Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country 11-16-09


What’s Inside Today’s Local News for Veterans

1. Local Impact Of VA GI Bill Tuition Funds Noted. 
2. Obama Praised For Veterans Day Visit To Arlington Cemetery. 
3. Study Indicates More Veterans Die From Lack Of Healthcare Than Combat In Afghanistan. 
4. Massachusetts Veterans Receive "Welcome Home Bonuses" At Veterans Day Ceremony. 
5. Programs Helping Returning Veterans Learn Job Skills. 
6. Miss America Visits Patients At Baltimore VAMC. 
7. New Illinois VAMC Clinic To Host Open House. 
8. Tennessee VAMC Holds Drive-Through Flu Vaccination Exercise. 
9. Schrader Hosts Oregon Veterans Forum. 
10. South Dakota Legislature Moves Toward Establishing Separate VA. 


VA Green Routine recognizes recycling as a major component of how we will green VA. America Recycles Day was yesterday and this week the hows and whys of recycling will be topics of displays and discussions at VA Central Office and VA facilities. Here are some of the top reasons from the National Recycling Coalition why you should re-double your recycling efforts: 

1. Recycling is good for the economy — American companies rely on recycling programs to provide the raw materials they need to make new products.
2. Recycling creates jobs — Recycling in the U.S. is a $236 billion a year industry. More than 56,000 recycling and reuse enterprises employ 1.1 million workers nationwide. 
3. Recycling reduces waste — The average American discards 7.5 pounds of garbage every day; most of which goes into landfills, where it’s compacted and buried. To find out where you can recycle all kinds of products (batteries, carpet, paint, etc.), visit Learn more about how your recycling efforts can green VA.


1.      Local Impact Of VA GI Bill Tuition Funds Noted.  The South Coast (MA) Today (11/16, Aleem) reports on the negative impact that the "heavy backlog of claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs has created" for soldiers looking to collect GI Bill benefits for tuition, noting that "in September, Eric Shinseki, secretary of Veterans Affairs, announced that ’emergency checks’ of $3,000 would be issued to address problems caused by the backlog. Those payments became available to eligible students through VA regional offices on Oct. 2."However, a local veteran profiled in the article said that that money is "running out." "Of 110 veterans enrolled at Bristol Community College, 28 students are eligible for VA benefits, enrollment counselor Beth Vezina said. She said six students had problems because of the backlog, but there could be more."  

2.      Obama Praised For Veterans Day Visit To Arlington Cemetery.  In an online piece for CBS News (11/16), New York Daily News Washington correspondent James Gordon Meek writes about having gone to Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day to visit the graves of a number of war veterans with whom he was acquainted. He writes of being surprised by President Obama’s unscheduled visit to the cemetery. "I saw the President embrace grieving widows, mothers and battle buddies tending to the graves of loved ones. He asked about each one. And then the President suddenly extended his hand as he strolled over" to the grave Meek was visiting, that of a soldier killed in Iraq. "Now, cynics may say this was just an Obama photo op. But they weren’t there looking him in the eye. I saw a man fully carrying the heavy burden of command on a weighty day. He didn’t have to go to Section 60. And White House aides didn’t screen any of us. If a widow or grief-stricken parent had chewed him out, the press there would have reported it. I did tell him I’m a journalist. You know what the President said? ‘Just because you’re a journalist, James, doesn’t mean you can’t honor your friends here.’" 

3.      Study Indicates More Veterans Die From Lack Of Healthcare Than Combat In Afghanistan.  Salem-News.Com (11/16, King), following on coverage from AFP, reports that "the number of American veterans who died in 2008 because they didn’t have healthcare is 14 times higher than the military death toll in Afghanistan, for the entire year. Two Harvard medical researchers analyzed data, comparing U.S. combat-related deaths in Afghanistan, with the number of veterans who died because they lacked the ability to seek out adequate healthcare and access medical services. All of the veterans surveyed were under the age of 65." The piece notes that the study "indicates that in spite of care from the Veterans Administration, many American veterans remain without coverage." 

4.      Massachusetts Veterans Receive "Welcome Home Bonuses" At Veterans Day Ceremony.  The Herald News (MA) (11/16, Pateakos) reports that a trio of servicemembers were honored with a ceremony at the Massachusetts Statehouse on Veterans day at which state Treasurer Timother Cahill and Veterans Affairs Secretary Tom Kelley presented each with a "one-time ‘welcome home’ bonus check. … The ‘welcome home’ bonuses, signed into law on Veteran’s Day 2005, are one-time, tax-free payments available to eligible service members activated since Sept. 11, 2001. The checks are open to any service member from Massachusetts who has served in Iraq, Afghanistan, or any other nation for a 180 days or more. So far, 19,000 applications have been approved through the treasurer’s office." 

 5.      Programs Helping Returning Veterans Learn Job Skills.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (11/16, Kanell) reports on a "union-military program" called Veterans in Piping that teaches welding to vets, noting that it and other similar programs across the country are helping vets to transition to civilian life after active duty, noting that "that transition is even harder when the job market is arguably the harshest it has been in more than six decades. The experience of veterans now parallels the larger labor market: Joblessness is worse among younger workers, especially those with little education or – like Redford – certain skills."  

6.      Miss America Visits Patients At Baltimore VAMC.  WJZ-TV Baltimore, MD (11/16) reports that Katie Stam, Miss America 2009, "teamed up with the USO of metropolitan Washington" to visit patients at the Baltimore VAMC last week in observance of Memorial Day. 

7.      New Illinois VAMC Clinic To Host Open House.  The Journal Gazette and Times-Courier (11/16) reports that the new VA outpatient clinic in Mattoon, Illinois, is scheduled to host an open house on Thursday. "It is open to the public and in particular to veterans and their families so they will have an opportunity to see the new outpatient clinic. A ribbon cutting will take place at 2 p.m." 

8.      Tennessee VAMC Holds Drive-Through Flu Vaccination Exercise.  The Tennessean (11/16, Mathews) reports on "a rare combination of emergency management drill and seasonal flu shot clinic" in which officials at the James H. Quillen Veterans Affairs Medical Center set up a clinic in which "veterans pulled into a parking lot, disclosed their medical background, received the shot and pulled into a holding area to wait for 15 minutes to see if there was any reaction to the vaccination. Chief nurse Gary Bayne said the idea behind the drive-through flu clinic is to separate people who could potentially be infected from one another instead of having multiple people waiting in an enclosed space."

9.      Schrader Hosts Oregon Veterans Forum.  The Salem (OR) Statesman Journal (11/16, Much) reports that OR5 Rep. Kurt Schrader (D) held a forum in Salem, Oregon, on veterans’ services, noting that the "panel included Jim Willis, director of the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Service Center Officer Kevin Kalama of the Veterans Benefits Administration, and Michael Fisher, acting director of the Portland VA Medical Center. The panel discussed issues that veterans have, especially returning war veterans, and elaborated on various programs and services established or proposed to help them."  

10.    South Dakota Legislature Moves Toward Establishing Separate VA.  The Sioux Falls Argus Leader (11/16, Harriman) reports that a group of South Dakota state legislators are backing a "coalition of veterans organizations that has tried for several years to convince South Dakota to create a separate Department of Veterans Affairs. … The veterans also want the director and employees of that department to be required to have had honorable discharges." The legislators, the GOP gubernatorial candidate, and the state senate majority leader signed "a pledge to split off Veterans Affairs from the state Department of Military Affairs and staff it only with people with honorable discharges."



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