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 Cmdr Romero: California to Celebrate 60th Anniversary at Annual Conference in June 2017 in Sacramento

American GI Forum of Texas Report: SACRAMENTO, CA – The American GI Forum of California is celebrating its 60th Anniversary this year. State Commander Federico Romero informed us that the 2017 State Conference will be “A Celebration of Our Legacy as True “Veterans That Made America Great” and will be hosted by the Cesar E. Chavez AGIF Sacramento Chapter. The Conference is scheduled for Thursday, June 29, through Saturday July 1, 2017. The Conference General Assembly will be on Friday and Saturday.

The Holiday Inn 300 J Street Sacramento, California has been chosen as the Conference Headquarters. Room Rates are 112.00 per room with the deadline for this rate is May 30, 2017.  Reservation will be responsibility of the attendees and may be made by calling the Hotel at (926) 4467-0100. The Hotel Holiday Inn is located at 300 J St Sacramento, California 95814

Ms. Elena Gamboa has been selected as the Conference Chair She is a member of the Cesar E. Chaves Chapter and may be contacted by Email at gamboa2271@gmail.com.

Registration Fee for the conference is set at $125. Take advantage of early registration that will run through June 1, 2017.  Early Birds that register before that date will pay $110.00 (a $15.00 discount). The Registration will include Lunch on Friday and Saturday and the Commander’s Banquet on Friday evening. Make Registration Payment To:  AGIF of Calif. State Convention and mail to California State Conference, 1026 Florin Rd. #173 Sacramento California 95831. Click Here to download registration forms.

Jake Alarid from Whittier, California informed us earlier that the American GI Forum of California will be celebrating it 60th birthday. The date for the 60th anniversary celebration of the American GI Forum of California has been scheduled for May 6 at Liberty Community Plaza, 14181 Telegraph Road, Whittier, California. This event, will be honoring all past state chairman and state commanders. The event will be hosted by El Camino Real Chapter. For more information CLICK HERE.

PLEASE NOTE:  Any American GI Forum Chapter interested in purchasing an ad for the Conference Program please send your chapter information to: CESAR E. CHAVEZ AGIF CHAPTER c/o George Singh, 1026 FLORIN RD. #173 Sacramento, California 95831. Contact George Singh gesingh@sbcglobal.net regarding Ad rates. Special rates are in effect for all AGIF members.


2017 California Conference Information


Myrna Chavarria, Miguel Hernandez Commander is Now Texas AGIF Facebook Administrator

American GI Forum of Texas Inc. Report: SAN ANTONIO, Texas. The American Gi Forum of Texas is hoping to expand coverage of news and activities throughout the AGIF as it expands its Facebook coverage. Myrna Chavarria, Commander of the San Antonio Miguel Hernandez Memorial Chapter has been selected and accepted the job to administer the Texas Facebook Page. She is being assisted by State Vice Commander Ceasar Ruiz when needed. Gil Rodriguez, Texas State Exec will also be contributing information from the AGIFTX.org Web site.

If you have information that you want published or want to be friends with the Texas Facebook, simply go to the webpage and ask to be friended. Myrna will post photos, stories and information that can be desiminated throughout our network.

We hope this will expand the coverage of Texas and National activities and help with expanding our communications network. More information will follow as Myrna proceeds.


Celebrating its Sixtieth Anniversary, AGIF of California

American GI Forum of Texas, Inc. Report: WHITTIER, California – The American GI Forum of California will be celebrating it 60th birthday. The date for the 60th anniversary celebration of the American GI Forum of California has been scheduled. The event will be hosted by El Camino Real Chapter. We would lilke to invite as many State Chairmen, Commanders, and Chairwomen that have served our State. We will also remember those who are no longer with us. If you will have information and would like to share it withs or know people that do, please pass this request for information to all members of the AGIF.

      EVENT-                 SIXTIETH ANNIVERSARY, AGIF OF CALIFORNIA

      DATE:                   MAY 6, 2017
                                  3:00 TO 6:00 PM

      PLACE                  LIBERTY COMMUNITY PLAZA     
                                 14181 TELEGRAPH ROAD
                                 WHITTIER, CA, 90604

As the program is planned we will keep you updated on the event, however, I would appreciate your help in identifying Past Commanders and Chairwomen and the years they served.  Thank you for your anticipated response. 

Jake Alarid, Past National & State Commander
Commander, El Camino Real Chapter  


McCain Honors Dominguez
A Letter of Appreciation from a Distinguised Member of the U.S. Senate to a Very Deserving AGIF Member!

American GI Forum of Texas, Inc. Report: ROCKPORT, Texas – It’s not every day that a member gets a letter from a siting Senator. Mr. Richard Dominguez, Coastal Region I Commander recently received a letter from Arizona U.S. Senator John McCain in acknowledgement for the many years work and services that he has provided for many Veterans. Richard is a good example of the many veterans in our volunteer organization.

Below is a photo and a copy of the letter from Senator McCain which reads in part:

"It is the selfless dedication and passion of men like yourself that make this country the greatest that has ever existed. You have touched the lives of many soldiers and veterans and their family members. Our communities are stronger because of you and I am proud of the work you have and continue to do."

Richard is a long-time Forum member, a Korean Conflict Air Force Veteran and a community volunteer who has dedicated most of his adult life to serving Veterans. Richard lives Rockport, Texas, a small community north of Corpus Christi on the Texas Gulf Coast. He and his wife Anita, also is a dedicated member from the AGIF Women’s Group, are most a highly respected example of volunteerism in the community.

Dr. Hector P. Garcia once told Richard how important his services were and to continue with his work, important not just to Veterans in the area, but also throughout the state. For his continued dedication, Richard has received many awards from local and state officials and from his American GI Forum peers for his services in the Coastal Bend Area and throughout Texas.

Richard is a founding member and leader of the Rockport Chapter whose members include a large number of Lifetime Veteran and women members. Richard is unique in that his Chapter is very diverse with Veterans from all walks of life, race, ethnicity and age.

"We have lots of Veterans, a lot. . . and many need help. They need ways of getting to the Clinic in Corpus (Christi) and some to the Medical Facilities in San Antonio. We have to help them all. If the come asking for help you can't turn them away. You never turn away a Veteran." said Richard.

Richard is known for hosting Memorial Day and Veterans Day Celebrations and Ceremonies for the community and for hosting many Region Meetings at the Rockport Clubhouse. Veterans from other Organizations and many non-members are always invited to a hearty meal hosted by the Rockport Chapter, Richard and his wife Anita. If you are ever in Rockport, visit the AGIF clubhouse and Richards will show you why his hospitality is considered special -- because he makes one feel special. the Chapter in Rockport hosts Bingos which helps defray the costs for helping Veterans and also helps the State Office.

A few years ago the Clubhouse was almost totally destroyed by fire but that that didn't stop Richard. While the insurance covered some losses, Richard still used some of his own personal resources and with help of many Volunteers he not only restored the clubhouse but added improvement that were needed. Sadly, he lost many historical photos, awards and trophies. While the State Office was able to replace some, many remain only memories of his and the Rockport Chapter’s past achievements.

The American GI Forum of Texas Officers and members congratulate Richard on his many accomplishments and achievements and continued successes and proud of his latest acknowledgement from the Nation's Capital. We are delighted and proudly publish his letter of appreciation from an important and distinguished American Hero to our own distinguished American GI Forum Hero. 

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Letter From U.S. Senator John McCain

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The Crisis in Flint

American GI Forum of Texas, Inc. Report: Angel Zuniga, our National Commander brings this drinking water problem to the attention of the membership to make all our members throught out the nation aware of the problems some our Michigan members are going through. To those that live in or around Flint, Michigan, please be aware that the American GI Forum is doing what it can to bring awareness to this problem so that it does not happen in other parts of our country. 

In some late development, the residents of Flint, Michigan, one of the poorest cities in the United States, will get $30 million to help pay their water bills after a lead contamination crisis, under a bill unanimously approved by the Michigan Senate on Tuesday.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder plans to sign the bill, which had been passed unanimously by the state's House last week.

"The safety and well-being of Flint families remains our top priority," said Snyder, whose administration has faced harsh criticism for its response to the contamination crisis in the city of about 100,000 residents.

The citizens of Flint, Michigan that receive their drinking water from the city owned utility system are in a crisis unseen in decades. Flint being one of the poorest cities in the nation also paid some of the highest rates per gallon of drinking water. The magnitude of this crisis affects everyone that consumed the lead contaminated water from the public water system. To compound the problem, it is reported that officials at all levels of government were aware of the situation from the onset of when Flint switched its water system from Detroit to a local river in 2014.

The water from the river, being more corrosive, leached lead from the water system pipes. This led to lead levels exceeding the EPA Primary Drinking Water Standards.  The table of regulated drinking water contaminants sets the Maximum Contaminated Level allowed for microorganisms, disinfectants, disinfection byproducts, inorganic chemicals, organic chemicals, and radionuclides.

Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) - The level of a contaminant in drinking water below which there is no known or expected risk to health. MCLGs allow for a margin of safety and are non-enforceable public health goals. Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) - The highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water. MCLs are set as close to MCLGs as feasible using the best available treatment technology and taking cost into consideration. MCLs are enforceable standards.

The standard for lead is MCLG is zero and MCL is 0.015 mg/L (parts per million). The level for the Flint water ranged from 0.027 mg/L that is translated at 27 parts per billion (ppb) to over 5,000 ppb. The latter result is enough to qualify as a hazardous waste by EPA Standards. One of the highest readings found was 13,000 ppb. 

The potential health effects for infants and children are delays in physical or mental development; children could show slight deficits in attention span and learning abilities. While adults can develop kidney problems; high blood pressure among a myriad of other problems.

The lead contamination could have been prevented with anti-corrosion treatment of the water or simply by reverting back to the Detroit water system. This has become a political scandal as emails and documents have emerged showing that Michigan officials tried to play down and cover up the problem for months. 

Time and time again decisions are made to save money without regard to the safety and health of people. Ultimately, the tangible costs will exceed any perceived savings. The indirect cost to the residents of Flint will continue to add up for years to come.  

As a takeaway, all levels of government to include the Environmental Protection Agency, the Center for Disease Control and the National Institute of Health should implement stringent periodic monitoring and release the results to the public in the spirit of transparency. The citizens of Flint need to continue putting pressure on their elected officials to immediately disconnect from the current water source and insist that third party monitoring be employed with the results to be provided directly to the public.


SER – Jobs for Progress’ National President, Ignacio Salazar, Elected as HACR’s Board Chair

Washington, D.C., February 2, 2015 -- The Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR) is pleased to announce that SER-Jobs for Progress’ National President, Ignacio Salazar, was unanimously elected as HACR's new Board Chair. His election took place on December 10, 2014 and will take effect in April 2015.

Salazar follows the League of Latin American Citizens (LULAC) National President, Margaret Moran, who served for two years as board chair.

"On behalf of HACR's Board of Directors, congratulations to Ignacio Salazar on his election," Moran said. "Ignacio possess exceptional qualifications which will continue to strengthen HACR’s reach. His leadership experience, strong track record of advocacy, and his passion for our community will further aid in achieving HACR's mission" she added.

Salazar serves as president and CEO of SER-Jobs for Progress National, Inc., a national network of employment and training providers. The network is currently comprised of local SER affiliates in 17 States, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia, providing services to more than one million persons annually. Prior to this position, Salazar served as president of the SER Metro Detroit Corporation and its subsidiaries in Arkansas, Illinois, New Mexico, and parts of Texas, until he left to assume leadership of the national office in 2001.

“I am honored and privileged to be elected Chairman of HACR’s Board of Directors during this important time in the history of our great nation,” said Salazar, “the need for effective dialogue and a deeper understanding of the value and richness that culturally diverse communities provide has reached its peak for corporations and society alike. The future strength of U.S. corporations and the private sector will be inextricably linked to strategic thinking, innovative product design, and diversity inclusion, which ultimately leads to greater economic prosperity for the entire nation."

Salazar added "we cannot have a strong America without a strong corporate sector, and we cannot have a strong corporate sector without including our society’s fastest growing segment. Our workers are an integral part of the solution and the key to our future. In this HACR will continue to go about the task of keeping our nation strong and vibrant.”

Also elected was MANA, A National Latina Organization President Amy Hinojosa as board secretary. MANA, A National Latina Organization is a national grassroots membership organization with chapters, individual members and affiliates across the United States. 

Re-elected were Guarione Diaz, Cuban American National Council (CNC) president emeritus, as vice chairman and Ronald Blackburn-Moreno, president and CEO of Aspira Association, Inc., as treasurer.

Diaz served as president and CEO of CNC for three decades, retiring in 2013. Blackburn-Moreno oversees the only national nonprofit organization devoted solely to the education and leadership development of Puerto Rican and Latino youths.

For additional information about HACR’s Board of Directors, click here.


*Editor's Note: American GI Forum National Commander Angel Zuniga Serves on the HACR Board.

About HACR
Founded in 1986, the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR) is one of the most influential advocacy organizations in the nation representing 16 national Hispanic organizations in the United States and Puerto Rico. Our mission is to advance the inclusion of Hispanics in Corporate America at a level commensurate with our economic contributions. To that end, HACR focuses on four areas of corporate social responsibility and market reciprocity: Employment, Procurement, Philanthropy, and Governance.


 

Important News for Veterans:
VA Updates Disability Claims Application Process for Veterans, Survivors
New Process Will Reduce Processing Times and Improve Quality

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced that it is introducing a uniformed disability claims form to better serve Veterans, families and survivors. Standardizing process by which Veterans file claims and initiate appeals will make it easier for Veterans and their survivors to clearly state what benefits they are seeking from VA and provide information that is necessary to process their claims and appeals.   The new forms eliminate applicant guesswork, which often leads to delays in decisions and ultimately delays in receiving benefits.  The new regulations go into effect in late March 2015.

“We must do everything that we can to make it as fast and easy as possible for Veterans and their survivors to file for and receive an accurate decision on their claim,” said VA Secretary Robert McDonald.  “Our Veterans and survivors will know, at the outset of the claims process, what is needed, which removes subjective interpretation from the process. We want to eliminate any barriers that make it difficult for our Veterans or survivors to receive benefits to which they are entitled.”

In the past, a Veteran or survivor did not have to use a certain form to seek compensation or other benefits from VA.  Claims or appeals (Notice of Disagreement) could be submitted on any piece of paper which caused delays due to missing information.  

By using standard forms for all disability claims, VA can more quickly and accurately identify what the Veteran is claiming or appealing.  This will allow VA to immediately move on to next steps in the evidence-gathering and decision-making process, which saves administrative processing time and speeds the delivery of earned benefits.  The existing process is also inconsistent with most, if not all, other government and non-government application processes, such as applying for social security, applying for a driver’s license, applying for a job or filing for an income tax refund.  

“These days government agencies and private businesses rely on standard forms to deliver faster and more accurate customer service,” said Under Secretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey.  VA’s ability to deliver better customer service requires the use of standard forms as well. That is why we worked extensively with our partners in the Veterans community to streamline the way we process claims while  preserving the effective date rules concerning informal claims through the creation of a new intent to file a claim process.”

The updated process also includes standardizing the traditional informal claims process by employing a new “Intent to File a Claim” process which affords the Veteran or survivor one year to compile the necessary documentation or evidence to support the claim while preserving an effective date of claim.

More information about VA Forms 21-526EZ, 21-527EZ, 21-534EZ or VA Form 21-0958, Notice of Disagreement, may be found at www.ebenefits.va.gov or www.va.gov/vaforms/


Sen. Cornyn Introduces Sarah Saldana At Senate Confirmation Hearing
Senate Committee Considering Saldana’s Nomination To Serve As ICE Director

WASHINGTON, DC—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, today introduced Sarah R. Saldana, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee as the committee considers her nomination to serve asAssistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Excerpts of his introduction are below and the full video of his remarks can be found here.

“Ms. Saldana is a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, she learned from a young age the importance of hard work and education. She was one of seven children born to working-class parents. She watched her mother study to become a nurse and work nights to provide for the family. In turn, she studied hard in school and told herself, ‘What you think you can do, you can do.’ And certainly Ms. Saldana has accomplished great things.  

“In 2011, Ms. Saldana became the first Latina United States Attorney in Texas history, and only the second woman to hold that position in the 135-year history of Texas’ Northern District—a region that includes the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, and spans 100 counties and stretches across 95,000 square miles.

“In her role as U.S. Attorney and prosecutor over the past decade, Ms. Saldana has served our state with honor—fighting corrupt public officials, organized crime, sex traffickers, and other dangerous criminals. Throughout her career, Ms. Saldana has developed a reputation for her decisive and fair temperament and her commitment to excellence.

“The most difficult question facing the next leader of ICE is how they will respond to President Obama’s upcoming actions on immigration enforcement.

“As we all know, the President has announced that after the November elections he will unilaterally issue a series of executive orders that attempt to change our nation’s immigration laws without the consent of Congress. I believe such actions would violate our Constitution and the laws of the land.

“This gives the impressions that we will not enforce our laws, which indeed contributes to the magnet of illegal immigration. We need to fix our broken immigration system, but we need to eliminate illegal immigration and accommodate our current immigration laws in a way that reflects our values and reflects our interests as a nation.

“I am concerned about the implications of the President’s stated intentions. I am also concerned about what that means in terms of Ms. Saldana’s opportunity to be successful in the job to which she has been nominated, and which I expect she will be confirmed.

Although she is tough, she is smart, and fiercely independent as a prosecutor—she has demonstrated that—I am concerned that if she is confirmed, her voice will be silenced or undermined by these unilateral actions that the President has said that he intends to take.

“So I look forward to hearing Ms. Saldana’s responses to the Committee’s questions and helping members of the Senate make an informed decision about this important nomination.”

Sen. Cornyn, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security, has joined Sen. Charles Grassley, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in requesting sequential referral of Sarah Saldana’s nomination to the Senate Judiciary Committee to allow committee members to question the nominee. Sens. Grassley and Cornyn wrote to Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-VT, this week requesting his assistance in gaining this referral given the Judiciary Committee’s jurisdiction over immigration matters.

Senator Cornyn serves on the Finance and Judiciary Committees.  He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Judge Sarah Saldaña is the sister of past National Chairman Lupe Saldaña the current State Commander of Washington D.C. 

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American GI Forum National Veterans Outreach Program Inc. will received $2 million through the VA
VA pumps millions into San Antonio homeless veterans programs

James Aldridge Web Editor-
San Antonio Business Journal

Two San Antonio homeless veterans organizations will share $4 million in federal grant funding through the Veterans Affairs’ Supportive Services for Veteran Families program.

American GI Forum National Veterans Outreach Program Inc. and Family Endeavors Inc. each received $2 million through the VA. In all, the VA is furnishing $300 million in grants nationwide to organizations that serve veterans.

Services include outreach, case management, assistance in obtaining VA benefits and assistance in receiving other public benefits. Groups that receive funding can offer temporary financial assistance on behalf of veterans to make rent payments, utility payments, security deposits and moving costs.

U.S. Rep. Pete P. Gallego, D-Alpine, made the announcement.

“Recent reforms will transition the VA into a veteran serving agency. We’ve worked to get veterans, both rural and urban, into doctor’s offices for the care they need. We are holding those working at the VA accountable. This is the next step,” Gallego said in a release.

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Secretary Shinseki’s Farewell Message to VA Employees
May 30, 2014

This morning, I resigned as Secretary of Veterans Affairs. My personal and professional commitment and my loyalty to Veterans, their families, and our survivors was the driving force behind that decision. That loyalty has never wavered, and it will never wane.

Over the course of the last five-and-a-half years, you have made significant and lasting progress in expanding access for Veterans, in significantly decreasing the backlog in Veterans’ claims while building the system that will end the backlog in 2015, and in bringing an end to Veterans’ homelessness. We have come a long way together in bringing this Department into the 21st Century in ways that will serve Veterans well into the future. Yet, there is more work to be done, and I have no doubt that you will achieve all that you set about doing in the interest of Veterans.

I have been privileged to have served as your Secretary and am deeply grateful to the employees and leaders who have placed the interests of Veterans above and beyond their own self-interests; who are serving with dignity, compassion, and dedication; and who live by VA’s core values of Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence. I know that you will provide your support and loyalty to Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson, who is now your leader. In fact, I expect it.

Thank you. May God richly bless all of you, Veterans, and this great country of ours.

Eric K. Shinseki

AGIF Editor's Note: The American GI Forum of Texas, Inc. Commander, the Board, and Members wish to express  thanks and graditue to General Shinseki for his many years of Military Service and for the Service he gave our Country after his retirement. His personal dedication to the military and to Veterans will not be forgotten – we wish him farewell and luck in all future endeavors.

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Message to Veterans from the Secretary of Veterans Affairs May 22, 2014 

Fellow Veterans and Family Members, 

After 38 years in The Army, I am now honored and privileged to serve as your Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA).  VA remains committed to providing the high quality benefits you have earned and deserve.  

Allegations of VA employees’ misconduct have surfaced over the last several weeks, beginning with scheduling delays at the Phoenix VA Health Care System. As I testified before Congress on May 15, I take any allegations about patient safety or employee misconduct very seriously.  The reports of Veterans’ negative experiences while seeking VA care are of great personal concern to me. I fully agree with President Obama’s statement on May 21, 2014: “If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful . . . .” 

In response to these allegations at the Phoenix VA Medical Center and a number of other facilities, the VA Office of Inspector General is conducting a comprehensive, independent review.  In addition to the IG’s independent review, I ordered the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to conduct a nationwide audit of all other major VA healthcare facilities to ensure understanding of, and compliance with, our appointment policy.  That audit is being conducted now by more than two hundred senior VHA staff.  All teams are independent of the facilities they are visiting.  You and your families deserve to have full faith in your VA, and we intend to earn it every day.  

As President Obama made clear to the American people May 21, 2014, “Every single day, there are people working in the VA who do outstanding work and put everything they’ve got into making sure that our Veterans get the care, benefits, and services that they need.”  I echo that praise and commend the hard work and dedication of the vast majority of our VA employees, many of whom are Veterans themselves.  Every year, dedicated employees are prepared to provide care for over 8.9 million Veterans enrolled in VA healthcare.  Every day, VHA conducts approximately 236,000 outpatient healthcare appointments—about 85 million last year.    

Since 2009, we have enrolled two million more Veterans in high-quality VA healthcare, reduced Veterans' homelessness by 24 percent, and provided Post-9/11 GI Bill educational benefits to more than one million student Veterans and eligible family members.  We have opened up new presumptives for Veterans to receive long overdue care for exposure to Agent Orange, for combat-related PTS-D, and for Gulf War illnesses.  And, we have decreased the disability claims backlog by over 50 percent in the last 14 months.  We will meet our goal of eliminating the claims backlog in 2015.   

Every VA medical facility is accredited by The Joint Commission, an independent, non-profit organization that ensures the quality of U.S. healthcare through intensive evaluation of more than 20,000 healthcare organizations.  In 2012, The Joint Commission, recognized 19 VA hospitals as top performers, and that number increased to 32 in 2013. 

Since 2004, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) survey has consistently shown that, on average, Veterans who use VA healthcare award our hospitals and clinics a higher customer satisfaction score than patients give private sector hospitals.  When asked if they would use a VA medical center the next time they need inpatient or outpatient care, 96 percent and 95 percent of Veterans, respectively, indicated they would.  Veterans across the Nation are receiving quality care from VA.  We must encourage other Veterans to seek it.  

Notwithstanding these accomplishments, VA will do even better.  If any allegations under review are substantiated, we will act.   

As we approach our observance of Memorial Day and its special significance to our Nation, VA is re-doubling its efforts, with integrity and compassion, to earn your trust.  

As President Obama said, Veterans have “done their duty, and they ask nothing more than that this country does ours—that we uphold our sacred trust to all who have served.”   

And, we will. 

Eric Shinseki 

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American GI Forum Members to Join Thousands at Dedication of Capitol Monument Honoring Texas Vietnam Veterans
Unveiling and “Welcome Home Fair” scheduled Sat. March 29th 10:00 – 3:00 at the Capitol

AGIF Texas, Inc. – Report: Austin, Texas: AGIF Texas, Inc. – Report: Austin, Texas: AGIF State Leadership and members from throughout the State are scheduled to join with local members and other thousands at the dedication of the Vietnam War Memorial honoring all brave Americans who fought and special tribute to those who died in Vietnam.

Forty-one years to the day after the last American combat troops left Vietnam and nine years after the effort began, the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument will be dedicated in a 10:00 a.m. ceremony Saturday, March 29th at the Texas State Capitol.  Governor Rick Perry will accept the monument on behalf of the state.  The event is free and open to the public.

The ceremony will include the participation of veterans, family members, active-duty military, Texas school children and elected officials.  The monument honoring all Texans who served in Vietnam will be unveiled and a special tribute will be made to the 3,417 Texans who died or are unaccounted for in Vietnam.  A “Welcome Home Fair” including Vietnam War equipment displays and an exhibition of 3,417 personalized dog tags remembering Texas’ Vietnam War lost will take place in and around the Capitol.

More than 3,000 Vietnam veterans and family members from across the state are expected to attend the event.  In addition to Governor Perry, speakers will include –

  • U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson of Dallas, an Air Force aviator who was held captive and tortured as Prisoner of War in Vietnam for seven years;
  • Lieutenant General Mick Kicklighter, Director of the United States 50th Commemoration of the Vietnam War;
  • State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa and State Representative Wayne Smith, Vietnam veteran legislators who co-sponsored the monument authorization legislation;
  • Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst
  • Robert Floyd, Chairman of the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument Committee. 

Texas State Senator Leticia Van de Putte will introduce the memorial tribute, which will include students from Edgewood Memorial High School and wreaths presented by the families of Texans killed and missing in Vietnam, the Texas Vietnamese community, and the Texas legislature. The United States Army 36th Infantry Band and the Texas Children’s Choir will perform.  A Joint Base San Antonio Joint Force Color Guard and Native American veterans of the Lone Star Hethuska Society will also participate.  Ms. Karoni Forrester, representing the 3,417 Texas families, will be Mistress of Ceremonies. Ms. Forrester’s father is missing in action.

“The dedication of the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument will be a long overdue ‘welcome home’ for a generation of veterans who served during a divisive time in our nation,” said Robert Floyd, chair of the monument committee.  “This monument will stand forever in honor of Texans who served with courage, skill and dignity, some at the cost of their lives, when their country asked them to do so.”

The Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument was approved in 2005 by the 79th Legislature to honor Texans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces in Vietnam and to remember those who died.   It will be accompanied by an online mobile tour to enhance visitors’ understanding of the monument and allow them to meet Texans who served in the war.  The monument was designed by artist Duke Sundt.  Finishing artists Clint Howard and Jake Jakovich sculpted the final details. It was produced at the Deep in the Heart Art Foundry in Bastrop.  

Vietnam veterans who volunteered to serve on the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument Committee raised the necessary funds and managed the monument production.  The monument cost $2.2 million.  For more information visit www.buildthemonument.org .

 
Media Information – Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument Dedication
Media Contact:  Cheryl Fries 512-657-7880, cfries@arrowheadfilms.com

The monument is located on the northeast Capitol grounds near 14th and Brazos.
All equipment must be inspected and cleared by DPS before 8:00 a.m.
Media riser, mult box and limited-space ground-level filming area will be provided. 
Access to and around the monument may be restricted during the ceremony.
Broadcast and print news media will have priority access to designated media areas.  Credentials may be required.
The Texas Vietnam Heroes Exhibit of 3,417 dog tags will be in the Lower Rotunda of the Capitol.
Vietnam helicopters, military vehicles and other vintage equipment will be displayed on the east grounds and on Brazos between 12th & 13th Streets.
 
Additional Facts – Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument
American military advisors began serving in Vietnam in the 1950s and the U.S. had a troop presence into the 1970’s.  At the height of the war in 1968, a half million Americans were serving in Vietnam.

There is no accurate record of the number of Texans who served in Vietnam, but the Texas Veterans Commission estimates around 500,000 Vietnam-era veterans now reside in Texas.  The state had the third largest loss rate, second only to California and New York, with 3,417 – all men – killed or missing.

The Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument honors all Texans who served in Vietnam.  The centerpiece of the monument is five infantry figures.  They are surrounded by panels depicting women who served, air power, blue water navy, brown water navy, artillery and helicopter forces. Another panels honors the people and military of South Vietnam.

Entombed inside the monument are personalized dog tags honoring each Texan who died or is missing.  A duplicate set of these tags is displayed for the public in the Texas Vietnam Heroes Exhibit, which will be in the Lower Rotunda of the Capitol March 27 through April 7.

More than 600 individuals, organizations, corporations and foundations donated to build the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument.

The monument is the first on the Capitol grounds to depict the cultural diversity of Texas, as each infantry figure represents a different ethnic group.  It is also the first to include a mobile tour to educate visitors about the monument and the war.

 

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Woman Finds Aid Through American GI Forum
By Vincent T. Davis, San Antonio Express-News  

SAN ANTONIO — At the end of December, Rebecca Plimpton and her young son were weeks from being homeless.

She'd just graduated from Ashford University, but there wasn't enough money from her minimum-wage job and Army reservist duty pay for Plimpton and her 6-year-old son to get by.

The possibility of a bleak future changed when she heard Chelsea McKinney of the American GI Forum speak at a weekend drill class.

Plimpton didn't think she'd qualify for the agency's support services program the counselor talked about, but increasingly, all of the services seemed to apply to her.

After the meeting, she picked up a brochure and made an appointment with McKinney, who works with the Forum's homeless female veterans and veterans with families program.

She helped Plimpton apply for jobs that led to work with Baptist Health System. McKinney placed her with case manager Pedro Munalem, who contacted housing coordinators to find her a new place to live.

He also arranged for her belongings to be moved, at no cost, to a new apartment where she now lives with her son.

“They were doing as much as possible so I wouldn't be homeless on the streets with my child,” Plimpton, 31, said. “I was at the right place at the right time.”

Plimpton was one of the recent clients who qualified for the American

GI Forum's National Veterans Outreach Program, headquartered in San Antonio. The forum has assisted veterans for more than 41 years. Since

November, the local chapter has helped 130 homeless veterans.

For the past 16 years, the NVOP has sponsored a veteran's stand down event on the Friday prior to Veteran's Day. An estimated 1,000 former military members converge on downtown sites and receive free services including clothing, legal advice, medical aid and assistance to reintegrate into society.

The agency also operates a Residential Center for Homeless Veterans downtown with 60 single room apartments and 80 transitional beds.

Allen Young, who directs the Support Service for Veteran Families program, said the agency tries to look at the whole family concept.

“No matter who, we try to do what we can for that particular individual and their family to meet their needs and desires,” Young said. “as well as what our restrictions are.”

Recently, Plimpton stopped by the San Antonio NVOP field office, 206 San Pedro Ave., to thank Munalem and the counselors who helped her. Plimpton said the agency is still making routine phone calls to check on her well being.

“It's not over,” she said. “I didn't fall off of the books.”

Ignacio Leija, vice president of service operations for the San Antonio NVOP field office, said many people are under the misconception that because someone is in the military that they don't need help.

“There are a lot of service people, like Rebecca, who are struggling,” he said. “We're trying to be there for the military person and assist them in their time of need.”

vtdavis@express-news.net

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