Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country 3-31-09


What’s Inside Today’s Local News for Veterans

1. Shinseki Opens Winter Sports Clinic.  
2. VA Hospital Looking Into Father’s Concerns About Care Being Provided To Son. 
3. VA, DOD Create Group To Develop Joint Electronic Health Record.  
4. Obama Proposes Increased VA Budget.  
5. Rehab Center Hoping To Work More With VA Patients.  
6. Wife Wants Afghanistan Vet Out Of Jail And Receiving PTSD Treatment.  
7. VA Hospice Director Returns Home From Iraq.  
8. Women Veterans Honored In Illinois.  
9. Grand Junction VAMC Director Wants More Clinics, Telehealth Services.  
10. New VA Clinic Opens In Florida.


1.      Shinseki Opens Winter Sports Clinic.   In continuing coverage, the American Forces Press Service (3/31, Miles) reports, "Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki opened the 23rd annual National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic" Sunday "night, encouraging more than 400 participants he said had found their way ‘to the top of the mountain in search of miracles.’ ‘Thank you for your service. Thank you for your examples of courage and determination,’ the former Army chief of staff told the group, which includes about 150 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. ‘You have overcome a lot of obstacles in life to be here, and you will overcome many more by the time this clinic is over.’" According to the American Forces Press Service, the clinic, "jointly sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Disabled American Veterans, uses recreation as a rehabilitative tool for veterans with disabilities ranging from spinal cord injuries and orthopedic amputations to visual impairment and neurological conditions."
      In her "War Zone" blog for the New York Daily News (3/30), Stephanie Gaskell wrote, "The six-day event includes adaptive Alpine and Nordic skiing, rock climbing, scuba diving, trapshooting, wheelchair fencing, sled hockey, snowmobiling, and sled hockey." Gaskell noted that when Shinseki opened the clinic, he told the participating vets, "I hope you are as excited about the experiences you are going to have as all the rest of us are at being here to witness your triumphs."
      Arizona Vet Participating In Clinic.   The KNXV-TV Phoenix, AZ (3/28, Ramos) website profiled disabled Arizona veteran Michael Brady, who is participating in the clinic. KNVX added, "More than 65 active duty military personnel and veterans from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are participating" this year, "according to a news release."

2.      VA Hospital Looking Into Father’s Concerns About Care Being Provided To Son.   The Dallas Morning News (3/28, Trejo) said Rey Nambo is concerned that his son David "is not receiving adequate physical therapy and other help." David "has been severely disabled since last summer, when, as a 17-year-old" US Army Reserve recruit, "he collapsed during training at Fort Knox, Ky." Penny Kerby, a spokeswoman for the Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center, "said Friday that hospital officials were unaware of the concerns. ‘We’re sending a team to his house to find out what his needs are and make sure we are doing all we can,’ Kerby said." Part "of the frustration, Kerby indicated, could be related to the language barrier, although the hospital does have translators who have explained the situation to Nambo."

3.      VA, DOD Create Group To Develop Joint Electronic Health Record.   In continuing coverage, FierceHealthIT (3/31, Bowman) reports, "In an effort believed to have been started by the White House, the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs have created a group dedicated to forming" a joint "lifetime electronic health record exclusively for military members, past and present, and their families. Rear Adm. Gregory Timberlake will chair the group," which is "aimed at creating ‘a record which will cover everything from the accession of the service member to an application to the Veterans Cemetery Authority.’" Timberlake "says that the new record will be developed using service-oriented architecture. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki initially talked about the project with the White House staff before it was unveiled by Timberlake to the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association last week."


4.      Obama Proposes Increased VA Budget.   In the middle of a story on President Barack Obama’s 2010 budget, the Washington Post (3/31) reports, "Obama proposed an 11 percent increase in the Department of Veterans Affairs budget, following through on a campaign pledge to expand veterans’ access" to healthcare. The budget "would expand eligibility" for VA healthcare "to non-disabled veterans earning modest incomes," and "provide additional funding for programs that help returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries. Other extra funding would help upgrade the VA information technology system to enhance electronic medical records and more quickly process disability claims; expand services to homeless veterans; and better implement the new GI bill."

5.      Rehab Center Hoping To Work More With VA Patients.   The Springfield (MO) News-Leader (3/31, Kathleen O’, Dell) says "a handful of vets" suffering from traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, are being sent by the Department of Vetertans Affairs to receive outpatient rehabilitation "at the Missouri Rehabilitation Center, or MRC, in Mount Vernon." But now, the "center is courting" the VA "to send returning soldiers" with TBIs for inpatient treatment as well. The "idea has the attention" of US Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), "who toured the facility Monday with VA representative Doris Cassity and MRC neuropsychologist Dr. Thomas Martin." Blunt "said he’d like the VA to make better use of the facility by veterans," but "the VA and MRC have to work out the details of referrals, contracts with health care providers, VA benefits coverage and billing, Cassity said."

6.      Wife Wants Afghanistan Vet Out Of Jail And Receiving PTSD Treatment.   Florida Today (3/30, Moody) noted that the trial of Afghanistan vet Joseph Brian Odom, who is accused of shooting a gun at his wife, was expected to start on Monday. Odom’s wife, Rita, has "argued that he shouldn’t be incarcerated but should be in residential treatment" for post-traumatic stress disorder. But US Department of Veterans Affairs officials "said the agency has no control when someone…has a case pending in the justice system. ‘Once someone is arrested for something, the VA has no interaction,’ said Dr. Dennis Platt, team leader for PTSD at the Orlando VA Medical Center."

7.      VA Hospice Director Returns Home From Iraq.   WHIO-TV Dayton, OH (3/30, 6:23 a.m. ET) broadcast that Colonel Kathleen Hayes, who "was overseas for a year" in Iraq, was greeted by her family Sunday at the Dayton International Airport. Hayes "is the chief Army nurse for the 345th Combat Support Hospital…out of Jacksonville, Florida. She also works" at the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center’s hospice director. She "told our crews she is just glad to be home."

8.      Women Veterans Honored In Illinois.   On its website, WLS-TV Chicago, IL (3/30) reported, "At the Thompson Center on Monday," Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs Director Dan Grant "presented a proclamation from the governor declaring Monday Women Veteran’s Recognition Day. The proclamation was presented to guest speaker Captain Gracie Scambiattera of Illinois’ 126th air refueling wing. Also honored with a special recognition" Monday "was Army Specialist Danielle Green-Byrd, an area veteran who was wounded during combat in Iraq."

9.      Grand Junction VAMC Director Wants More Clinics, Telehealth Services.   The Grand Junction (CO) Sentinel (3/31, Mawdsley) profiles 46-year-old Terry Atienza, the new director of the Grand Junction Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The Sentinel notes that because the hospital services "such a large area, particularly a large rural area," Atienza "wants to expand health care opportunities to veterans through smaller, community-based clinics and Telehealth services."

10.    New VA Clinic Opens In Florida.   The Lakeland (FL) Ledger (3/31) reports, "Veterans have a new clinic they can use in Lakeland" because the "Department of Veterans Affairs’ Community Based Outpatient Clinic opened Monday on South Pipkin Road." The facility "has a staff of about 60, soon to grow to about 80."



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