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In addition, Mr. Bilirakis is chairman of the Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications subcommittee — part of the Homeland Security Committee — and is on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Rep. Jeff Miller, Florida Republican, is chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

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Congratulations to the Veterans of Foreign Wars for the VFW Operation Uplink Free Call Day (FCD), which as of Jan. 16 had surpassed 5 million connections from deployed military personnel to their loved ones. Operation Uplink initially provided calling cards to deployed and hospitalized troops, but on Mother’s Day 2006, because of the growing popularity of the program and thanks to the generosity of corporate donors such as Sport Clips and Harleysville Insurance, the program began hosting free-calling days.

Operation Uplink hosts a Free Call Day for service members in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait and for hospitalized veterans, giving them the opportunity to call their loved ones in the States at no cost.

Free Call Days are available at more than 700 MWR Internet cafes using SPAWAR. Soldiers use their regular SPAWAR prepaid PIN and use regular dialing procedures. If they don’t have a PIN on the free-calling day, the café manager can issue them one. A sponsor message greets them before the call is placed to inform them that the call is at no charge and they are free to talk for as long as they are able.

The program is the only one of its kind and provides two designated days each month on which deployed service members making calls from their Morale, Welfare & Recreation (MWR) center to the United States, and from German and Italian land lines are greeted by a recording that states their call will be free courtesy of Operation Uplink.

Members of the VFW and Ladies Auxiliary VFW posts, as well as other caring citizens, generously support the program. The VFW is proud of Operation Uplink because it provides an easy way for individuals and organizations to make an immediate difference in the lives of active-duty military personnel.

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Veterans will find it easier and faster to apply for their health care benefits now that the Department of Veterans Affairs has enhanced and streamlined its online Form 10-10EZ, Application for Health Benefits.

This revised online application now features a chat function that will allow veterans to receive live assistance while they are filling out the form. Additional enhancements to the process include simplification of questions relating to military service in Southeast Asia during the Gulf and Vietnam wars. Several additional minor enhancements make the application easier and faster to complete.