Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country 8-12-09


What’s Inside Today’s Local News for Veterans

1. Shinseki: VA Will Build Hospital In New Orleans.  
2. VA, California Reach Agreement On Post-9/11 GI Bill.  
3. Shinseki To Speak At Blinded Veterans Association Convention.  
4. Wisnieski Takes Over As Director Of VA Gulf Coast. 
5. VA Urged To Push For Intranet Service.  
6. VA Begins Comprehensive Health Study Of 60,000 New Veterans.  
7. College In Miami Conducting Veterans Resource Fair.  
8. Vet Says He "Was Venting" When He Threatened To Bomb Bay Pines VAMC.  
9. During Listening Tour On Health Care, Veteran’s Wife Says VA System "Moves Very Slow."  
10. Over 100 People Attend Open House For New VA Clinic In Minnesota


1.      Shinseki: VA Will Build Hospital In New Orleans.   In continuing coverage, the WWL-TV New Orleans, LA (8/11, Edwards) website reported, "Theriot Adoff served in the Korean War, is proud of his military background, and is just one example of the hundreds of veterans in the New Orleans region who have been without full medical care through the Veterans Affairs system locally since" Hurricane Katrina. On Tuesday, however, Adoff "heard the words he has waited for," words "that give him hope. And he heard it from the United States secretary of Veterans Affairs. ‘We are going to build that hospital,’ Eric Shinseki said to a group of veterans gathered for the national Amvets Convention Tuesday evening." WWL added that the "project has been plagued with red tape, and ongoing squabbles between LSU and Tulane on a teaching hospital that would adjoin" the VA hospital, but Shinseki "said there is…movement regarding the disputes between" the two schools. 

2.      VA, California Reach Agreement On Post-9/11 GI Bill.   In continuing coverage, the Lake County (CA) News (8/12) reports, "The state of California" and the US Department of Veterans Affairs "have reached a joint solution concerning the implementation of the new Post-9/11 GI Bill in California. Prior to this joint solution, the implementation of this measure prevented California veterans planning to attend private colleges and universities from receiving their full education benefits." California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose "administration worked collaboratively" with the US VA "and the University of California to resolve the situation," commented on the news, saying, "I want to personally thank" US VA Secretary Eric Shinseki "for his commitment to resolving this matter and working with us to ensure California’s veterans can get the education benefits they deserve." 

3.      Shinseki To Speak At Blinded Veterans Association Convention.   The Portland (OR) Business Journal (8/12) reports the Blinded Veterans Association, a "group that advocates for veterans blinded by improvised explosive devices and other weapons," will hold its annual convention next week in Portland. Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, "a veteran, Sen. Ron Wyden," and US Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki "will speak at the event. About 140 veterans are expected to attend."  

4.      Wisnieski Takes Over As Director Of VA Gulf Coast.   On its website, WLOX-TV Biloxi, MS (8/11) said, "There’s someone new overseeing the healthcare of Gulf Coast veterans." Thomas Wisnieski, the new director for the Veterans Affairs Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System, expressed excitement about the post, saying, "The VA Gulf Coast has experienced incredible growth within its clinics." WLOX added, "Kathleen Fogarty," the "interim director for the VA Gulf Coast," will "return to Fayetteville, AR as the director of Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks." 

5.      VA Urged To Push For Intranet Service.   In an opinion piece appearing on the Huffington Post (8/11), Iraq veteran Luis Carlos Montalván said that while "millions of disabled veterans received" a $250 check as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, "many veterans are shaking their heads at this effort to stimulate the economy" when the backlog of veterans’ disability claims is "now at 1,000,000" and there are "well-documented VA hospital problems ranging from dilapidated buildings to substandard care." Montalván continued, "Perhaps we can serve" veterans "by replicating or expanding the very successful intranet service, Army Knowledge Online (AKO), into a Veterans’ Knowledge Online (VKO)," which would provide "all veterans and VA service providers alike with one-stop, on-line, permanent storage of veterans’ military, disability and medical documents," as well as improve "VA ‘processes, procedures and services.’ Isn’t that what VA Spokeswoman Katie Roberts expressed…when she said: From day one [VA] Secretary [Eric] Shinseki has made it a top priority to understand where within the department we can improve our processes, procedures and services." Montalván went on to say that the VA "should ask Congress to fund the change required to install a VKO." 

6.      VA Begins Comprehensive Health Study Of 60,000 New Veterans.   The East Montgomery County (TX) Observer (8/12) reports, "The Department of Veterans Affairs has initiated a large, long-term study to look carefully at a broad array of health issues that may affect Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans and their counterparts who served during the same time period." The "VA’s ‘National Health Study for a New Generation of US Veterans’ will begin with 30,000 veterans deployed to OEF/OIF and 30,000 comparison veterans who were not deployed." The "study will compare the deployed and non-deployed veterans in terms" of a number of factors, including "chronic medical conditions," psychological conditions, and "VA disability compensation." The Observer notes that the VA "has contracted with an independent veteran-owned research firm, HMS Technologies Inc., to collect the data." 

7.      College In Miami Conducting Veterans Resource Fair.   The South Florida Sun-Sentinel (8/12, 199K) reports, "Miami Dade College is holding a free resource fair" Wednesday "for current and former military personnel who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The fair is part" of the school’s "effort to serve veterans and their families by connecting them with service providers and community agencies that offer resources that can help ease the transition to civilian life." Among the "organizations that have confirmed their attendance are:
The Miami Vet Center, the Center for Independent Living in South Florida, Legal Services of Greater Miami, and the University of Miami Mailmen Center for Child Development."  

8.      Vet Says He "Was Venting" When He Threatened To Bomb Bay Pines VAMC.   The Tampa (FL) Tribune (8/11, Silvestrini) reported, "Ronald F. Barnes says he was just ‘blowing off steam’ when he called the Veterans Administration and threatened to bomb the Bay Pines VA Hospital." Barnes, a disabled Vietnam vet, "says he didn’t mean it when he called Sen. Bill Nelson’s office and the VA repeatedly and threatened to ‘whack’ the person the government had appointed to help him handle his finances. ‘I was venting at the time,’ Barnes…told" a Federal judge this week. The veteran, who "said he has post-traumatic stress disorder from Vietnam and is bipolar," is "facing a possible prison term after pleading guilty to using a telephone to threaten to blow up a building."  

9.      During Listening Tour On Health Care, Veteran’s Wife Says VA System "Moves Very Slow."   The Midland (TX) Reporter-Telegram (8/12, Campbell) reports, "Elisa Manning said the government-run Veterans Administration health system is the best we’ve got, but it’s not what she wants for her husband," a Vietnam vet suffering from cancer. The Reporter-Telegram notes that Elisa Manning went on to say the VA system, which has "amazing" people, "moves very slow. My point is this is the best of government health care we have now and it’s not what I want to see for the future of my children and my grandchildren." Manning "was one of at least 200 people who attended" US Rep. Mike Conaway’s "listening tour on health care reform Monday at Midland Memorial Hospital’s medical staff conference room. Her sentiments were echoed by many attending who do not want government providing health care." 

10.    Over 100 People Attend Open House For New VA Clinic In Minnesota.   In continuing coverage, the Rochester (MN) Post-Bulletin (8/12, Hansel, 43K) reports, "More than 100 people turned out Monday to tour the new Veterans Administration Community-Based Outpatient Clinic in northwest Rochester. The open house included visits from state legislators, Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede and city council members," but the VA’s Dr. Mike Koopmeiners "said the real dignitaries were the veterans. ‘The only reason we’re here is because of you,’ he said."




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