Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country 12-16-09


What’s Inside Today’s Local News for Veterans

1. Murray Demands Better Tracking Of Support Troops’ Combat Experience. 
2. Law Requires More Testing On Burn Pits In Iraq, Afghanistan. 
3. Wells Fargo Writes Off Loan On Veterans Homeless Shelter.
4. Bill Includes Money For VA Hospital. 
5. Study Suggests Compounds Found In Spices May Help Prevent Breast Cancer.
6. VA Official Says Former Doctors Hospital Is Unlikely To Be Used For Veterans. 
7. VA Hospital Expands H1N1 Flu Vaccine Eligibility. 
8. Christmas Care Packages Given To VA Patients. 
9. Registration Underway For National Veterans Golden Age Games. 
10. Senate Veterans Affairs Committee To Vote On VA Nominations.


1.      Murray Demands Better Tracking Of Support Troops’ Combat Experience. In continuing coverage, the Washington (DC) Examiner (12/16, Edelblute) reports US Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) "recently sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki demanding they better track combat experiences among support troops." According to the Examiner, the "letter is an effort to get answers for support troops — including many women service members — who have noted that their combat experiences were never included on their military discharge papers — or DD-214s. Because of these omissions, many support troops have difficulty accessing care and benefits for combat related conditions, including" post -traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

2.      Law Requires More Testing On Burn Pits In Iraq, Afghanistan.  La Salle (IL) News Tribune (12/16, Baker, 17K) reports, "In October the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 became law. Among numerous articles related to military subjects, it contains legislation that requires additional testing and reports on the status of….burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan." The News Tribune, which notes that local veteran Jerry Bacidore says his health was damaged by exposure to fumes from a burn pit in Iraq, adds, "While Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki has said he doesn’t want burn pits to become this generation’s Agent Orange, the military has been somewhat slow to completely accept the belief that respiratory and other injuries being reported by numerous members of the armed forces are connected to burn pit exposure."  

3.      Wells Fargo Writes Off Loan On Veterans Homeless Shelter. The Payson (AZ) Roundup (12/16, Aleshire, 7K) reports, "Wells Fargo Bank has written off a $310,000 loan and turned over to Veterans Helping Veterans the title to a makeshift Payson homeless shelter for 20 or 30 people, many of them veterans." The "decision will avert the shut down of the home," which "has no official relationship with the Veterans Administration."  

4.      Bill Includes Money For VA Hospital. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (12/16, Carpenter, 263K) reports, "A $44 million appropriation included in a new $447 billion spending bill approved by Congress this week will provide seed money for a 262,000-square-foot hospital tower" for the John Cochran Veterans Affairs Medical Center in St. Louis. In "addition, the medical center will receive nearly $20 million to start developing the first 10 acres of the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery’s 30-acre expansion."  

5.      Study Suggests Compounds Found In Spices May Help Prevent Breast Cancer. WebMD (12/16, Stacy) reports a new study by researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center "suggests that compounds found in black pepper and curry powder help halt the growth of stem cells that give rise to breast cancer." WebMD notes that in a news release, "Madhuri Kakarala, MD, PhD, RD, clinical lecturer in internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and a research investigator" at the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System, said, "If we can limit the number of stem cells, we can limit the number of cells with [the] potential to form tumors." 

6.      VA Official Says Former Doctors Hospital Is Unlikely To Be Used For Veterans. The Canton (OH) Repository (12/16, Hall) reports, "Prospects of converting the vacant Doctors Hospital into a veterans’ medical center do not appear to be in the cards as a key" US Department of Veterans Affairs official "said the projected demand may not justify the expense. Some Stark County political figures were hoping" that the VA "would consider utilizing the former Doctors Hospital complex in the 400 block of Austin Avenue NW," but William Montague, director of the VA’s "Cleveland regional medical center, said the number of veterans requiring medical services has to justify the expense of building a new hospital here." Montague made his comments on Tuesday, "during a discussion…with local government officials." 

7.      VA Hospital Expands H1N1 Flu Vaccine Eligibility. The Iron Mountain (MI) Daily News (12/16) reports, "The Oscar G. Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center has expanded the H1N1 flu vaccine eligibility to all its veteran patients. Vaccinations will be available" at the hospital "and the following community-based outreach clinics: Marquette, Hancock, Ironwood, Menominee, Sault Ste. Marie and Manistique."

 8.      Christmas Care Packages Given To VA Patients. The Lincoln (NE) Journal Star (12/15, Duggan) reported, "The Lincoln Elks Lodge No. 80 has been giving away Christmas care packages to military veterans for decades. On Monday, four volunteers distributed about 200 packages" at the Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic in Lincoln." The Journal Star adds, "Last year, the Lincoln clinic provided care to 12,200 patients, said Maggie Oldham, spokeswoman with the VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System."  

9.      Registration Underway For National Veterans Golden Age Games. The third item in Hernando (FL) Today‘s (12/16) "Between the Lines" column reports, "Registration is underway for the 24th National Veterans Golden Age Games, coming to Des Moines, Iowa for the first time this May." To register for the event, "call 1-877-806-8424 or email [email protected]." Hernando Today, which notes that readers can also visit " to learn more about" the event., adds, "All veterans registered for care at any Veterans Affairs…medical facility are eligible to compete." 

10.    Senate Veterans Affairs Committee To Vote On VA Nominations.  Near the end of its "Today at a Glance" column, CQ (12/16) notes that on Tuesday, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee "votes on Veterans Affairs Department nominations. Time TBA, off the Senate floor."





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