Keller backs new funds to address backlog of military service cases

WILKES-BARRE — U.S. Representative Fred Keller, R-Middleburg, released a statement this week after the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced a $9 million award from the Technology Modernization Fund ( TMF) for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to digitize his military service records.

NARA oversees the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), which is the federal entity responsible for processing requests for documentation and records necessary for veterans to access VA benefits, adjudicate disability claims and asking for commendations, awards or badges.

“For years, our team has worked to improve operations at NPRC so that veterans receive their service records in a timely manner,” Keller said. “The first step in dealing with the huge backlog of 600,000 registrations was to get the NPRC back to operating in person at full capacity after an extended period of reduced operations during the pandemic. This TMF award will go a long way toward making military service records more accessible and ensuring that U.S. veterans receive faster, more reliable service.

Background

Since November 2020, Keller has repeatedly called on the NPRC to work with Congress to find a solution to address this backlog.

• April 2021: Congressman Keller sent a letter to David Ferriero, Archivist of the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), requesting immediate action to clear the backlog and requesting information on plans to administration to expedite document requests.

• May 2021: Keller participated in the House Veterans Affairs Committee Members’ Day hearing about frustrations he heard from constituents regarding the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC). ) and its growing backlog of unprocessed document requests from veterans and military families.

• June 2021: Keller introduced the RECORDS Act, legislation that directs the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) to fully reopen and report to Congress on its efforts to expedite requests for records from veterans who, in some cases, have waited more than a year for documents needed to receive benefits. The RECORDS Act currently has 75 cosponsors.

• July 2021: Keller and Oversight Committee Ranking Member James Comer (KY-01) sent a letter to Chair Carolyn Maloney, calling for an immediate hearing on the matter.

• January 2022: Keller (PA-12), Mike Bost (IL-12), Cliff Bentz (OR-02), and 110 House Republican co-signers send a letter to Archivist of the United States David Ferriero, appealing at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) to fully reopen.

• March 2022: Keller hosted a briefing with officials from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) to discuss agency operations and plan to resolve a backlog of 600,000 service records. The meeting between Congress and the NPRC was spurred by a request made by Congressmen Keller, Mike Bost (IL-12) and Cliff Bentz (OR-02) in January for the NPRC to provide a briefing on its plan to address its backlog. .

• April 2022: The House Oversight and Reform Committee passed HR 7337, the Veterans Records Access Act, with major provisions of Congressman Keller’s Records Act, including included requirements for the NPRC to maintain in-person operations, coordinate efforts with the VA, and respond established benchmarks showing clear reductions in its case backlog.

Veterans Memorial Trust Fund honors fallen heroes

The Memorial Day holiday is an annual reminder that the Pennsylvania Veterans Memorial located at Indiantown Gap National Cemetery in Annville, Lebanon County pays lasting tribute to those who have served our state and our nation in time. of war and peace.

This monument is nationally recognized as the largest veterans memorial located in any of the national cemeteries.

A perfect way to honor those who have served our country, while helping to preserve the iconic symbol, is to donate to the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Memorial Trust Fund.

“More than one million men and women have died in the service of our nation since World War II. Their ultimate sacrifice in defense of this nation lives on in our minds and hearts,” said Major General Mark Schindler, Adjutant General of Pennsylvania and head of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) “There is no better place to personally honor them than to visit the Pennsylvania Veterans Memorial. help maintain the memorial so future generations can visit and reflect on the sacrifices of the state’s veterans.

Schindler said 100% of donations go towards maintenance, such as landscaping, lighting and fountains, as well as necessary upkeep of the structural and cosmetic components of the memorial. Donations, which are tax deductible, are more important than ever as the memorial needs structural repairs caused by 20 years of exposure to the elements.

Donations can be made to the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Memorial Trust Fund online at www.donate.dmva.pa.gov or by mailing a check payable to:

“Pennsylvania Veterans Memorial Trust Fund”

Mail to: DMVA Office of Veterans Affairs, Bldg. 9-26

Fort Indiantown Gap, Annville, Pennsylvania 17003-5002.

Donations can be made “In Honor Of”, “In Memory Of” or “On Behalf Of”.

Book of Benefits and Rights 2022 for Older Pennsylvanians Now Available

Pennsylvania Department of Aging Secretary Robert Torres this week announced the release of the 2022 Benefits and Entitlements for Older Pennsylvanians — the Commonwealth’s first guide to information and resources serving older adults nationally and locally.

“Many older Pennsylvanians, their family members or caregivers may not be aware of the supports available to them or how they could apply for them. This book is a compilation of state departments to help them identify programs that match their needs or interests,” Secretary Torres said. “The Department of Aging is pleased to offer this year’s free guide as a way to help older Pennsylvanians so they can age in their homes and communities with the appropriate services that may be needed.”

Some of the topics included in the book are:

• Insurance

Legal services

• Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

• Protective Services

This year’s book also includes an expanded section on housing programs with details on Shared Housing and Resource Exchange (SHARE) and Housing Opportunity for Seniors (ECHO). It also provides information about the Pennsylvania Medicare Education and Decision Insight program, known as PA MEDI, which offers free, objective advice about Medicare insurance.

“The information on SHARE and ECHO is important because there is a growing need for housing options for seniors and these two programs, which started as pilots, are growing,” Secretary Torres said. “We are also almost a year after the rebranding of our Medicare counseling program, PA MEDI, so it is important that older people know what it stands for and why it is a trusted resource. for them when looking to enroll or change their Medicare. coverage plans.

Individuals can obtain the 2022 Book of Benefits and Entitlements from their county’s agency on aging or from the office of their senator and state representative. The book can also be viewed and downloaded online at the ministry’s website.

A $22 million project will improve energy efficiency of 17 public buildings

Department of General Services (DGS) Secretary Curt Topper officially inaugurated a Guaranteed Energy Savings Act, or GESA, bill this week that will improve the energy efficiency of 17 buildings in and around the Capitol complex. and will save taxpayers more than $671,000 per year. Once finished.

The $22 million project will have no upfront cost to taxpayers.

Secretary Topper was joined by Shayne Homan, vice president of McClure Company – the energy services company or ESCO – to launch the project.

“Improvements in energy efficiency are one of the most effective and proven ways to reduce energy consumption, increase cost savings and have a positive effect on our environment,” noted the Secretary. Topper. “We have been relentless not only in our efforts to identify opportunities where these projects can make a difference, but also in taking action to get these projects started and completed.”

The Capitol Complex GESA project will see the installation of energy conservation measures, or ECMs, in 17 Harrisburg-area buildings with a total footprint of approximately 3 million square feet. Updates will include replacing outdated lighting systems with highly efficient LED lighting systems; replacement of controls and HVAC systems; improvement of the building envelope for air treatment/filtration systems; installation of improved automated controls to optimize building heating and cooling systems; water conservation measures such as low-flow toilets, aerated sinks and energy-efficient water heaters; and more. GESA projects enable Commonwealth agencies to make significant energy and cost saving improvements to facilities with no upfront cost. Instead, upgrades are paid for using energy savings.

Contact Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.

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