Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country 5-18-09

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What’s Inside Today’s Local News for Veterans

1. Veteran Warns Of Potential For Mistaken IDs.
2. Spokane Vet Center Offering Veterans Assistance Workshop.  
3. Returning Veterans Face Tight Job Market.  
4. Cincinnati VA Medical Center Holds Welcome Home Celebration.  
5. VA Official Says Patients Are Not Notified Of Equipment Problems.
6. Army Veteran Who Lost Legs In Iraq Returns Home To Hero’s Welcome.  
7. Well-Known Suicide Prevention Researcher Passes Away.  
8. Volunteers Give "External Facelift" To North Chicago VAMC. 
9. Camp Liberty Shootings Sparks Discussion Of Mental Health Issues.  
10. Social Worker Uses Horses To Treat PTSD. 

     

1.      Veteran Warns Of Potential For Mistaken IDs.   The Courier Herald (5/16, Miller) reports, "Robert Mansfield Price, Jr., has issued a warning to all veterans – check and double check the identification number assigned to them when they receive their medical treatment and/or any information or correspondence with the Veterans Administration. … Price went to the Carl Vinson VA Med Center in Dublin. Price was given an ID card to use every time he came to the VA for treatment, which over time generated a thick medical record file. A ll of that was handled correctly, but it turns out the number he was given by ‘regional’ to file a disability claim was incorrect and each time he attempted to file a disability claim the clerk used the number he had been assigned to pull up the medical records of Robert M. (Merrell) Price (not the same man as the Laurens County resident). Yet, Robert Mansfield Price, Jr., never knew his claim number actually belonged to another man with nearly the same name. ‘I got a stack of medical records two feet high and it’s all my stuff, but your medical records and your administrative records are two different things,’ said Price. ‘I’m Robert Mansfield Price, Jr. They gave me Robert Merrell Price’s (disability) claim number,’ he said. ‘This went on for 16 years,’ said Price, adding he never had any reason to believe his records had been confused with those of another Robert Price. ‘I kept applying and reapplying and they kept turning me down.’ Price said the 16 years were hard on him because he could not get any disability benefits and had to try to support his family without an ability to get a job."

2.      Spokane Vet Center Offering Veterans Assistance Workshop.   In a story that "first appeared in the May issue of The Fig Tree, a monthly newspaper that covers faith in action in the Inland Northwest," the Spokane (WA) Spokesman Review (5/17) reported, "Considering spirituality and community support key to healing, a Spokane veterans outreach counselor has arranged for a workshop to help clergy members assist servicepeople returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The four-hour workshop" will "train clergy and pastoral staff to offer understanding to veterans and their families as they deal with post traumatic stress. ‘Clergy and pastoral staff are in unique positions to assist returning servicemen and women and their families as they struggle to readjust to life at home. Churches can help people deal with internal wounds,’ said Mike Ogle of the Spokane Vet Center, who networked with Catholic Charities of Spokane and Lutheran Community Services Northwest to offer the workshop."

3.      Returning Veterans Face Tight Job Market.   The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (5/16, Jones) reports, "Among the legions on the unemployment line are a growing number of veterans…who have recently returned from Iraq or Afghanistan. Serving their country was one thing; finding gainful employment in a slumping economy is something else. While veterans have advantages such as generous education and vocational training benefits through the GI Bill and get preference for some state and federal civil service jobs, they still can be at a disadvantage. Some employers don’t consider their time in the military as experience, and that means they’re among the last hired and first fired. And although losing a job is devastating to anyone, it can be really difficult for people already trying to transition back into society after a year in a war zone."

4.      Cincinnati VA Medical Center Holds Welcome Home Celebration.   The Cincinnati Enquirer (5/17, Wilkinson) reports, "Of the thousands of area military veterans who came to the tarmac of Lunken Airport Saturday for the Cincinnati VA Medical Center’s Welcome Home Celebration, there were few who felt more welcomed than Ralph ‘Frankie’ Steward of Hillsboro. The U.S. Army veteran of Iraq, who left that war zone last fall when a bomb took off his right leg below the knee and left him with a panopoly of injuries, had just come home two days before after months of treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and rehab at Fort Meade, Md. Late Saturday afternoon, he was in a wheel chair, moving around the festival grounds with his parents, his wife and his three children at his side. In front of the brand new VA mobile health van – on display to the public for the first time Saturday – the Steward

family found itself surrounded by members of the Military Support Group that meets each month in Blue Ash – a group that had informally adopted Frankie as one of their own after they heard about his injuries last fall."

5.      VA Official Says Patients Are Not Notified Of Equipment Problems.   The AP (5/16, Poovey) reports, "Federal officials have been warning thousands of former patients they might have been exposed to infection at three Veterans Affairs facilities, yet other VA patients are not being warned about less serious mistakes with the same equipment at more than a dozen other VA centers. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ chief patient safety officer declined to identify those facilities. Dr. Jim Bagian (Bay-gin) said those instances did not involve an infection risk. More than 10,400 former patients have been getting follow-up blood tests because of VA mistakes with equipment used in colonoscopies at Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Miami and at the agency’s Augusta, Ga., ear, nose and throat clinic. A report Friday shows 7,615 of those veterans have been notified of test results. The report shows that as of Monday, five former patients at the three hospitals had tested positive for HIV and 34 had tested positive for hepatitis although it’s not clear if the infections came from VA treatment." Bagian told The Associated Press "that during nationwide safety review discussions, more than a dozen other facilities said ‘We are not doing this exactly right.’ He said those reports did not merit follow-up blood tests. ‘We looked at every one of those,’ he said. Bagian declined to give details on those problems but said there was no reason to involve patients. Bagian described the Murfreesboro, Miami and Augusta facilities as the only ones with ‘any kind of appreciable risk’ of exposing patients to infections. Bagian said expanding the follow-up blood tests to other locations would cause unnecessary patient ‘anxiety.’"

6.      Army Veteran Who Lost Legs In Iraq Returns Home To Hero’s Welcome.   The Long Island Newsday (5/17, Evans) reports, "He arrived at his Holbrook home Saturday via a parade that swept him there from Long Island MacArthur Airport, a smiling soldier who waved from a vintage Jeep and who was mobbed by thousands of neighbors, friends and total strangers. Army Cpl. Christopher Levi, who promised that he would learn to walk again after losing both legs in a Baghdad bomb attack last year, climbed from the Jeep on prosthetic limbs, then thanked the crowd for their outpouring of support. ‘It’s almost to the point of being totally overwhelming,’ said Levi, a member of the 10th Mountain Division, who arrived home for the first time since the bombing. ‘It’s so great to finally be able to come home. I don’t think I could be any happier without crying.’ Levi, 26, had both legs amputated above the knee during a St. Patrick’s Day 2008 attack, when a shaped-charge explosive shattered the Humvee in which he was riding through Baghdad’s infamous Sadr City neighborhood. Part of a bone in his right hand also was blown off during the incident while he was holding a radio to his ear. He has spent more than a year at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in Washington, D.C., healing from his wounds, undergoing corrective surgeries, and acquainting himself with the nuances of balance and endurance needed to get around on knees, shins and feet crafted from metal and plastic."

7.      Well-Known Suicide Prevention Researcher Passes Away.   In an obituary, the Los Angeles Times (5/18, Curwen, 797K) notes the passing of 91-year-old Edwin S. Shneidman, "a pioneer in the field of suicide prevention and a prolific thinker and writer who believed that life is enriched by contemplation of death and dying." The Times adds, "After serving in the Army during World War II," Shneidman "studied schizophrenia as an intern" at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Brentwood, where he "decided to research…two" veterans’ suicides. The "study of suicide and the more radical proposition that it could be prevented became his life’s passion."

8.      Volunteers Give "External Facelift" To North Chicago VAMC.   The Lake County (IL) News-Sun (5/16, Kramer) reports the North Chicago Veterans Affairs Medical Center "received an external facelift Thursday when a team of 100 volunteers spent the day beautifying the main entrance and courtyard. In honor of Armed Forces Day, volunteers from Chicago-area Home Depot stores landscaped" the facility. Home Depot "donated $10,000 worth of supplies for the day."

9.      Camp Liberty Shootings Sparks Discussion Of Mental Health Issues.   The Palm Beach Post (FL) (5/17, Musgrave) reports, "Having spent decades battling ghosts from his yearlong tour of Vietnam, Max Nelson can’t fathom how the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan cope. ‘They do two or three tours,’ the 63-year-old Greenacres man said. ‘I don’t think I could have handled a second tour. I just don’t think I could do it.’ As it is, Nelson is still dealing with the scars of the year he spent in the jungles of Vietnam – scars that were deeply hidden until the twin towers came tumbling down Sept. 11, 2001. When he was pressed into work to restore communications to the damaged but habitable Verizon Building next to the World Trade Center, all his memories of Vietnam came flooding back. … Now being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder, Nelson said he is hoping the men and women fighting today in the Middle East don’t wait 30 years to seek help. But the Army veteran suspects many will." According to the Post, "For years, veterans rights groups have complained that the military, while coming up with new and improved weapons to protect troops’ bodies, is not doing enough to protect troops’ minds. Those rumblings of dissatisfaction reached a crescendo last week when a 44-year-old Army sergeant from Texas on his third tour in Iraq allegedly shot and killed five fellow service members at Camp Liberty, a military base near Baghdad. A House committee quickly held hearings on a bill to increase funding for psychological services for members of the military. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is asking for an additional $300 million to improve mental health programs in the military."
      The Palm Beach Post (FL) (5/17, Musgrave) reports, "When now-retired Lt. Col. Allen West served in Desert Storm in 1990, he called home twice. The connection was scratchy. Each call lasted five minutes. Fifteen years later, when he returned to the Middle East as an adviser to the Afghan army, West had Internet access in his tent and unlimited cellphone use. The easy connection to family and friends back home was great. But he suspects it adds to the stress of troops who already are dealing in an uncertain world where enemies are impossible to identify and friends can turn out to be suicide bombers. ‘They are forced to balance both worlds – the combat world and the world back home,’ West said of the dilemma that technology poses to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. Alberto Fernandez-milo, a psychiatrist at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Riviera Beach, said there are many theories about what contributes to post-traumatic stress disorder. Despite its being recognized as a mental illness since 1980, much is still unknown."

10.    Social Worker Uses Horses To Treat PTSD.   New Jersey’s Observer-Tribune (5/17, Garber) reports, "Clinical social worker Donna Maglio is using the talents of one of the most empathetic of animals to help veterans heal the wounds of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Maglio, 29, runs her practice out of her family stable at Evergreen Acres on Drakestown Road where she takes advantage of the abilities of her horses to offer free therapy to veterans. But the therapy is different than other treatment involving horses as the veterans who Maglio treats never get on the horses but rather work with the horses to learn to understand their own issues. She is passionate about helping veterans as she has had many family members serve in the military, including her father, Anthony, 64, who is a Marine veteran of the Vietnam War."

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