Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country 9-02-09


What’s Inside Today’s Local News for Veterans

1. VA Attempting To Handle "Rush Of Last-Minute Claims" For New GI Bill Benefits.  
2. Red Cross Delivers Electronics To VA Hospital.  
3. Iraq Vet Granted Visitation With Daughter. 
4. Study Cites Aggressive Driving Habits Of US Troops Back From War.  
5. VA To Open Clinic In Selma, Then Turn Attention To Another City In Alabama.  
6. VA Planning To Open New Clinic In State Of Washington.  
7. VA Hospital Co-Sponsoring Event For Homeless Vets.  
8. VA Asks For Proposals On Building Advanced Research Center.
9. Some Pushing For Alternatives To LSU/VA Hospital Complex.  
10. Founder Says Guitar Program Is "Going Gangbusters" At VAPAHCS.  


National Veterans TEE Tournament (Training – Exposure – Experience)
The National Veterans TEE Tournament, previously a local program, is a new national event that provides legally blind and eligible disabled veterans an opportunity to develop new skills and strengthen their self-esteem through adaptive golf and bowling events. Each year, the TEE Tournament uses a therapeutic format to promote rehabilitation, fellowship and camaraderie among participants. The event provides eligible veterans with an opportunity to participate in therapeutic adaptive sporting activities which demonstrate that having a visual or physical disability need not be an obstacle to an active, rewarding life.  This great event will be held this year from September 7 – September 10, 2009 in Iowa City, Iowa.
To learn more, please visit;  National Veterans TEE Tournament 

1.      VA Attempting To Handle "Rush Of Last-Minute Claims" For New GI Bill Benefits.   In continuing coverage, the AP (9/2, Pope) reports, "Facing a rush of last-minute claims, the Department of Veterans Affairs has cut housing checks to tens of thousands of veterans returning to college under the newly expanded GI Bill but officials acknowledge several thousand may get their money later than expected." On Tuesday, however, "Ryan Gallucci of the advocacy group AMVETS said…he was pleased with the effort, considering the complexity of calculating awards and administering the new benefit." The AP notes that Keith Wilson, VA’s education service director, made similar comments, stating, "We’re going to continue to do yeoman’s work in making this better, but taking into account how far we’ve come we are pleased."
      However, the
Mobile (AL) Press-Register (9/2) takes a contrary stance in an editorial, arguing, "Delayed payments of student benefits under the new GI Bill are letting down military veterans and burdening colleges and universities. The cruel result can be what happened" to Iraq veteran Robin Hernandez of Daphne, Alabama. Hernandez "had enrolled and begun classes at Faulkner State Community College when the school notified him he would have to pay full tuition because it hadn’t been paid" by the US VA, where, as "of last week, more than 230,000 applications for benefits had not been processed." Hernandez "resolved the conflict with Faulkner State with the assistance" of US Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), but "it shouldn’t have taken a senator’s intervention." The Register concludes, "Colleges accepted their enrollments in expectation that the VA would live up to its end of the bargain," so if "processing all the financial aid applications requires transferring people temporarily from other positions or even asking Congress for help, that’s what the VA should do."
College In Colorado Participating In Yellow Ribbon Program.   The Durango (CO) Herald (9/2) reports Fort Lewis College (FLC) ")has been approved" by the VA "to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program," a provision of the new GI Bill that "covers a student’s tuition up to a certain level, and then matches further college aid given by a college or university." The "program is one of many FLC has been putting into place to increase the opportunities available to veterans."
Vets Learning Business Basics At Purdue University Workshop.   The AP (9/2) reports, "Veterans are learning the basics of starting their own businesses this week at a Purdue University workshop." The workshop, which "aims to train veterans disabled in Iraq and Afghanistan in entrepreneurship and small-business management," was "created at Syracuse University in 2007." 

2.      Red Cross Delivers Electronics To VA Hospital.   On its website, WTVQ-TV Lexington, KY (9/1, Lacy) reported, "Kentucky veterans who have sustained traumatic injuries received a…gift" Monday morning "from the Red Cross," which "completed a big delivery of electronics and some other supplies" to the VA medical center "on Leestown Road. New to the hospital are $12,000 in things like Wii Fit," iPods, "and CD players, which will be used during
therapy sessions. Most of the nearly 200 veterans at the facility are young" and "have sustained traumatic injuries in Iraq or Afghanistan. The funding came from a Department Of Defense grant." 

3.      Iraq Vet Granted Visitation With Daughter.   The New York Times (9/2, A19, Kocieniewski, 1.06M) reports, "After 10 months in Iraq and three months fighting with her former companion over access to their daughter, a National Guard specialist was granted daily visitation and weekly sleepovers with the 2-year-old girl" by a family court judge Tuesday in Paterson, New Jersey. The specialist, 22-year-old Leydi Mendoza, "said after the hearing that she was delighted by the judge’s temporary order," but she "and her lawyer…said she would still press for full custody." The Times adds, "Congressional leaders are negotiating over legislation to strengthen custody rights of service men and women who are deployed overseas."
Congress, Pentagon Urged To Help Protect Service Members’ Custody Rights.   The New York Times (9/2, A22, 1.06M) also discusses Mendoza’s case in an editorial, arguing, "Congress and the states need to consider legislation to protect all service members’ custody rights," while the Pentagon "should examine how it can enforce – not just help draft – family care plans." 

4.      Study Cites Aggressive Driving Habits Of US Troops Back From War.   USA Today (9/2, Zoroya, 2.29M) reports, "Aggressive driving habits used by troops to avoid ambushes or roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan may be placing them at risk on roadways at home, according to a small study that is prompting broader Pentagon research into the problem." The study "surveyed 150 members of the Minnesota National Guard who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a result of the findings, the Pentagon is paying to expand the study to survey 600 more troops, say" study co-author Todd Rockwood "and Navy Capt. E. Melissa Kaime, director of the Defense Department’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs."  

5.      VA To Open Clinic In Selma, Then Turn Attention To Another City In Alabama.   The Demopolis (AL) Times (9/1, Snow) reported, "The Tuscaloosa Veterans Administration Medical Center will open an outpatient clinic in Selma to improve access and quality care for veterans in this area, and Demopolis has been selected as the site of a future VA outpatient clinic." The Selma clinic "will have its grand opening on Thursday at 9 a.m. …. Something similar could be headed to our county in the near future. ‘Demopolis has been selected as a future site of a VA outpatient clinic,’ said Lee Belcher of Demopolis, the commander of Disabled American Veterans Chapter 31. ‘During a short visit with Alan J. Tyler, the director’" of the Tuscaloosa VAMC, "he stated that when the Selma outpatient clinic is fully operational, they will then focus on the Demopolis location." The Times added, "The Tuscaloosa VA was awarded $2 million in rural health outreach initiatives, and will use this money for additional outreach in the Selma area and selected rural areas in Alabama."

 6.      VA Planning To Open New Clinic In State Of Washington.   On its website, KELA-AM Centralia, WA (9/1) said, "It’s been in the planning stages for the past few years," and now, the US Department of Veterans Affairs "is planning to open a local out-patient based clinic." The VA "now says they hope to open the local facility in either Centralia or Chehalis by early next year." Meanwhile, a "spokeswoman for the VA says they plan to expand service from a Mobile Medical Unit which has been working in Morton, Shelton and Aberdeen." 

7.      VA Hospital Co-Sponsoring Event For Homeless Vets.   On its website, WOWK-TV Charleston, WV (9/1, DeLancey) reported, "A major event is planned for homeless veterans in the region" on Friday, September 11th, when the Veterans Affairs medical center, "along with Volunteers of America," sponsors "a ‘stand down’ from 10 a. m. to 3 p. m." Homeless veterans "will be offered a day of safety and security during the ‘stand down,’" which "will be held at the VFW Post 1064 on 7th Avenue in Huntington. A number of medical and personal matters will be addressed during the event." The Huntington (WV) Herald-Dispatch (9/2, 27K), which publishes a similar story, notes that "Lee Ann Bills, VA homeless coordinator," said the "stand down will provide basic health screenings, job and housing referrals and information about VA benefits and programs."  

8.      VA Asks For Proposals On Building Advanced Research Center.   Government Health IT (8/28, Mosquera) reported, "The Veterans Affairs Department wants to build an advanced research center dedicated to prototyping new health technologies, including systems to manage privacy and security to foster health information exchange and improve the quality of veterans’ healthcare." The agency has "asked firms to submit proposals for building an ‘Emerging Health Technologies Advancement Center,’ to be based in San Diego, Calif., to assess technology that would become available within five years, conduct tests of commercial and prototype software and participate in pilots and proofs of concept." The VA "issued the request-for-proposals on the Federal Business Opportunities" website. Responses "are due Sept. 11." 

9.      Some Pushing For Alternatives To LSU/VA Hospital Complex.   In continuing coverage, the WGNO-TV New Orleans, LA (8/31, Morcos) noted that Jonah Evans, the editor of, "says tonight’s rally and parade led by the Rebirth Brass Band and the Hot 8 Brass Band is an example of the solidarity some people have in wanting Charity reopened instead of having the proposed LSU/VA hospital complex right down the road in Lower Midcity. ‘Rebuilding this could take less time, less money and it’s less destructive than ruining 70 acres in Lower Midcity,’ says Evans." WGNO, which said "cards for people to sign to call for public hearings about the LSU/VA hospital complex were passed out" Monday, added, "Evans says, ‘Until we have a viable look at the alternatives, we don’t even know if we have a good plan and this is too important to push through and screw up.’" 

10.    Founder Says Guitar Program Is "Going Gangbusters" At VAPAHCS.   The San Jose (CA) Mercury News (9/2, Anderson) reports, "To help veterans cope with their medical challenges, sound engineer and disc jockey John Rola founded Strumming for Vets (, a program that provides guitars and instruction for veterans" at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System. The News interviews Rola, a Vietnam veteran, about the program, which Rola says has "been going gangbusters."



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