TREA: The ENLISTED ASSN
NEWS FOR THE ENLISTED
FOR OCTOBER 12, 2012
It is another quiet week in political Washington (the city itself is extremely excited experiencing the first baseball post season games in 8 decades.) There was some drama on Wednesday during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the attack on our consulate in Bengazi and on Thursday the city watched the VP Debate (yes that is the sort of town this is!)
This week Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), the Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee called for the removal of VA Chief of Staff, John Gingrich based on the findings of the VA’s office of Inspector General (OIG) report on the VA’s “conference scandal.”
The scandal (which we have previously written about) concerns the $6.1 million the VA spent last year on 2 HR conferences held in Florida. The October 1 IG report did find that the July and August meeting were held for legitimate training purposes but they also found that the VA’s oversight was “too weak, ineffective, and in some instances, nonexistent.” They also stated that they could not be sure that $6.1 million” represented a complete accounting” for the conferences and that they “questioned about $762,000 as unauthorized, unnecessary, and/or wasteful expenses. They also “found that eleven VA employees, tasked with conference management responsibilities, improperly accepted gifts from contractors seeking to do business or already doing business with VA.”
On September 30 (the day before the release of the report) VA Secretary Shinseki already accepted the resignation of John Sepulveda, the VA Assistant Secretary for Human Resources (HR). The investigated HR conferences were held in Orlando where Mr. Sepulveda was a speaker and which included meditation, Pilates and water aerobics, and a $52,000.00 “Patton movie” parody training film. The film “should never have been produced and this misuse of taxpayer funds is completely unacceptable,” said Nathan Naylor, the VA’s deputy assistant secretary for public affairs.
At a September 20 House hearing VA’s Chief Financial officer Todd Grams said that the VA had spent $100 million on conferences, including travel costs during FY2012.
Last week TREA: The Enlisted Association asked for your input regarding a new bill sponsored by Congressman Jeff Denham (R-CA), HR6488. The bill would extend commissary and exchange store privileges to veterans with a service-connected disability and their families.
The results are in, and are as follows: 49.3% (34/69) were in favor of the bill; 31.9% (22/69) were not supportive of it, and 18.8% (13/69) didn’t take a side or had another alternative to this proposal.
Again, thank you so much for taking the time to respond, and thank you for reading our weekly legislative updates!
Army General Martin E. Dempsey and Marine Corps Sgt. Major Bryan B. Battaglia joined forces to urge all service members and their families to vote in the upcoming election Sgt. Major Battaglis said: “Whether overseas or at your home station, absentee ballot or the polling station, voting has never been easier for you and your family. And we strongly encourage each of you to exercise your right. If needed, your unit voting assistance officer stands ready to help.”
General Dempsey noted: Throughout history, the men and women of our Armed Forces have fought to protect and defend our constitution, including our right to vote. Voting is indeed democracy in action, and it defines, in no small part, what it means to be an American.”
TREA, the Enlisted Association has lobbied long and hard with other members of the Alliance for Military and Voting Rights (AMOVR) for the passage of the MOVE Act and other voting improvements for our military families voting while overseas. This coming election will be the test to see how the many improvements passed and instituted in the last few years work in real life. After November please let us know how the new system actually worked.
Guides Missile Destroyer Michael Murphy Commissioned in NYC. - On Saturday “man our ship and bring her to life” was heard in Manhattan as the Michael Murphy was commissioned. The newest guided missile destroyer is named for Navy SEAL (Sea, Air, Land) Lt. Michael P. Murphy, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan June 28, 2005.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus delivered the ceremony’s principal address while Maureen Murphy, Lt. Murphy’s mother served as the ships sponsor. Secretary Mabus said:” This ship honors the courage, service and sacrifice of Lt. Michael Murphy, his Red Wings brothers, fellow SEALs, special operators and service members around the world who answer the call of duty every day. It is absolutely fitting that the USS Michael Murphy bears a SEAL trident on her crest because, much like Michael and every Navy SEAL who has earned the honor of wearing the trident, this ship is designed to counter threats from above and below the surface of the oceans, in the air and on land.”
DoD Announces Planned Return of RAF Upwood Clinic- The Department of Defense announced this week that they will be returning RAF’s Upwood Clinic back to the United Kingdom by the end of this year. The 57 U.S. personnel and 4 local employees will be offered positions at RAF’s Alconbury Clinic which is 8 miles away.
VA Institutes Pilot Program to Help Prevent Diabetes- The VA has rolled out a pilot program that will hopefully reduce the number of veterans who suffer from diabetes. “The Diabetes Prevention Program will provide Veterans with another tool to help them lead healthier, fuller lives, reducing their risk for diabetes,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.
The DPP promoted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” was a multi-center clinical research study aimed at discovering whether modest weight loss through dietary change and increased physical activity or treatment with the oral diabetes drug metformin could prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes.”
The VA’s pilot program will be totally voluntary. It will be for veterans who are not being treated for diabetes but are considered at risk for developing the disease. A limited number of veterans will be enrolled in the program at the medical centers in Minneapolis, Baltimore, and Greater Los Angeles with VA Ann Arbor serving as the coordinating center.
“Approximately 24 percent of Veterans have Type 2 diabetes,” said Dr. Linda Kinsinger, VA’s chief consultant for preventive medicine. “We’ve monitored the DPP’s results and we feel that it could be another tool to make a difference for Veterans.”
For more information on this program, contact Jay Shiffler (email@example.com) at the VA National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. To learn more about the VA’s prevention program, visit http://www.prevention.va.gov/index.asp.
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