HUD identifies housing opportunities for homeless

In accordance with the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a notice in the April 12 Federal Register identifying federal buildings and other real property HUD has reviewed for suitability for use to assist the homeless. The properties were reviewed using information provided to HUD by federal land-holding agencies or by GSA regarding their inventories of excess or surplus property. The list includes buildings and properties in Alaska, Virginia and Washington.

Properties listed as suitable/available will be available exclusively for homeless use for a period of 60 days from the date of the notice. Homeless assistance providers interested in any such property should send a written expression of interest to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), addressed to Theresa Rita, Division of Property Management, Program Support Center, HHS, room 5B-17, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857; or call 301-443-2265.

HHS will mail to the interested provider an application packet, which will include instructions for completing the application.

Homeless assistance providers interested in a review by HUD of the determination of unsuitability should call the toll-free information line at (800) 927-7588 for detailed instructions, or write a letter to Mark Johnston at the address listed at the beginning of this notice. Included in the request for review should be the property address (including ZIP code), the date of publication in the Federal Register, the landholding agency and the property number.

Resolution No. 306 states that The American Legion:

• Renew its commitment to assisting homeless veterans and their families.

• Continues to support the efforts of public and private sector agencies and organizations with the resources necessary to aid homeless veterans and their families.

• Seeks and supports any legislative or administrative proposal that will provide medical, rehabilitative, and employment assistance to homeless veterans and their families.

In other news:

Legion submits testimony: On April 16, the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs held a legislative hearing to receive testimony on bills. The American Legion, though not delivering oral testimony, submitted testimony for the record. In the testimony, The American Legion supported all bills except H.R . 569/H.R. 570, the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2013 and American Heroes COLA Act, respectively; and H.R. 1405, which would require the secretary of Veterans Affairs to include an appeals form in any notice of decision issued for the denial of a benefit sought.

In the case of H.R. 569 and H.R. 570, the Legion issued a statement: "The American Legion supports an increased cost-of-living adjustment for veterans, but is unable to support these bills at this time until they reflect assurances that veterans’ needs will be adequately reflected and not subject to whims of overzealous cost cutting measures."

In the case of H.R. 1405, which would amend Title 38, U.S. Code, to require the secretary of Veterans Affairs to include an appeals form in any notice of decision issued for the denial of a benefit sought, The American Legion took no position, due to lack of resolution support.

Dave McLenachen of VA took positions on several of the bills which were at odds with those of The American Legion, as well as with the other veterans service organizations that testified. Specifically, VA took adversarial positions to H.R. 602, the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act; H.R. 671, the Ruth Moore Act of 2013; H.R. 679, the Honor America’s Guard-Reserve Retirees Act; H.R. 733, the Access to Veterans Benefits Improvement Act; and H.R. 894, a bill which would improve the supervision of fiduciaries of veterans under laws administered by VA. The full statement of VA’s positions can be read at the following link.

Job fair: A Hiring our Heroes hiring event was held in Rochester, N.Y., on April 17. Nearly 60 employers were connected with 170 job seekers from the local military population. A special thank you goes to the Department of New York, which assisted with outreach for this event. The event was covered by the Democratic and Chronicle, YNN (TV), WHEC and WXXI. Throughout the day, 618 résumés were collected, 93 interviews were conducted and two job offers were made on-site.

Inadequate Defense budget: The willingness to use the defense budget – and by extension the national security of the United States – as a political football to further budget priorities of preserving future growth in entitlement spending and of raising taxes will cause at least short-term damage to the defense program. If this damage is perpetuated by future administrations, the military will become unable to protect the vital interests of the U.S. in a dangerous and increasingly unstable world.

Related Resolution: No. 55: Protecting the Defense Budget

Read more here

Testifying about threats: John Stovall, director of the National Security and Foreign Relations Division, attended two Senate Armed Services Committee hearings regarding current and future worldwide threats and the current readiness of U.S. armed forces. To view the archived webcast, click on this link.

Commander Koutz: ‘Today, we are all Bostonians:’ National Commander James Koutz gave a statement on Monday in response to the Boston marathon bombing that occurred earlier in the day.

Related Resolution: No. 148: Support for the Global War on Terrorism

Health care: On April 18, Jacob Gadd presented at the Congressional Roundtable on Procurement at the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Procurement and contracting are vital areas of VA’s efforts to deliver timely and quality health care our nation’s veterans. The American Legion recommends that VA decentralize its contract making authority and IT programs to VA medical centers at the local level accompanied by a decentralization of decision making, responsibilities and holding the decision makers accountable.

System Worth Saving: Warren Goldstein, senior national field service representative, and Thomas Mullon, national task force member, conducted a System Worth Savings site visit to the St. Cloud Veterans Affairs Medical Center in St. Cloud, Minn., on April 16-17. The task force also conducted a women veterans health care town hall meeting at American Legion Post No. 254 in Saux Rapids, Minn., on April 15. The site visit team met with Veterans Health Administration to discuss their 2012 and 2013 office goals and priorities, status of the program’s progress toward achieving these goals and the program office’s resources (budget, staffing and equipment.)

Claims: During the week ending April 12, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals reached dispositions on 137 American Legion represented appeals. Of those dispositions, 70.8 percent of the denials were overturned with outcomes favorable to the veteran. In 24 cases, the board granted benefits outright after considering The American Legion’s arguments. In 73 cases, The American Legion was able to point out errors in the development of the veteran’s claims that mandated corrective action under the law. Of the total number of dispositions, 35 (25.5 percent) were outright denials.

Meeting with SBA: The Economic Division met on April 16 with the Small Business Administration (SBA), Office of Veteran Business Development, to discuss the veterans’ small business community’s concern over some SBA programs. We discussed the implementation of the Boots to Business program that was developed as a part of the new Transition Assistance Program. The program has been implemented and successfully piloted. It is currently waiting funding for nationwide implementation.

Meeting on the Hill: The Economic Division met on April 16 with Beau Walker, chief of staff for Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas, to discuss the Legion’s legislative agenda, along with allocation of appropriations to programs that address education, employment and homelessness.

POW/MIA Update: Lt. Col. Don C. Faith, Jr., U.S. Army, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, was lost late in December, 1950 in North Korean along the eastern side of the Chosin Reservoir, in North Korea. He was accounted for on April 10, 2013.