Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country 1-19-2010


Find out What’s Inside Today’s Local News for Veterans

  1. Shinseki Calls For Agency To Do A Better Job On Suicide Prevention. 
  2. Shinseki One Of Several Administration Officials Volunteering On MLK Day. 
  3. Feelings Of Isolation A Concern For Women Veterans Returning From War. 
  4. VFW Chief Urges Local Approaches To Vets’ Homelessness, Praises Shinseki. 
  5. Vietnam Veterans Return To Quang Tri To Address Leftover Mines, Bombs. 
  6. VA Hospital Expanding “Tele-Psychiatry” Service. 
  7. Vietnam Wall’s Sponsor Seeks Photos Of Those Named There. 
  8. Governor Drops Opposition To DVA Director Qualifications Bill. 
  9. Millions In Matching Funds Needed For Oregon Vets Home. 
  10. Closure Of Assisted Living Facility At Wisconsin Vets Home A Possibility. 


1.      Shinseki Calls For Agency To Do A Better Job On Suicide Prevention. The AP (1/15, Hefling) reported, “The suicide rate among men aged 18 to 29 years old who have left the U.S. military has gone up significantly, the government said Monday. The rate for these veterans went up 26 percent during the period 2005-2007, according to preliminary data from the Veterans Affairs Department. It was assumed that most of the veterans in this age group served in Iraq or Afghanistan.” The report also noted that veterans who use VA health care were less likely to commit suicide than those who did not. VA Secreyary Eric Shinseki, speaking at a suicide-prevention conference in Washington on Monday, “said his agency needs to do a better job of understanding what led to each suicide. He said he also would like to see more stringent protocols put into place at VA facilities concerning how to handle a potentially suicidal veteran, similar to what is done with someone who is having a heart attack.”


2.      Shinseki One Of Several Administration Officials Volunteering On MLK Day. The Hill (1/19, Wilkie, 21K) notes that on Monday, Obama Administration officials, including Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, “volunteered to do” a number of things, “all across the region, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s National Day of Service.” Shinseki fed the “hungry and homeless Monday” at the D.C. Central Kitchen. Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar “and National Parks Service director John Jarvis helped clean up the D.C. War Memorial on the National Mall.” The Washington Post‘s (1/19, O’Keefe) “Federal Eye” blog and the Los Angeles Times‘ (1/19, Muskal) “D.C. Now” blog also note the work done on Monday by Shinseki ,Salazar, and Jarvis. The Washington Post‘s (1/19, Fletcher) “44” blog mentions the efforts made by Salazar and Jarvis.


3.      Feelings Of Isolation A Concern For Women Veterans Returning From War. According to the San Jose (CA) Mercury News (1/17, Yadegaran), the Department of Veterans Affairs “estimates that by the end of 2020, women will represent 10 percent of the nation’s veteran population.” Such veterans “come home to a society that for the most part doesn’t understand – or accept – that they’re serving in the line of fire. As a result, the feelings of isolation can be even more overwhelming…says Natara Garovoy, program director of the Women’s Prevention, Outreach and Education Center for the VA Palo Alto Health Care System.”
     Florida Care Center To Treat Homeless, Female Veterans With Children. Politico (1/19, Negrin, 25K) reports on a care center for homeless female veterans with children to be opened in Cocoa, Florida in April. Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, is “publicizing the center,” and he told Politico, “I think it’s really important that we start putting the face of veterans in need of services for the females.”

4.      VFW Chief Urges Local Approaches To Vets’ Homelessness, Praises Shinseki. The Norwich Bulletin (1/17, Mosher) reports, “A Veterans of Foreign Wars national leader came to Eastern Connecticut this weekend and encouraged localized approaches to dealing with homeless veterans.” VFW executive director Robert E. Wallace said in an interview, “You can’t eradicate homelessness from Washington, D.C..” Similarly with veterans’ health care, Wallace supported localized approaches, and said that contracting out services from VA hospitals and clinics to private physicians and hospitals has improved veterans’ health. Wallace termed President Barack Obama “”a champion for veterans,” noting that he had kept promises, such as endorsing a new model for financing VA health care. Wallace, himself a Marine Vietnam veteran, “called Obama’s veterans affairs secretary, Erik Shinseki, a former Army general and chief of staff, “‘he utmost professional.'”


5.      Vietnam Veterans Return To Quang Tri To Address Leftover Mines, Bombs. An AP story (1/17) carried by over 600 media outlets profiles the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Project RENEW, which nearly 35 years after the end of the Vietnam war, enlists US veterans to address remaining dangers from leftover munitions in that nation. A week-long tour by a delegation of US Vietnam veterans, headed by retired four-star Army General and Clinton drug czar Barry McCaffrey visited Quang Tri province, the focus of the group’s efforts, since, bordering the former DMZ, it contains much of the more than 350,000 tons of landmines and explosives that are estimated to remain in Vietnam. The group “educates people about the dangers of landmines and clears the land of explosives. It also assists the injured, providing them with artificial limbs, small loans and job training,” and also “operates a hotline and has trained two teams to respond quickly when residents spot explosives.”


6.      VA Hospital Expanding “Tele-Psychiatry” Service. The AP (1/18) reported, “Eager to help veterans take advantage of its mental health services,” the Veterans Affairs medical center in White River Junction, Vermont, “is expanding its ‘tele-psychiatry’ practice to a community health clinic near” the US-Canadian border, “allowing for one-on-one consults between doctor and patient — 128 miles apart. In a pilot project, Dr. Andrew Pomerantz and six other psychiatrists and psychologists” at the VA hospital “are counseling patients from the Northern Tier Center for Health’s clinic in Richford via Web cams, reaching people who sometimes went without such services. The service…will be expanded to three sites in New Hampshire.” USA Today (1/19, Bacon, 2.11M) and the WCAX-TV Burlington, VT (1/18) website also cover this story.


7.      Vietnam Wall’s Sponsor Seeks Photos Of Those Named There. The Carlsbad (NM) Current-Argus (1/16, Davis, 7K) reports that the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Fund “is currently building a museum called ‘The Education Center at the Wall,’ near the black granite wall, to display the photos of all Americans who lost their lives in the war. Now the group has put out a call for photos.” The New Mexico Department of Veteran’s Services is teaming up with the Santa Fe Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America to collect the photographs of the 400 New Mexicans listed on the wall.


8.      Governor Drops Opposition To DVA Director Qualifications Bill. The Aberdeen (SD) American News (1/16, Mercer) reports that Gov. Mike Rounds (R) “is now supporting legislation that would change state law” to require that the state director of veterans affairs “have nothing less than an honorable discharge from the armed forces.” Testifying Friday before the State Affairs Committee of the South Dakota House, the governor’s chief of staff said the Governor had dropped his earlier opposition. That committee passed the measure (HB 1049) unanimously, and it may reach a floor vote as early as Tuesday.


9.      Millions In Matching Funds Needed For Oregon Vets Home. In continuing coverage, the AP (1/19) reports, “Backers of an effort to bring a state-supported veterans’ home to the Rogue Valley need a lot of money in a short amount of time.” Under the guidelines of the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs, which is “looking for a place to build a second” state veterans home, “applicants must come up with” $15 million in matching funds. Jackson County Commissioner C.W. Smith, “an Air Force veteran who supports the project, says coming up with that much money by the Feb. 16 application deadline is ‘the $64,000 question.'”


10.    Closure Of Assisted Living Facility At Wisconsin Vets Home A Possibility. In continuing coverage, the Racine (WI) Journal Times (1/19, Sloth, 28K) Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs officials “said late last week they might be forced to consider closing an assisted living facility at the Veterans Home at Union Grove as a way to reduce the rates charged to residents at the facility. Officials have until June to come up with a solution to funding issues at the Veterans Home at Union Grove, one of two homes the agency manages.” The Wisconsin Veterans Affairs Board “did not act on the issue at its meeting last week in Dover.”


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