The markup of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in the House and Senate will begin soon. FRA is working to add a provision to these “must-pass” bills to expand concurrent receipt.
Legislation to expand concurrent receipt has been introduced in the House and Senate. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL) has introduced the “Retired Pay Restoration Act” (H.R. 303) that extends Concurrent Retirement and Disability Payments (CRDP) eligibility to retirees rated less than 50 percent disabled, and Senator Jon Tester (Mt.) has introduced a similar bill (S. 1147) in the Senate. Rep. Sanford Bishop (GA) has introduced the “Disabled Veterans Tax Termination Act” (H.R. 333) that is comprehensive concurrent receipt legislation that includes the elements of H.R. 303 and would also give concurrent receipt to all Chapter 61 retirees with less than 20 years of service.
Rep. Bilirakis (FL) and Senator Jon Tester (MT) have introduced the “Major Richard Star Act” (H.R. 1282 /S. 344 respectively) that expands concurrent receipt to include Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC) beneficiaries who are medically retired with less than 20 years of service.
From the Fleet Reserve Association (FRA):
"Senator John Boozman (AR) has introduced legislation (S. 4082) to block the Department of Veterans Affairs from diverting veteran's resources to manage the crisis at the southern border. The Dept. of Homeland Security has confirmed that the Biden administration is considering diverting VA manpower and funding to the border. The deployment of VA personnel at the Southern border will impact veterans' ability to receive timely care from the VA. Please use the Action Center to express disapproval of any contingency plan which uses personnel from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to deal with the Southern border crisis. Please use the FRA Action Center to ask your Senators to support this bill."
On April 6, 1967, Douglas Brent Hegdahl III was assigned to the 0400 watch on the USS Canberra, sailing down the coast of North Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin. At about 03:30, he left his bunk and stowed all of his valuables in his locker. He then went out on deck for a breath of fresh air before starting his watch.
The USS Canberra is a Boston-class guided-missile cruiser with 28 guns, including six 8-inch, 55-caliber cannons. If you are in close proximity to a gun of this size when it fires, best-case scenario, you will become temporarily deaf. In the worst case, the concussion of the blast will knock your butt overboard. And that's exactly what happened!
Doug was three miles from shore, with no life preserver, no identification, no nothing. He also didn’t tell anyone else that he was going up on deck. Normally on a ship, if you don't show up for a watch, someone will start looking for you. But not in this case... his fellow shipmates covered for him and didn't report him missing for two days, so the commanding officer did not organize a search.
It was about 03:45 when he went overboard, and just after dawn, he saw a trace of the shoreline and decided his best shot was to swim in that direction. He swam until he was picked up several hours later by Cambodian fishermen who treated him well. He was later handed over to Vietnamese militiamen who clubbed him repeatedly with their rifles before moving him to the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" prison.
Doug was now a Prisoner-of-War (POW). His interrogators didn't think he was a pilot because he was too tall, and they also didn’t buy his story about being thrown overboard during a cannon blast.
Doug faced two choices. Either the Vietnamese would think he was a spy, and therefore submit him to endless torture for secrets he never knew, or he could act like he was stupid enough to make his accident credible - which is exactly what he did. He thought his best chance was to act like a fool - not any kind of fool though, but the one with which the communists sympathized - the poor peasant.
Doug was so good in his role that the prison guards finally considered Doug too stupid to cause any harm, so they gave him the job of cleaning the prison corridors while they were resting. This allowed Doug to wander freely out of his cell and around the prison. Doug used his freedom to perform acts of sabotage.
Once he went to the prison garage, opened the gas caps of the trucks there, and threw sand inside. By doing that, he took five trucks out of service. Many fighter pilots never destroyed as many enemy vehicles as Doug did.
One of Doug’s cellmates was Joe Crecca, an Air Force officer who had mastered mnemonics - a set of memorization techniques. Joe taught him methods to memorize 256 names of other prisoners, cross-reference them and retrieve personal details, like their pets or place of residence. Later, this helped the American government to identify and rescue soldiers that once were considered dead.
Hegdahl was released on August 5, 1969, as a propaganda move by the North Vietnamese. At first, Doug refused to leave, in solidarity with the other prisoners. He only accepted to be released after his superior officer, Lieutenant Commander Richard A. Stratton told him he would be more useful outside. The information he memorized about the other prisoners would allow the US government to know that these POW's were still alive.
LTCDR Stratton later wrote: “Doug did not want to go. We finally told Doug that as long as he did not have to commit treason, he was to permit himself to be thrown out of the country. He was the most junior. He had the names. He knew first hand the torture stories behind many of the propaganda pictures and news releases. He knew the locations of many of the prisons. It was a direct order; he had no choice. I know, because I personally relayed that order to him as his immediate senior in the chain of command.”
‘"The Incredibly Stupid One,’ my personal hero, is the archetype of the innovative, resourceful and courageous American Sailor. These sailors are the products of the neighborhoods, churches, schools and families working together to produce individuals blessed with a sense of humor and the gift of freedom who can overcome any kind of odds. These sailors are tremendously loyal and devoted to their units and their leaders in their own private and personal ways. As long as we have the Doug’s of this world, our country will retain its freedoms.”
In 1970 Hegdahl attended the Paris peace talks where he confronted his captors and disclosed the conditions of the prison.
The following comes from the State Director of the Patriot Guard riders:
The Heroes Honor Festival (HHF), honoring all Vietnam Veterans, is happening in just under 40 days (May 27 & 28) at Daytona International Speedway. This is a public, patriotic celebration featuring live music, special guests, patriotic displays and events to honor our Vietnam Heroes.
The key update we'd like to share is, the Heroes Honor Festival tickets are now FREE for ALL Active Duty Military, Veterans who served at any time, their spouses, veteran's widows and all children 12 and under.
To receive your FREE tickets, go to heroeshonorfestival.com to learn more about the event and register.
For those of you that are already coming, we look forward to seeing you there. Please stop by PGR's Vietnam & Global War on Terrorism Memorial Walls when you get there and say hi.
For anyone that would like to volunteer to assist at HHF there are three different ways you can get involved:
The HHF team is building an “Army” of 1200 volunteers to support this celebration of Vietnam Veterans. They need help with setup, tear down, greeters, ushers, ticket takers, etc. All volunteers will get free admission to the event. If you are interested in learning more or want to register as a volunteer, go to heroeshonorfestival.com/volunteer/
In addition to the volunteer Army mentioned above, the HHF team has asked the PGR and a couple of other organizations to help provide Security Staff to augment the Daytona International Speedway Security team. This will help reduce costs for HHF. If you are willing to help with Security, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know of your interest. We will then forward that information to the HHF team. Note, like the volunteer Army, Security Volunteers will also get free admission to the event.
Lastly, the PGR will publish a HOTH mission for the display of our Memorial Walls as we get closer to the event. We will need people to help with setup, tear down, and staffing the Walls throughout the event. We anticipate the Walls will be a big draw during the event and will be organizing the coverage as the event gets closer. Please watch for the HOTH mission posting and respond accordingly if this is of interest.
For all of our Vietnam Veterans, we look forward to honoring your service to our Grateful Nation and are excited to give you the Welcome Home you deserve so much.
For all members who are willing to help make this a great event, we hope you will consider volunteering for one of the opportunities mentioned above and please continue to spread the word to help us honor these Heroes.
We look forward to seeing you at Heroes Honor Festival on Memorial Day Weekend. Please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com with any questions.
David “Flyboy” Shelton
Florida State Captain
Patriot Guard Riders
We are stunned at the passing of our National President, Mr. Joe Bean. It was totally unexpected, and devastating news to the nation-wide Chapters. RIP Joe, and blessings to your family and friends.
We are saddened to learn of the passing of former Chapter 1 member, and current member of Chapter 6, Gary Bauer.
One of the highlights of Gary's career in the Army, was his sentinel duties at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.
His gentle and charismatic personality will be missed.
The Department of Veterans Affairs intends to propose adding certain rare respiratory cancers to the list of presumed service-connected disabilities in relation to military environmental exposure to particulate matter.
VA determined through a focused review of scientific and medical evidence there is biologic plausibility between airborne hazards, specifically particulate matter, and carcinogenics of the respiratory tract, and that the unique circumstances of these rare cancers warrant a presumption of service connection.
Based on these findings, VA’s Secretary is proposing a rule that will add presumptive service connection for several rare respiratory cancers for certain Veterans. The cancers under consideration include:
Squamous cell carcinoma (larynx).
Squamous cell carcinoma (trachea).
Salivary gland-type tumors (trachea).
Adeno-squamous carcinoma (lung).
Large cell carcinoma (lung).
Salivary gland-type tumors (lung).
Sarcomatoid carcinoma (lung).
Typical and atypical carcinoid (lung).
VA Secretary Denis McDonough said “This is the right decision. The rarity and severity of these illnesses, and the reality that these conditions present a situation where it may not be possible to develop additional
evidence prompted us to take this critical action”. He also said “We’ll continue to hold ourselves accountable to Veterans to provide more care, more benefits and more services to more Veterans than ever before.”
The VA intends to focus its rule on the rare respiratory cancers above in Veterans who served any amount of time in the Southwest Asia theater of operations and other locations. VA will invite and consider public comments as part of this process.
Once rule making is complete, the VA will conduct outreach to impacted veterans and survivors to inform them about their potential eligibility.
This Monday, April 11, 2022 marks the 122nd anniversary (1900) of the U.S. Navy's first commissioned submarine, the USS Holland, that was acquired by the United States Navy. The Holland was not the first Navy sub, however. That honor goes to the USS Alligator which was the first submarine ordered and built by the Navy, although it was never commissioned. The Alligator, pictured on the right, was built in 1862, and sank in 1863.
Admiral Linda Fagan has been nominated by President Biden to be the first woman to serve as U.S. Coast Guard Commandant. Admiral Fagan has served in the Coast Guard for 36 years. She has served as Vice-commandant since June of 2021. Previously she was commander of the Coast Guard Pacific Area, overseeing operations from the Rocky Mountains to the waters off the east coast of Africa. Fagan is also the Coast Guard's first Gold Ancient Trident, the officer with the longest service record in the Marine Safety field. She graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1985 with a B.S. degree in Marine Science. She later earned a Master of Marine Affairs degree from the University of Washington in 2000 and an M.S. degree in National Security Strategy from the National Defense University in 2008. The nomination requires Senate confirmation.
What is happening with our administration is an abomination, and we, the American public, are on the bottom rung of a very tall ladder. We do have a voice however, and that is with our 8th Congressional District Representative, Congressman Bill Posey. Mr. Posey is everything Brevard, and a champion for Americans - and especially our first responders and veterans.
Recently I received an email from Mr. Posey's office, and immediately felt the information in that message needed to be addressed. Below is the text of that message. What do you think?
April 7, 2022
The crisis along our southern border has grown from bad to worse as a record 2 million illegal immigrants cross the border in the past year, as crime waves have swept the border and beyond and as human trafficking and drug cartels have enriched themselves at the expense of their victims.
Sadly, the worst days of the border crisis appear to be ahead of us. President Biden will soon end a policy that expedites deportations of illegal immigrants – commonly called “Title 42 deportations.” This is one of the last policies that allows Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents to expeditiously turn away someone crossing the border and it has been successful in reducing the flow across our Southern Border.
U.S. Customs and Border Protections (CBP) estimates that there are as many as 170,000 people currently across the border in Mexico waiting for President Biden to end Title 42 deportations. CBP is currently preparing for as many as 18,000 illegal immigrants to illegally enter the U.S. each day if Title 42 deportations are ended. This will overwhelm an already overwhelmed CBP.
There are also reports that the federal government is gearing up to assist the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to address this influx, which may include the sharing of agency staff and funding. One such idea that allegedly is being considered details removing medical personnel from VA facilities to help at the border. I oppose this effort and have joined my colleagues to stop the diversion of already-scarce resources from veterans in need to the border.
There is no doubt that border security legislation would pass the House - and the Senate - if we were only allowed a vote. I have joined with 210 other Members of Congress in signing a "discharge petition" which would immediately force the bill to the House floor for a vote. Every House Republican has signed onto this.
We have been pleading for at least one Member from the majority party to sign our petition to bring H.R. 471 up for a vote to stop the Administration from ending Title 42 deportations. We could stop this now, we just need 7 more to join us.
Now I want to know your thoughts:
Do you agree with me that Title 42 should be kept in place?
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