Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country 5-20-09


What’s Inside Today’s Local News for Veterans

1. Shinseki Honored At West Point.  
2. Suicide Said To Be An "Ever-Growing Problem" For Returning Vets.  
3. FBI Investigating Veterans Alliance Founder.  
4. Money To Fund Tuscaloosa VAMC Upgrades.  
5. Jack C. Montgomery VAMC "Putting Greater Emphasis" On Women’s Clinic.  
6. VA Moving Clinic In Hopes Of Serving More Veterans.  
7. Senate Approves Four VA Nominees.
8. GAO Reviewing US Army’s Ability To Efficiently Test Body Armor.
9. Enemy In The Mirror. 
10. Future Of Brain Injury Research Program To Be Evaluated.


Randi Woodrow, chief of the physical therapy at the VA Greater Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Healthcare Center, is the 2008 recipient of the GEICO Public Service Award for her “incredible work” in the field of physical rehabilitation. The award honors her physical therapy work and as well as the many hours she devotes to educating the public about physical therapy. Woodrow has worked throughout her career to promote the benefits of adaptive sports – serving as a national official for the National Veterans Golden Age Games from 2002-2007, and founding the VA Greater Los Angeles Annual Adaptive Surf Camp for disabled veterans. She also spearheaded the first VA sponsored Summer Sports Clinic. The annual Public Service Awards honor five career federal employees and retirees for their outstanding achievements in the fields of substance abuse prevention, fire prevention and safety, physical rehabilitation and traffic safety/accident prevention. Woodrow receives a cash award, and all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. for a special recognition ceremony, and a commemorative plaque.

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1.      Shinseki Honored At West Point.   In continuing coverage, the Middletown (NY) Times Times Herald-Record (5/20, Bosch) reports that during Tuesday’s "annual Alumni Review" at the US Military Academy at West Point, honorees "included Gen. Eric Shinseki, current" US secretary of Veterans Affairs.

2.      Suicide Said To Be An "Ever-Growing Problem" For Returning Vets.  
      The Fresno (CA) Bee (5/20, Anderson) reports the $5 million building, which "should open in 2010," will "serve veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, among others, who have substance-abuse problems and mental-health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder." The Bee also says the building "marks the beginning of a five-year VA building plan for Central California." Construction "should begin later this year on a new spinal-cord injury rehabilitation center that will include outpatient mental-health services," according to "David Phillips, public affairs director." Meanwhile, a "third building" for mental health "services will open in the next couple of years. Other building projects include…a new community clinic in Oakhurst, and a new location for the clinic in Merced." The Merced (CA) Sun Star (5/20) runs the same story.

3.      FBI Investigating Veterans Alliance Founder.      The Denver Post (5/20, 211K) reports the FBI "formally announced" Tuesday "it is determining whether 31-year-old…Strandlof, a former mental patient who claimed to be a wounded Iraq war veteran and 9/11 survivor, used lies to solicit donations for veterans and the homeless. Last week Board members of the Colorado Veterans Alliance uncovered numerous lies Strandlof, the founder of the organization, had told and asked the FBI to investigate his fund-raising activities."

4.      Money To Fund Tuscaloosa VAMC Upgrades.   WBRC-TV Birmingham, AL (5/19, 10:09 p.m. CT) broadcast, "Nineteen million dollars in upgrades are coming" to the Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The "money goes towards two different projects on the campus. Two current community living centers will be renovated, and a subdivision of 12 cottages will be built in 2010."
      Run For The Wall Riders Visit Tuscaloosa VAMC.   The Tuscaloosa (AL) News (5/20, Reynolds) reports, "The entrance" to the Tuscaloosa VAMC "was lined with American flags and a saber archway" Tuesday "as more than three hundred motorcycles roared into Tuscaloosa as part of the Run for the Wall." The "group, made up mostly of veterans, has been making the 10-day trek from San Diego, Calif. to Washington, D.C.’s Vietnam Memorial since 1989." The News adds, "The VA treats a lot of Vietnam veterans and most of the residents come out to see the riders, VA public affairs officer Damon Stevenson said. ‘They love it,’ Stevenson said. ‘It means a lot to them that they think enough of them to stop by — especially fellow veterans.’" The WVUA-TV Tuscaloosa, AL (5/19) website published a similar story.

5.      Jack C. Montgomery VAMC "Putting Greater Emphasis" On Women’s Clinic.   The Muskogee (OK) Phoenix (5/20, Purtell) reports, "With more female veterans returning home from military duties," the Jack C. Montgomery Veterans Affairs Medical Center "is putting greater emphasis on their outpatient women’s clinic." US Army veteran "Aleatha Franco, 39, said she was a patient there for six years before she recently moved to McAlester. ‘It’s a really good facility, especially for women with post-traumatic stress disorder,’ she said." Franco also "said the clinic responds to all health issues…and treats all patients with respect."

6.      VA Moving Clinic In Hopes Of Serving More Veterans.   The Brainerd (MN) Dispatch (5/20, Richardson) reports, "A new, expanded clinic opening in June in Brainerd is designed to provide more services and greater access to military veterans." The Department of Veterans Affairs "is moving its Brainerd Community Outpatient Clinic into the former World on Wheels Skate Center just off Jackson Street by the Brainerd Area Civic Center." Officials "hope the move will give the clinic greater visibility and thus allow it to reach more eligible veterans."

7.      Senate Approves Four VA Nominees.   In continuing coverage, the Federal Times‘ (5/19, Neal) "Fedline" blog reported, "The Senate approved more than a dozen nominees Monday, including" Roger Baker "to be an assistant secretary of Veterans Affairs," William Gunn "to be general counsel of the VA," and Jose Riojas and John Sepulveda, both to be an assistant secretaries of the VA. Washington Technology (5/20, Wakeman) also notes Baker’s confirmation.

8.      GAO Reviewing US Army’s Ability To Efficiently Test Body Armor.   The Washington Times (5/20, Carter, 74K) reports, "Body-armor manufacturers are raising concerns that a Pentagon decision to move armor testing from private labs" to the Army’s Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland "will increase costs and slow the availability of lifesaving equipment as thousands of additional" US "troops head to Afghanistan." According to the Times, those "concerns have prompted the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, to open an inquiry." On Tuesday, however, the Army "said it is satisfied with the pace, quality and cost of testing at Aberdeen."

9.       Enemy In The Mirror.   The Washington Times (5/20, 74K) editorializes, "Suicide is the third-leading noncombat cause of death" in the US military, "according to Defense Department data," but some "overzealous Army commanders appear to categorize private gun ownership, rather than depression and desperation, as the problem. In March," some soldiers "at Fort Campbell, Ky., were told they would have to start registering their privately owned arms with their command." That "program has…been suspended," but an Army spokesman "confirmed" that there have been other "efforts to collect soldiers’ personal gun-ownership data," and "acknowledged" that such efforts have "been at least partially driven by the Army’s suicide problem." The Times argues that while the Army needs to do more for troubled soldiers, registering "legal guns clearly is not the answer."

10.    Future Of Brain Injury Research Program To Be Evaluated.   The Austin (TX) American-Statesman (5/20, Toohey) reports, "Congressional staffers will visit Central Texas on Thursday to evaluate whether a brain injury research program housed" at the University of Texas (UT) "should move to Waco. The $6 million-plus Brain Imaging and Recovery Laboratory, where the Department of Veterans Affairs rents a state-of-the-art brain scanner from UT to study traumatic brain injury, has been on ice since early 2008. Research was halted after the program’s director, Robert Van Boven, accused his superiors of fraud and mismanagement prior to his 2007 arrival." The "congressional staffers work" for the House Committee on Veterans Affairs "and are scheduled to visit the Central Texas VA headquarters in Temple."
      KXXV-TV Waco, TX (5/19, 10:06 p.m. CT), which aired a similar report, noted, "The Waco VA is in the middle of a $50 million expansion to make it a leading center for research and treatment for post- traumatic stress disorder."



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