Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country 11-03-08


Today’s Local News for Veterans

What’s Inside

1. Florida Educators Preparing For Influx Of GI Bill Students. 
2. VA Said To Have Favored "Toll Road" Approach To New GI Bill Benefits.  
3. Community College Offers Assistance To Troubled Vets.
4. Local Veterans Participate In Health Fairs.  
5. VA Opens Temporary Clinic In Indiana. 
6. VA Chaplain Says Troubled Vets Are Turning To The Church.  
7. VA Clinic Renamed In Honor Of Soldier Killed In Iraq.  
8. Many Vets Attend First Day Of Stand Down In South Carolina.  
9. Care Units Said To Be Overwhelmed By "Flood Of Patients."  
10. Construction Of VA Clinic In Alabama Said To Be On Schedule.

     1.      Florida Educators Preparing For Influx Of GI Bill Students.   The Tampa Tribune (11/2, Emerson) reports that "most Florida educators say the [2008 GI Bill] is so good, they expect that thousands more veterans throughout the state will take advantage of the benefits when they take effect next fall. The increased demand is a mixed blessing for the state’s co As a result, "representatives from Florida’s community colleges, public universities, private colleges and the Department of Veterans Affairs will spend the next several weeks figuring out how to accommodate the spike in interest and how to support the veterans once they are enrolled." 

2.      VA Said To Have Favored "Toll Road" Approach To New GI Bill Benefits.   In the lead story in his "What’s Brewin’" Government Executive (11/3) blog, Bob Brewin says he had been told that the Space and Naval Warfare System Command (SPAWAR), which the "Veterans Affairs Department tapped…to develop an IT system" for new GI Bill benefits, was "the last choice of high-level VA executives, who favored what can best be described as the Dulles Toll Road approach to IT systems development and benefits payment. An outside-the-Beltway systems integrator proposed to develop the system on its own dime in return for charging VA on every transaction it processed," but "that integrator pulled out after veteran service organizations…picked up some of the details of the deal and strongly objected to it." Despite that, however, "top VA management spent the next month trying to cut the same deal with another integrator, which pulled out on Oct. 16, the day before VA Secretary James Peake" announced the SPAWAR agreement. Brewin adds that he would "like to learn more about" SPAWAR’s "tight and ongoing systems development and consulting relationship" with the VA.

3.      Community College Offers Assistance To Troubled Vets.   The Oklahoma City Community College Pioneer (11/1, Ewers) says the Veteran’s Services office at Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC) "is prepared to help those students who have experienced combat and may be particularly at risk for depression or post traumatic stress disorder, said Janis Armstrong, Student Aid Programs coordinator and Veterans Certifying official." Armstrong "said the office is there for any guidance a veteran might need and can offer referrals to students who have symptoms of PTSD, depression or thoughts of suicide."

5.    VA Opens Temporary Clinic In Indiana.   In his Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal (10/31) column, Dale Moss) noted that the Department of Veterans Affairs has opened a temporary clinic "at 279 N. Gardner St" in Scottsburg, Indiana. By "spring, a permanent clinic should open on the nearby campus of Scott Memorial Hospital."

4.      Local Veterans Participate In Health Fairs.   The Steubenville (OH) Herald Star (11/2, Miller) reports, "Hundreds of local veterans Saturday took advantage of the 15th-annual Veterans Health Fair at the Steubenville High School commons. The fair, sponsored by the Jefferson County Veterans Veterans Service Commission, the Pittsburgh Veterans Administration Healthcare System and Steubenville City Schools, included free health screenings for veterans of all ages, according to Ed Mascio, service officer for the veterans commission."
      The Central Maine Morning Sentinel (11/2, Cover) reports on a similar health fair in Augusta, Maine.

6.      VA Chaplain Says Troubled Vets Are Turning To The Church.   The Southern Illinoisan (11/3, Shepherd) reports, "Anybody who puts a foot in the dirt of a combat zone comes home with challenges,’ said John Oliver, chief chaplain and clinical pastoral education supervisor for the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Durham, N.C." But veterans "aren’t necessarily sharing these challenges with the medical community designed to support them" or "their friends and families." Where "they are laying their burdens down is the church. ‘They come to pastors at a rate of five times more often than they go to all mental health care providers combined,’ Oliver said." The Illinoisan adds, "Oliver spoke at the Marion VA last month to a dozen regional pastors about the complexities of current conflicts, which he believes are more psychologically and spiritually challenging than past wars," in part because many of those fighting are volunteers who sometimes come home before being redeployed.

7.      VA Clinic Renamed In Honor Of Soldier Killed In Iraq.   In continuing coverage, the Sharon (PA) Herald (11/2, Pinchot) reported that the mother and father of Michael A. Marzano, who was killed in Iraq in 2005, attended "Saturday’s dedication of the renaming of the Mercer County Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic in Hermitage in honor of their son." Marzano "was the first soldier from Mercer County to die in the war on terror."

8.      Many Vets Attend First Day Of Stand Down In South Carolina.   In continuing coverage, the Charleston (SC) Post And Courier (10/31, Coley) reported, "Veterans…poured into Armory Park in North Charleston Thursday morning. The first day of the ninth annual Stand Down Against Homelessness served 1,089 people, nearly reaching the 1,300 total for both days at last year’s event." The "joint effort" was organized by the Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Goodwill Industries.


9.      Care Units Said To Be Overwhelmed By "Flood Of Patients."   The AP (11/2, Baldor) reported, "In a rush to correct reports of substandard care for wounded soldiers," the US Army "flung open the doors of new specialized treatment centers so wide that up to half the soldiers currently enrolled do not have injuries serious enough to justify being there, The Associated Press has learned." According to "interviews and data provided to the AP, the number of patients admitted to the 36 Warrior Transition Units and nine other community-based units jumped from about 5,000 in June 2007…to a peak of nearly 12,500 in June 2008." The units, which "serve Army active duty and reserve soldiers," provide "coordinated medical and mental health care, track soldiers’ recovery and provide broader legal, financial and other family counseling." The AP added, "Army leaders are putting in place stricter screening procedures to stem the flood of patients overwhelming the units – a move that eventually will target some for closure."

10.    Construction Of VA Clinic In Alabama Said To Be On Schedule.   The Talladega (AL) Daily Home (10/31, Poythress) reported, "Construction of the new Department of Veterans Affairs community-based outpatient clinic is well on its way to the anticipated completion goal of the end of November." Project developer Tim Taylor, owner of Discovery Healthcare Properties in Hoover, said things are "going really well; we’re on schedule." He added, "The building’s shell is complete, and we’re doing the interior walls, so we’re not at the mercy of the weather anymore." The Daily Home added that the clinic "should be open by early in the 2009 calendar year, according to Jeff Hester, a spokesman for the Veterans Administration Hospital in Birmingham."



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