, our veterans, are truly America’s heroes. As we honor and remember each and every life that we have lost, we re-commit ourselves in shared gratitude to serve those who have served us.

 

It is impossible to put a price tag on freedom. But we all know that the cost of war is all too apparent. Our men and women return home carrying with them the lasting effects of war – wounds that are both visible and invisible. Some return having difficulty adjusting to civilian life. Some come back and cannot find employment in today’s tough economic climate. But just as on the battlefield, these men and women continue to put others before themselves to ensure lives are made better and that the ideals they fought for in faraway lands are still cherished here at home.

 

It is that simple, and often forgotten, concept, which is at the heart of The American Legion. It is what you, its members, stand for, and more important, what you fight for on behalf of your fellow veterans.

 

Thankfully, America realized long ago that those who have worn the cloth of our Nation are owed not only a debt of gratitude, but tools to help support them when they return.

 

After each war and conflict, we re-evaluate the programs and services that are offered by the VA to ensure we are not only meeting the needs of today’s veterans, but that we are keeping the promise for past and future generations of veterans. A promise that has not always been kept.

 

Today, we find ourselves in a new era. Washington has a spending problem. It is not something that happened overnight. This is not news, nor should it surprise anyone here. We need to cut up the credit cards and put America back on the path to fiscal sanity.

 

This summer, there was much debate on how to do just that. We have taken the first, difficult step. Elected representatives across the country need to recommit themselves to the job we were elected to do – to serve the American people. And that is exactly the message I, and my colleagues, plan to bring back to Washington when I return next week. Our Constitution is very clear in outlining how the government can tax and spend. Again, this is not a new revelation. First and foremost, the Constitution provides for spending for the common defense and providing for the welfare of our citizens. Funding for veterans’ programs, I believe, is a critical element to the common defense of our country, and I believe you will see that reflected in the spending priorities in this Congress.

 

But while tightening our belts, we all must recognize that we still have troops on the ground fighting two wars, and more serving in other conflicts around the globe.

 

In the Budget Control Act of 2011, veterans’ benefits and services were not affected. Veterans are still receiving their compensation check, and VA hospitals are operating as normal.

 

Soon, the new Select Committee will begin its work and will have to trim a minimum of $1.2 trillion. We are out of other options. So let me state very clearly – funding for our military and veterans is, and will remain, one of this Nation’s highest priorities.

 

This is a Joint Select Committee, established for a particular purpose for a particular time. The Deficit Reduction Committee is similar in structure to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence or a Conference committee, which is a temporary panel of House and Senate Members, whose purpose is to reconcile differences in legislation that has passed both chambers. While the Deficit Committee has received more press and attention than other joint or select committees, it does not have any special powers. In fact, while the Joint Committee is only comprised of 12 Members of Congress, all Members of Congress, House and Senate Committees, and yes, the American people, can play an active role in the Committee’s process. All recommendations from the committee will have to pass both bodies of Congress and be signed by the President before becoming law.

 

Coming to agreement will not be easy. You will hear a lot of rhetoric from the media and from special interest groups. But as Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I promise to you that I will not only fight for America’s veterans, but that I will stand steadfast in ensuring that America’s veterans are not used as political pawns in this process.

 

I will be proactive in keeping our veterans informed with the facts in the coming months, and we will provide information on the progress of the Select Committee.

 

But just as important as getting our fiscal house in order, is putting our American veterans back to work. Our veterans in every state across the country deserve better than to stand in unemployment lines.

 

I have pledged to help reduce veteran unemployment in veterans’ communities by half – lowering it to less than 5 percent over the next two years – a rate we have not experienced since 2007.

 

To do this, I introduced comprehensive veterans’ jobs legislation bill this July – the “Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011” or the VOW Act. The VOW Act will ensure that we have the most trained, most skilled workforce since World War II. Our soldiers, Marines, sailors, airmen, and Coastguardsmen returning from Afghanistan and Iraq face higher unemployment than the national average. While our older veterans, who make up two-thirds of the currently unemployed, are faced with a changing job market.

 

In total, nearly 1 million veterans are out of work. I am sure all of you agree this is unacceptable.

 

The Committee has been focused on this issue for much of this year and I would like to commend the President for joining us in this fight in making veteran employment a priority.

 

The VOW Act has five pillars:

 

First, we must enhance the Transition Assistance Program, which provides career counseling. TAP will be mandatory for all separating servicemembers, and we will also ensure it is effective in meeting the needs of our veterans in the 21st Century.

 

Second, we all know that education is one of the keys to success. Right now, 48 percent of veterans using Montgomery and Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits are enrolled in 4-year colleges and universities. But we need to make sure our Vietnam, Cold War, and Persian Gulf era veterans also have opportunities to advance in the workplace. Therefore, under the VOW Act, 100,000 veterans of past eras can receive up to one-year of Montgomery GI Bill benefits to re-train for careers in this new and ever-changing marketplace.

 

Third, when members of the National Guard and Reserve are called to duty, their employer must keep their position open until they return and must not discriminate against them based on their Guard and Reserve status. Too often this is not the case. So, we will strengthen the protections provided by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). We must be willing to defend veterans’ rights, even when others are unwilling to do so.

 

Fourth, despite America’s military having the best-trained professionals in the world, the inability to be credentialed or licensed in their equivalent civilian field when they return home prevents these men and women from obtaining meaningful and gainful employment in their area of expertise. Some of these professions include combat medics, truck drivers, and aircraft technicians, to name a few. Our states hold the key to breaking down this barrier. I have been working with several governors and governors’ associations, as well as the Department of Labor, to create uniform standards to ease this transition from active duty to civilian life. A combat medic who has seen the worst of war in Iraq or Afghanistan is surely qualified to be an EMT here at home.

 

And lastly, I have introduced a bill providing meaningful tax incentives for small businesses that hire unemployed veterans, which will not only provide capital for the business, which spurs growth, but also protects the veteran from being a mere tax break hire – a trick we often see.

 

And as important as its other features, the VOW Act does not increase the deficit one penny. I would like to thank The American Legion for their support of this legislation. Many of these proposals were supported by The American Legion’s National Economic Division, and we would not be where we are today without their help.

 

But as you know, as I know, and the President knows, the government’s role is not to create jobs. But what the government can do is create the right environment for the job market itself to flourish. And we do this by reducing the burden of overreaching regulations that encumber America’s small businesses, the engine of our economy. In other words, your government needs to get the hell out of the way of the economy, get the boot off the back of small businesses, and let the engine roar.

 

The time for talk is over, we must act. We need to do it quickly. I encourage each of you to read the bill, available on the Committee’s website at Veterans.House.Gov and let your elected officials back home know what you think. I look forward to the President signing the VOW Act into law as soon as possible.

 

While we get our veterans back to work, we cannot and must not forget those who are suffering with the invisible wounds of war – post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. These can be some of the hardest wounds to treat. But we can, and we will, help these men and women get on a path to recovery. That was, and still is, the mission of the VA – to heal our veterans and provide them with the support necessary to lead full and productive lives. Today, we face a choice. Either we take action to address the deficiencies in the current system, which many opt out of before even receiving treatment, or we maintain the status quo. The status quo, with a rising suicide rate is not an option and is unacceptable to me.

 

This summer, a veteran of the Marine Corps testified before the full Committee. He told us that he took the money from VA for PTSD treatment and spent it on alcohol and other vices. It was not until this young man hit rock bottom that he reached out to somebody for help. But instead of going to the VA, he turned to a private organization, right here in Minnesota. In 15 months, he had his life back. He courageously fought his demons and came back a stronger Marine.

 

We must find ways to reach these men and women and provide them with the support that they need. We need to transform the culture of VA so that all veterans feel welcome. Again, this will not be easy task, but I believe it can, and must, be done. It is incumbent upon all of us to reach out to those who are in pain and to get them as well as possible, instead of masking symptoms with drugs. Each of us has the ability to help – especially in our own communities.

 

Legislation is about partnerships. The American Legion’s Washington team is one of the finest. You should be very proud of the work they do on your behalf in the Nation’s capital. Next month, we will welcome The American Legion to Washington for its annual legislative hearing before the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees.

 

And this year, our Committee will continue its aggressive oversight of VA to ensure taxpayer dollars are not only being spent wisely, but are spent on veterans’ needs, not bureaucracy. We must also turn the corner on the shameful disability compensation claims backlog. We have heard too many promises for too many years, and this Congress will turn the corner and make VA accountable to ensure accuracy the first time a claim is submitted.

 

We also want to hear from veterans and their families across the country and help find solutions to problems within the system. Therefore, we want to hear from each of you – whether it be visiting our office personally, calling us on the phone, sending us an email, or reaching out on Facebook.

 

These issues are not partisan issues. They are veteran issues, and that is exactly as it should be.

 

I would like to share with you a quote, borrowed from General Omar Bradley, a former VA Secretary. He stated quite bluntly in 1947, “We are dealing with veterans, not procedures – with their problems, not ours.” I promise to each of you here today, I will not let bureaucracy, red tape, or political brinksmanship stand in the way of caring for America’s veterans during my tenure as Chairman. You are my first priority.

 

This country’s commitment to our veterans will never waiver. Nor will mine.

 

I applaud each of you, and your families, for your service to our great Nation, and to The American Legion.

 

God Bless you, and God Bless America.

 

 

For more information on the VOW Act, please visit: Veterans.House.Gov/Jobs


Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans

Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000

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Over $2.2 Billion in Retroactive Agent Orange Benefits Paid to 89,000 Vietnam Veterans and Survivors for Presumptive Conditions

WASHINGTON (August 31, 2011)- Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K.
Shinseki announced today that more than $2.2 billion in retroactive
benefits has already been paid to approximately 89,000 Vietnam Veterans
and their survivors who filed claims related to one of three new Agent
Orange presumptive conditions.

On August 31, 2010, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) amended its
regulations to add ischemic heart disease, hairy cell leukemia and other
chronic B-cell leukemias, and Parkinson's disease to the list of
diseases presumed to be related to exposure to Agent Orange.

 "As the President said to the American Legion yesterday, VA is
committed to ensuring Veterans and their families receive the care and
benefits they have earned," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K.
Shinseki.  "I encourage all potentially eligible Veterans to apply as
soon as possible to preserve the most favorable effective date for
payments."

For new claims, VA may authorize up to one year of retroactive benefits
if a Veteran can show that he or she has experienced one of those
conditions since the date of the regulatory change.

VA has reviewed, and continues to review, thousands of previously filed
claims that may qualify for retroactive benefits under a long-standing
court order of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of
California in Nehmer vs. U.S. Veterans Administration.

"VA encourages survivors of Veterans whose death may be due to one of
the three diseases to file a claim for dependency and indemnity
compensation," added Under Secretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey.

Secretary Shinseki's decision to add these conditions to the list of
Agent Orange presumptive conditions was based on a study by the
Institute of Medicine, which indicated a positive association between
exposure to certain herbicides and the subsequent development of one or
more of the three conditions.

Potentially eligible Veterans include those who were exposed based on
duty or visitation in Vietnam or on its inland waterways between January
9, 1962, and May 7, 1975; exposed along the demilitarized zone in Korea
between April 1, 1968, and August 31, 1971; or exposed due to herbicide
tests and storage at military bases within and outside of the United
States.

The Agent Orange Claims Processing System website located at
https://www.fasttrack.va.gov/AOFastTrack/ may be used to submit claims
related to the three new presumptive conditions.

The website makes it easy to electronically file a claim and allows
Veterans and their physicians to upload evidence supporting the claim.
It also permits online viewing of claim status.

Beyond the three new presumptive disabilities, Veterans may file online
at VA's My-eBenefits web site at:
https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits-portal/ebenefits.portal.  They
can check the status of their claim with a premium account (confirming
their identity), and use a growing number of online services.

Servicemembers may enroll in My-eBenefits by using their Common Access
Card at anytime during their military service, or before they leave
during their Transition Assistance Program briefings.

Veterans may also enroll through their myPay or MyHealtheVet accounts by
visiting their local VA regional office or Veteran Service Organization,
or by calling 1-800-827-1000.

For more information about Agent Orange presumptives and disability
compensation, go to
http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/.  For questions
about Agent Orange, Veterans may call VA's Special Issues Helpline at
1-800-749-8387 and press 3.


Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans

Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000

Rep. Miller Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs to Address The American Legion


 

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, at 11:20 a.m., U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller (FL-01), Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, will address the 93rd The American Legion National Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Chairman Miller will reaffirm the Committee’s commitment to protect veterans’ services throughout the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction process, curb the rising veteran unemployment rate through the VOW Act (H.R. 2433), and discuss VA mental health care programs.

 

WHO:             Chairman Jeff Miller

WHAT:          Address to the 93rd The American Legion National Convention

WHEN:          11:20 a.m. To watch online, please visit Legion.org.


Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans

Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000

Soldiers Use Smartphones to Register Arlington Headstones

08/31/2011 11:37 AM CDT

By J.D. Leipold
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31, 2011 – Since early June, about 100 soldiers and volunteer students have spent their nights silently walking between the seemingly endless rows of marble at Arlington National Cemetery here, stopping to crouch and clear the grass from the base of each headstone.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Company D soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry, known as "The Old Guard," photograph headstones with smartphones at Arlington National Cemetery, Aug. 30, 2011, to help reconcile burial records. U.S. Army photo by J.D. Leipold

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Then they step back, crouch again and snap photos with smartphones of the front and back of each headstone — 219,619 of them including the 726 new burials since the project began. They've also photographed 43,096 columbarium wall niches where urns filled with cremated remains rest.

Next they enter the section and grave numbers, the GPS latitude and longitude, how many are interred under one grave and other information. Once they double-check the information, they email it in a package to a task force of specialists who begin the process of matching headstone information with digitized records that are then compared for accuracy.

The photo documentation is just the first step in the cemetery's efforts to correct issues on grave identification, said cemetery officials. The problems had come to light more than a year ago when it was discovered that the cemetery was operating on an antiquated accountability system that often meant interred remains were not where they were supposed to be.

As the soldiers have been capturing images of the headstones, the cemetery also is digitally mapping the cemetery through aerial photography, which will add an additional layer of accountability and eventually will provide the added benefit of enabling the public to locate and view the gravesites of loved ones over the Internet.

Much of the documentation work on the ground has been accomplished by Company D soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry, known as "The Old Guard," between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Army Capt. Nate Peterson, Company D commander, said the reasons for working late night into early morning were partly to avoid the 100-degree-plus temperatures and humidity and because his soldiers could more aptly control the lighting in the evening. He noted his team was off the grounds by the time the first funeral was under way. An average of 27 funerals takes place at the cemetery daily.

On this day, the soldiers were at the start of 15,000 reshoots. Sometimes the angle of the original photo submitted was key-stoned or blurry, or the marble was too reflective of the flash or the email didn't make it to the data collection center. Bottom line — if the photos aren't perfect, they're photographed again, Peterson said, adding that his team would get creative if just for the perfect angle.

"President Taft's marker is really tall and they wanted to make sure they got a nice head-on shot, so one of the guys put another guy on his shoulders, backed up and took the picture," he said.

Army Spc. Matthew Caruso, who has been with the Old Guard for about two years, said taking the photos has been an honor.

"It's a good feeling knowing that you're doing something for the families of the fallen and making sure in this particular case that we're helping to fix any discrepancies in the cemetery," he said.

Caruso just recently found out from his grandmother that his grandfather was in the columbarium.

"It was personally interesting to me because I have a fallen grandfather there that I never heard about until recently," Caruso said. "My grandmother told me he was buried here, a World War II veteran, so I did some research and found out where he was."

Yesterday, soldiers were working in section 33, one of the oldest areas that contain the graves of service members who lived from the late 1800s into the early 1900s. Most were veterans of the Spanish-American War.

For Army Pfc. Chris Bodell, working through the dark nights has given him pause to think about the people reflected by the headstones.

"It's kind of a weird feeling looking at all of those who have come before me, wondering what they did in their careers," he said. "Looking at the graves, taking pictures to help document the people who fought in the Civil War and those who have died in the current conflicts — this is all so much bigger than just myself."
�

Related Sites:
Arlington National Cemetery


Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans

Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000

VA Launches Open Source Custodian – Open Source Electronic Health Record Agent Begins Operations

WASHINGTON (August 30, 2011)- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
today announced it has completed an important milestone on its joint
path with the Department of Defense (DoD) to create a single electronic
health record system for servicemembers and Veterans.  OSEHRA, the Open
Source Electronic Health Record Agent, has begun operations and will
serve as the central governing body of a new open source Electronic
Health Record (EHR) community.

"We developed our open source strategy to engage the public and private
sectors in the rapid advancement of our EHR software, which is central
to the care we deliver to Veterans and servicemembers and to our joint
EHR collaboration with the Department of Defense," said Secretary of
Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "With the launch of OSEHRA, we begin
the implementation of our strategy and we look forward to the creation
of a vibrant open source EHR community."

As part of the initiation of OSEHRA operations, VA has contributed its
current EHR, known as VistA (Veterans Integrated System Technology
Architecture), to seed the effort. OSEHRA will oversee the community of
EHR users, developers, and service providers that will deploy, use, and
enhance the EHR software.

Individuals and organizations interested in participating in OSEHRA
(www.osehra.org) are invited to join through the community website.
Established as an independent non-profit corporation during its initial
phase of operation, OSEHRA is putting in place the framework and the
tools that will enable the public sector, private industry, and academia
to collaborate to advance EHR technology.

Draft documents describing key framework components, such as the design
of its code repository and the definition of its software quality
certification process, are available on the OSEHRA community website.
Community feedback is welcome as the OSEHRA team finalizes these designs
in preparation for launch of full technical operations this fall.

The design of OSEHRA is being led by The Informatics Application Group
(tiag) under a contract awarded by VA in June 2011.

Moving to an open source model invites innovation from the public and
private sectors. It is an important element of VA's strategy to ensure
that VA clinicians have the best tools possible, and that Veterans
receive the best health care possible.

#  #  #

About OSEHRA

OSEHRA (Open Source Electronic Health Record Agent) governs an open,
collaborative community of users, developers, and researchers engaged in
advancing electronic health record technology. For more information,
visit www.osehra.org.


Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans

Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000

CWP sits down with US Senator Mark Udall from Colorado


Dear Sean
 
You, a family member or a friend, are among the 700,000 Americans who worked in our country’s nuclear weapons complex and uranium industry to keep America free. Too often, that secret work and the sacrifices involved is overlooked or forgotten. 
 
Recently, Cold War Patriots sat down with US Senator Mark Udall from Colorado, who answered questions and spoke to the needs of former workers from across the country—from uranium miners, millers, and transporters, to workers at the nation’s 350 nuclear weapons complex facilities. 
 
Please take a moment to review all or part of the following interview—we think you’ll find it very worthwhile.
 
1.        How did Senator Udall become involved?
2.       Explain the Advisory Board legislation to oversee DOL.
3.        What can Cold War Patriots members do?
4.       What are the similarities between American and Japanese nuclear workers?
5.       What did you hope to accomplish by introducing the Charlie Wolf Act?
6.       Do you see the Charlie Wolf Act progressing in this congressional session?
7.       Tell us more about the RECA amendment legislation introduced by Tom Udall.
8.       Tell us about the National Day of Remembrance on October 30th.
 
Cold War Patriots is the nation’s largest non-profit advocacy organization representing the interests of America’s nuclear weapons workers.
 
Membership is free. You can join by going online to our website at www.coldwarpatriots.org, where you’ll find additional resources to aide former workers and their families.  Or, simply call us toll-free at 1-888-903-8989.
 
We hope to do similar video interviews with other House and Senate members soon.  
 
Feel free to share this email with others.
 
Paul Mullens
Founding Member
Cold War Patriots Advisory Committee

Cold War Patriots • PO Box 18916 • Denver, CO 80218


Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans

Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000

Standing guard at the Tomb in the face of Hurricane

tomb512.jpg

A lone Tomb Sentinel, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), walks his tour in humble reverence during Hurricane Irene in Arlington National Cemetery, Va., Aug 27. (Photo/3rd U.S. INF Regiment The Old Guard)

WASHINGTON – As Hurricane Irene barrels her way toward the mid-Atlantic and up the East Coast, members of The Old Guard continue their vigilance at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

While on duty the Tomb Sentinel crosses a 63-foot rubber surfaced walkway in exactly 21 steps. He then faces the Tomb for 21 seconds, turns again, and pauses an additional 21 seconds before retracing his steps.

The 21 is symbolic of the highest salute according to dignitaries in military and state ceremonies.

Members of The Old Guard have guarded the Tomb every second, of every day regardless of weather or holidays since April 6, 1948.


Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans

Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000

Sean Eagan shared an album with you.

You are invited to view Sean Eagan’s photo album: Cold War Veterans Blog
Cold War Veterans Blog
Apr 3, 2008
by Sean Eagan
Message from Sean Eagan:
A album of images from CW Veterans Blog

To share your photos or receive notification when your friends share photos, get your own free Picasa Web Albums account.

Biden Thanks Yokota Airmen for Helping Japan

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Desiree Economides
374th Airlift Wing

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan, Aug. 24, 2011 – Vice President Joe Biden thanked about 1,000 military and civilian personnel from Japan's Kanto Plains here today for their role during Operation Tomodachi, partnering with agencies worldwide to provide assistance in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Taiyo Community Center at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Aug. 24, 2011, during a nine-day tour through Asia. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Krystal M. Garrett

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The vice president stopped at Yokota during his nine-day tour to China, Mongolia and Japan, where he met with key leaders to discuss a full range of bilateral, regional and international issues.

"I've visited military bases all over the world, and what you did here in Japan over the past few months is nothing short of astounding," Biden said. "I come here for a simple reason, on behalf of the president and myself, to say, 'Thank you. Thank you not only for saving thousands of lives. Thank you for making America look as good as we are.'"

The vice president shared about his pride in the service members for their role in aiding the people of Japan.

"All the American people are in awe of what you do day in and day out, especially when you rise to the occasion of the most difficult times," he said. "You guys are awe-inspiring. You were part of the largest humanitarian relief efforts in U.S. history. It was a truly monumental operation."

Biden noted the importance of the relationship between the United States and Japan, and he told the service members and civilians they have an essential role in that partnership.

"The role you all play is going to become increasingly important, and our alliance with Japan will be more important than in the past," he said. "It continues to be absolutely critical, and you are the glue that holds this all together. You're the ones ensuring this alliance remains effective."

After his remarks, the vice president posed for pictures with service members.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Alicia Greene, 374th Wing staff agency unit deployment manager, said she appreciated Biden's words of gratitude and encouragement. "It is really great that Vice President Biden took the time to come here and thank us for all that we did during Operation Tomodachi," she said.


Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans

Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000

VA Program That Boosts Safeguards for Research Participants Wins Approval from Accrediting Body

VA Program That Boosts Safeguards for Research Participants Wins
Approval from Accrediting Body

WASHINGTON (August 24, 2011)  – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
Human Research Protection Program (HRPP), which helps ensure high
ethical and scientific standards for multi-site research projects
involving Veterans or their health information, has been accredited by
the nonprofit Association for the Accreditation of Human Research
Protection Programs (AAHRPP).

A key component of the HRPP is the Department of Veterans Affairs
Central Institutional Review Board (IRB), launched in 2008 by VA's
Office of Research and Development. VA's Central IRB oversees large
clinical trials and other human research projects conducted at multiple
VA medical centers and often involving hundreds or even thousands of
Veterans. More than 100 VA sites have approval to conduct human research
projects, and often collaborate on projects. VA's Central IRB is able to
ensure that local issues also are addressed.

Recognition from AAHRPP means the VA Central IRB meets the highest
standards for human subject research, surpassing what is required under
Federal policies and regulations. According to AAHRPP, "through the
rigorous accreditation process, organizations must demonstrate that they
have built extensive safeguards into every level of their research
operation and that they adhere to the highest standards for research."

"The new accreditation gives Veterans who take part in VA studies
reassurance of the protections they are afforded," said Dr. Joel
Kupersmith,  VA's chief research and development officer.  "Veterans who
volunteer for VA research can expect the highest level of protection."

Based in Washington, D.C., AAHRPP uses what it calls a "voluntary,
peer-driven, educational model." The organization says its process
"typically results in system-wide improvements that enhance protection
for research participants and promote high-quality research." In
addition to its recognition of the VA HRPP and the VA Central IRB,
AAHRPP has accredited the local human research protection programs at
the more than 100 VA sites nationwide.

For more information on VA's research program, visit
www.research.va.gov.

#  #  #


Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans

Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000