Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country 11-12-09


What’s Inside Today’s Local News for Veterans 

1. CIO Says Transition Helped Him Understand Where VA Most Needed Help.
2. As He Ponders Afghan Course, Obama Pays Homage To America’s Veterans. 
3. Shinseki Joins Bidens At Lunch For Vets, Active-Duty Servicemembers. 
4. Over 2,200 US Veterans Found To Have Died In 2008 Due To Lack Of Health Insurance. 
5. First Lady Announces Community Service Organization For Vets. 
6. Shinseki Praised For Adding New Judges To Board Of Veterans’ Appeals. 
7. Former Astronaut Praises Veterans. 
8. More Vet Centers Opening As Number Of Soldier Suicides Increase. 
9. Yarmuth Says Decision On VA Hospital Could Be Made By End Of Year. 
10. VA Hospital Pays Tribute To Veterans Who Died In Facility This Year. 


1.      CIO Says Transition Helped Him Understand Where VA Most Needed Help.  In its "Ask The CIO" column, the Federal News Radio (11/11, Miller) website said Roger Baker "went from the ‘ultimate consultant’ to the Veterans Affairs Department during the Presidential transition to the implementor of the consultants’ advice. Baker, the VA assistant secretary for information and technology and chief information officer, says his work on the transition team led him to his role and helped him understand the areas where the department needs the most help." After noting that Baker "has nine departmentwide priorities with customer service at the top of his list and cybersecurity a very close second," the website added that Baker "says his office has made a list of more than 1,000 programs that will be prioritized over the next few months. Some of those programs may end," or be merged or be "given new life. Baker says stopping projects all together is much more difficult than temporarily halting work on them and VA still is working on the acquisition issues." 

2.      As He Ponders Afghan Course, Obama Pays Homage To America’s Veterans.        The Washington Times (11/12, Weber, Hudson, 77K) notes that the President and First Lady Michelle Obama "began the day by hosting a Veterans
Day breakfast in the East Room of the White House," and "Mrs. Obama joined Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and wife Jill Biden at the cemetery." The Times also points out that Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki gave a speech at Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday.
Shinseki On Guest List For Veterans Breakfast In White House.  Bloomberg News (11/12, Runningen) notes that spokesman Nick Shapiro said the "guest list" for the White House breakfast included Shinseki and Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, an Air Force veteran.
Obama Derides Nation’s Treatment Of Vietnam-Era Vets.  A number of stories this morning note Obama’s comments regarding Vietnam War veterans. The Los Angeles Times (11/12, Parsons, 776K) points out that the President said that "for veterans and their families…there’s ‘no tribute, no commemoration, no praise’ that can match the magnitude of their service and sacrifice," and added that "future veterans will not suffer the neglect and condemnation that greeted many Vietnam veterans."
AFP (11/12) also reports that Obama "pledged…that American troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan would not have their trust betrayed like those who served in Vietnam." Said Obama, "If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that there have been times where we as a nation have betrayed that sacred trust. … Our Vietnam veterans served with great honor. They often came home greeted not with gratitude or support, but with condemnation and neglect. That’s something that will never happen again." On its website, the Washington Post (11/12, Branigin, 684K) quotes the President saying, "When your tour ends, when you see our flag, when you touch our soil, you will be home in an America that is forever here for you, just as you’ve been there for us. That is my promise — our nation’s promise — to you." A front page story in the Washington Post (11/12, A1, Achenbach, 684K) also takes note Obama’s Veterans Day activities. 

3.      Shinseki Joins Bidens At Lunch For Vets, Active-Duty Servicemembers.  The AP (11/12, Metzler) reports, "Vice President Joe Biden says it is the ‘sacred duty’ of the United States to provide for active-duty members of the military as well as care for their families." On Wednesday, Biden "spoke…to a group of 240 active-duty servicemembers and veterans at the Naval Observatory before a Veterans Day lunch." The Vice President "told the crowd he was grateful for their service and humbled by their sacrifices." Biden "was joined by wife Jill Biden and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki." 

4.      Over 2,200 US Veterans Found To Have Died In 2008 Due To Lack Of Health Insurance.  The AFP (11/12) reports, "The number of US veterans who died in 2008 because they lacked health insurance was 14 times higher than the US military death toll in Afghanistan that year, according to a new study" by "two Harvard medical researchers." The researchers conducted an analysis which "estimates that 2,266 US military veterans under the age of 65 died in 2008 because they lacked health coverage and had reduced access to medical care." Released as the US "commemorates fallen soldiers on Veterans Day" and as the US Senate "weighs health care reform legislation," the "study warns that even health care provided by the Veterans Health Administration (VA) leaves many veterans without coverage."

5.      First Lady Announces Community Service Organization For Vets.  The Christian Science Monitor (11/12, Lubold, 48K) reports, "First Lady Michelle Obama wants Americans to recognize the sacrifices of the nation’s veterans by contributing to a grass-roots volunteer and community service network that will expand services for veterans and, supporters say, enrich American society." On Wednesday, at a Veterans Day event, the First lady "announced a new military-oriented community service organization called Mission Serve, an offshoot of the public-service group ServiceNation."
AP (11/12, Simmons) notes that Mrs. Obama made her announcement during an appearance at an event in Washington, DC, "with Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, Jill, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s wife, Alma." After noting that the event "promoted an initiative for uniting civilian and military service," the AP says the First Lady "told service groups, students and veterans at George Washington University that what service members learn abroad is very useful for communities trying to overcome challenges at home." The AP adds, "President Barack Obama signed into law earlier this year national service legislation that includes a Veterans Corps, designed to engage veterans in service."  

6.      Shinseki Praised For Adding New Judges To Board Of Veterans’ Appeals.  Near the end of his "Sgt. Shaft" column in the Washington Times (11/12, 77K) John Fales gives an "’Attaboy!’ to the secretary of veterans affairs for the addition of four new veterans law judges to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA), which will enable the board to increase the number of cases being decided." The BVA "is an appeals body to which veterans, their dependents or their survivors can go when they are not satisfied with decisions about claims for benefits administered by the department."  

7.      Former Astronaut Praises Veterans.  Florida’s Treasure Coast Palm (11/11, Tiegen) reported, "More than 38 years after he took a walk in outer space, Col. Al Worden took a less precarious walk to the stage of the John F. Armstrong Wing of the Blake Library Tuesday to recall his time as an astronaut." Worden spoke at the library as part of its "Celebrating Our Nation’s Treasures: A Salute to Veterans of All Wars" program. Worden "said he got off easy compared to other veterans. His time in NASA training and orbit allowed him to avoid involvement in the Vietnam War. But he values the struggle and sacrifice of those who fought in the war."  

8.      More Vet Centers Opening As Number Of Soldier Suicides Increase.  The Grand Junction (CO) Free Press (11/11, Sullivan, 15K) reported, "The number of American soldiers committing suicide has increased in recent years," but the "number of Vet Centers offering counseling and other services to veterans and their families is also increasing." One "Vet Center was opened in Grand Junction in 2007 to provide counseling and other services to
combat veterans and their families." Seven "more Vet Centers" are also "slated to open in the region, including in Nevada, Arizona and Montana." Four mobile Vet Centers, meanwhile, "were dispatched to Fort Hood, Texas," to "offer counseling services at the Army base there after an Army psychiatrist who is said to be distraught at the prospect of deploying to Afghanistan, allegedly gunned down 13 of his fellow soldiers."  

9.      Yarmuth Says Decision On VA Hospital Could Be Made By End Of Year.  In continuing coverage, the WDRB-TV Louisville, KY (11/11) website reported, "Third District Congressman John Yarmuth was alongside Mayor Jerry Abramson Monday morning visiting patients" at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Louisville "ahead of Veterans Day. But the visit also raised questions about the future of healthcare for veterans" in the city. Yarmuth "says a decision could be made the end of the year as to if and where a new hospital will be built. Several options are being weighed, including building a new inpatient center near University Hospital downtown, building two new specialized facilities, or renovating the current hospital on Zorn Avenue," which was "built in 1950." 

10.    VA Hospital Pays Tribute To Veterans Who Died In Facility This Year.  On its website, KKCO-TV Grand Junction, CO (11/11) noted that on Tuesday, the Veterans Affairs hospital in Grand Junction "paid tribute to 33 men and women who served in the military and died in their hospital this year. Officials asked friends, family and staff to join them…and celebrate the lives of those who were asked to give everything for their country." According to KKCO, each "friend or family member was given a book detailing how to cope with the loss of someone close."



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