Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country 3-24-09


What’s Inside Today’s Local News for Veterans

1. ICOR Partners Hired To Boost VA’s Program Management, Integration.  
2. Creek VAMC Expands To Meet Vets’ Mental Health Needs.  
3. Another Way To Salute The Flag.
4. Early List Of Possible GI Bill Benefits Released. 
5. Official Says US Will Start Deciding On Filipino Vets’ Claims In April.  
6. VA Official Agrees To Plead Guilty To Conspiracy, Wire Fraud.
7. Changes Underway At Montgomery VAMC.  
8. Iraq Vet’s New Mission On Roll.
9. Vietnam Vets In Florida Could Get Diplomas
10. Specialist Praises VA’s Computerized Patient Record System.


1.      ICOR Partners Hired To Boost VA’s Program Management, Integration.   Healthcare IT News (3/24, Merrill) reports the US Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office for Enterprise Development "is implementing technology from Arlington, Va.-based ICOR Partners to boost program management and integration. Under the contract, ICOR will provide Cross Program Integration, Integrated Program Planning," and "Program Executive Office support to further the VA’s objective of transforming service to veterans through sustaining and modernizing its information technology." Healthcare IT News noted that "in an open letter to veterans," VA Secretary Eric Shinseki discussed this objective, saying, "I am fully committed to fulfilling President Obama’s vision for transforming our" department "into a 21st Century organization."
      FierceHealthIT (3/24, Bowman), which publishes a similar story, reports, "ICOR will be responsible for developing the VA IT Integrated Program Plan, which will ‘integrate cost, schedule and resource estimates’ and information technology that ultimately will improve the VistA medical network. HealtheVet, a new technology platform," is "also…in the works, and will fall under the VA IPP umbrella."

2.      Creek VAMC Expands To Meet Vets’ Mental Health Needs.   The Amarillo (TX) Globe News (3/23, Pittman) said, "For decades, the federal Department of Veterans Affairs has focused on the physical wounds soldiers bring back from the war front." But now, the VA "is spending more to treat the hidden wounds that come from combat." The "wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have highlighted combat-related mental illnesses, most notably post-traumatic stress disorder." Fortunately, however, the Thomas E. Creek VA Medical Center in Amarillo has nearly doubled "its mental-health staff," while the "hospital’s nursing staff…has increased more than 20 percent in two years." And just this month, the facility "opened two one-story buildings on the east edge of its Amarillo Boulevard campus to provide more than 10,000 square feet of extra space."

3.      Another Way To Salute The Flag.   A letter to the editor of the Gainesville (FL) Sun (3/23).

4.      Early List Of Possible GI Bill Benefits Released.   The Green Bay (WI) Press-Gazette (3/23, Maze).

5.       Official Says US Will Start Deciding On Filipino Vets’ Claims In April.   The Philippines’ Inquirer (3/24, Burgos) reports, "The United States government will start deciding on claims for compensation filed by Filipino World War II veterans by the end of April, according to US Ambassador Kristie Kenney." On Monday, Kenney "said…they would send out notices informing the claim applicants of acceptance or non-acceptance by the US government of their claims. Around 23,000 veterans had applied for claims under the recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act since last month, she disclosed."

6.      VA Official Agrees To Plead Guilty To Conspiracy, Wire Fraud.   The AP (3/24) reports William Brandt, a "Veterans Affairs official who ran a pharmacy in the Chicago suburbs," has "agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and wire fraud." Brandt "was the associate director of a VA pharmacy in Hines from 1996 until 2007." The US Department of Justice "says Brandt hired pharmacists from his wife’s temporary employment agency, then overcharged the VA for their services." The "company and Brandt’s wife…also agreed to plead guilty. The plea agreements were filed" in US District Court "in Chicago on Monday."


7.      Changes Underway At Montgomery VAMC.   The Muskogee (OK) Daily Phoenix (3/22, Hales) reported, "While one renovation is ongoing and an even larger one is scheduled" at the Jack C. Montgomery Veterans Affairs Medical Center, "a dozen jobs are being eliminated. A $1.25 million major renovation" of the facility’s "Emergency Department…includes going from seven patient rooms to 15, said Medical Center Director Adam C. Walmus. More good news involves renovating the operating rooms at the center – a $3.5 million project" that will start "by the end of the year, Walmus said." Another "area of the hospital is facing a different kind of change. The billing, coding and accounting program and medical care cost recovery are going to be consolidated with one in Murfreesboro, Tenn." Walmus said the change "will affect at least 12 people."

8.      Iraq Vet’s New Mission On Roll.   Dave Krieger’s Denver (CO) Post (3/23) column.

9.      Vietnam Vets In Florida Could Get Diplomas.   The AP (3/24) reports, "Florida Vietnam veterans who left high school early to join the military might finally get a diploma, some nearly 50 years after they left school." On Tuesday, state lawmakers will look "at legislation to grant the diplomas." Although it "doesn’t know how many Vietnam veterans will apply if the proposed law (SB 316) passes," the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs "says more than 450,000 Vietnam veterans live in the state."

10.    Specialist Praises VA’s Computerized Patient Record System.   The Temple (TX) Daily Telegram (3/24, Gibbs) reports, "As the government looks at spending $19 billion on computerizing medical records," it "might be well worth its while to look at the Veteran Administration’s Computerized Patient Record System." The VA "began computerizing its medical records in 2000 and it’s come a long way in that time, adding new features and safeguards along the way, said Carl Davenport, information technology specialist with the Temple VA."



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