Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country 8-11-09


What’s Inside Today’s Local News for Veterans

1. Duckworth: VA Is Undergoing A "Major Transformation." 
2. Some Affected By A-Bombs, Including Shinseki Relative, Hope For Obama Visit.  
3. Providence VAMC Conducting Reintegration Study.  
4. VA Expands Clinic In Minnesota
5. Woman Arrested For Stealing VA Benefits.
6. VA Reviewing Locations For Proposed VA Clinic In North Carolina. 
7. VA Employee’s Efforts Result In Safer Patient Handling Techniques For Nurses.  
8. Woman Accused Of Using VA Hospital’s Computer System To Obtain Morphine.
9. Jindal Says Construction Will "Absolutely" Begin In Next Year On Hospital Complex.  
10. Ground Broken On Truman Veterans Hospital Expansion Project.

     1.      Duckworth: VA Is Undergoing A "Major Transformation."   The Charleston (WV) Gazette (8/11, Nyden, 46K) reports L. Tammy Duckworth, a US Department of Veterans Affairs official, "told a Charleston audience on Monday that the VA is in the process of ‘a major transformation.’" Duckworth, "the VA assistant secretary for public affairs," who "spoke during ‘CARE-NET: Caring Beyond the Yellow Ribbon,’ a day-long conference" for veterans, "talked about her personal experiences as an example of why reforms are needed within the VA to make it easier for other caregivers to gain quick access to veterans’ medical records." After losing both legs while serving in Iraq, Duckworth said she encountered difficulties receiving care in a "broken" VA system. The Gazette, which notes that during her comments, Duckworth praised VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, adds, "The Rev. Ricardo Flippin," who "hosted the main program" at Monday’s conference, "is an example of problems with the VA" because he suffered an "internal radiation injury" while receiving brachytherapy at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. Meanwhile, US Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), another speaker at the conference, stressed that the VA needs "a new emphasis" on mental health issues.

2.      Some Affected By A-Bombs, Including Shinseki Relative, Hope For Obama Visit.   In the first of a two-part article, Japan’s Mainichi Daily News (8/4) reported, "Sixty-four years after the dropping of the A-bombs on Japan, survivors now hope to pass on their memories of their pain and suffering" to US President Barack Obama. One "of those affected by the calamity" is Ken Shinzeki, who "shares a great-great-grandfather" with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. The Daily News added that while no US president "has ever set foot" in Hiroshima or Nagasaki, where the bombs fell, "hopes are high for a visit from Obama. Eric has never visited either," which led Ken Shinzeki to say, "Among US veterans, there are many who say that the nuclear attacks were necessary, so I think it might be hard for him (Eric) to visit Hiroshima. But still, I’d like him to come here and understand."
      Relative Wants Shinseki To See Hiroshima.   In the second (8/6) part of the two-part article, the Daily News noted that the "Shinseki family holds a reunion every few years," and last year, a "relative from Oregon visiting Ken Shinseki asked him to come to the next reunion in Hawaii, giving him a chance to meet" Eric Shinseki "for the first time." Ken Shinseki "already knows what he wants to say to him. ‘Try and imagine: standing where the bomb fell, looking round and seeing where the homes of so many people lived, all destroyed in an instant.’"

3.      Providence VAMC Conducting Reintegration Study.   In the lead story for his Providence (RI) Journal (8/11) "Veterans’ Journal" column, George W. Reilly notes that researchers at the Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center "are in the final year of collecting data in a three-year research study to learn more about the community reintegration experiences of veterans." The study "interviews veterans ages 18 to 59 who have served or are currently serving on active duty with any military service branch including Guard and Reserve units. Those who have children or are working or who have been deployed in support of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan may be eligible to participate." Reilly adds, "This study will be used to understand the needs of veterans, help improve the quality of services offered to them, and to develop a short, computer-administered survey that is used by the VA to help assess service members’ reintegration into their communities."

4.      VA Expands Clinic In Minnesota.   On its website, KAAL-TV Rochester, MN (8/10, Taing) reported, "The newly expanded" Veterans Affairs "clinic in Rochester promises to accommodate many more patients." The VA, meanwhile, "has plans to open another site in South Central Minnesota in 2010."

5.      Woman Arrested For Stealing VA Benefits.   New York’s Long Island Newsday (8/11, Valenti, 380K) reports a 52-year-old "Rockville Centre woman who continued to collect US Department of Veterans Affairs benefits four years after the designee died was arrested Monday and charged with grand larceny, police said. Nassau County police said Rosanne Hirsch…surrendered to detectives in Westbury at 8:20 a.m. Monday." Hirsch "was charged with third-degree grand larceny and is to be arraigned Monday in First District Court, Hempstead."

6.      VA Reviewing Locations For Proposed VA Clinic In North Carolina.   The Fayetteville (NC) Observer (8/11, 60K) reports, "It could be several weeks before the Fayetteville Veterans Affairs Medical Center announces a location for a proposed outpatient clinic in Robeson County. A spokesman with the office said bids for the proposed project are being reviewed." The "goal of the clinic is to provide primary care and mental health services to rural communities, VA officials said."

7.      VA Employee’s Efforts Result In Safer Patient Handling Techniques For Nurses.   The Washington Post (8/10, 652K), working in conjunction with the "Partnership for Public Service, a group seeking to enhance the performance" of the Federal government, profiled Audrey Nelson, a "medical researcher at the Department of Veterans Affairs" whose "pursuit of a solution to the high rate of nursing injuries led to a $200 million three-year program funded by the VA, designed to radically change the way nurses handle patients nationwide. The program discourages manual lifting, promoting the use of mechanical technologies instead." Nelson’s "efforts also have resulted in a safe patient handling curriculum at 26 of the nation’s nursing schools."

8.      Woman Accused Of Using VA Hospital’s Computer System To Obtain Morphine.   On its website, KOAT-TV Albuquerque, NM (8/10) reported, "Veterans receive physician care and needed medicine inside" the Raymond G. Murphy Veterans Affairs Medical Center, "but according" to a recent Federal "court indictment, fraud found its way in too." In the indictment, "Aimee Kouba is accused of using the medical center’s computer system to help herself to morphine." KOAT said it "asked the VA medical center about how Kouba is connected to the hospital and why she would have access to the computer. All a VA spokesperson would say is ‘the matter is being handled by the office of the inspector general and we can not comment on it.’"

9.      Jindal Says Construction Will "Absolutely" Begin In Next Year On Hospital Complex.   The WWL-TV New Orleans, LA (8/10, Paulsen) website said, "It has been talked about, fought over and dreamed of for years – a biomedical complex for downtown New Orleans with a teaching hospital" and a Veterans Affairs "hospital at its core, spawning medical research and other high tech business and a rebirth of the one of the true growth industries in the metro area pre-Hurricane Katrina – the biomedical industry. But for some time," the "state’s part of the project, what has been called the LSU teaching hospital, was bogged down about where to build, how big make it, who controls what and other controversies." Now, however, "according to Gov. Bobby Jindal, significant progress has been made." Jindal "said ‘absolutely’ we’ll see construction on the teaching hospital and the VA hospital in the next year."

10.    Ground Broken On Truman Veterans Hospital Expansion Project.   In continuing coverage, the KRCG-TV Columbia, MO (8/10, Slavit) website reported, "National, state and local dignitaries broke ground" Monday "on a $25 million expansion project at Columbia’s Truman Veterans Hospital." The project, which "replaces outdated operating room facilities with state-of-the-art equipment," is "scheduled to be finished by 2012."



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