Top 10 News For Veterans from Around the Country 08-05-08

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Today’s Local News for Veterans from around the Country

What’s Inside:  A Summary   

  1. House Also Approves Increase In VA Mileage Compensation.  
  2. Plan Would Allow New Hampshire Vets In-State Access To Major Medical Care.  
  3. Following Writing Campaign, VA Midwest Approves Plan To Open Clinic In Iowa.  
  4. VA Expands Nursing School Partnership Program.  
  5. VA Becoming More Eco-Friendly As Data Centers Consolidate.  
  6. Bush Nominates VA Official To Lead OPM.  
  7. Air Force Vets Participate In Wheelchair Games.  
  8. Colorado Governor Announces Reappointment To State Board of Veterans Affairs.  
  9. Pentagon Spending $300M To Research PTSD, TBI.  
  10. Study Says Agent Orange Exposure Doubles Chance Of Getting Prostate Cancer.

     1.           House Also Approves Increase In VA Mileage Compensation.   In a related story, Federal Daily (8/5) reports that, among other things, the Military Construction-VA bill passed by the House would also increase the mileage compensation paid by VA "by nearly 50 percent" to 41.5 cents per mile. The bill "also would address the backlog in maintenance at VA medical facilities" and "improve access to health care for vets in areas where VA does not offer services."
      The Effingham (GA) Herald (8/5) reports that an amendment to the House’s Military Construction-VA bill would prevent the VA secretary "from increasing the deductible that disabled veterans must pay in order to receive their mileage reimbursement." 

2.      Plan Would Allow New Hampshire Vets In-State Access To Major Medical Care.   The North Andover (MA) Eagle Tribune (8/4, Date) reported, "Fewer veterans will have to travel out of state for medical care under a plan awaiting approval" by US Department of Veterans Affairs. Currently, New Hampshire veterans "must travel out of state for major medical services including inpatient surgery," but under the new plan, "about 80 percent, or 300 of these veterans, would be treated in-state, said Marc Levenson, director of the VA Medical Center in Manchester. Already, the federal government has approved a plan to provide radiation treatment to cancer patients at in-state hospitals," and that treatment "is expected to be available by the end of the year, affecting about 40 veterans, Levenson said." Levenson also "said the pressure brought to bear by veterans and their advocates," along with a VA Secretary James Peake’s March trip to Manchester, "has spurred action from the VA."

3.      Following Writing Campaign, VA Midwest Approves Plan To Open Clinic In Iowa.   The Decorah (IA) Journal (8/5, Strandberg) reports a "writing campaign by Northeast Iowa veterans and their families appears to be paying off." Earlier this year, after veterans sent "nearly 3,000" postcards to US Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA) and US Sens. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Tom Harkin (D-IA), the lawmakers "encouraged Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Peake to include Decorah in the VA’s strategic plan for opening new facilities." And last week, Latham "announced…that the Veterans Administration Midwest Health Care Network has approved a plan for opening an outpatient clinic for veterans in Decorah next fall." That plan "is now under review by the Veterans Health Administration Central Office" in Washington, DC.

4.      VA Expands Nursing School Partnership Program.   Federal Daily (8/4) reported, "In an effort to increase its work force of nurses, the Department of Veterans Affairs…on July 31 announced it was expanding its $40 million partnership program that pairs nursing schools with VA facilities." This year, seven nursing schools "will form new partnerships with nine VA medical centers and join the VA Nursing Academy," a virtual university based in Washington, DC, that "already has four other paired partnerships in operation." In a news release noting the expansion of the nursing school partnership program, VA Secretary James Peake said the "expanded role" of the VA "in the education of nurses will ensure the department has the nurses needed to continue our world-class health care for veterans."
      Lutz VAMC Participating In Program.   The Saginaw (MI) News (8/5, Armentrout) reports, "A collaboration with the Lutz Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Saginaw will provide clinical faculty to nursing students at Saginaw Valley State University this fall." The collaboration is part of the VA’s nursing school partnership program, which "began in 2007." More "partnerships are in the works, VA officials said. The project will increase student enrollment by about 1,000 students nationwide, they said."

5.      VA Becoming More Eco-Friendly As Data Centers Consolidate.   In its August issue focusing on "Green Government," Government Executive (8/1, Noyes) reported, "While being eco-friendly isn’t the driving force behind the data center consolidation" at the Department of Veterans Affairs, "it’s turning out to be a big fringe benefit." Until recently, the VA "took a decentralized approach to information technology," but "during the past few years, the department has been consolidating its decades-old computer network into regional hubs." Charlie DeSanno, the VA’s executive director of enterprise infrastructure engineering, "admits that for VA, being environmentally friendly isn’t at the top of the list for data centers, but it’s becoming more important." For example, part "of the vetting process" for new regional facilities serving as hubs includes "making sure the vendor being auditioned has a strategy to go green, or at least a game plan to address the steadily increasing price and environmental impact of IT." But more eco-friendly operations have also "been a byproduct of the regionalization program," which has reduced the VA’s "power consumption by about 25 percent."

6.      Bush Nominates VA Official To Lead OPM.   In continuing coverage, Federal Computer Week (8/4, Mosquera) reported, "President Bush has nominated Michael Hager, a human resources federal executive, to lead the Office of Personnel Management, White House officials have announced." Hager is currently the "assistant secretary for human resources and administration at the Veterans Affairs Department. He has held that post since November 2007." Federal Daily (8/5) publishes a similar story.

7.      Air Force Vets Participate In Wheelchair Games.   Air Force Print News (8/4, Larlee) profiled Delvin McMillan, one of the more "than 80…Air Force veterans" that participated in the 28th National Veterans Wheelchair Games, held July 25 through 29 in Omaha, Nebraska. The Print News noted that Kim Byers, public affairs director for the games, said the event is made possible by extensive planning. For example, when planning for the 2008 games, representatives from Omaha "shadowed event planners at 2007 games in Milwaukee," and this year, "representatives from Spokane, Wash., did the same thing in preparation for the 2009 games that will be hosted there."
      Colorado Vet Encourages Others To Get Involved With The Games.   The Grand Junction (CO) Sentinel (8/5, Gemaehlich) reports 62-year-old Grand Junction resident Carl Andrews "won a couple of gold medals and a bronze" at this year’s games, but the event gives Andrews "something much better than medals. ‘Participating in the Wheelchair Games has given me a ‘can do’ attitude toward life,’ he said. ‘I encourage all veterans who use a wheelchair to become involved.’"

8.      Colorado Governor Announces Reappointment To State Board of Veterans Affairs.   The Cherry Creek (CO) News (8/5, Dreyer) reports that on Monday, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter announced that Ralph P. Bozella has been reappointed to the seven-member Colorado Board of Veterans Affairs, which "studies problems facing veterans and makes recommendations to the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs."

9.      Pentagon Spending $300M To Research PTSD, TBI.   USA Today (8/5, Zoroya) reports, "The Pentagon is spending an unprecedented $300 million this summer on research" for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI), "offering hope not only for troops but hundreds of thousands of civilians. The money – the most spent in one year on military medical research since a $210 million breast cancer study in 1993 – will fund 171 research projects on two of the most prevalent injuries of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars."
      Sleep A Common Problem For Veterans Diagnosed With PTSD.   In a front page story, the Los Angeles Times (8/5, Chong) reports, "Sleep and wakefulness issues were the most common health problems described by recently returned soldiers, researchers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center found in a study published last year." Other studies, meanwhile, have shown that sleep problems "are much more common in combat veterans than in other young adults, said Steve Woodward, a sleep expert at the Department of Veterans Affairs center" on PTSD. Woodward also said that about 70% of veterans being treated for PTSD have sleep problems. The Times noted that Dr. Tasha Souter, medical director of the Trauma Recovery Program at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, said, "Sleep problems are one of the most difficult symptoms of PTSD to treat," and it is "not uncommon for veteran patients to have 20, 30 years of difficulty sleeping."

10.    Study Says Agent Orange Exposure Doubles Chance Of Getting Prostate Cancer.   The Sacramento (CA) Bee (8/5, Dahlberg) reports, "Veterans exposed to…Agent Orange are twice as likely to get prostate cancer as other veterans, UC Davis researchers found in a study published online by the journal Cancer." Dr. Karim Chaime, "chief resident in urology at UC Davis and the study’s lead author," said that prostate cancer in Agent Orange-exposed veterans also comes on earlier and is more aggressive than it is for veterans not exposed to the herbicide. The findings "are a clear signal that men who worked with Agent Orange should be cared for differently, getting earlier biopsies and more aggressive treatment, he said." The Bee added that the UC Davis study "will be published in the Sept. 15 print edition of Cancer." Chaime "hopes it soon could lead to new Department of Veterans Affairs treatment standards."

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