Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country 6-09-09


What’s Inside Today’s Local News for Veterans

1. VA To Begin Work On 90 Hospitals In 38 States.  
2. Prior To VA, Doctor Spent Time In Iraq.  
3. VA Hospital Patients Go Fly Fishing.  
4. Judge Says VA Doctors Were Not Negligent In Vet’s Overdose.  
5. Unconventional Remedies Seen As Potentially Dangerous To Cancer Patients.  
6. Spokane VAMC Preparing For National Veterans Wheelchair Games.  
7. Defendant Pleads Guilty To Selling Drugs To VA Patients. 
8. Woman Sentenced To Prison For Stealing Veterans Benefits.
9. Medal Of Honor, VA Hospital Namesake Passes Away.  
10. St. Cloud VAMC Honors Several Employees During Mid-May Ceremony.


The Canandaigua, NY, VA Medical Center recently formed a coalition with six other groups to create a digital one-stop shop for returning troops looking for veteran services in New York. Partnering with the American Red Cross, Army Strong Community Center, Monroe County Veterans Service Agency, Rochester Vet Center, The Salvation Army and Veterans Outreach Center, the VAMC helped launch the Help Base Web site at The Web site offers an easy way to sift through a comprehensive list of resources that address the many stress-related problems of returning home, such as alcohol abuse or marital issues. The Web site gathers veteran support groups, financial assistance programs, child care options, employment assistance, mental health and substance abuse services as well as legal assistance in one complete package. It allows veterans or family members to search for information by choosing the type of services they are seeking in specific counties. Help Base then generates a specific resource list with descriptions of the programs that match needs and military status.


1.      VA To Begin Work On 90 Hospitals In 38 States.   The AP (6/9, Blackledge) reports, "Eager to show action on the ailing economy," President Barack Obama "promised Monday to speed" Federal money "into hundreds of public works projects this summer, vowing that 600,000 jobs will be created or saved. Surrounded by his Cabinet, Obama emphasized what has become a dominant issue of public concern – an economy that keeps bleeding jobs." The AP adds, "Federal agencies will release billions of stimulus dollars to states in the coming months," with the VA starting "work on 90 medical centers in 38 states."
      VA Acknowledges Mistake In Report.   In a related story, ABC News (6/8, Chinn, Hallihan, Tapper) website said on its "Political Punch" blog that it has found a "questionable claim in the White House’s ‘100 Days, 100 Projects’ report. Stimulus plan No. 7 reads as follows: ‘#7: The New York States Veteran’s Home at St. Alban’s in Jamaica, NY is using $109.5 million in Recovery Act spending’" for a number of projects. But St. Albans "is slated to receive $3 million, according to Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-NY," who said, "The $109 million dollars mentioned in the White House report was given to the state for all VA facilities." The US VA "acknowledged the mistake in the report."

2.      Prior To VA, Doctor Spent Time In Iraq.   The Martinsburg (WV) Journal (6/9, Marshall) profiles Dr. Anthony "Tony" K. Rice," a "physician at Martinsburg’s Veterans Affairs Medical Center." Before working for the VA, Rice spent "five months in…Iraq," in 2003, treating "soldiers for everything from dehydration and food poisoning to trauma as the result of shrapnel wounds and improvised explosive devices." Rice "said he feels he can relate to veterans" he treats at the hospital, "given his own military service."

3.      VA Hospital Patients Go Fly Fishing.   The Harrisburg (PA) Patriot-News (6/8, Schneck) said that after disabled Iraq veteran Gilbert Cruz spent some time fly fishing recently, he described the experience as "awesome," adding, "You forget everything you brought back from Iraq." That is "the reaction the members of the Doc Fritchey Chapter of Trout Unlimited…were hoping for when they decided to stage" a Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) "event for residents and patients" of the Veterans Affairs medical center in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. The Patriot-News noted that PWHFF was launched "in 2003 at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C."

4.      Judge Says VA Doctors Were Not Negligent In Vet’s Overdose.   Courthouse News Service (6/9, Sanders) reports Arif Khan and Erika Navarro, two Veterans Affairs doctors, "were not negligent in prescribing anti-depressants to a mentally ill veteran who died of a medication overdose," a Federal judge "in Dallas ruled. Freddie Tarver, who was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder in 1979, received treatment for hallucinations" at the Dallas VA Medical Center "in September 2004."

5.      Unconventional Remedies Seen As Potentially Dangerous To Cancer Patients.   The AP (6/9, Marchione) reports, "Studies estimate that 60 percent of cancer patients try unconventional remedies and about 40 percent take vitamin or dietary supplements, which do not have to be proved safe or effective and are not approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration." One "supplement that can pose a risk for prostate cancer patients is DHEA, which can affect testosterone levels, said Phyllis Matthews, a urology nurse practitioner at a group of Veterans Affairs clinics in the Denver area." The AP adds, "In September, the Federal Trade Commission charged five companies with making false and misleading claims for cancer cures and reached settlements with six others. The agency also started a bogus cures" website.

6.      Spokane VAMC Preparing For National Veterans Wheelchair Games.   The Spokane (WA) Spokesman-Review (6/9, Graman) reports, "The world’s largest annual wheelchair sporting event rolls into Spokane next month after strategic planning of military proportions. In fact, it has taken 62 separate committees at Spokane Veterans Affairs Medical Center to prepare for the 29th National Veterans Wheelchair Games," which run from July 13-18. The "games are sponsored" by the US Department of Veterans Affairs "and the Paralyzed Veterans of America. Organizers at Spokane VA hope to recruit 3,000 volunteers, including 400 VA employees."

7.      Defendant Pleads Guilty To Selling Drugs To VA Patients.   On its website, WIBC-FM Indianapolis, IN (6/8, Stearns) reported, "The third of four persons charged with selling illegal drugs to patients" at the Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center "has agreed to a guilty plea deal." According to the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, Marcus Harris’ plea agreement "calls for a 25-year" jail sentence. Prosecutor’s spokesman Mario Massillamany "says Harris was considered the main player in the case." WIBC added, "Two other defendants in the case had pled guilty prior to Harris’ plea," while a "fourth suspect is still awaiting trial."

8.      Woman Sentenced To Prison For Stealing Veterans Benefits.   The Bangor (ME) Daily News (6/9, Ricker) reports, "A 58-year-old woman who collected 18 months’ worth of veterans benefits sent to her dead aunt must pay back the government and serve a short prison sentence, according to her sentence imposed Monday" in Federal court. US District Judge John Woodcock "sentenced Lorraine Rich, who now lives in Bradenton, Fla., but who lived in Waterville when the crime occurred, to four months in prison and three years of supervised release. She also was ordered to repay $27,675, the amount of veteran spouse benefits she collected illegally."

9.      Medal Of Honor, VA Hospital Namesake Passes Away.   In continuing coverage, an obituary in the Washington Post (6/9, Davis) notes that 84-year-old George Wahlen, "who as a Navy pharmacist’s mate during World War II tended to more than a dozen casualties on Iwo Jima while seriously wounded himself and who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions, died June 5 in Salt Lake City at the Veterans Affairs hospital named in his honor." Wahlen "had lung cancer."
      The St. George (UT) Spectrum (6/9) reports, "On Oct. 5, 1945, President Harry S. Truman presented Wahlen with the Medal of Honor for Wahlen’s action at the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II."

10.    St. Cloud VAMC Honors Several Employees During Mid-May Ceremony.   The second item in the St. Cloud (MN) Times’ (6/9) "In Business" column notes that the St. Cloud Veterans Affairs Medical Center "recognized…several employees," including Penny Long, "during its Annual Employee Appreciation Week/Nurses Week Ceremony on May 14." Long, "nurse manager at the Brainerd Community Based Outpatient Clinic, as outstanding registered nurse in a non-traditional nursing role. She also won the VA Midwest Health Care Network Award for a registered nurse in a non-traditional nursing role."


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