TOP VA HOSPITAL BOSSES WOULD SEE PAY DOUBLED UNDER PROPOSAL TO CONGRESS — Department of Veterans Affairs officials want to double the pay of top administrators and move them into the same employment classification as medical doctors. They say the new, lucrative employment classification, Title 38, would help retain talent and make it easier to fire poor performers. There is little evidence that either of these statements is true. Private hospital administrators make more than the $180,000 most VA directors earn. But private sector hospitals are unlikely ever to hire from among career VA bureaucrats, most of whom have unremarkable qualifications, rose to management through tenure rather than talent, and benefitted from a closed pipeline that rarely hires from the outside. Many have backgrounds in soft, unrelated disciplines, like social workers, who would be making an average of $54,000 outside of the VA. The Martinsburg, West Virginia, VA director has a background in facilities management.
ADVOCATES SAY IMPRISONED VETERANS SHOULD HAVE ACCESS TO VA — Two veterans’ service organizations are backing Senate legislation requiring prison officials to give the Veterans Affairs Department reasonable access to a prisoner who has served in the military. John Rowan, president of the Vietnam Veterans Association, on Tuesday informed Sens. Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Dick Durbin, a Democrat from New York and fellow panel member, of the organization’s support for the bill, while Paralyzed Veterans of America on Thursday notified the lawmakers of its support. “Because of its long history with veterans and criminal justice issues, [Vietnam Veterans of America] has always believed that VA access to incarcerated veterans is especially needed by those transitioning from incarceration to life beyond prison walls, Rowan wrote in the letter, a copy of which was provided to Military.com.
PROBLEMS WITH KENTUCKY VA? SEN. PAUL OFFERS AID — U.S. Sen. Rand Paul on Saturday stood before a Hopkinsville firing squad armed only with the questions and concerns of men and women who’ve served their country and are now looking for better support from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Kentucky Republican’s town hall at the Hopkinsville Disabled American Veterans building on North Main Street was his third stop of the day after hitting up similar events in Simpson and Todd counties. At the old courthouse in Elkton, campaign staffers were surprised by the size of the crowd, which they pegged at or around 100. A little more than an hour and a half later, the scene was more intimate at the Hopkinsville DAV, as Paul kept his introductory remarks to less than seven minutes and opened up an informal Q&A.
VA LOAN CERTIFICATE OF ELIGIBILITY GUIDE– A VA loan is an incredible benefit offered to men and women of the armed forces who meet certain eligibility criteria. Not only are the benefits exclusive to veterans, they provide opportunities that you can’t get with other loans, like the ability to refinance your home up to 100% of its worth, no down payments on a home purchase, and more! But to take advantage of the benefits offered by a VA loan, you have to prove you are eligible. In order to do that, you must meet certain guidelines. To qualify for a VA loan, you must have one of the following requirements:
• Served 181 days during peacetime (Active Duty)
• Served 90 days during war time (Active Duty)
• Served 6 years in the Reserves or National Guard
• Surviving spouse of a service member who was killed in the line of duty
WAR VETERAN MEMORIAL REUNITES WISCONSIN MAN WITH FATHER’S MEDALS — NEILLSVILLE (WAOW) – Floyd Watts never really knew his father, but on Sunday he was reunited with the memories of how his dad served the country. His father, Skylar Watts, fought in the Vietnam War and died in combat when he was just 26 years old. Floyd Watts moved to Kentucky years ago, and left behind his father’s Vietnam War memorabilia in a storage unit. Someone else bought that unit, and donated the items to The Highground Veterans Memorial Park in Neillsville. Last August, a Highground volunteer began searching family members related to Skylar Watts, using Facebook and Ancestry.com. Months of searching finally led them to Floyd Watts, who visited Highground on Sunday to reunite with his father’s medals, photo album, and American flag. “You know, that someone would actually find these items and know what they were, and the value of them, that’s what makes it so special to me,” Watts said.
MEET THE TUSKEGEE AIRMEN — In a rare appearance together, the Commemorative Air Force is bringing two unique assets to the Wings Over Miami Air Museum, located at Miami Executive Airport, to tell the inspirational story of the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first black military pilots, along with the heavy bombers they supported. Texas Raiders, a fully restored B-17G Flying Fortress, will be appearing along with the CAF Red Tail Squadron’s RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit, a mobile theater featuring an original film about the Tuskegee Airmen. This duo shares an important story that honors the history and legacy of these WWII aviators, and serves as an inspiration to current generations to RISE ABOVE obstacles in their own lives. Beginning on Thursday, March 24 through Sunday, March 27, the public is invited to tour the cockpit of the Flying Fortress and step inside a world of living history, learning about the special relationship between the bomber pilots and their fighter escorts. Visitors are also encouraged to enjoy the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit 53’ mobile panoramic theater. All ages are welcome to enjoy this immersive and exciting experience to learn about the Tuskegee Airmen.
WWII VETERANS AIM TO RELIVE HISTORY WITH RESTORED PT BOAT — It was a run-in with the enemy that was too close for comfort, and more than 70 years later, the details remain vivid in the mind of a Navy veteran who served aboard a legendary ship. US Navy Torpedoman 1st Class James Nerison was part of the PT-305 crew patrolling off the coast of Corsica in 1944 when a pair of German destroyers locked onto them. The Higgins Industries Patrol-Torpedo boats were known for their speed and maneuverability, but they were up against superior Nazi firepower. “We couldn’t shake them off for about 45 minutes and we were drawing a lot of fire,” Nerison, now 91, recalled. “I secured the torpedo rack that we launched the torpedoes with and ran up to the skipper and said, ‘Do you want me to throw over a smoke pot?'” The young sailor was referring to a 5-gallon can with chemicals that emitted smoke as a distraction. He was given the approval to toss the container over the side, and the German warships quickly started firing at it as PT-305 slipped off into the darkness.
NAVY FINDS TWO HOMES NEAR LANDING FIELD HAVE CONTAMINATED WELLS — High levels of contaminants were found in two drinking wells near Fentress Naval Auxiliary Landing Field, the Navy announced Thursday. A firefighting foam that was used for decades at Fentress was the source of the contaminants in a recent lab test, and the Navy decided to test homes within a half-mile radius of the base. The results announced Thursday showed that two of the 52 off-base wells that had drinking water samples collected last month had levels of perfluorinated compounds that exceeded a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provisional health advisory. The two properties are being provided bottled water for drinking and cooking until a solution can be put in place. “The well-being of our people on Fentress and our city of Chesapeake neighbors is a top priority for the Navy,” said Capt. Lou Schager, commanding officer of Fentress and Oceana Naval Air Station.