AUSN VETERAN'S BINNACLE LIST FOR 23-27 JUNE
I want to start by saying it is an honor and privilege to be working here at the Association of the United States Navy. It has been a busy first two weeks on the job, but when I say busy, I mean productive. In my first week I was thrown into trial by fire, as Anthony so generously dragged me to the capitol where we meet with the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Staff, and the fun just has not let up since. This week I meet Sloan Gibson, Acting Secretary of The Department of Veterans Affairs, on Monday, June 23, and he thanked AUSN for being present at the VA’s 70th Anniversary of the GI Bill celebration. He told me that he was well aware of the old NRA from his time at the USO and was excited to see what we do as the new AUSN. That night I attended my first House Veterans Affairs Committee Hearing. There were a lot of questions asked of Thomas Lynch, M.D., Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Clinical Operations, Veterans Health Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, that he has yet to answer, and I think as a fellow veteran we need to hold the VA to a standard. So while they may not be able to answer questions to our Congressional leaders that are put into place by you, our members, they at least need to follow up in a timely fashion so that AUSN and the other VSO’s have a clear interpretation of what is happening and what is needed, so we can continue to relay that information to you instead of giving you the same old song and dance.
On Tuesday, June 24th, I attended the VHA/VSO Quarterly round table meeting at the VA Central Office, where we were briefed on the use of Patient-Centered Community Care (PC3). Which after a very thorough explanation of the program, it is only clear to me that it has quite a few kinks in the system and might possibly be more harmful to the VA and the Veteran than it is meant to be designed for. PC3 was also the only topic of discussion at my Military Coalition meeting on Thursday, June 24, where we mostly discussed among ourselves the perception of the program, and caught the other organizations not at the VA up to speed on it, but I will provide a further description of this in the future, as we get more information.
Following my round table, I had the opportunity to meet briefly with the Legislative Team from the Chief of Navy Reserve Office, with our Legislation Director Anthony Wallis, while there wasn't much for me to talk about in this meeting, due to it being mostly about Department of Defense budgeting, I did inform the team that it’s important to remember that our Reservist are in a unique situation, after being called up to do so many Individual Augmentee’s, and most of them are eligible for receiving Veterans Care at the VA, and if a question were to come up, I gave them my contact information, along with explaining some details about the modern GI Bill.
I had a wonderful brief this week by Dr. Remington Nevin, who I will be working with closely in the next few months as we proceed with the Association’s agenda of bringing to light the side-effect and adverse reactions of the long term effects from the drug Mefloquine (Larium). I was also pleased to talk to CDR Bill Manofsky our Vice President of Government Relations, about his personal experiences with the drug, as well as the work he has done in getting the drug to where it is today.
Thursday, June 26, Anthony Wallis and I were present at a gathering of the major VSO’s, which we were honored to be invited to, sponsored by Congressman Tim Walz of Wisconsin. The Congressman is part of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and is not shy when it comes to asking the tough questions, as he is proven in recent HVAC Hearings, and is very concerned with the issues at the VA. Recently he was appointed to be on the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Conference Committee that has been appointed to decide what needs to be done in order to fix the problems of the VA. There was a lot that came out of this meeting, so please look for a legislation alert that will detail the outcome of that meeting, and our position of what is to come, as well as other information.
I closed out the week today meeting with Congressman Jeff Miller’s Staff who handles Veterans Affairs Legislation, in case you do not know Congressman Miller is the Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, and has very passionately gone after the administration of the VA for the current issues that are happening, and he is the
Co-Chairman of the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Conference Committee. I spoke with Mr. James Zumwalt, and explained our new legislation positions between Tony and myself, and gave him a background about our organization. Congressman Miller plans to hold a 6th VA Hearing, where he will ask for the Secretary to be present, and ask for a second panel of Veteran Service Organizations to testify, and answer a round of questions. It is AUSN’s promise to its members that while we will not be asked to testify because we are a recognized MSO and not VSO, we will submit a Testimony for the record, and will be present at the hearing.
There is nothing I care about more than Veterans. If you go to my home and you ask my Active Duty Coast Guard (Navy Veteran) Wife, what I do when I get home, she will tell you that I do nothing, but think of ways to help my fellow Veterans, or I read articles about Veteran Legislation, and follow the media outlets on what they are saying about Veterans. I dream of my tours of duty, and wonder if I could have done more to help my shipmates and battle buddies who have since committed suicide, 9 in total, that I wear the names of on a bracelet every day. I know I can’t change what happened to them so I use it to spark my fire and drive me into my every tomorrow. So if there is something Veteran related that you want to share with me, and you feel that AUSN could take with us to Capitol Hill and use to help other Veterans, please call me at the office, or email me.
So to my Vietnam Veterans out there “Welcome Home” and to everyone else “Thank You for your service”!
Michael Joseph Little
Legislative and Veteran Assistant
Association of the United States Navy
Office: (703) 548-5800