Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country 9-22-09


What’s Inside Today’s Local News for Veterans

1. National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic Underway. 
2. Increased VA Outreach Leads To More Homeless Vets Seeking Help. 
3. Duckworth To Speak At Veterans Day Parade. 
4. Iraq Vet Pleased To Be Receiving Treatment At Epilepsy Network Facility. 
5. Marine To Go On Trial For Faking War Wounds. 
6. After Returning From Service In Iraq, Scocos Once Again Heading Up Wisconsin VA. 
7. Convention Organizer Praises Posthumous Medal Of Honor Recipients. 
8. Racism Alleged Within Waco’s VA Police. 
9. VA Clinics In Arizona, West Virginia Offering Flu Shots. 
10. Bath VAMC To Host Benefits And Health Care Information Event.


1.      National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic Underway.  On its website, KGTV-TV San Diego, CA (9/21) reported, "Disabled veterans from around San Diego Country will be surfing, sailing, kayaking, cycling and competing in track and field around San Diego this week as part of the second annual National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic," which offers veterans a "chance…to compete, learn and talk with other people who understand what they’ve been through." On Monday, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki "came from Washington D.C. to observe" the clinic, which he "said…helps the veterans physically and mentally." Jason McKean, who "was badly injured by an IED in Iraq," made similar comments, saying the clinic "means a lot" because "I can…do stuff I used to do before my disabilities." 

2.      Increased VA Outreach Leads To More Homeless Vets Seeking Help.  The Sioux Falls (SD) Argus Leader (9/21, Luther) reported, "An increase in outreach efforts by the Department of Veterans Affairs has equated to a four-fold uptick in homeless veterans seeking assistance in Sioux Falls in the past two years." That "number is likely to grow as more veterans from recent combat find themselves struggling and needing help with everything from housing to medical services. ‘Because we are beginning to experience people coming to us that are younger and from the recent combats, we will probably have more,’ said Candice Cummings," the homeless coordinator for the Sioux Falls Veteran Affairs Medical Center. The Argus Leader adds that Rick Barge, the "national inspector general for VFW in Sioux Falls, has noticed the VA’s outreach work. ‘They are 120 percenters,’ Barge said." The Minnesota Public Radio (9/21) website published a shortened version of this story, noting that VA Secretary Eric Shinseki "listed eliminating homelessness as a priority during his visit to Sioux Falls last month."  

3.      Duckworth To Speak At Veterans Day Parade.  The Kankakee (IL) Daily-Journal (9/22, Reynolds) reports, "For a third year, the Utica American Legion Pierce Davis Post 731 will host" a Veterans Day parade, to be held this year on "Sunday, Nov. 8. ‘We’re very happy to announce that one of our guest speakers will be Tammy Duckworth,’" said American Legion member and Parade Chairman Terry Weiden, who added, "Tentative plans include having her flown to Utica in a Blackhawk helicopter." The Daily-Journal adds, "Previously the director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs," Duckworth, an Iraq veteran, "is now serving as assistant secretary of public and intergovernmental affairs for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs." 

4.      Iraq Vet Pleased To Be Receiving Treatment At Epilepsy Network Facility.  The Wisconsin State Journal (9/22, Wahlberg, 106K) reports, "After Scott Kruchten endured months of grueling therapy for injuries from an explosion in Iraq, he encountered another fallout of the blast: epilepsy." Doctors "linked his epilepsy to a traumatic brain injury he sustained, along with
several broken bones, when his truck hit a roadside bomb. The epilepsy ‘was one more thing I had to deal with,’ said" the 34-year-old Kruchten, a "Marine lance corporal from Sun Prairie. But he was glad, he said, to be treated" at Madison’s Veterans Affairs hospital, which "was named last month as part of the Veterans Health Administration’s new Epilepsy Centers for Excellence Network. That is expected to bring more patients with complications of the seizure-causing brain disorder to Madison." 

5.      Marine To Go On Trial For Faking War Wounds.  The AP (9/22, Dishneau) reports the US Marines are "court-martialing…34-year-old" Sgt. David W. Budwah, who has claimed to have been injured while serving in Afghanistan. The Marines, however, are "alleging he was never in Afghanistan, wasn’t wounded and didn’t earn the combat medals he wore — or the many privileges he enjoyed" as a result of his claims. Budwah’s "case is remarkable because he is an active-duty Marine facing military justice, not a civilian charged with wearing unearned medals. Of nearly 3,100 courts-martial last year in the four major armed services, only 27 were trials for wearing illegal decorations," and just "two involved Marines." The AP adds, "Budwah faces up to 31 1/2 years in prison and a dishonorable discharge if convicted on all eight counts at a trial set for Oct. 20. at Quantico." 

6.      After Returning From Service In Iraq, Scocos Once Again Heading Up Wisconsin VA.  In continuing coverage, the WKOW-TV Madison, WI (9/21) website reported, "The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs said Monday that Secretary John A. Scocos has resumed his duties heading up the department." In a "press release email to reporters," Scocos, who "returned earlier this month from his second deployment to Iraq," said, "Now more than ever from my recent service experiences, I personally can relate to the importance of the programs and services the department provides and especially the Mission: Welcome Home program to assist our returning service members — our newest veterans — and their families." WKOW noted that Scocos also said, "The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs and many partners like the Federal VA, other state agencies, County Veterans Service Offices, veterans service organizations, and citizens, have worked together to create a community of caring to help our 21st Century veterans to reintegrate to everyday life in their home communities." 

7.      Convention Organizer Praises Posthumous Medal Of Honor Recipients.  In continuing coverage, the Voice Of America (9/21, Farabaugh) website noted that in a recent "White House ceremony," Jared Monti "became the 3,448th person to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor." The award was a posthumous one because Monti died in Afghanistan in 2006 "trying to save his men." His "heroism places him in an elite group of Americans," and in Chicago, "where many of the living Medal of Honor recipients gathered for their annual convention, the reality of the sacrifice of recent recipients is not lost on
organizers of the event like Ed Tracy. ‘We have had six posthumous medals of honors in Iraq and Afghanistan. And Jared Monti’s award is another example of the difficulty our troops are facing in a war that is really a 24-hour combat situation,’ Tracy says."  

8.      Racism Alleged Within Waco‘s VA Police.  On its website, KXXV-TV Waco, TX (9/21, Cuoco) reported, "Serious accusations of racism are being made against the Veterans Memorial Police Department in Waco after a noose was found on a minority employee’s desk. ‘As a person, this is degrading, no one should have to go through this,’ said VA Police Officer Albert Manigo," who "claims there have been racist jokes told throughout the office and that higher ranking officers spied on minority employees." Albert "is not alone in his claims." Two" more complaints against the department have been filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They say that minority officers have been passed over multiple times for managerial positions." KXXV "spoke with Nelia Schrum, the VA’s Public Affairs Specialist, who told us they have been alerted of the situation and are taking action. ‘I am aware we are investigating these situations, we have put our officers through sensitivity training, and we plan on doing it again,’ Schrum said." 

 9.      VA Clinics In Arizona, West Virginia Offering Flu Shots.  The Yuma (AZ) Sun (9/22, 24K) reports, "Eligible veterans in the Yuma area will be able to get annual flu shots at no charge Friday afternoon at the Veterans Affairs’ Yuma outpatient clinic. The walk-in shot clinic will be offered from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the clinic, 2555 E. Gila Ridge Road, the VA said in a news release." Vaccines "for the H1N1, or swine flu, virus will not be available on Friday," but the VA "will notify veterans as H1N1 vaccine supplies become available." For "those who can’t make it Friday," follow-up "walk-in flu shot clinics will be offered during the same hours on Oct. 7 and 23, Nov. 4 and 20, Dec. 2 and 18, and Jan. 6 and 22." The "regular flu shots are available for free to all veterans enrolled in the VA health care system, said Pepe Mendoza, spokesman for the Tucson VA office."
Charleston (WV) Gazette (9/22, 46K) reports, "Free seasonal flu shots are being offered to all veterans enrolled for care at the Charleston VA Primary Care Clinic, 104 Alex Lane. Drive-through flu shots will be available in the parking lot of the clinic from 7:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday and again" on October 10th. Seasonal "flu shots are also available during any scheduled appointment, or veterans may bring the VA ID card to the clinic during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday to request a seasonal flu shot. An appointment is not necessary." 

 10.    Bath VAMC To Host Benefits And Health Care Information Event.  The Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette (9/22, 24K) reports the Bath Veterans Affairs Medical Center "will present a day-long benefits and health care information event from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23 at the Recreation Building (Building 92) on the VA campus." The event is open "to all area" veterans and their families



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