Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country 9-05-09

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What’s Inside Today’s Local News for Veterans

1. Shinseki’s Maryland School Visit Tied To Obama Speech.  
2. New GI Bill Causes Spike In Veterans’ Enrollment.  
3. Study Says VA Will Need To Hire Thousands To Help Traumatized Vets.  
4. VA Reps, Including Two From Pennsylvania Hospital, To Greet Returning Vets.  
5. Vet’s Fortunes Improve In Midst Of Tough Economic Times.  
6. Spokane Group Helps Recent Veterans Reintegrate.  
7. Vietnam Veteran Sues The VA After Being Turned Down For Care.  
8. US Urged To Speed Funding For Vietnamese Exposed To Agent Orange.  
9. Dole Greets Fellow WWII Vets At National Memorial.  
10. Ohio VA Medical Center Hosts Day-Long Program On Suicide Prevention.

     

1.      Shinseki’s Maryland School Visit Tied To Obama Speech.   In continuing coverage, after noting that Anne Arundel County "school officials and state lawmakers have gotten scores of complaints in recent days about" President Obama’s "plans to make a nationally televised speech to students on Tuesday," Maryland’s Gazette (9/5, Hutzell) reported, "Students at Meade High School will have an activity tied to the speech, a visit by retired Army Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, Obama’s secretary of Veterans Affairs," said Bob Mosier, county schools spokesman. According to the Gazette, Shinseki "will talk to students about volunteerism." The Annapolis (MD) Capital (9/6) published the same story. 

2.      New GI Bill Causes Spike In Veterans’ Enrollment.   The Long Island Newsday (9/6, Schuster) reports that "hundreds of veterans enrolled this fall in Long Island colleges and universities, which are expecting increasing numbers of soldiers to enroll, spurred by the sputtering economy and a new, improved education benefit known as the Post-9/11 GI Bill. As of early July, 30,354 veterans in the 15-state region that includes New York had pending applications for education benefits, compared with 4,446 at the same time in 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Among the local schools reporting increases is Suffolk County Community College, which has 287 veterans enrolled this fall – a 30 percent increase from last year." According to Newsday, "State veterans affairs officials have been making the rounds across New York to help colleges and universities prepare for veterans, such as creating or resurrecting veterans’ student groups on campus. ‘Do you have a veterans’ orientation? How do you celebrate Veterans Day in November on your campus? Do you defer tuition [allowing veterans to begin school while an education benefit application is still pending]?’ Andy Davis, a training director for the New York State Division of Veterans Affairs, asked a group of about 50 Long Island school officials at a session last month." 

3.      Study Says VA Will Need To Hire Thousands To Help Traumatized Vets.   The Federal Times (9/8, Losey, 40K) reports, "Over the next three years, the Veterans Affairs Department will need to hire tens of thousands of additional doctors, nurses and other medical specialists to help soldiers wounded and traumatized in war." That and "other expanding missions across the government – combined with the loss of large numbers of employees expected to retire in coming years – mean agencies will have to hire 273,000 employees to fill critical jobs over the next three years, according to a study released last week by the Partnership for Public Service." The Times adds, "And since studies show growing interest in government service among young people and since the private-sector job market is slumping along with the economy, the government must act now to lure talented job-seekers, the partnership said." Joleen Clark, the Veterans Health Administration’s chief officer for workforce management and consulting, "said VA is using a variety of incentives to compete with the private sector for that talent."

      Federal Hiring Could Mean Boost For DC Area.   The Washington Post (9/8, Haynes, 652K) reports, "If projections bear out" that the Federal government "will hire up to 120,000 people for jobs in the region over the next few years, the Washington area economy could be on its way to a rebound faster than most of the nation." Partnership for Public Service, "a nonprofit that helps find candidates" for Federal jobs, "released a report last week that listed projected hires for hundreds of agencies between now and 2012. In total, the government is expected to hire 600,000 people, including 19,071 nurses" at the VA. The "report, called ‘Where the Jobs Are,’ focuses on 273,000 ‘critical needs’ positions that are necessary for the operation of the agencies — 45,000 of which would be located in the Washington area." 

4.      VA Reps, Including Two From Pennsylvania Hospital, To Greet Returning Vets.   The Wilkes-Barre (PA) Times-Leader (9/8) reports, "The Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Plains Township, has sent two" Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) "program case managers to join other VA representatives in Fort Dix, N.J., to greet members of the Pennsylvania National Guard Stryker Brigade as they return home from combat in the OEF/OIF campaign overseas." The "effort is made possible through a partnership between the Pennsylvania National Guard and VA Healthcare – VISN 4 Network to ensure all service men and women are informed of their eligibility to access five free years of VA health care benefits for any deployment-related injury or illness as well as other services." 

5.      Vet’s Fortunes Improve In Midst Of Tough Economic Times.   The Spokane (WA) Spokesman-Review (9/7, Vestal) reported, "Even in a recession, times are good for some people," like 40-year-old veteran Stacia Douglas, who is several "months into a new job" at Spokane’s Veterans Affairs medical center. Douglas "is happy that she’s been able to buy" her first home," with "significant help" from the economic stimulus package, and her "good fortune reflects certain realities of the economy at large. For one thing," Federal employment "is considered among the most recession-proof corners of the job market. Hiring at Spokane’s VA center has been particularly robust, doubling to more than 800 positions in the past several years as services have been added in rural areas and for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan." The Spokesman-Review added, "Part of Douglas’ current satisfaction stems not from her job at the VA as much as her status as a patient there," receiving treatment for "’military sexual trauma’ – a condition that follows an assault or incident of harassment of women in the armed forces. It’s a prevalent problem – 21 percent of women veterans screened for MST have it, the VA says – and it’s one of the areas the VA system is focusing on as it gears up to deal with more women veterans."
 

 6.      Spokane Group Helps Recent Veterans Reintegrate.   The Spokane, Washington Spokesman Review (9/5, Graman) reports, "As a Marine combat engineer, Jesse Bruce helped destroy the remnants of Saddam Hussein’s rule and restore infrastructure to war-torn Iraq. But after an enemy mortar shell exploded in his Humvee, he came home to a civilian life for which he and his nation were unprepared. … Like many veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, Bruce has had problems reintegrating into society." The Review continues, "Last week, Bruce joined a group of 20 combat veterans with similar adjustment issues at a four-day retreat in Deer Lake. The Spokane Veterans Outreach Center, the Spokane Valley Fire Department and Spokane County Fire District 8 firefighters organized the event, called ‘Beyond the Yellow Ribbon,’ in an effort to pull the veterans out of isolation resulting from combat-related psychological problems. … The gathering…was patterned after the Wounded Warrior Project’s outdoor rehabilitative effort, known as Project Odyssey, which combines physical challenges with peer support. But unlike Project Odyssey, which gathers wounded veterans from across the nation, the Deer Lake retreat brought together local veterans who will be able to maintain supportive relationships for years to come, said Mike Ogle, a readjustment counseling technician for the Vet Center." 

7.      Vietnam Veteran Sues The VA After Being Turned Down For Care.   The Greensboro News Record (9/6, Fernandez) reports, "William Izzard says he never made it past the admissions clerk at the VA Medical Center in Salisbury. She told him he’d been ‘kicked out’ of the system. So, in February 2008 , the veteran of two tours in Vietnam went to Moses Cone Hospital to find out why he was feeling so sick. It turns out he’d had a heart attack. He spent four days in the ICU and ended up with a $25,000 bill. … Now Izzard, 63 , wants to know why he was turned away from the VA Medical Center at all. He believes the VA should pay for his medical costs. Greensboro attorney Craig Kabatchnick agrees. ‘No doubt, they blew the call,’ said Kabatchnick, who heads the Veterans Law Program at N.C. Central University . ‘They should have at least done a triage of him. … Instead, they just said, ‘You’re not in our system,’ which is impossible if he’d been previously treated there.’ Izzard wasn’t eligible for benefits at the time even though he had been treated there before, said Lexia Frasher, chief over health administration service, during a review Thursday of Izzard’s records. Over the years, the laws regarding VA benefits have changed, she said. Izzard was eligible for services when first honorably discharged from the Army in 1973. But in 1996 , Congress required veterans to enroll for services and has put income caps on eligibility except in cases of service-connected disabilities. When Izzard went to the VA hospital in February 2008, he did not qualify for benefits because he made too much money and did not have a service-connected disability. He had applied for disability benefits for a back and shoulder injury and post-traumatic stress disorder but was denied, records show."

  8.      US Urged To Speed Funding For Vietnamese Exposed To Agent Orange.   The AP (9/8) reports, "Vietnam urged the US to do speed funding for Agent Orange victims Tuesday at start of the fourth annual meeting on joint efforts to clean up areas that American forces contaminated with the toxic herbicide during the Vietnam War." The "two sides are…working on joint efforts to help disabled Vietnamese whose health problems might be linked to Agent Orange." The AP notes that the US Department of Veterans Affairs "provides benefits to US veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and later developed various cancers," but the US "argues that more scientific study is needed to understand the link between Agent Orange and various physical disabilities suffered by Vietnamese who live in areas where it was used."  

9.      Dole Greets Fellow WWII Vets At National Memorial.   In its "Capital Journal" column, the Wall Street Journal (9/8, A10, Seib, 2.01M) notes that on Saturday, former Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole greeted 108 fellow World War II veterans who had been flown to Washington to see the national memorial that was built in their honor. The vets, residents of South Carolina, made it to DC thanks to the Honor Flight Network, a grass roots organization that flies vets from all over the country to see the memorial. Each week, vets are greeted by Dole, 86, who says he will keep doing so if his health allows. 

10.    Ohio VA Medical Center Hosts Day-Long Program On Suicide Prevention.   The Chillicothe (OH) Gazette (9/5, Ison) reports, "The suicide prevention services at the Chillicothe Veterans Affairs Medical Center will host a daylong program about suicide prevention for the community Wednesday." The event, free and open to the public, will feature speakers from VA staff, veterans and community members, and is part of activities during National Suicide Prevention Week. Suicide prevention coordinator Ben Stark says the VA public education event is intended to help "increase public awareness and highlight peoples’ journey from pain and loss to recovery and hope."

 

 

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