Brothers, what a tremendous experience at the 2022 AOH National Convention in Pittsburgh this past July! The work of the Host Committee was first-rate, and I am appreciative for the opportunity to renew the bonds of fellowship with my Brother Hibernians, especially my fellow veterans, from across the nation. It was a particular honor to meet the John F. Kennedy Award recipient, Rocky Bleier, an Army veteran of the Vietnam War, as well as his teammate and Marine Corps veteran John Banaszak.
The Convention also afforded me the opportunity to meet Romel Nicholas of the National Flag Foundation, also an AOH member, who has led efforts in Congress supporting legislation to create a
National Purple Heart Registry.
Veteran Services Spotlight: VA MISSION Act and the Asset & Infrastructure Review Commission The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission was established by the 2018 MISSION Act. The MISSION Act required VA to conduct periodic and intensive reviews of facility usage, veteran enrollment, and veteran population trends to determine where it made sense to close or revise the use of facilities, expand existing facilities, or build new facilities.
As required by the MISSION Act, the VA prepared and published their first report in March 2022 to outline their findings and recommendations. Those recommendations were to be considered by an AIR Commission appointed, at least in part, by the United States Senate. When published, the recommendations caused a predictable amount of consternation among veterans in those communities where specific VA facilities were proposed for reduction in size, service, or would be closed entirely.
Following further Congressional reviews, including bi-partisan Senate meetings with VA Secretary Denis McDonough, national Veteran Organizations, and local veterans, Senate leaders decided NOT to appoint their delegates to the AIR Commission itself. This administrative action by the US Senate will bring this iteration of the MISSION Act AIR process to an end and renders the recommendations contained in the March 2022 AIR Commission Report moot. Veterans across the US can remain confident that their local VA facilities will be there to support their care for years to come.
Veterans Affairs Committee Member Feature: Leo McGuire, New Jersey
In this edition of the Digest, we recognize Brother Leo P. McGuire of New Jersey. Leo served as an Army Military Policeman, joining right after high school, eventually serving in Germany with the 3rd Battalion, 71st Air Defense Artillery Regiment, during the Cold War. After his military service, he entered a career in law enforcement culminating his career as Sheriff of Bergen County, the largest county in the State of New Jersey. Leo was honored as an Irish Echo Belfast International Ambassador and he maintains significant relationships with local leaders in the north of Ireland. He also devotes his time as the New Jersey State Vice Chair for the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve, a DOD Program that helps ensure Reserve and Guard military members can maintain their civilian careers through multiple deployment and training requirements. Leo is a long-time AOH Brother and serves as Vice President for the New Jersey State Board. For all his work in support of the AOH and the military/veteran community: Thank you, Brother McGuire!
All members, especially veterans and VA Chairs, are encouraged to participate in VA Committee meetings held online the third Tuesday of the month at 7pm ET. Please contact me directly for details. Also, check out the resources listed on the AOH Veterans Affairs website at www.aoh.gov/veterans- affairs. GARRYOWEN!