Statement from VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson

“I will continue to use VA’s authority to impose discipline where
warranted by the evidence. That is simply the right thing to do for
Veterans and taxpayers.”
WASHINGTON – Today VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson released the
following statement after decisions were issued related to disciplinary actions
taken against two VBA employees:
“VA continues to pursue sustainable accountability for the Department,
which requires us to follow evidence of wrongdoing wherever it may lead, issue
disciplinary charges based on the evidence without regard to outside pressures, and
ensure that every employee is afforded due process. This is how we must proceed
because this is what is right for Veterans and taxpayers.
“While I felt demotions were appropriate for both executives, Diana Rubens
and Kim Graves, I respect the decision on the Merit System Protection Board
(MSPB) judges’ to reverse the imposed penalties.
“The Choice Act created an oddity for VA Senior Executives where the
MSPB judge is restricted to sustaining or reversing an imposed penalty and may
not impose a lesser penalty, even when he or she believes a penalty is appropriate.
No other agency functions by these rules. And while the law does not allow the
judge to mitigate to a lesser penalty, I am not precluded from doing so and I intend
to consider lesser penalties for both executives.
“To ensure any ultimate discipline is fair and appropriate, I have directed an
expedited fact-finding inquiry into whether discipline of others involved in these
matters is warranted based on new evidence that came out as this process unfolded.
As I have in the past, I will use VA’s authority to impose discipline where
warranted by the evidence. That is simply the right thing to do for Veterans and
“I will continue to take accountability actions based on my review of the evidence, not on media reports, hearsay or political pressure because we know that is how we ultimately best serve Veterans.”

Secretary’s Update

Secretary’s Update

To All:


There were three (3) motions approved by the National Board of Directors at the 2016 January BOD meeting that will direct impact on our membership and the VVA staff. One motion came from the VVA Public Affairs Committee and the other two (2) motions came from the VVA Membership Affairs Committee. Please consider this update as a notice and freely distribute as necessary.


VVA Public Affairs Committee


Motion 7

To remove and refrain the use of the terminology Vietnam ERA Veteran. To remove from organization publications, etc. Suggested to begin using terms such as Vietnam Veteran or Vietnam Generation.


VVA Membership Affairs Committee


Motion 13

To amend the Life Membership dues structure by deleting the age bracket requirements and to set the Life Membership dues at $100 effective January 1, 2016.


Motion 14

To approve the 2nd Consent Calendar:


During the 100th Farm Show which runs from January 9-16, 2016 at the Farm Show Building in Harrisburg, Thursday, January 14, 2016 is Veterans’ and Active Military Day.  There will be a variety of activities during the Day (listed below) to which you are invited but we are writing to call your attention to the Ag-Vet Forum which will be from 11:00-12:30 in the Susquehanna Room of the Keystone Conference Center on the Maclay St. side of the building.    There is no fee or no registration required for the program which is a part of the 100th Farm Show schedule.


Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding will kick off the event, welcoming participants and talking briefly about why agriculture and food careers are good career options for veterans.  Michael O’Gorman from the national Farmer Veteran Coalition will be on hand discussing initiatives that are under way around the country to develop career paths for those persons leaving active military service as well as veterans who have been discharged for longer periods of time.  Deputy Secretary Hannah Smith-Brubaker will speak to the connections that have been made to farmer veterans in the Commonwealth through the Homegrown by Heroes program.  Brig. Gen. Jerry Beck Jr., deputy adjutant general for veterans affairs, with the PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs will address efforts that Pennsylvania is undertaking to offer agriculture and food career information to the persons with which they are engaged.


Three farmers who are veterans will share their military and agriculture experiences with the group and provide some suggestions about how PA government might better assist them.


In addition to the Forum, there will be a full day of programs by and for veterans on January 14 to which you are also invited…


  • 9:00 am – 7:00 pm in the East Hall:  Veteran service organizations including the PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Dauphin County Veterans Affairs, Agrability, the PA Department of Education, and Rodale Institute will do presentations on the AgConnect Careers Stage in the East Hall and, on a scheduled basis, be present at the Ag and Food Careers booth in the East Hall (adjacent to the stage) or in the Susquehanna Room to meet the public.
  • 10:00 am – 10:45 am in the Susquehanna Room of the Keystone Conference Center:  Rodale Institute and Delaware Valley University will provide information on a special agriculture training program for veterans that the institutions offer together.
  • 11:00 am – 12:30 pm in the Susquehanna Room of the Keystone Conference Center:  Ag-Vet Forum (more above).
  • 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm at the PA Preferred Culinary Connection Stage:  An Army-Navy Cook-Off Competition where the teams will consist of people from those services who may have had or do have a military and/or civilian connection to the culinary industry or food industry.  Teams will have 20 minutes to prepare a dish using all of the ingredients in a mystery bin.  Judges will sample and prizes from the corporate sponsor, Weis Markets, will be awarded.
  • 2:00 pm – 2:45 pm at the PA Preferred Culinary Connection State:  Homegrown By Heroes™ Award Presentation where farmers who are veterans and who participate in the PA Preferred program will be recognized.
  • 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm in the Susquehanna Room of the Keystone Conference Center:  Showing and discussion of Terra Firma in the Susquehanna Room.  Since 2001 over 280,000 women have been sent to the Middle East to serve in the War on Terror.  Often traumatized by their experiences, some return home with PTSD, unable to cope with the daily rigors of life.  Terra Firma weaves together the stories of three women veterans who were among the first to deploy, serving in Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq.  After years of struggling, each has found ways to heal the hidden wounds of war through farming.   The film follows the women as they go about their daily lives, reflecting on their time spent in the military, the impact of war on their lives and their newfound peace of mind, finding that farming gives them purpose and a new way to serve their country by growing food for their communities.
  • 7:00 pm – 7:30 pm in the Large Arena:  The PRCA Rodeo will sponsor a Swearing-In Ceremony for new recruits from all of the services in the region.


We hope you are able to join us for the Forum and the day as well as throughout Farm Show. If you have any questions regarding the forum, please feel free to contact me directly at or 717-346-0426


We’ll look forward to seeing you on January 14.

VVA Member Colonel Clarence D. Bell Jr. Dies

Colonel Clarence D. Bell Jr., Esquire of Nottingham Colonel Clarence D. Bell, Jr., Esquire passed away on Monday, December 28, 2015. Born on April 17, 1941 in New Orleans, he was raised in Upland, Pa. “Butch”, as he was known, graduated from Pennsylvania Military College in 1963 and obtained his J.D. from Temple Law School. Butch served two tours in Vietnam, earning the Purple Heart, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star, Bronze Star with “V” device, the Air Medal, three Army Commendation Medals, and the Combat Infantryman Badge. Butch continued to serve his country honorably, ultimately attaining the rank of Colonel in the United States Army Reserves. Colonel Bell was a member of VFW Post #845 in Downingtown, Pa. and the American Legion Post #194 in Rising Sun, Md. For many years, he was involved with the Oxford Golden Bears and the Oxford Little League as a coach. He will be remembered for many things, but most of all for being a loving and devoted husband, father, and grandfather. Colonel Bell is survived by his wife, Mary Lou (O’Hara) Bell of Nottingham, Pa.; two daughters, Allison Bell Royer (Shannon) of West Chester, Pa. and Christine Mary Bell of Rock Hill, S.C.; one son, Kevin James Bell (Andrea) of Lancaster, Pa.; and eight grandchildren: Lauren, Kate, and Jack Royer; Patrick Boardwine; and Kevin, Emily, Liam, and Natalie Bell. He was preceded in death by his parents, Senator Clarence D. Bell and Mary James Bell; as well as by his sister, Mary Davenport Bell. Funeral services will be held 11 a.m. Saturday, January 2, 2016 at the Edward L. Collins, Jr. Funeral Home, Inc., 86 Pine St., Oxford, Pa., where friends and family may visit from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Interment with full military honors will be in Arlington National Cemetery, Va. at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, PO Box 758518, Topeka, KS 66675.

Published in The Daily Local on Dec. 30, 2015– See more at: