Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country 1-14-10


What’s Inside Today’s Local News for Veterans

1. Obama, Gould To Speak At Forum On Improving Government Operations.
2. Study Of Injured US Troops Links Morphine To Decreased PTSD Incidence.
3. A Suicide Averted.
4. VA Helps Iraq Vet Transition Back To Civilian Life.
5. Missouri Program Offers Free Burial, Other Services For Veterans, Spouses.
6. Idaho Tax Form Allows For Donation To Veterans Support Fund.
7. City Sued By Former Veterans Memorial Commission Director.
8. Despite Concern Expressed By Vets, City Still Planning To Demolish Memorial Coliseum.
9. US Obesity Rate Said To Have Held Steady For Approximately Five Years.
10. Man Put Out Of Work By Base Closure Hoping For VA Hospital Job.


Just a few days before Christmas, three St. Cloud VA Medical Center employees participated in a live video conference with about 40 Minnesota National Guard troops serving in Iraq. Working in conjunction with the Central Minnesota Warrior to Citizen Initiative, the VA employees discussed VA health care, employment/vocational rehabilitation and education benefits with the troops so they would be better prepared for their return home to civilian life. “We want them to know that we are here for them, and that we really are the experts in treating the common afflictions of veterans,” said Joan Vincent, public affairs officer with the St. Cloud VA Medical Center. Current data, suggests that fewer than half of returning service members enroll in VA health care and benefits. Outreach programs and participating in joint programs such as the Warrior to Citizen Initiative allow VA to reach more veterans and help them make better and more informed decisions on health care, education and other benefits.


1.      Obama, Gould To Speak At Forum On Improving Government Operations. Government Executive (1/14, Shoop) notes that at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, on Thursday, President Barack Obama “will kick off an event….aimed at using technology to improve federal operations. After Obama speaks, senior federal officials,” including Deputy Veterans Affairs Secretary Scott Gould, “will lead a series of panel discussions.” Gould and Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn “will moderate two sessions on streamlining government operations.” 

2.      Study Of Injured US Troops Links Morphine To Decreased PTSD Incidence. The Washington Post (1/14, A4, Brown, 684K) reports, “In a study of about 700” US troops wounded in Iraq, “those who received morphine soon after being injured were about half as likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as those who did not get the drug.” Outside experts and researchers working on the study, “published this week” in the New England Journal of Medicine, “agreed that the effect would have to be proved virtually beyond a doubt before morphine would be routinely given to prevent the mental disorder.”
New York Times (1/14, A18, Carey, 1.09M) says the study “supports…standard practice in settings like the battlefield and emergency rooms, where morphine is often used readily.” Experts, however, “say it may have implications for the timing of treatment and for a wider variety of traumas, like those resulting from rape or muggings.”
Bloomberg News (1/14, Thomas) reports, “As many as one in five veterans of the Iraq war have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder…after a serious injury during combat, according” to the US Veterans Affairs Department. Bloomberg adds, “A reliable way to prevent PTSD would significantly change military emergency medicine, said…researchers” who worked on the new study, which is also noted by the AP (1/14, Johnson), the Los Angeles Times (1/14, Kaplan), Reuters (1/14, Emery), and MedPage Today (1/14, Neale).
Mental Health Issues More Common For Army Wives With Deployed Husbands. USA Today (1/14, Zoroya, 2.11M) reports, “Wives of soldiers sent to war suffered significantly higher rates of mental health issues than those whose husbands stayed home, according to the largest study ever done on the emotional impact of war on Army wives. Those rates were higher among wives whose husband deployed longer than 11 months, according” to the study’s findings, which “will be published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.” The “study shows again ‘that when a servicemember deploys, the entire family deploys,’ said Air Force Maj. April Cunningham, a Pentagon spokeswoman.” HealthDay (1/14, Thomas) and MedPage Today (1/14, Gever) also cover this story.
Military Urged To Consider Spouses When Implementing Suicide Prevention Measures. The AP (1/13, Hefling) reported that while “speaking on stage at a military suicide prevention conference” on Wednesday, Deborah
 Mullen, “the wife of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” Adm. Mike Mullen, “urged the military to get a better handle on the problem and implement prevention measures with spouses in mind.” The AP adds, “Some military spouses, Mrs. Mullen said, are reluctant to seek mental health help because it still carries an unfortunate stigma.”
Suicide Rate For Young, Male Vets Jumps 26%. The WKOW-TV Madison, WI (1/13, Angileri) website noted, “According to a new government report, from 2005 -2007, the suicide rate of 18 to 29-year-old men leaving the military jumped 26 percent.” Ken Black, the Wisconsin VA secretary, “says agencies are working to do a better job understanding what leads to suicidal behavior.” WKOW added, “If there’s any bright spot in the report, it’s that VA health programs seem to be working” because veterans “who sought help were much less likely to take their lives than those who did not.” Ken Black, the Wisconsin VA secretary, “credits recent federal and state programs.”  

3.      A Suicide Averted. In continuing coverage, Bob Brewin writes in his “What’s Brewin'” blog for NextGov (1/14) that while the “Defense and the Veterans Affairs departments offer a wide range of tools to help soldiers and veterans on the brink” of suicide, “people with problems don’t fit into tidy boxes.” Brewin relates how a friend of his helped a suicidal Iraq veteran enter a “90-day treatment program at a VA hospital,” and says such assistance is necessary “as we confront increasingly dismal suicide statistics by veterans and active duty troops.” Brewin concludes that “suicide prevention is something handled not by a bureaucracy, but people helping each other.” 

4.      VA Helps Iraq Vet Transition Back To Civilian Life. In a story submitted by Scott Moyers of the Missouri National Guard Public Affairs Office, the Southeast Missourian (1/14, 17K, 16K, 17K, 16K) notes that the VA was represented at a recent benefits briefing attended by 55 Southeast Missouri Guard soldiers. The Missourian adds that the VA “stepped up to the plate to help” Robert Gillespie, one the soldiers in attendance the briefing, “directing him to the John J. Pershing VA Medical Center in Poplar Bluff and other programs to help him recover fully and transition from serving in a combat zone to getting acclimated again to civilian life.”  

5.      Missouri Program Offers Free Burial, Other Services For Veterans, Spouses. The Boonville (MO) Daily News (1/14, Lang) reports, “A fifth cemetery for the burial of Missouri veterans and their spouses who participate in the Missouri Veterans Cemetery Program was scheduled to be completed in December 2009.” The program, which is “managed by the Missouri Veterans Commission,” offers “free burial and other services meant to honor deceased veterans. Together, the cemeteries can accommodate more than 50,000 plots and still have plenty of room, said Daniel Bell, a public information specialist with the veterans commission.”

6.      Idaho Tax Form Allows For Donation To Veterans Support Fund. On its website KBOI-AM Boise, ID (1/13) noted that “this year, you can donate to the Idaho Veterans Support Fund on your Idaho tax form.” Patti Murphy with the Department of Veterans Affairs “says all money donated helps support and pay for medical equipment at all” three state veterans homes in Idaho. 

7.      City Sued By Former Veterans Memorial Commission Director. The AP (1/14) reports Gary Craig, the “former director of the Veterans Memorial Commission,” is “suing the city” of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, “for accusing him of spending city money improperly and being wrongly compensated.” Craig “was charged with felonious misconduct in March,” but the “charges were dismissed in November by a judge after the state couldn’t prove its case.” Craig “asks the court for a jury trial and adequate compensation for damages and punitive damages.” The Cedar Rapids (IA) Gazette (1/14, Mehaffey) publishes a similar story. 

8.      Despite Concern Expressed By Vets, City Still Planning To Demolish Memorial Coliseum. On its website, KRIS-TV Corpus Christi, TX (1/13, Schroeder) reported, “Greg Smith with the Texas Historical Commission says people from several states have called to see what they can do to preserve” the Memorial Coliseum in Corpus Christi. Smith “says…since the building was dedicated to World War II veterans, veterans everywhere want it to stay in place.” The city, however, “says they’re moving forward with demolition plans and the building could be leveled as early as June.”  

9.      US Obesity Rate Said To Have Held Steady For Approximately Five Years. The AP (1/14) reports, “According to government data from the years 2007-08 published Wednesday, the obesity rate has held steady for about five years, reflecting earlier signs it had stalled after steadily climbing.” The data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “were contained in two reports published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.” The AP quotes Dr. J. Michael Gaziano, a “contributing editor at the journal” and a “cardiologist at Boston’s Veterans Affairs” hospital, who “said getting the nation to turn the corner and reduce obesity requires changing many unhealthy behaviors, and getting restaurants, schools, food manufacturers and communities to support the fight.”
Bloomberg News (1/14, Ostrow) also quotes Gaziano, who said the CDC figures may be “silver linings to the cloud, but the cloud is still large.” NPR‘s (1/13, Neighmond) “All Things Considered” meanwhile, reported, “Losing weight…has to do with a number of things, says” Gaziano, who added that Americans “don’t necessarily” consume fewer calories as they age but they should.

10.    Man Put Out Of Work By Base Closure Hoping For VA Hospital Job. The Brunswick (ME) Times Record (1/14, Koenig, 9K) reports, “In response to the impending…closure” of the Brunswick Naval Air Station, Mark Saint-Louis “joined the legions of locals who have decided to professionally reinvent themselves in the face of an uncertain job market.” Saint-Louis registered with the a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Transition Center, and “said through the transition center’s programming, he’s finishing work on his bachelor’s degree and hopes to begin a new career working with people suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or brain injuries. ‘I would like to get my foot in the door at Togus (VA Hospital in Augusta),’ said Saint-Louis, who attended a regional conference on PTSD and traumatic brain disorders in Rhode Island just more than a year ago.”



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