NewsBytes October 21, 2022
In this issue:
New FRA Leadership Elected
Support Prohibition Against Forced Arbitration
New FRA Leadership Elected at National Convention
During the 94th annual FRA National Convention held in Birmingham, Alabama, the delegates elected National Vice President James E. “Robbie” Robbins Jr., West Jacksonville Branch 126, to the position of National President. Further, PRPSE John S. Handzuk, West Jacksonville Branch 126, was elected National Vice President. NED Christopher J. Slawinski, Navy Department Branch 181, was re-elected as National Executive Director. The new Regional Presidents include:
Regional President North Central Marcia L. Cunningham, Milwaukee Branch 14
Regional President South Central Emmett H. Smith, Shreveport/Bossier Branch 98
Regional President Northeast/New England Neil I. Ross, Buffalo Branch 23
Regional President Southwest Chris Chapman, Imperial Beach Branch 289
Regional President East Coast Gabriel Falu, Kempsville Branch 99
Regional President West Coast Joe Nash, Silver Dollar Branch 192
Regional President Southeast Jerry Anger, Birmingham Branch 112
Regional President Northwest Rex L. Faubion, Mt. Rainier Branch 104
Shipmate PRP North Central Marty Posekany, Wolverine Branch 298, was appointed National Parliamentarian and Shipmate PRP Southeast Laurie Bailey, Low Country Branch 269, was appointed National Chaplain. Following the election, the delegates installed the new officers and board. The above-mentioned Shipmates will serve until the next national convention, which will be held in Reno, Nevada.
The keynote speaker was Congressman Gary Palmer whose district includes parts of Birmingham Alabama. Keynote speaker Palmer was welcomed by a nearly full meeting room while he reflected on his family’s long connection with the military. He also recognized the importance that our armed forces play in American freedom.
Support Prohibition Against Forced Arbitration in Senate NDAA
Please ask your Senators to support amendment number 6064 to the Senate NDAA (S.4543), that includes protections for service members. This amendment will empower service members and their families against the adverse practice of forced arbitration, a much too common dispute process that strips our service members of their afforded rights under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). Forced arbitration is a one-sided, non-transparent process in which service members have very little chance at achieving a favorable outcome when their rights and protections set forth under these federal laws are violated. Members can weigh in on this issue online.
The Senate Appropriations, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee recently held an oversight hearing on implementation of the Electronic Health Record at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The plan has been plagued with ongoing problems dating back to its initial launch at the VA Medical Center in Spokane, Washington. Lingering issues related to patient safety, training, employee morale, and several other deployment problems still exist, though some progress has been made. The VA first launched its new electronic health record (EHR) system more than 19 months ago. The program was scheduled in July 2022 to expand to include the VA Medical Center in Boise, Idaho. The expansion was delayed. The Subcommittee was told that the VA is using this pause to make system enhancements and to perform tests to ensure the system is stable, resilient, and provides the capability VA employees and veterans need to improve access and quality of care.
Nevertheless, progress has occurred since the VA joined with the DoD in a joint contract to modernize its EHR system in 2017. The huge $16 billion project raised lots of concerns with lawmakers after decades of attempts by both departments to develop a joint interoperable health record that never materialized.
The House and Senate passed the “Electronic Health Record Transparency Act” (H.R.4591) to require the Department Veterans Affairs (VA) to submit to Congress quarterly reports that evaluate the performance of Electronic Health Record (HER), and it was signed into law in June 2022. The FRA wants to ensure adequate funding for Department of Defense (DoD) and the VA health care resources delivering seamless, cost-effective, quality services to personnel wounded in combat and other veterans and their families. Some members of Congress have expressed concern about the cost and length of time to fully implement this program. The cost and the long time for implementation notwithstanding, the FRA believes there is a tremendous opportunity with the two departments using the same Electronic Health Records.
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