Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country 4-10-09


What’s Inside Today’s Local News for Veterans

1. Obama Announces Joint Electronic Record System For Vets.  
2. University Of Hawaii Nursing School Selected For VA Program.  
3. Ribbon Cutting Ceremony To Be Held For Clinic In New York.  
4. Caregiver Sentenced For Mistreating Vet.  
5. VA Helping Provide Adult Day Care To Vets.  
6. American Indian Memorial Planned At Riverside.  
7. VA Employee Plays on High School Team  
8. Going Fishing For Recovery.  
9. Rolling Thunder Veterans’ Group Helps Pay Former Soldier’s Bill.  
10. Illinois Man Awarded Medal Of Honor Dies At 89.  


1.      Obama Announces Joint Electronic Record System For Vets.   The AP (4/10) reports, "President Barack Obama on Thursday promised a more efficient record system to ease delays" in healthcare "for wounded veterans, as the government copes with more than 33,000 military personnel injured in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." Under the new system, an "electronic record would follow a service member in the military and then later in the Veterans Affairs Department’s medical system." The White House "said the program being undertaken by the Pentagon" and the VA will be the "next leap to delivering seamless, high-quality care, and serve as a model for the nation." Reuters (4/10), Star And Stripes (4/10, Shane), and the Fox News (4/9) website take similar note of this story.
      Federal Computer Week (4/10, Mosquera) notes that when he announced the record initiative, Obama "said it was time ‘to give our veterans a 21st-century VA,’ adding that there is no comprehensive system that enables a smooth transition of health care records between" the DOD and the VA. According to Obama, this "results in extraordinary hardship for an awful lot of veterans, who end up finding their records lost, unable to get their benefits processed in a timely fashion."
      Lawmakers Stress Importance Of Joint Record System.   NextGov (4/10, Brewin) notes US Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA), the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, "said he views development of joint electronic health records as a ‘matter of life or death.’ Without a complete record, VA clinicians might not have the information from Defense needed to properly treat a patient," Filner said. Meanwhile, US Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN), "the committee’s ranking member, said he hoped Obama’s announcement would put an end to what he described as ’20 years of bureaucratic infighting’ over development of joint records."
      President Also Backs Two-Year VA Funding.   CQ (4/10, Johnson) reports Obama "signaled Thursday that he will ask Congress to provide" VA funding "two years ahead and will push for a system that streamlines the transfer of medical records between the Defense Department and the veterans’ health system. ‘The care our veterans receive should never be hindered by budget delays,’ Obama said Thursday, adding" that he and Shinseki "have worked together to support advanced funding for veterans medical care." CQ adds, "Obama also called for multibillion-dollar increases to the VA’s budget, including the expansion of education benefits and programs for homeless" vets. US News And World Report (4/10, Ruggeri) publishes a similar story.
      In a related story, the Fayetteville (NC) Observer says, "Legislation working its way through Congress could improve veterans care by planning" the VA "budget two years in advance." The "Senate version of the bill has wide bipartisan support." Meanwhile, the advanced funding idea itself is supported by the President "and others" in his Administration.
      Advocates, Lawmaker Praise Obama.   After noting that the White House said the Joint Virtual Lifetime Record program will be part of the DOD’s 2010 healthcare budget, the Washington Times (4/10, Weber, Lengell) reports, "Joe Violante, the national legislative director for Disabled American Veterans," who attended Thursday’s White House event, "said Mr. Obama…reiterated a promise to get the additional money for veterans through advanced appropriations so officials could plan better. ‘I’m really excited to see him keep the promise,’ said Mr. Violante," who added, "I think he is really paying attention to what the needs are."
      The Helena (MT) Independent Record (4/10, Kidston) says veterans have been a top priority for US Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) "for the past two years, dating back to when" the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee member "began holding field hearings across the state with Montana veterans." And on Thursday, "Tester praised" Obama, saying his "commitment to the sacred trust we have with those who serve is clear in both the DOD and VA budgets, and in the strong leadership of secretaries Gates and Shinseki."
      Obama Budget Increases Spending On Vets By $25 Billion.   The New York Times (4/10, A16, Alvarez), which says the President’s "announcements are part of a larger effort to improve services for veterans," points out that Obama’s "budget for 2010 increases spending for veterans by $25 billion and funnels more money into programs for those who suffer mental health problems" and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
      Budget Said To Contain "Substantial" Mental Healthcare Funding Boost.   The Washington Post (4/10, A2, Brown) notes that in his remarks Thursday, Obama "noted the toll" of TBI and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. He "said his 2010 budget contained the largest single-year increase in VA funding in 30 years, with substantial increases for mental health screening and treatment."
      US Military Making "Broad Effort" To Better Treat Head Injuries.   The AP (4/10, Hall) reports, "Every soldier who’s gone to war in the past year paused before leaving to take" a series of brain tests. And now that "some of these troops have returned, they’re taking a fresh round of tests" that became mandatory in all branches of the US military last year. The tests are "part of a broad effort by the military to better treat head injuries." Funding for such treatment "is expected to increase under" President Obama, "who said Thursday his new military and veterans affairs budget will focus on diagnosing brain injuries and psychological disabilities that have gone untreated."

2.      University Of Hawaii Nursing School Selected For VA Program.   The AP (4/10) reports, "The University of Hawaii School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene has been selected to be a funded site for the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Nursing Academy’s Enhancing Academic Partnerships Program. Hawaii Democratic Sens. Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye said Thursday in a news release that VA Secretary Eric Shinseki informed them of the selection." The lawmakers "say the partnership will benefit UH nursing students and veterans across the Pacific." The Pacific Business News (4/10) and the Honolulu Advertiser (4/10) publish similar stories.

3.      Ribbon Cutting Ceremony To Be Held For Clinic In New York.   The Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette (4/10) reports the Bath Veterans Affairs Medical Center "will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. Monday for its new primary care clinic." The facility "is a culmination of renovation and construction work in the main hospital building, and combines what used to be two primary care teams."

4.      Caregiver Sentenced For Mistreating Vet.   The AP (4/10) reports, "A former employee at a veterans nursing home" in Pueblo, Colorado, "has received a two-year deferred sentence for mistreating a Medal of Honor recipient in his care. Fifty-two-year-old Donald Morton of Las Animas pleaded guilty to misdemeanor neglect of an at-risk adult, " veterans Raymond Murphy, "and was sentenced last week by Pueblo County Judge Ernest Ruybalid." Murphy "died two years ago at age 77 while living at the Veterans Affairs nursing home in Pueblo, where Morton was employed. Another employee, 56-year-old Darrel McTaggart of Ordway, was charged with assault on an at-risk adult for allegedly harming another resident of the home," but that "charge was later dismissed for lack of evidence."

5.      VA Helping Provide Adult Day Care To Vets.   The North Andover (MA) Eagle Tribune (4/10, Moffett) says, "New Hampshire elderly veterans are getting out and socializing," playing "indoor basketball, bowling, even working out at SarahCare Adult Day Services. The facility received a five-year Veterans Administration contract to provide day care services for eligible veterans at no cost to their families. It is one of 10 facilities" in the New Hampshire "to have VA-approved and funded day health care services, said Jim Thompson, the public affairs officer for the Manchester Veterans Administration. ‘Day health care services are part of the VA’s benefits program under the umbrella of home and community-based care,’ said Sandra Munsschell, the communications officer for VA New England. ‘We’re trying hard to raise awareness about those programs.’"

6.      American Indian Memorial Planned At Riverside.   Indian Country Today (4/9, Morales) said that when it "comes to honoring those who served and died, the Riverside National Cemetery memorializes in dramatic fashion; and the next one will no doubt measure up to its antecedents. Its elaborate design, although presently conceptual, has been drawn, vetted and waiting final funding and approvals. But it will also be striking because it will be the only one" of the "country’s 144 national cemeteries" to "collectively memorialize…American Indian veterans." The VA, however, "must still approve and oversee planning and construction" of the American Indian Memorial.

7.   VA Employee Plays on High School Team Here’s a quick trivia question — How many VA employees are leading their high school basketball team in scoring while also serving as team captain? The answer: only one. Brandon Gleason, a senior at Frederick Douglass High School in Columbia, Mo., is completing his second year in a unique "partnership in education" program between his school and the Columbia VA Medical Center. A straight “A” student, Gleason works as a medical supply aide in the medical center’s sterile processing department. Begun in 1998, the partnership allows up to 10 students to spend half a day in the classroom and the rest in a paid, part-time job. In exchange, the VA employee association assists with scholarships and students volunteer time at community events, such as Veterans Day activities. To date, more than 100 students have participated in the partnership, including some who later became permanent VA employees. 

8.      Going Fishing For Recovery.   The CNN (4/9) website.

9.      Rolling Thunder Veterans’ Group Helps Pay Former Soldier’s Bill.   The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (4/10, Bowling).

10.    Illinois Man Awarded Medal Of Honor Dies At 89.   The AP (4/10, Suhr).



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