Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country 1-21-10


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

  1. VA Officials Optimistic About GI Bill Claims For  Spring. 
  2. Commission Joins Effort To Bring Second VA Regional Office To Florida. 
  3. VA Doctor Touts Significance Of PTSD Diagnosis Research. 
  4. VA Assisting Homeless Female Veterans. 
  5. VA Doctors Involved With Helping Earthquake Victims In Haiti. 
  6. VA Contracts Found To Have Been Improperly Awarded. 
  7. IG Report Highlights Problems At VA Regional Office. 
  8. Design Phase Completed For Alabama Veterans Home. 
  9. Tennessee Official To Discuss Proposed Site For Veterans Cemetery. 
  10. Arizona Veterans Service Advisory Commission  Holds Town Hall. 

“Who has time for the flu?” is the question Women Veterans Program Managers (WVPMs) are asking women Veterans this flu season. A poster designed by the Women Veterans Health Strategic Health Care Group bearing this question was distributed to all WVPMs to kick off the vaccination season. WVPMs used the posters to spread the word about the importance of H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccinations, especially for new mothers and pregnant and lactating women—two of the groups at highest risk for complications from the flu. A survey conducted by Women Veterans Health Strategic Health Care Group found that of 72 responding facilities, 98.6% were engaged in outreach to pregnant and lactating women veterans. Many went beyond hanging posters—to calling patients, mailing reminders, and engaging in provider education. In Big Spring, Texas, Women Veterans Health staff advertised in the local paper and traveled to rural areas to distribute vaccinations. And the Long Beach, CA, facility partnered with local VSOs and held a baby shower at which new mothers and moms-to-be could get flu vaccinations. The event was a hit—two more baby showers are on the books for 2010. For more information on VHA programs on flu and on women veterans health, visit

1.      VA Officials Optimistic About GI Bill Claims For Spring. The Air Force Times (1/21, Maze) says based on data they provided Wednesday, “Veterans Affairs Department officials appear to have a good jump on processing spring semester claims for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, and they hope that hiring more people, getting help from an outside contractor and convincing schools to submit enrollment information faster will avoid delays that plagued the program in the fall.” The Times adds that VA Secretary Eric Shinseki recently “said…with the help of schools and veterans, he believes up to 30,000 claims can be processed each week.” Inside Higher Ed’s (1/21) “Quick Takes” also covers this story. 

2.      Commission Joins Effort To Bring Second VA Regional Office To Florida. The Northwest Florida Daily News (1/21, McCurdy, 40K, 36K) reports, “The Walton County Commission is joining other local governments trying to get a second Veterans Affairs regional office in the state.” After noting that the commission “approved a resolution last week asking President Barack Obama for help,” the Daily News adds, “Resolutions have been sent” to several Florida lawmakers VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. The Walton (FL) Sun (1/21) publishes the same story. 

3.      VA Doctor Touts Significance Of PTSD Diagnosis Research. In continuing coverage, the Minneapolis Star Tribune (1/20, Lerner, 347K) said there has “never been a simple test to diagnose” post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but in a study published Wednesday in the “online issue of the Journal of Neural Engineering,” a “group of Minnesota scientists say they’ve found a high-tech way” to do so. After noting that the new diagnostic method involves the use of a “$2 million device called MEG (magnetoencephalography),” the Star Tribune added, “The discovery could have huge implications for the way PTSD is diagnosed and treated in the future, says Dr. Apostolos Georgopoulos, who led the research as director of the Brain Sciences Center” at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Reuters (1/21) publishes a similar story. 

4.      VA Assisting Homeless Female Veterans. On its website, WTVT-TV Tampa, FL (1/20) reported, “The number of women veterans who are homeless has doubled in the last decade.” Assistance is available to them, however, through the “Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing program,” which, according WTVT, helped a homeless veteran named Paula. WTVT added that Paula found such “aid through the James A. Haley VA Medical Center’s Homeless Women Veterans Program,” which is currently helping “about 100 women and 80 children.” 

5.      VA Doctors Involved With Helping Earthquake Victims In Haiti. The Oregonian (1/21, 276K) reports, “With Haitians still desperate for medical aid and basic supplies” following last week’s earthquake, “more Oregon doctors and nurses are preparing to head south.” One such doctor, Karen Kwong of the Portland Veterans Affairs Hospital, “will leave Thursday as part of a team organized by a Eugene physician…who has made annual trips to a hospital in Haiti for the past 10 years.”
     The Lebanon (PA) Daily News (1/21, Rhen, 19K) says that when Dr. Hank Mackler, chief of anesthesia at the Lebanon Veterans Affairs Medical Center, “heard a CNN reporter pleading with viewers to see if anyone could help a woman that had been found” in Haiti “after being buried in rubble for several days, he sprang into action,” calling CNN to tell them about Crudem Hospital, which Mackler knew about because he has “been traveling to Haiti on medical missions for 30 years.” The Daily News notes that Mackler said he later learned arrangements had been made to fly the earthquake victim to Crudem.

6.      VA Contracts Found To Have Been Improperly Awarded. USA Today (1/21, Kelley, 2.11M) reports, “Six companies received $24.8 million in economic stimulus work under federal programs set aside for disadvantaged businesses even though government investigators had found them ineligible, federal records show. The companies got contracts,” including some from the Department of Veterans Affairs “meant for those based in poor neighborhoods or owned by minorities or disabled veterans, according to a USA TODAY analysis of federal contracting records and reports on ineligible companies.” VA officials, however, “say they are cracking down on fraud.” 

7.      IG Report Highlights Problems At VA Regional Office. In continuing coverage, the Air Force Times (1/21, Maze) says, “A new report” from the Office of Inspector General for the Veterans Affairs Department “will help fuel complaints about an error-filled disability claims process in need of a complete overhaul. Investigators looking at claims processing at the VA regional office in Roanoke, Va., found that 25 percent of the case files they closely studied had serious mistakes.” The website for WSLS-TV Roanoke, VA (1/20, Hatcher) noted that US Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA) “worries this will make veterans who already don’t trust the VA, even more leary.” WFXR-TV Roanoke, VA (1/20, 10:35 p.m. ET) aired a similar report.
     Walcoff: Veterans “Deserve Better” Service. In a web version of a story that will appear in its February issue, Reader’s Digest (1/21, Crowley) says that “while the average wait time” for the VA to process disability payments “has decreased, it’s still scandalously long. ‘Veterans deserve better service than we’re able to give them at this point,'” said VA Deputy Under Secretary for Benefits Michael Walcoff.

8.      Design Phase Completed For Alabama Veterans Home. On its website, WSFA-TV Montgomery, AL (1/20) reports, “The plan to build a new state-of-the-art, extended care facility for Alabama veterans…is close to becoming a reality with the completion of the home’s design. ‘Phase two, which is our next step, will be to break ground and start the construction phase of the home,’ said Clyde Marsh, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs.” Marsh “said he expects the new veterans home will get the required” Veterans Affairs Federal funds in the FY 2011 budget cycle.

9.      Tennessee Official To Discuss Proposed Site For Veterans Cemetery. The Knoxville (TN) News Sentinel (1/21, Lakin) reports, “John Keys, Tennessee’s commissioner of veterans affairs, will field…questions Monday about the proposed site for an expanded veterans cemetery in Southeast Knox County.” The US Department of Veterans Affairs “has approved $2.4 million to fund the new cemetery, said” Chuck Taylor, the assistant state commissioner for veterans affairs.

10.    Arizona Veterans Service Advisory Commission Holds Town Hall. The Eastern Arizona Courier (1/21, Johnson, 6K) reports, “Members of the veteran communities from five Arizona counties gathered” at Eastern Arizona College “on Saturday for a regional meeting and town hall of the Arizona Veterans Service Advisory Commission.” The Courier adds, “A development that will affect veterans in the Gila Valley will be the introduction of increased video teleconferencing with doctors, according to Southern Arizona Veterans Administration Health Care System Chief Sally Petty.”


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