Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country 7-06-09

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What’s Inside Today’s Local News for Veterans

1. Senate Subcommittee Expected To Consider Advance VA Funding.  
2. College Professor Affiliated With VA Wins Award For Physical Therapy Work.  
3. VA Says More Female Vets Are Winding Up Homeless.  
4. Wounded Warrior Project Allows Disabled Veterans To Participate In Outdoor Activities. 
5. Brewin: Choose GI Bill Carefully.  
6. New Program Creates College Courses Exclusively For Veterans.  
7. Universities Work To Ease Veterans’ Transition.  
8. Universities Announce Their Participation In Yellow Ribbon Program.  
9. Louis A. Johnson VAMC Honors Returning Vets.  
10. Disabled Vet Transitioning To New Life At Home.

     

1.      Senate Subcommittee Expected To Consider Advance VA Funding.   CQ (7/6, Johnson) reports, "A Senate appropriations panel is expected to include advance funding for some veterans’ medical programs when it meets Monday to consider a spending bill to fund the Veterans Affairs Department and military construction projects. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., chairman of the Senate Appropriations Military Construction-VA Subcommittee, told" VA Secretary Eric Shinseki "during a June 11 hearing to expect as much." CQ adds, "The House version of the spending bill (HR 3082)…includes roughly $48.2 billion for advance funding. By putting fiscal 2011 money into the bill, lawmakers are aiming to put the politically sensitive programs on a two-year budget cycle, making their funding more predictable. Bills authorizing the move have been passed by the House (HR 1016) and approved" by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (S 423).
      In a related story, CQ (7/6, Epstein) says the Senate Appropriations Committee "plans markups of up to five more spending bills this week: Agriculture and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, set action Tuesday, and the Financial Services, State-Foreign Operations and Energy and Water bills, scheduled for Thursday markups."

2.      College Professor Affiliated With VA Wins Award For Physical Therapy Work.   The Coral Gables (FL) Gazette (7/3) reported, "University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Associate Professor Robert Gailey, P.T., Ph.D., a leader in the field of physical therapy, was honored with the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) Henry O. and Florence P. Kendall Award for Excellence in Practice." Gailey, "who is also the director of the Functional Outcomes Research and Evaluation Center at the Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center, was appointed by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to the Advisory Committee for Prosthetics and Special Disabilities Programs." The Gazette added, "In his capacity as a special advisor" to the US Department of Defense, Gailey "has worked with service members and veterans suffering blast injuries, specifically limb amputations as a result of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. His work with the defense department and the VA has resulted in numerous multi-disciplinary workshops for military medical service personnel."

3.      VA Says More Female Vets Are Winding Up Homeless.   The Boston Globe (7/6, Bender, 349K) reports, "The number of female service members who have become homeless after leaving" the US military "has jumped dramatically in recent years, according to new government estimates, presenting" the Department of Veterans Affairs "with a challenge as it struggles to accommodate…hundreds of thousands" Iraq and Afghanistan vets. The "share of female" vets "who end up homeless, while still relatively small at an estimated 6,500, has nearly doubled over the last decade, according" to the VA. And "while…services have been successfully reaching out to male" vets "through shelters and intervention programs, women are more likely to fall through the cracks. ‘While the overall numbers [of homeless vets] have been going down, the number of women veterans who are homeless is going up,’ Peter Dougherty, director of homeless veterans programs" at the VA, "said in a telephone interview." The Globe adds, "In recent days, senior members of Congress have called for an expansion of some of the VA’s programs to ensure they are properly suited to meeting the needs of the growing female population." They "have sponsored legislation that calls for $50 million in extra funding over the next five years to allow" the VA and the Labor Department "to make special grants to homeless veterans with children." The "legislation

would also allow the Labor Department to fund facilities that provide job training and child care for female veterans."

4.      Wounded Warrior Project Allows Disabled Veterans To Participate In Outdoor Activities.   The South Florida Sun-Sentinel (7/4) reports on the Wounded Warrior Project, "organization that helps those injured in the military adjust to life once home. A big part of that adjustment is getting the soldiers involved in outdoors activities such as fishing, hunting, scuba diving, skiing and bicycling. To injured veterans, whether they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or lost limbs, simply catching a fish or learning scuba or riding a bike – things they thought they would never be able to do – enhances their recovery and their lives. Most important, though, is the chance to get together with other soldiers who have suffered similar ordeals. And there are few better places to do that than in a boat. When they weren’t catching fish, the soldiers talked of their experiences in Iraq, in hospitals and at home. They talked about how they got injured from improvised explosive devices. Not once did they complain about their injuries or their service."

5.      Brewin: Choose GI Bill Carefully.   In his "What’s Brewin’" blog for NextGov (7/3) Bob Brewin said an Iraq vet friend of his "signed up for the post 9/11 bill, only to learn later that he would receive about half of the $1,300-a-month payment he would have received under the Montgomery bill." The vet "tried to change his benefits to the Montgomery bill but found that VA had processed his application for benefits in just two weeks — proving that in this case, the new and improved GI bill benefits processing system is indeed working at the advertised pace." So, at the moment, Brewin added, "it seems my pal has little hope, because VA told him he had made an ‘irrevocable’ election of benefits, even though he won’t receive a check until August. But if VA wants to make benefits irrevocable, I think it needs to do a better job of explaining the differences in benefits under the two bills." Brewin suggested that the "VA develop and quickly post a chart" on its GI bill website the site that offers a side-by-side comparison of the benefits available under both bills. Until then, my buddy suggests veterans consult Military.com which offers a nifty online guide for the two bills."

6.      New Program Creates College Courses Exclusively For Veterans.   The AP (7/5, Barr) reports, "Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are being swallowed up by the crowds. In class, many scan the windows for snipers and warily size up fellow students. Set adrift from the military, they can grow discouraged and disappear. And so the professor [John Schupp] who never wanted to fight realized he had a battle on his hands. The ones who had protected him for so long needed his protection now. … A history buff, he pored over books and dissected statistics about veterans, searching for an answer in the numbers. He read about the 7.8 million World War II veterans who used their GI bill benefits to earn college diplomas. He prodded military officials for facts. Today, just 8 percent of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are fully using the $36,000 for college guaranteed by the GI bill, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. The military doesn’t track graduation rates. The veterans of the ‘greatest generation’ had proved it could be done, he thought. What was going wrong? Slowly, the big idea lit up his brain. The proof was in the past. In 1945, veterans outnumbered everyone else on campus. ‘They succeeded as a group, as a unit,’ he says excitedly, as if sharing a secret. He leans forward, gripping his coffee mug. ‘So I’m recreating the same thing that happened then.’ What he needed to do seemed simple: Form a military unit within the classroom. He needed to disguise counseling sessions as English and Math 101. The unit would survive together, no soldier left behind. If veterans took classes together – without other students around – they could help each other through the transition to civilian life." Sen. Sherrod Brown "has sponsored a bill inspired by Schupp’s program that authorizes grants for colleges to

establish campus centers for veterans. It was folded into the Higher Education Act of 2008 and awaits funding from Congress."

7.      Universities Work To Ease Veterans’ Transition.   The AP (7/5, Hall) reports, "With a fattened GI Bill covering full tuition and more, the number of veterans attending college this fall is expected to jump 30 percent from last year to nearly half a million. That’s left many universities looking for ways to ease the transition from combat to the classroom. Vets already in school have run into problems including campus bureaucracy, crowds that can trigger alarm instincts honed by war and fellow students who don’t understand their battlefield experiences. In response, colleges across the country are offering veterans-only classes, adding counselors and streamlining the application and financial aid process. Under the new GI Bill expanded by Congress last year, the number of military veterans either starting or continuing their studies this fall is expected to top 460,000, up from 354,000 last autumn, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs."

8.      Universities Announce Their Participation In Yellow Ribbon Program.   The Ithaca Journal (New York) (7/4, lawyer) reports, "Veterans looking to take advantage of GI tuition benefits starting Aug. 1 will get the chance to have some of their tuition to Cornell University or Ithaca College subsidized. The schools joined a group of 71 private, non-profit colleges and universities in New York state and 580 nation-wide participating in the Yellow Ribbon G.I. Education Enhancement Program."
      The Highland Community News (7/4) reports, "Veterans who attend the University of Redlands will be able to receive a reduction in fees, thanks to the university’s recent selection as a Yellow Ribbon Program Partner by the Department of Veterans Affairs."

9.      Louis A. Johnson VAMC Honors Returning Vets.   On its website, WBOY-TV Clarksburg, WV (7/3, Sullivan) noted that on Thursday afternoon, the Louis A. Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center "in Clarksburg held a ‘Pre-Independence Day Celebration,’" in which it "honored military servicemen and women returning from deployment." The hospital "also hosted several other state" and Federal "veterans agencies that provided information on benefits for the returning veterans," including the hospital’s own new Mobile Care Clinic.

10.    Disabled Vet Transitioning To New Life At Home.   The Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal (7/6, Elson) says that when Bryan Florence took the stairs during a recent visit to the Veterans Affairs medical center in Louisville, it was "symbolic of the sometimes difficult steps" he "is taking to start a new life after losing part of his right leg in an explosion in Iraq." Florence "is one of 31,368" US military members "wounded in action in the Iraq war through June 29, the Department of Defense says. Another 4,307 have been killed, including 68 from Kentucky and 96 from Indiana. He also is one of 802 members of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force who have lost limbs in Iraq." The Courier-Journal adds that Florence, who has "started participating in a medical, counseling and social service program" at the VA hospital "to help injured veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan make the transition to a different" life, "said he would like to help other wounded" vets.

 

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