WASHINGTON (July 27, 2018) -- Now that North Korea has unilaterally turned over 55 boxes of remains believed to contain missing American servicemen from the Korean War, the new national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is urging the families of Korean and Cold War missing to ensure the Defense Department has a DNA reference sample on file to help speed the identification process.
“Some 5,300 of 7,699 American unaccounted-for war dead are believed to be in North Korea, and 111 of our 126 Cold War missing are in the vicinity of the Korean peninsula, yet family reference samples on file only account for 91 percent of Korean War missing and 85 percent of Cold War losses,” said new VFW National Commander Vincent “B.J.” Lawrence.
“We have to do better than that, and that’s why I’m calling on more than 1.6 million VFW and VFW Auxiliary members to canvas their neighborhoods and urge every MIA family — even distant relatives — to provide a family reference sample in the hope that the next identification announcement is their long-lost soldier, sailor, airman, Marine or contract civilian.”
According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, all immediate family members, as well as maternal and paternal relatives, are eligible to donate a family reference sample, which is essentially a cotton cheek swab. Relatives should contact a military service casualty officer for information on how to provide a DNA sample. Those numbers are:
· United States Army: (800) 892-2490
· United States Marine Corps: (800) 847-1597
· United States Navy: (800) 443-9298
· United States Air Force: (800) 531-5501
· Department of State: (202) 485-6106
“Today marks 65 years since the signing of the armistice, or cease-fire agreement,” said Lawrence, of Alamogordo, N.M. “The potential for peace on the peninsula in the macro sense has to be on denuclearizing North Korea, but to the families of the missing, their macro view of the world begins at home, where for more than six decades they have been asking questions that have mostly gone unanswered. This is why ensuring a family reference sample is on file is so important. Identifications can be made through strong circumstantial evidence, but nothing says proof-positive better than an actual DNA match.”
Courtesy of VFW.ORG
A staggering 20 veterans commit suicide every day, and the VFW is committed to helping change the narrative and stigma surrounding mental health in America.
In order to raise awareness, foster community engagement, improve research and provide intervention for those affected by invisible injuries and emotional stress, the VFW has teamed up with the nationwide organizations Give an Hour and the Campaign to Change Direction, One Mind, PatientsLikeMe and the Elizabeth Dole Foundation to combat this critical issue. (courtesy of VFW.ORG).
Knowing the Five Signs is simple and can help to create a common language to allow us to recognize the signs of emotional suffering in ourselves and others. The Five Signs of the Campaign to Change Direction are something all of us need to know, and they include:
For more information, visit www.changedirection.org
1. Help Prevent TRICARE Fee Increases: Congress recently increased TRICARE costs for future military retirees and their families. Current military retirees and their family members are generally exempt from these cost increases, but a proposal included in the Senate’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2019 (NDAA) would remove this exemption. This proposal would result in substantially higher TRICARE enrollment fees for current military retirees. The VFW needs your help in defeating this harmful proposal which would require military retirees to pay more for their earned health care. Take action here!
2. Defense Health Agency Transition: Beginning on Oct. 1, 2018, the Defense Health Agency will assume responsibility for the administration and management of health care at all military treatment facilities operating under DOD. This consolidation aims to provide a more integrated, efficient, and effective system of readiness to better support the lethality of the force by eliminating many of the redundancies that have historically plagued the military health system (MHS). The transition hopes to significantly increase our nation’s ability to provide world class medical support to warfighters, their dependents, and our military retirees. Find out more about the implementation of MHS transition.
3. VFW Convention to Host Women Veterans Information Fair: The VFW will host a women veterans information fair entitled “Women Veterans: Strong & Growing” during this year’s 119th VFW National Convention. The fair will be held on July 24 at 2 p.m. Information pertinent to the veterans’ community with a focus on women veterans will be provided, and all veterans are encouraged and welcome to attend. Participants will include the VFW’s Women Veterans Advisory Committee; representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ offices of women’s health, women veterans, research and development, and veteran experience; the Department of Labor; the National Coalition of Homeless Veterans; and congressional staff from the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. There will be a raffle with prizes, as well as other giveaways. Learn more about the 119th VFW National Convention.
4. The VFW Needs YOU: As a grassroots organization, the power of the VFW is in its membership. That means all 1.7 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary. We are stronger together and effective because of what our collective efforts accomplish. Part of being great advocates means renewing your membership and we encourage you to do so. We also encourage you to consider becoming a Life Member of the VFW as a permanent show of your support. If you are not yet a member, we encourage you to join. Renew your membership or become a Life Member. If you are not a member, join the fight for all that’s good FOR VETERANS.
5. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has announced identification and burial updates for 12 American service members who had been missing in action from Korea and WWII. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:
-- Army Cpl. Thomas W. Reagan, 18, of Lebanon, Ind., whose identification was previously announced, will be buried July 6 in Pensacola, Fla. Reagan was assigned to Company A, 14th Engineer Combat Battalion, 24th Infantry Division, participating in the defense of the 24th ID’s main supply route and the town of Yongsan. He was reported missing in action on Aug. 12, 1950, as a result of fighting that occurred between his unit and enemy forces near Naktong Bulge in South Korea. Read about Reagan.
-- Army Sgt. 1st Class Elmore B. Goodwin, 25, of Norfolk, Va., whose identification was previously announced, will be buried July 9 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. Goodwin was a member of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. In late November 1950, Goodwin’s unit engaged in combat operations against Chinese forces in the vicinity of Anju, North Korea. Goodwin was reported missing in action on Nov. 27, 1950. When no information regarding Goodwin was reported by returning American POWs, the U.S. Army declared him deceased as of Dec. 31, 1953. Read about Goodwin.
-- Army Sgt. John W. Hall, 23, of Jennings, La., whose identification was previously announced, will be buried July 6 in Houston. Hall was a member of Headquarters Battery, 503rd Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division. In late November 1950, Hall’s unit received orders to move from Kunu-ri to Sunchon, North Korea, through an area known as “The Gauntlet.” Hall was reported missing in action on Dec. 1, 1950, in the vicinity of Somindong, North Korea. Read about Hall.
-- Army Air Forces Sgt. Charles H. Daman, 21, of De Smet, Idaho, whose identification was previously announced, will be buried July 11 in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Daman was a member of the 714th Bombardment Squadron, 448th Bombardment Group, 2nd Bombardment Division. On April 4, 1945, Daman, along with more than 400 other bombers, took off to attack airbases at Parchim, Perleberg and Wesendorf, Germany, as part of an Allied attempt to cripple what was left of the German air force. Daman's aircraft, which held 10 airmen, was attacked by enemy fighter planes in the vicinity of Hamburg. Read about Daman.
-- Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. John H. Canty, 22, of Winsted, Conn., whose identification was previously announced, will be buried July 10 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. Canty was a member of the 555th Bombardment Squadron, 386th Bombardment Group, IX Bomber Command based at Easton Lodge-Essex, England. On June 22, 1944, Canty’s B-26 Marauder was on a nighttime bombing mission against targets near Caen, France, when his plane was shot down between the villages of Baron-sur-Odon and Gavrus, France. Canty and the seven other crewmembers were killed in the incident. Read about Canty.
-- Army Pvt. Kenneth D. Farris, 19, of Dodson, Texas, whose identification was previously announced, will be buried July 9 in Dallas. Farris was assigned to Company B, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division. On Nov. 28, 1944, Farris was wounded by artillery and left the front line for the battalion aid station. His regiment remained in combat for several more days, reaching the outskirts of Gey, Germany, before being pulled off the front line. When officers took an accounting of the surviving Company B soldiers, Farris could not be found and was declared deceased on Nov. 29, 1945. Read about Farris.
-- Army Air Forces 1st Lt. William W. Shank, 24, of Harrisonburg, Va., whose identification was previously announced, will be buried July 14 in his hometown. Shank was a P-38 pilot assigned to the 338th Fighter Squadron, 55th Fighter Group, 66th Fighter Wing, 8th Fighter Command, 8th Air Force. On Nov. 13, 1943, Shank was killed after engaging with the enemy on a mission to Bremen, Germany. Read about Shank.
-- Navy Seaman 1st Class Joseph M. Johnson, 22, of Rushford, Minn., whose identification was previously announced, will be buried July 7 in his hometown. Johnson was stationed aboard the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft on Dec. 7, 1941. The battleship sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen. Read about Johnson.
-- Navy Seaman 1st Class Leon Arickx, 22, of Mitchell, Iowa, whose identification was previously announced, will be buried July 7 in Osage, Iowa. Arickx was stationed aboard the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft on Dec. 7, 1941. The battleship sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen. Read about Arickx.
-- Marine Corps Pfc. Roger Gonzales was a member of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. On Nov. 27, 1950, Gonzales’ unit moved northwest from Hagru-ri to Fox Hill at the Toktong Pass. In the early hours of Nov. 28, the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces attacked and Gonzales’ company sustained heavy casualties. Gonzales was reported to have been killed in action on Nov. 29, 1950, and was buried at the base of Fox Hill. Interment services are pending. Read about Gonzales.
-- Army Pvt. Donald E. Brown was a member of Company A, 745th Tank Battalion, fighting in support of the 1st Infantry Division in the European Theater in World War II. Brown was killed in action on July 28, 1944, when his M-4 Sherman tank was destroyed by enemy fire near Cambernon, France. Interment services are pending. Read about Brown.
-- Navy Fireman 1st Class Raymond R. Camery was stationed aboard the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft on Dec. 7, 1941. The battleship sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen. Interment services are pending. Read about Camery.
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