Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country 4-13-09


What’s Inside Today’s Local News for Veterans

1. To Conduct "Top-To-Bottom" Review Of Incident With Radio Reporter.  
2. Systems Said To Be "On Track" For New GI Bill Rollout.
3. Veteran Who Lost Both Legs And Suffered Brain Injury In Afghanistan Now Helping Others.  
4. Iraq Veteran Resists Call To Deploy To Afghanistan.  
5. VA Nursing Initiative Brings In Five More Collegiate Nursing Programs.  
6. VA Coordinating Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training Program.  
7. Charity Raising Funds For TBI Research.  
8. FDA Recommends Increased Use Of Anti-Psychotic Drug.  
9. Post-Deployment Counseling Said To Have Improved.  
10. Nonprofit Counseling Center Seeks Federal Financing To Assist Vets.


1.      VA To Conduct "Top-To-Bottom" Review Of Incident With Radio Reporter.   In continuing coverage, the Washington Post (4/13, A3, O’Keefe, 696K) notes that on Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs "will begin a review of last week’s confiscation of a WAMU radio reporter’s recording equipment during a public forum at the VA hospital in the District. ‘We want to do a top-to-bottom review in order to learn what happened, why it happened, and what lessons can be learned from the experience,’ VA spokeswoman Katie Roberts said in a statement" Sunday, adding, "We need to grow from this incident in order to determine how we can better provide media access while supporting the privacy of our" veterans. In her statement, Roberts also said, "From day one [VA] Secretary [Eric] Shinseki has made it a top priority to understand where within the department we can improve our processes, procedures and services." Ed O’Keefe also noted this story in his "Federal Eye" blog for the Washington Post (4/12, 696K).
      Reporter Says Story Is Not About Him.   In her "FedBlog " (4/10) for Government Executive (4/10), Alyssa Rosenberg wrote, "My friend David Schultz is a reporter," and last Tuesday, "he was covering a public meeting" at the VA "hospital here in Washington, D.C." But "when he started interviewing a veteran who had complaints about the care he was receiving at the hospital, Gloria Hairston, a communications specialist at the VA," along with security guards at the meeting, "demanded the memory card to his recorder, and threatened him when a vet tried to give Dave his phone number so they could talk later." Dave "got harassed, threatened, and ultimately had his property stolen," but he is "being characteristically modest about this. He emailed me this morning to say: ‘This story is not about me. This story is about the VA going to extraordinary lengths to prevent veterans from speaking to the media. Instead of talking to me, journalists should be going to the VA hospital to hear the vets’ truly horrendous stories.’"

2.      Systems Said To Be "On Track" For New GI Bill Rollout.   The lead story in George W. Reilly’s "Veterans’ Journal" column in the Providence (RI) Journal (4/13, Reilly) says, "All systems are on track for this summer’s rollout on Aug. 1 of the new Post-9/11 GI Bill, which Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said he expects to have as big an impact as the original World War II-era GI Bill of Rights." Shinseki "said the message being sent with the new bill is unmistakable. ‘I think young veterans who come back and participate in [in the Post 9/11 GI Bill] will begin to understand how much they are valued [and] how much their service is valued, just by the opportunity here,’ he said."

3.      Veteran Who Lost Both Legs And Suffered Brain Injury In Afghanistan Now Helping Others.   The Asbury Park Press (4/12, Gladden) reports, "As an army of Howell South Little League players entered Deerfield Park for the first time this season, many strained their heads to catch a glimpse of U.S. Army 1st Lt. Brian Brennan, who leaned against his gray pickup truck in the packed parking lot. ‘I hope I can get my picture taken with him,’ one player said of the soldier and hometown hero who would throw out the league’s first pitch later that day. … It’s been close to a year since a May 7 roadside bomb in Afghanistan blew apart the Humvee Brennan was riding in, leaving him to deal with a host of injuries – including amputation of both his legs, an acute brain injury, collapsed lung, internal bleeding, ruptured spleen, multiple compound fractures to his left arm, and a shattered femur bone. Brennan’s improved

4.      Iraq Veteran Resists Call To Deploy To Afghanistan.   The Wichita Eagle (4/12, Wenzl) reports, "Here’s what Jon Bland has done for our country so far: After the New York towers burned on 9/11, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, qualified for officer training, and — to the dismay of his wife and parents — volunteered for combat duty. ‘I wanted to do something for my country,’ he said at the time. He spent 15 months on an extended combat tour in Baghdad, leading a U.S. Army scout platoon on daily patrols, hunting for insurgents during the surge. His 20-man platoon captured more than 60 insurgents. He lost 40 pounds walking around carrying 80 pounds of armor, rifle and bullets under the desert sun. He picked up body parts of American soldiers blown up in roadside bombings. He called in helicopter strikes on snipers. He saw Sgt. Alex Funcheon of Wichita blown up right in front of him. He won the Bronze Star for service in combat. He acquired what his clinical psychologist later wrote might be post traumatic stress disorder. His marriage broke up in September. ‘My fault,’ he said. ‘I had Iraq issues.’ He dreamed night after night about Funcheon and the other guys in that Humvee blowing up in a ball of flame. A week ago Saturday, Bland — honorably discharged from the Army eight months ago — opened a letter outside his mailbox in Raleigh, N.C., and read that he’s being called back into the Army, to fight in Afghanistan. … He does not want to go."

5.      VA Nursing Initiative Brings In Five More Collegiate Nursing Programs.   In continuing coverage, the American Forces Press Service (4/12, Carden) noted, "Five collegiate nursing programs" recently "became the newest" of 15 "partners in a Veterans Affairs Department initiative to bring more nurses into the national work force and improve the quality" of healthcare "veterans receive, the director of the VA’s Nursing Academy pilot program told American Forces Press Service. In a telephone interview, Linda D. Johnson said the partnerships address the national shortage of nurses that’s been a major concern" of healthcare "providers for several years."
      Waynesburg University One Of Five Programs Selected.   In a related story, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (4/11) said the VA "has selected the Waynesburg University School of Nursing and the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System as a site for the VA Nursing Academy’s Enhancing Academic Partnership Program." Waynesburg "will offer classes at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Highland Drive, to encourage VA nurses to complete their bachelor of science in nursing."

6.      VA Coordinating Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training Program.   The North County (CA) Times (4/13, Warth) reports, "Inside a warm, white-topped greenhouse in Valley Center," Iraq veteran Colin Archipley "and some other veterans are working on the future" at Archi’s Acres, Archipley’s farm. The "recycling process Archipley uses to grow bio-hydroponic organic basil may be part of

the future of farming, especially in Southern California, where water is in increasingly short supply. But for the men working with Archipley last week, their future is much more personal." The Times says the veterans "are part of a unique program" known as Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training, which is "coordinated by the Department of Veterans Affairs to offer a second chance, as well as a peaceful environment, to vets."

7.      Charity Raising Funds For TBI Research.   The Joliet (IL) Herald News (4/13, Graf) reports Nick-A-Palooza, a "music festival with live bands and family entertainment," will "raise money for research, education and awareness concerning" traumatic brain injury (TBI). The event, to be held "May 16 at Paradise Bay Bar & Grill, 105 W. 10th St. in downtown Lockport," will "benefit the Nick Kot Charity," which "works with a physician" at the Edward Hines Jr. Veterans Affairs Hospital. The charity "helps to fund the physician’s clinical trials," which focus on helping troops who come home with TBIs, according to Trish Kot, mother of Nick Kot, who died in 2003 as the result of a TBI.

8.      FDA Recommends Increased Use Of Anti-Psychotic Drug.   In continuing coverage, the Charleston (WV) Gazette (4/12, Robinson) noted, "Despite testimony from the families of two" Iraq veterans "who died in their sleep while taking Seroquel, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended that the anti-psychotic drug" be "labeled as a supplemental medication for depression. Currently, Seroquel has FDA approval for treating schizophrenia and bipolar disorder," but the "potential market for Seroquel as a treatment for depression and anxiety, which affect a larger percentage of the population, represents a significant opportunity for drug maker AstraZeneca P.L.C."

9.      Post-Deployment Counseling Said To Have Improved.   The Washington Post (4/12, C1, Davenport) reports, "The first time Sgt. Kyle Payne came home from Iraq, the Army’s counseling program was well-intentioned, he felt, if mind-numbingly boring. ‘It was ‘Welcome back. Don’t kill yourself. Don’t kill your family. Now go on your merry way,’ ‘ the reservist recalled. … So when Payne, recently home from his second Iraq tour, was again ordered to go through post-deployment counseling, he groaned at the prospect. But it soon was clear that things had changed. The event was held at a downtown Baltimore hotel on a recent Saturday, not on an impersonal Army base. Instead of being excluded, families were encouraged to attend. The presenters were some of the best mental-health professionals in the state — university psychologists, Veterans Affairs social workers and private-practice therapists. A psychologist from the Johns Hopkins medical school set the tone by opening the event with a frank discussion about suicide, a growing problem in the Army. Although he had quibbles with parts of the program — did he have to discuss suicide at 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday? — Payne, 30, of Alexandria couldn’t help but say, ‘They put a lot of thought into this.’"

10.    Nonprofit Counseling Center Seeks Federal Financing To Assist Vets.   The New York Times (4/12, A14, Johnson, 1.12M) reported Sunday that the nonprofit group Pikes Peak Behavioral Health, "a mental health counseling center with a growing number of military veteran clients and patients, wants to buy a half-built foreclosed apartment project near the Fort Carson Army base. Using military veterans to complete the construction project, the group would sell the buildings and use the proceeds to buy another property, and repeat the process." Pikes Peak "also wants to hire veterans as ‘peer navigators’ in a buddy system to guide wounded and troubled

veterans into civilian life, helping them with things like job applications and the fine print at the department of motor vehicles. All of this, of course, would take money – at least $4 million, though the group hopes for more." And with "money from the $787 billion" Federal stimulus package "beginning to filter down through state and local governments, Pikes sees its main challenge now as getting a piece of it." The group, however, is "also trying to build support for a Department of Defense appropriations bill that would channel startup money to it."



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