Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country 9-21-09

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What’s Inside Today’s Local News for Veterans

1. Shinseki Ushers In Program First Considered During Previous Administration. 
2. Veteran’s Widow Happy About VA’s Stance On ALS. 
3. Program Hopes Return To Iraq Will Give "Closure" To Injured Vets.
4. Initiative Model After VA Program Cuts Surgical Complication, Mortality Rates. 
5. St. Cloud VAMC Offering Flu Shots.
6. Lawmakers Signal Support For Rural Vets Care Bill. 
7. Conditional Approval Given To Grant For Veterans Facility In North Carolina. 
8. Grants Awarded To Student Veterans’ Groups In Indiana. 
9. Jack C. Montgomery Holds POW-MIA Remembrance Ceremony.
10. VANIHCS Helps Organize Event For Homeless Veterans. 

     

1.      Shinseki Ushers In Program First Considered During Previous Administration.  In continuing coverage, Boston Globe (9/21, 349K) columnist Kevin Cullen noted the involvement of Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox with a "program to help wounded veterans." According to Cullen, the program was brought up by "Tom Werner, the Red Sox chairman," while "sitting with Jim Peake, the retired general who was running Veterans Affairs" before Barack Obama became President. At the time, Werner had explained to Peake that the Red Sox and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) wanted to create the program, but when the "administrations changed over, and Eric Shinseki replaced Peake," Larry Ronan, doctor for the Red Sox, "worried that he was going to have to sell the whole idea all over again. His concern was misplaced: Shinseki is a Sox fan," and last Thursday, the "Red Sox Foundation and MGH unveiled their Home Base program to help struggling veterans and their families."  

2.      Veteran’s Widow Happy About VA’s Stance On ALS.  The Spokane (WA) Spokesman-Review (9/20, Gidlund) reported, "A 58-year-old Post Falls woman – we’ll call her Sharon since she doesn’t want her real name used – receives a tax-free $1,154 monthly check from Veterans Affairs because her husband," a veteran, "died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS." After noting that in September 2008, former Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Peake "added ALS to a list of health conditions that are presumed to have been caused by service in the military," the Spokesman-Review noted, "Sharon, who is unemployed and living on her savings, says the money provided by the VA ‘is a lifesaver. I was just getting by until now.’" The Spokesman-Review added, "Other medical conditions are presumed by the VA to be caused by military service, according" to Daryl Heisey, a Kootenai County veterans service officer, "thereby rendering the affected veteran and surviving spouse and children potentially available for assistance." 

3.      Program Hopes Return To Iraq Will Give "Closure" To Injured Vets.  Stars And Stripes (9/21, Robson) reports, "Some soldiers are returning to the places where they were wounded in Iraq under a program that aims to speed their recovery and close a painful chapter in their lives. ‘They left without closure. … They left behind their belongings, their friends and battle buddies,’ said Rick Kell, director of the Troops First Foundation." Kell "devised Operation Proper Exit after hearing wounded soldiers talk of their desire to return to Iraq. ‘We have heard for so long that Vietnam veterans wanted to go back and in their words, ‘have some closure.’ I thought why not try to get some of these guys to go back in real time so they don’t have to wait 30 years?’ Six soldiers took part" in the program’s "initial trip in June, and another is planned for November. One participant in the June trip was Staff Sgt. Kenneth Butler," who "plans to study political science under a Department of Veterans Affairs rehabilitation program and become a teacher." 
  

4.      Initiative Model After VA Program Cuts Surgical Complication, Mortality Rates.  American Medical News (9/21, O’Reilly) reports, "Nearly 120 hospitals participating in a surgical quality program cut their complication rates by an average of 11% and slashed mortality rates by 18%, according to a study in the September Annals of Surgery. Two-thirds of the hospitals that took part in the American College of Surgeons’ National Surgical Quality Improvement Program from 2006 to 2007 saw reductions in their mortality rates, and 82% lowered their number of surgical complications, the study found. If each hospital in the US could achieve similar results, millions of complications could be avoided each year, researchers" working on the study estimated. The "college’s initiative is modeled after a successful program developed in the 1990s in the Veterans Health Administration that cut surgical mortality and morbidity and hospital stays, and improved patient satisfaction. "  

5.      St. Cloud VAMC Offering Flu Shots.  The St. Cloud (MN) Times (9/21, Petrie) reports, "Flu shots will be available this week for veterans" at the St. Cloud Veterans Affairs Medical Center, although seasonal flu vaccinations "do not protect against the H1N1 virus." An H1N1 vaccination "was recently approved" by the Food and Drug Administration "and is scheduled to become available to specified, high-risk groups in the near future. The VA will provide veterans with more information about this as it becomes available."
     
Unlike Some Local Facilities, VA Hospital In Southern Arizona Not Changing Protocol.  The Arizona Daily Star (9/19, Innes, 102K) reported, "Preparing for a double-whammy of seasonal flu and the 2009 H1N1 virus, several local hospitals" in Southern Arizona "are screening flu patients outside of the emergency room and restricting children – prime suspects for spreading flu – from visiting patients." However, the local Veterans Affairs hospital "is not changing its protocol for flu season, though that could change as the season progresses, hospital officials said Friday." 

6.      Lawmakers Signal Support For Rural Vets Care Bill.  The Springvale (AR) Morning News (9/19, Moritz, 36K) noted that on Friday, Arkansas’ two US senators "said…a bipartisan health care reform bill is still possible even though no Republicans have endorsed" a recent proposal by US Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT). The "two made their comments after attending a news conference at the Little Rock Veterans Administration Hospital in support of Senate legislation designed to improve access to health care" for rural veterans. That bill’s sponsor, US Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), "discussed the difficulty many veterans who live in rural areas of both Montana and Arkansas face in receiving good and responsive health care. ‘Veterans in rural areas don’t live as long as veterans in urban areas,’" Tester "told a crowd of about 50 at the news conference. ‘I think it’s because of their health care.’"
 

7.      Conditional Approval Given To Grant For Veterans Facility In North Carolina.  Eastern North Carolina Today (9/21, Campbell) reports North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue "announced Sunday that the US Division of Veteran Affairs has issued conditional approval for $12 million grant to fund a new state veterans skilled nursing facility. ‘This will bring long term care that is desperately needed to Eastern North Carolina back to people who give so much to America,’ Perdue said during Kinston’s All-America City celebration." The "project, which has been under way since 2003, received about $4.3 million in funds from the N.C. General Assembly in 2006 and had been awaiting Federal funding before proceeding." The "100-bed, 100,000 square-foot facility will be on Hull Road" in Kinston, North Carolina. 

8.      Grants Awarded To Student Veterans’ Groups In Indiana.  The AP (9/21) reports, "Student veterans’ groups across Indiana will get a boost from new grants awarded by the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University." A "total of $10,600 was given through Operation Diploma, a program formed in March to help college students currently in the military and veterans who enrolled in school after returning from service."  

9.      Jack C. Montgomery Holds POW-MIA Remembrance Ceremony.  In continuing coverage, the Muskogee (OK) Phoenix (9/19, Purtell, 16K) noted that the Jack C. Montgomery Veterans Affairs Medical Center recently held its "annual POW-MIA remembrance ceremony." A VA "fact sheet distributed at the ceremony listed the status of prisoners of war as of 2007:
142,246 have been captured and interned; 17,009 died while prisoners of war; 125,214 returned" to US military control. 

10.    VANIHCS Helps Organize Event For Homeless Veterans.  The Muncie (IN) Star Press (9/21) reports, "The second annual Stand Down for Homeless Veterans event will be 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday under a tent at Muncie Mission, located at the corner of Memorial and Liberty streets. All homeless and near-homeless veterans are invited to attend to receive free food, clothing, supplies, and access to veterans affairs and community services." Organizers "of the event include, Daughters of the American Revolution, Colonial Dames, Veterans Affairs Northern Indiana Health Care System and Muncie Mission."

 

 

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