Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country 3-27-09


What’s Inside Today’s Local News for Veterans

1. Shinseki Attends Stimulus Meeting.  
2. Professor Sees Upcoming Problems In Civil-Military Relations.  
3. Paper Says New VA Hospital In Colorado Could Lead To Increased Development.  
4. Obama Pledges Support For Iraq, Afghanistan Vets.  
5. Overton Brooks VAMC Offers Help To Struggling Vets.  
6. VA Agrees To Pay For Iraq Vet’s Surgery.  
7. Task Force "Racing" To Inspect US Military Showers In Iraq.  
8. Wounded Warriors Arrive In New Hampshire For Recreational Activities.  
9. Officials Decide Not To Locate VA Rehab Center In Tequesta, Florida.  
10. San Diego Vet Center Moves To Renovated Facility.

     1.      Shinseki Attends Stimulus Meeting.   In continuing coverage, Ed O’Keefe noted in his "Federal Eye" blog for the Washington Post (3/26) that on Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden "met with several officials," including Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, "to review the government’s progress in doling out economic stimulus funds."
      Grand Junction VAMC Spokesman Unsure About Federal Funds Timeframe.   The Grand Junction (CO) Sentinel (3/26, Mawdsley) said that while a Wednesday news release claimed the Grand Junction VA Medical Center "is slated to receive nearly $4 million in federal funds" from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, hospital spokesman Paul Sweeney "said he isn’t sure when those funds are coming." The Sentinel adds, "The Denver VA Medical Center and the veterans nursing home in Walsenburg are slated to receive a combined $7.1 million, according to the news release."
      The KKCO-TV Grand Junction, CO (3/26, Zartler) website, meanwhile, noted that "thousands of…veterans, many without other healthcare, depend on the medical staff" at Grand Junction. Sweeney "says the $3.8 million will pay for four of the hospital’s top five projects and he hopes that will make a difference for veterans."
      Other VA Facilities Also Slated To Receive Money.   The Poughkeepsie (NY) Journal (3/26) said the Hudson Valley Healthcare System VA Hospital at Castle Point "will receive $8.22 million for upgrades and renovations as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act." US Rep. John Hall (D-NY) "said the funds will be used for energy efficiency and infrastructure improvements, including installing a wind turbine, upgrading medical gas systems in patients’ rooms and replacing aging roofs, water main lines and steam traps." The Journal went to say that recovery funds "will also be used to hire and train temporary VA claims processors and to pursue needed information technology initiatives. ‘As the number of veterans increases at a time of economic uncertainty, it is urgent for use to make sure that claims are processed quickly and efficiently, so that we can get our veterans the compensation they deserve,’ Hall said."
      The News10Now-TV (3/26) website noted that US Rep. Dan Maffei (D-NY) "has announced more than $7.2 million for the Syracuse VA Hospital." The funding, which "comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act," will "be used for non-recurring maintenance, such as a roof replacement and lighting upgrade. A one-time payment of $250 to eligible veterans and survivors will also be made by the hospital to help with the effects of the current economy." The Central New York Business Journal (3/27, Reinhardt) publishes a similar story, as does the Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard (3/27, Weiner), which offered a quote from Syracuse VAMC spokesman Gordon Sclar, who said, "We are very excited about this," because it "means better care and services for our veterans."
      Connecticut’s Journal Inquirer (3/26, Michak) reported, "The Obama administration has released nearly $15 million in government stimulus funds for improvements at National Guard bases" and US VA "medical centers in Connecticut, including facilities in Enfield and Windsor Locks." On Tuesday, US Rep. Joseph D. Courtney (D-CT) "singled out the more than $8 million in the package designated for improvements" at the West Haven VA Medical Center, which "will get $7.7 million to renovate and construct semiprivate and private inpatient rooms and $1.08 million to repair and replace insulation."
      The Half Moon Bay (CA) Review (3/26) noted that US Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) "said Tuesday that $15.5 million has been approved for the Palo Alto and Menlo Park" VA facilities. The funding "for several projects at each facility comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act." According to the Review, the Menlo Park VA "will

receive $12.5 million for upgrades and renovations to their facilities," while the Palo Alto VA "will receive $3 million for patient lift equipment and repairs to the existing facilities."
      The Lebanon (PA) Daily News (3/27, Johnson) reports, "The Lebanon VA Medical Center will receive $9.2 million in federal economic-stimulus funding." The money will be spent on "construction that will facilitate a consolidation of rehabilitation services," renovation of the "patient check-in and appointment area," as well as the bathrooms, and the installation of a medical chiller, "according "to a news release provided" by US Sens. Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Bob Casey (D-PA).
      The Cincinnati (OH) Enquirer (3/26) said the Cincinnati VA Medical Center "will receive $5.8 million in federal stimulus money for an expansion and face lift at its Corryville campus." The office of US Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-OH) "announced Tuesday that the project will be included" in the US VA share of the stimulus package. The $5.8 million "will pay for an expansion of the catheterization lab, repairs to the center’s exterior and conservation measures, according to Driehaus’ office."
      On its website, KKXV-TV Waco, TX (3/26) noted that "stimulus funds recently announced for McLennan County includes $7.9 million" for VA funding.
      Paper Says Payments To Disabled Vets Would Be Better Spent On Agency Overhaul.   In an editorial, the Ironton (OH) Tribune (3/27) notes the VA "announced earlier this week that it would be instituting a new program that will provide a one-time $250 payment to some veterans and their families as part of the federal stimulus program. Officials claim this shows a commitment to our veterans and hopes this will help them during these economic times, while also stimulating the economy." But the Tribune, which says the program "completely ignores the big picture problems with the VA and how it spends its money on veterans," argues that the VA "needs to spend this money on a comprehensive overhaul of how it operates."

2.      Professor Sees Upcoming Problems In Civil-Military Relations.   The Fort Leavenworth (KS) Lamp (3/27, King) reports, "A panel of academic and national policy experts met to discuss the future of civil-military relations March 23 in the Lewis and Clark Center’s Eisenhower Auditorium. The theme of the panel was ‘Coming Soon: A Crisis in Civil-Military Relations?’ based on an article of the same title by Dr. Richard Kohn, professor of history at the University of North Carolina." Kohn, who was featured on the panel, "said…Obama purposely sought out other former senior military leaders for his administration," including Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki. According to Kohn, Obama "has arranged it so that he is free to ignore the advice of his uniformed chiefs and field commanders because he will have cover of General Jones by his side, and other senior military in his administration." The Lamp adds, "The four areas where Kohn sees potential civil-military problems in the future are in Afghanistan, the budget, gays in the military and the restructuring of military forces away from Cold War structure. He said budgetary issues would create the most problems of those four areas."

3.      Paper Says New VA Hospital In Colorado Could Lead To Increased Development.   In continuing coverage, the Aurora (CO) Sentinel (3/27) editorializes, "The announcement of funding for a stand-alone Veterans Affairs hospital at Fitzsimons is not just good news; it is testimony to patience, perseverance and cooperation." The "VA hospital may provide the tipping point, long expected and predicted for development at Fitzsimons and on the Anschutz Medical Campus." For this, there is "plenty of credit to go around." For instance, "Bob Beauprez and now Ed Perlmutter, two congressmen from different parties, have kept two VA directors, Jim Nicholson and Eric Shinseki, from two administrations on task."

4.      Obama Pledges Support For Iraq, Afghanistan Vets.   The American Forces Press Service (3/27, Miles) reports, "President Barack Obama promised during an online town hall meeting" Thursday "to ensure returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan receive the benefits and support they deserve." Obama "said his Department of Veterans Affairs budget proposal — with the biggest funding increase in 30 years – will help provide more services to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury." The President also "called the high homeless rate for veterans — multiple times that of nonveterans –’inexcusable.’" But Obama "emphasized that ‘government alone can’t do it’ in supporting the country’s veterans." The AP (3/27) publishes a similar story.

5.      Overton Brooks VAMC Offers Help To Struggling Vets.   On its website, KTAL-TV Shreveport, LA (3/26, Bennett) said "there is help for struggling veterans" returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The Overton Brooks VA Medical Center "in Shreveport has a transition program that offers counseling and mental health screening."

6.      VA Agrees To Pay For Iraq Vet’s Surgery.   On its website, CNN (3/26, Drash) noted that Iraq vet Erik Roberts "underwent his 13th surgery recently to save his right leg from amputation. Imagine his shock when he got a bill for $3,000 for his treatment." The Department of Veterans Affairs "has now decided to pay his bill, but only after prodding" from a US Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), "who got involved after CNN brought it to his attention." Brown’s office "issued a written statement, applauding the decision."

7.      Task Force "Racing" To Inspect US Military Showers In Iraq.   The AP (3/27, Hefling) says a US military task force is "racing to inspect more than 90,000" US-run facilities "across Iraq to reduce a deadly threat troops face far off the battlefield: electrocution or shock while showering or using appliances." Senior Pentagon officials "were on Capitol Hill this week for briefings on the findings." Near the end of its story, the AP notes that a veteran named Ron Vance "retired on partial disability from the Veterans Affairs Department for a ‘cognitive disorder’ related" to an incident "in a shower building in 2004 in Taji, Iraq."

8.      Wounded Warriors Arrive In New Hampshire For Recreational Activities.   The Manchester (NH) Union Leader (3/27, Kepple) said approximately "two dozen wounded military personnel received a hero’s welcome" this week "as they arrived in New Hampshire for a weekend of skiing and snowboarding" organized by the Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project, "an endeavor that lets wounded troops take part in sports activities as part of their rehabilitation."

9.      Officials Decide Not To Locate VA Rehab Center In Tequesta, Florida.   The Palm Beach (FL) Post (3/26, Dipaolo) said a "plan to turn a village eyesore into a rehabilitation center has been dropped." Officials from the US Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital in Riviera Beach "last month toured a vacant building south of the village’s water treatment plant on Old Dixie Highway. They considered leasing the 115,000-square-foot building for about 90 veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse problems." But VA officials "determined the building is about three times larger than what they need." Instead, VA officials "would rather have a new treatment center on the grounds at the Riviera Beach hospital on Blue Heron Boulevard, said VA spokeswoman Mary Anne Goodman."

10.    San Diego Vet Center Moves To Renovated Facility.   The fifth story in the La Jolla (CA) Light’s (3/26) "News Brief" column noted, "The San Diego Vet Center has moved to a renovated facility at 2790 Truxtun Road, Suite 130, in Liberty Station, where the former Naval Training Center was located." The facility "offers psychological counseling for military-related trauma by small, multidisciplinary teams of providers (some of which include combat veterans themselves)."



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