Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country 1-22-10


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

  1. Early Call Issued For New GI Bill Submissions.
  2. VA Researchers Identify Biological Marker For PTSD. 
  3. Land, Funding Assurance Still Needed For Vets Nursing Home In Utah. 
  4. Federal Funding Not Yet Available For New Alabama Vets Home. 
  5. Despite Opposition, Wisconsin VA Board Appointments Move Along. 
  6. Vet Sentenced To Prison For Assault. 
  7. Hospital To Again Appeal VA Clinic Decision. 
  8. Data From VA, Other Cabinet-Level Departments Headed To Internet. 
  9. New Cemetery Provides Vets, Families With Alternative Resting Place. 
  10. Book Offers Benefit Application Guide To Veterans.  

When record-breaking winter weather hit the Midwest January 4-8, Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program staff from the Columbia, Mo. VA Medical Center hit the streets looking for homeless Veterans to direct to emergency shelters. They reached several Veterans and also connected with emergency shelters to help with supplies. The Salvation Army shelter in Columbia needed additional cots to expand “bed” capacity and got them from the VA medical center, along with coats, gloves, scarves, blankets and pillows. The week-long drive to gather supplies generated a tremendous response and all identified needs, including a 5XL coat for a homeless Veteran, were met. Local TV and newspapers covered VA’s leadership in helping the homeless. The effort collected 543 items including 63 coats, 90 pairs of socks, 40 pairs of gloves, 35 hats, 29 blankets, 12 pillows and 183 personal care items.

1.      Early Call Issued For New GI Bill Submissions. In continuing coverage, the “Federal Eye” blog for the Washington Post (1/22, O’Keefe) reports, “The Department of Veterans Affairs has paid more than $1.3 billion in education benefits to more than 170,000 students eligible for the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, the department said Wednesday. Officials released the figures as they issued an early call asking” for the submission of spring semester information before Feb. 10. Officials “said universities and students need to start thinking earlier about submitting enrollment information to the department in order to avoid the embarrassing backlogs that occurred last fall as the program began.”
     The Daily Texan (1/22, Geiser), the student newspaper for the University of Texas at Austin, notes that on Wednesday, the VA “asked University officials and students…for help with processing all spring semester Post-9/11 GI Bill claims for student veterans by February.” The Texan adds, “Tuition benefits from the GI Bill for veteran students whose applications were received before Jan. 19 will be paid by Feb. 1, according to a Jan. 14 letter to state directors” from VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. 

2.      VA Researchers Identify Biological Marker For PTSD. In continuing coverage, Medical News Today (1/22, Hanson) reports, “Researchers at the University of Minnesota” and the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center “have identified a biological marker in the brains of those exhibiting post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).” The study marks the “first time” PTSD has been objectively diagnosed “using magnetoencephalography (MEG), a non-invasive measurement of magnetic fields in the brain. It’s something conventional brain scans such as an X-ray, CT, or MRI have failed to do.” HealthDay (1/22, Gardner), Minnesota Public Radio (1/21, Crann), and CNET News‘ (1/22, Moore) “Health Tech” blog also cover this story.
     Study: Combat Wounds Not Most Likely Reason For US Soldier Evacuations. The AP (1/22, Cheng) reports, “American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan were more likely to be medically evacuated for health problems such as a bad back than for combat injuries, a new study says.” Researchers working on the study, published Friday in the British medical journal The Lancet, also “found psychiatric disorders rose during the period studied — 2004 to 2007 — despite an increased focus on treating mental health problems.” HealthDay (1/22) also notes the study.

3.      Land, Funding Assurance Still Needed For Vets Nursing Home In Utah. The Deseret (UT) Morning News (1/22, Hardy) reports the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs has “announced it plans to build a 100-bed nursing home for aging, ill or disabled soldiers,” but more must be done “before the first shovel of dirt is turned for the Spanish Fork state facility.” Officials “must acquire 16 acres to build” the home, and the “Utah Legislature must assure Veterans Affairs that it has earmarked $6.2 million for construction — the state’s share. That would put the facility in a position to receive federal funding.”

4.      Federal Funding Not Yet Available For New Alabama Vets Home. In continuing coverage, the St. Clair (AL) Times (1/22, Atchison) reports, “Officials with the Veterans Affairs Office in Montgomery said they are committed to the construction of the new veterans home, but federal funding for the project is not available this year.” While speaking to “members of the Pell City Rotary Club Tuesday,” Alabama Department Veterans Affairs Commissioner Clyde Marsh, “said the VA Office is hoping federal funds will become available in 2011.” The Talladega (AL) Home (1/22) ran the same story. 

5.      Despite Opposition, Wisconsin VA Board Appointments Move Along. The AP (1/22) reports Joe Leibham and Ted Kanavas, both “Republican state senators,” are “opposing the appointments of two Wisconsin Veterans Affairs Board members because of their role in firing” John Scocos, the former Wisconsin VA secretary. However, the “committee that oversees veterans’ issues voted 3-2 to confirm” both appointments, sending the “nominations to the full Senate.” 

6.      Vet Sentenced To Prison For Assault. The Eastern Arizona Courier (1/22, Johnson, 6K) reports 58-year-old veteran Michael Dennis Riley “was sentenced Jan. 11 to six years in prison” for assault. After noting that Riley “voluntarily checked himself” into the Veterans Affairs hospital in Tucson following the assault, the Courier says Riley “allegedly suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder but was deemed mentally competent to stand trial.”

7.      Hospital To Again Appeal VA Clinic Decision. In continuing coverage, the WWNY-TV Watertown, NY (1/21, Rusho) website noted that since Carthage Area Hospital (CAH) “learned it lost its bid to retain” a Veterans Affairs clinic to Valor Healthcare,” CAH officials “have continually asked why they lost out to a larger operation” if their bid was lower. WWNY noted that CAH “will make a second appeal to Valor winning the bid and moving the facility to Watertown by filing paperwork with the government’s accountability office. A decision is expected in the next couple of weeks.”

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8.      Data From VA, Other Cabinet-Level Departments Headed To Internet. The AP (1/22) reports, “The Obama administration on Friday is posting to the Internet a wealth of government data from all Cabinet-level departments,” including Veterans Affairs. Under a “Dec. 8 White House directive, each department must post online at least three collections of ‘high-value’ government data that never have been previously disclosed.” 

9.      New Cemetery Provides Vets, Families With Alternative Resting Place. In continuing coverage, the Allentown (PA) Morning Call (1/22, Portnoy, 104K) reports, “Washington Crossing National Cemetery began interring cremated remains on Wednesday — with private services being held for seven veterans and one spouse, according” to US Department of Veterans Affairs spokeswoman Josephine Schuda. The Morning Call goes on to explain that while there is a national cemetery in Lebanon County, the opening of one in “lower Bucks County gives area veterans and their families a second, and in many cases, closer-to-home choice of a final resting place.” 

10.    Book Offers Benefit Application Guide To Veterans. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (1/21, Barnes, 223K) reports Joseph Scott McCarthy, who “teaches a continuing education class that explains veterans benefits to social workers at the University of Pittsburgh,” has “written a book” called “‘Checks for Vets,'” which offers “an easy-to-understand guidebook format” on benefit application for veterans.

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