FRA NewsBytes – 4-5-13

fra_logo_tr-c6-opt1In this week’s edition:
FRA on Fox News Channel
Senate Bill to Correct Misdiagnosed Veterans
Navy Reserve Selects 15th Force Master Chief
Defense Cuts Furlough Days for Civilian Employees

FRA on Fox News Channel
John Davis, FRA’s director of Legislative Programs, shared FRA’s concern over  the growing backlog of veterans’ disability claims during an interview that  aired on the Fox News Channel this week. This is a top FRA priority and was  addressed by FRA National President Mark Kilgore when he testified before a  joint hearing of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees in March.

Davis cited shipmates’ concerns about claims processing delays and the  Association’s continuing interaction with members of Congress and Department of  Veterans Affairs (VA) officials on this issue.  He also spoke about VA efforts  to improve training for claims personnel, streamline the claims process, and  leverage technology to speed up the adjudication process. He also called for  added benefits for “blue water” veterans, who were exposed to Agent Orange while  serving off the coast of Vietnam, and expressed the FRA’s disappointment with  the recent announcement that the VA and Department of Defense (DoD) are  abandoning efforts to create a single electronic health record for active duty  military personnel and veterans.

To view the interview, visit  http://video.foxnews.com/v/2274712552001/waiting-warriors-va-backlog-affects-thousands-of-vets/

Senate Bill to Correct Misdiagnosed Veterans
Senator Jon Tester (Mont.), a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee,  introduced legislation (S. 628) that would authorize the Physical Disability  Board of Review (PDBR) to evaluate and, when necessary, correct service records  for veterans diagnosed by the Department of Defense (DoD) with a Personality  Disorder (PD) or Adjustment Disorder (AD) and discharged after active-duty  deployment. Because PD and AD are considered pre-existing conditions, DoD is not  obligated to award these veterans benefits related to their conditions.

The legislation is a companion bill to the “Servicemembers Mental Health Review  Act” (H.R. 975), introduced by Rep. Tim Walz in the House last month. Tester and  Walz believe many of these veterans are actually suffering from Post-Traumatic  Stress (PTS) and are eligible for benefits they’ve rightfully earned and need to  properly reintegrate into civilian life.

Members are asked to use the FRA Action Center to ask their legislators to  support these proposals.

http://www.capwiz.com/fra/issues/alert/?alertid=62553656

Navy Reserve Selects 15th Force Master Chief
Command Master Chief Clarence “C.J.” Mitchell will become the 15th Force Master  Chief for the Navy Reserve in October.  In his new position, he will be  responsible for advising the Chief of Navy Reserve on matters affecting the  morale, retention, Sailor development, and general well-being of over 53,000  enlisted Navy Reserve personnel. The Force Master Chief is also charged with  ensuring active communications throughout the force, instilling a sense of  heritage, and actively promoting Navy core values to all Sailors.

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, who enlisted in the Navy Reserve in May 1989,  Mitchell currently serves as the command master chief for Navy Reserve Forces  Command. He will relieve Reserve Force Master Chief Chris Wheeler and is already  looking ahead to his new post.

“The office has a legacy of advocacy for Reserve Component Sailors and their  families. I’m excited and eager to continue that legacy,” said Mitchell. “I plan  to focus on continuing our culture of readiness with flexibility, providing the  Navy valued capabilities, and caring for our most valuable resource, our  Sailors.”

Defense Cuts Furlough Days for Civilian Employees
The Department of Defense (DoD) announced that it will reduce the number of  unpaid furlough days for civilian employees over the next five months from 22  to14 days. After sequestration (automatic budget cuts) took effect March 1,  2013, DoD announced that civilian employees would be required to take a day off  every week with a resulting 20 percent cut in pay. When the FY 2013 spending  bill (H.R. 933) was enacted in late March, it allowed DoD greater flexibility in  implementing the mandatory budget cuts.