VFW Overseas Initiative Helps POW/MIA Mission
‘On POW/MIA and other high-interest issues, no one does more for veterans’
October 17, 2012
WASHINGTON — The
national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. returned last
week from a trip to Europe to meet with Russian officials regarding their
renewed support of America's POW/MIA mission, and to meet with U.S.
troops stationed in Italy to discuss how VFW can better serve them and their
In Moscow, John E. Hamilton met with the leadership of the
Committees for Veterans Affairs and Defense in their State Duma, and the
Russian Federation Council Committee for Security and Defense. He also met with
two of Russia’s largest veterans’ organizations, the War Veterans Committee and
the Combat Brotherhood, and the Russian co-chair of the U.S.-Russia Joint
Commission on POW/MIAs, Dr. Yekaterina Priyezzheva, who in July attended the
VFW’s 113th National Convention in Nevada.
"Our veteran-to-veteran initiative in Russia is vital
to gaining further access to eyewitnesses and documents inside their central
military archives,” said Hamilton, a triple Purple Heart recipient for wounds
received as a Marine rifleman in Vietnam.
“This is because the VFW can open doors no politician or
bureaucrat can access because our sole agenda is purely humanitarian with no
strings attached,” he said. “The Russians understand this, having still about
265 of their own missing in Afghanistan. We want to help determine the fate of
possibly thousands of missing Americans dating back to World War II, and return
them home to their families. On POW/MIA and other high-interest issues, I am
proud to say that no one does more for veterans than the VFW."
Accompanied by VFW Washington Officer Executive Director
Robert E. Wallace, Hamilton also met with U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, was briefed on
political-military issues by U.S. Defense Attaché Brig. Gen. Peter Zwack, and
was able to meet with the Marine Security Guard Detachment and other embassy
In Italy, he received update briefings by U.S. Army
Garrison-Vicenza, U.S. Army Africa and the 173rd Airborne Brigade, as well as
installation tours of the medical clinic and warrior transition unit, along
with lunch with the troops and dinner with local VFW Post 8862. He would also
have validated the military’s top personnel concerns: threats to their pay and
benefits, retirement system, and other Quality of Life programs. Hamilton
promised to continue to champion their issues in the White House and in
The VFW national commander also attended the VFW Eastern
Conference meeting in Germany, and placed a VFW wreath at the American Cemetery
in Normandy, France, to commemorate the 68th anniversary of the D-Day landing.
followed one he made to the People's Republic of China in May to help U.S.
researchers gain further access into China's military archives. He also met and
thanked American military and civilians assigned to the Joint POW/MIA
Accounting Command in Thailand and Vietnam who do the onsite investigations and
recoveries in Southeast Asia.
"Overseas trips are vitally necessary because of VFW’s
international work on the POW/MIA issue, which is unmatched by any other veterans’
organization," said Hamilton. "It's also a great opportunity to
personally express our entire organization's appreciation to our military and
civilian personnel serving around the world, and to thank our overseas VFW
comrades for what they do daily to support the troops and their families."
For more on U.S. full accounting efforts, go to the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office website,
or the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command
Photo Caption: Left, VFW National Commander
John Hamilton discusses Russian World War II losses with the former Chief of
the General Staff of the Soviet Army Gen. Alekseevich M. Moiseev, who is now
the Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee for Social and Veteran's
Affairs. Translating is Slava Sorokin, who works for the Joint Commission
Support Directorate at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.
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