In this special Veterans Update edition for Military Appreciation Month, I pass along remembrances of service in past conflicts, Congressman Forbes’ “Every Day Should Be Memorial Day” commentary, and note a special event at the Virginia War Memorial and Memorial Day activities. I also highlight some positive news on commissaries and Choice Cards and recognize Keystone Museum lunch for McGuire veterans.
A Soldier’s Pledge
As we celebrate Military Appreciation Month during May, I want to offer you a video on “A Soldier’s Pledge” that recognizes the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform in defense of our freedom. Freedom is not free. President Reagan recognizes the war service and sacrifices of readers of this email and he highlights the service of a World War I soldier. Click here to see the moving “Freedom is not Free” video.
Fall of Saigon in 1975
My colleague Senator Richard Black (R-13) sent out the below email to note the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon in 1975 marking the end of the Vietnam War during which 3.4 million US service members served in Southeast Asia and 47,434 are recognized as battle deaths. The below brought back service memories to the two Vietnam veterans in our office and reminded a Post 284 leader of when his unit was preparing to deploy to Saigon that day. We are thankful for those who served in that war and thankful for the service of all our veterans.
April 30th Marked the 40th Anniversary of the Fall of Saigon
To the very end, soldiers of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) fought with skill, bravery, and gallantry. But when Congress cut off their ammunition, Saigon fell in 1975.
The Communist’s reign of terror drove two million South Vietnamese into the sea. Untold numbers were murdered outright in the “People’s Paradise.” One million South Vietnamese went to brutal concentration camps, where a third died. Mothers thrust their babies into the arms of departing American soldiers, so that at least one member of their family would survive the bloodbath that ensued.
Many Vietnamese came to America. Despite their tragic suffering, they became some of the most patriotic immigrants in America. Smart, industrious, and grateful for every opportunity, Vietnamese are model citizens of our nation.
I have never forgotten my fallen Vietnamese brothers. I am proud that we stood together, fighting for liberty in South Vietnam.
Senator of Virginia, 13th District
P.S. I encourage you to read SJ455 that passed the General Assembly designating South Vietnamese Recognition Day in Virginia.
Every Day should be Memorial Day by Congressman Randy Forbes
Daily, we are surrounded by heroes. There are men and women in our neighborhoods, sitting next to us in our churches, coaching our children’s soccer teams, and standing next to us at the gas station, who have made selfless commitments, faced harrowing situations, and borne the weariness of battle.
On certain days, the nation rallies together to recognize these heroes – there is Veterans Day, POW/MIA Recognition Day, Memorial Day, to name a few. We say thank you, we shake their hand; there are speeches and parades and tributes. But what about the next day? And the day after that, and month after that? The reality of their service and the scars these men and women bear – whether physical, emotional, or mental – do not change. Our gratitude should not either.
Every day should be Memorial Day. Today, say thank you to a veteran, and take a moment to reflect on the ways in which our freedoms and liberties have been preserved by the dedicated service of the men and women in our Armed Forces.
Yours in service,
WW II Roll Call at the War Memorial
The boogie-woogie sounds of the 1940s return to Richmond on Wednesday evening, May 20, when the Virginia War Memorial Educational Foundation presents the World War II Roll Call – a re-creation of a 1943 USO-style troop show – live and on stage outdoors in the Virginia War Memorial’s Heilman Amphitheater.
The show begins at 6:30 p.m. Featured entertainers include the G.I.’s favorite comedian “Bob Hope,” as portrayed by impressionist Lynn Roberts; a tribute to the original boogie-woogie bugle girls, the Andrews Sisters from singing duo, “Letters from Home;” and a special appearance by Richmond’s own female chorus, the Sweet Adelines. Tim Timberlake will be Master of Ceremonies. For more details on the Press Release click here.
Special Memorial Day Ceremonies
Monday, May 25, 2015 – a day of remembrance for those who made the ultimate sacrifice
Virginia War Memorial Ceremony
621 S. Belvidere St
10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Co-hosted by the War Memorial and American Legion 11th District
Colonial Heights Memorial Ceremony
Co-hosted by American Legion Post 284 and VFW Post 2239
Reception Following at Post 284
The House Armed Services Committee rejected the full $332 million cut to the commissaries included in the President’s budget. The committee emphasized the importance of maintaining commissary hours of operation and protecting this benefit. Congressman Randy Forbes played a major role in restoring these funds. He provided tremendous leadership on this issue. We are so pleased that his efforts were successful. Cuts still have to be restored on the Senate side and in the appropriations bills that will pass the House and Senate later this year. However, this is a very good development. Our thanks to Congressman Forbes for his leadership on this important issue that is of particular concern in our area as Fort Lee is home to the Defense Commissary Agency.
Veteran’s Choice Update
Veterans who must drive more than 40 miles to the nearest Department of Veterans affairs medical facility are now eligible for the Veterans Choice Card, which will give them access to health care from private practitioners.
The Veterans Administration (VA) published an interim final rule on April 24th that changed the distance criteria. The American Legion had testified before Congress a month earlier, pointing out that the straight-line (geodesic) distance criterion was unfairly excluding many veterans from the Choice Card program.
According to the VA, the new distance rule will roughly double the number of veterans eligible for the program. The department is sending letters of notification to these newly eligible veterans.
Veterans who have any questions about the Choice Card or their eligibility should call (866) 606-8198.
VA has also changed the mileage calculation for beneficiary travel, using the fastest route instead of the shortest route.
Lunch with Veterans from McGuire
On April 30th I had the distinct pleasure to have lunch with veterans from the McGuire VA Medical Center at the Keystone Truck & Tractor Museum in Colonial Heights. I want to thank the owners of Abilene Motor Express and the Keystone Museum who hosted the veterans at the museum to view the exhibits and have lunch. I was honored to participate in this event in an early recognition of Military Appreciation Month.
May is a special time for veterans, members of our military forces, and their families. It is a time when we can recognize the service of the special people who have done so much for our country. I hope you and your families will participate in some of these events that recognize your service.
If you would like me to speak to your organization in the 66th House District, please contact my office. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org (804-526-5135). Please pass this Update to your friends and neighbors.