Westerly VFW: VA to offer new ID card starting in November

Westerly VFW: VA to offer new ID card starting in November

The Department of Veterans Affairs, in accordance with a law enacted in 2015, will begin issuing identification cards in November. The law ordered the VA to issue a hard-copy photo ID to any honorably discharged veteran who applies. The card will contain the veteran's name, photo and a non-Social Security identification number, and will allow veterans to demonstrate proof of service for discounts at private and other businesses.

It should be noted that this ID  cannot be used as proof of eligibility to any federal benefits and does not grant access to military installations.

New policy on foreigners

According to an artice in the Armed Forces News, the criteria for foreign nationals who wish to serve in the U.S. armed forces have become more stringent. The initial screening for what the Pentagon refers to as lawful permanent residents must be completed before they are allowed to enlist in the active or reserve services or National Guard. Also, such persons who seek expedited naturalization must obtain certifications of honorable service.

Until the Pentagon announced the change on Oct. 13, lawful permanent residents could enter basic training as long as their background investigations were in progress. They also were credited with a certification of honorable service after one day of actual service. They then could use the certification to speed up their naturalization process.

According to the new guidelines, foreign nationals must receive a favorable military security suitability determination; complete the ini tial training required by the branch of service they are joining; and complete at least 180 days of consecutive active service, or one year of satisfactory service in the selected reserve. The Defense Department is pulling the certifications of honorable service for all lawful permanent residents now on duty, or planning to join under delayed entry, until they complete all of the new security and suitability screening requirements.

R.I. veterans bills

Several bills of special interest to veterans were stalled by the budget stalemate this summer and were given final approval by the General Assembly’s special session on Oct. 3. These included a bill that provides in-state tuition status at state operated schools to active duty and reserve members stationed in Rhode Island; and an act designating Oct. 23 of each year as a day to commemorate the nine Rhode Island Marines killed in the 1983 terrorist attack in Beirut.

Day of Honor

On Sunday, Nov. 12, from noon to 4 p.m., the Rhode Island Fire Chiefs Association will  host a Veteran’s Day of Honor at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln. This fundraiser is to support the foundation’s Honor Flight mission, which takes veterans to the national military memorials in Washington, D.C. Tickets are $75. Contact George Farrell, 401-741-7999, or email rifirechiefshonorflight@gmail.com. Your support is requested for this most memorable activity for our veterans.

Post 8955

It’s back by popular demand. The Post Auxiliary will host its Pasta Bar on Friday, Nov. 10, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Post Home, 113 Beach St. in Westerly. Tickets are $20 per person, which includes choice of pasta, sauce and ingredients with salad and dessert. This event will be limited to 100 tickets. Gluten free pasta and takeout will be available. For more information please contact Deanna Siano, 401-443-0736. All proceeds will support Auxiliary and Post veteran initiatives.

The Project Outreachservice is available to all veterans and their families who are in need of information regarding available resources and agencies that are available. Our outreach officer, Walter Kimball, is ready to meet with you the first Wednesday and third Monday of each month from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the Post Home. Appointments are not needed. Kimball can be reached at 401-596-0470.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars welcomes all who meet our eligibility criteria. It's through service to this country that all our membership has earned their elite status. If you have received a campaign medal for overseas service; have served 30 consecutive or 60 non-consecutive days in Korea; or have ever received hostile fire or imminent danger pay, then you're eligible to join our ranks.

New members are always welcome to attend our monthly meeting. The next one will be Nov. 1 our Post Home, 113 Beach St. Meetings are the first Wednesday of each month.

If you know of a comrade or family of comrade in distress please contact Comrade Dora Vasquez-Hellner, 401-212-6377 for assistance.

This week in U.S. military history

The battle of Guadalcanal, 75 years ago, was the first major U.S. offensive in the Pacific, and  involved Marines and the 164th Infantry Regiment, Americal Division.

The 164th primarily consisted of National Guard soldiers from North Dakota, who were joined by additional soldiers from the West Coast prior to their departure from the mainland.

 The Americans seized the airfield, greatly surprising the enemy, and a bitter fight that included hand-to-hand combat ensued when Japanese forces, numbering as many as 36,000, tried to retake the island.

On Oct. 13-14, the 164th Infantry gathered in Bismarck,N.D., to commemorate the anniversary of this battle. I was honored to attend this reunion, as my father, Staff Sgt. Isaias V. Vasquez, from California, served with Co. I, 164th Infantry. 

The highlight of the reunion was listening to a panel of five soldiers, average age 94, who fought on Guadalcanal. It was a momentous event to meet these soldiers and to exchange information with other family members of soldiers of the 164th.

The regiment’s soldiers fought in both world wars and in Korea before the regiment was disbanded in 1955. God Bless the 164th and God Bless America.





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