Just wondered if you had tried an aftermarket antenna on the VX-3R or if you were using the stock antenna that is supplied with the HT?
I normally use a 2m/440 telescoping 1/4 wave antenna (Nagoya NA-773) and if I extend it to only about 9.5 to 10 inches it receives the military air band tranmissions from the local airport which simulcasts the tower transmissions on both civil and military bands (119.900 and 288.300) pretty well. Of course I was only about 4 miles from the airport, but it did OK.
The stock antenna that came with the VX-3R (as well as the VX-2R) worked surprizingly well in the 2 meter and 70cm bands considering the length of the antenna. But.... very poor performance out of band. One of our local 2 meter repeaters (147.180) is sponsored by the county EMA and is at the same tower site as the County PD (155.070). At my last residence, the 2m repeater was full scale on the VX-3R but the PD dispatch was only about an S-3 with the stock antenna. Their tower site is at 1100+ feet and 6 miles away if this gives you some reference of how poorly the stock antenna performs "out of band".
Overall a fantastic little radio, just the stock antenna left much to be desired. Have you found an amateur HT that is receiving the military band yet? Just wondered."
That mirrors my experience with them exactly. The stock Yaesu antennas work just fine IN THE HAM BAND ONLY. For any out of the ham band activity, First step is to experiment with aftermarket antennas.
At only 12 bucks, I have had very good luck with the little SMA Rare Earth mag mount, And also the skinny duck types.....http://www.pl-259.com/page6.html