Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country 1-29-10

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

  1. Committee: DOD Should Offer Care To Vets Exposed To Contaminated Water. 
  2. VA Researcher Authors Study On Drinking Among Older Adults. 
  3. US Army Leaders Instructed To Step Up Suicide Prevention Efforts. 
  4. Bill Would Expand Grant Programs For Homeless Vets. 
  5. Vets Hope To Rid Vietnam Of Unexploded Ordnance. 
  6. Bond Hearing Delayed So Veteran Can Get PTSD Treatment. 
  7. Insanity Plea Postpones Iraq Vet’s Trial. 
  8. Several Prominent World War II Vets Pass Away. 
  9. VA IG Criticizes Anchorage Office. 
  10. Judge Approves Debt Case Agreement Between US Government, Vets. 

1.      Committee: DOD Should Offer Care To Vets Exposed To Contaminated Water. McClatchy (1/29, Barrett) reports that legislation passed by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on “Thursday would require the Department of Defense to offer health care to spouses, children and other family members who were exposed to contaminated water…in the 1970s and ’80s” at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. McClatchy also notes that a competing bill, which would have made the Veterans Affairs Department responsible for such care, failed to pass the committee Thursday.
     The AP (1/28) publishes a similar story, while the Marine Corps Times (1/29, Maze, 32K) says the bill that passed the committee on Thursday makes the DOD “responsible for health care because” the VA and “several major veterans’ organizations worried that a flood of new patients could overwhelm” the VA. The Times notes that in a Jan. 26 letter to the committee, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki “said…that up to 500,000 people who lived at Camp Lejeune from 1957 to 1987 could apply for health benefits, and that estimate ‘could be conservative.’ Caring for them would cost about $4.2 billion over 10 years, he said.”
     The Jacksonville (NC) Daily News (1/29, Hodge) reports, “Staff from Burr’s office said the senator would continue to actively pursue avenues to get veterans and their families healthcare through the VA.” Next week, meanwhile, a “bill that parallels the one killed” by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Thursday “will be introduced in the House.” The House will named after Janey Ensminger, the daughter of “Jacksonville resident and former Marine” Jerry Ensminger, who believes Janey’s death from Leukemia at the age of nine was caused by exposure to toxic water at Camp Lejeune.

2.      VA Researcher Authors Study On Drinking Among Older Adults. Medical News Today (1/28) reported, “New research on drinking among older adults has found that older adults who have more money, engage in more social activities, and whose friends approve more of drinking are more likely to engage in excessive or high-risk drinking.” Rudolf H. Moos, “senior research career scientist for the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System in Palo Alto, California,” authored the study, which “will be published in the April 2010 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.” 

3.      US Army Leaders Instructed To Step Up Suicide Prevention Efforts. USA Today (1/29, Zoroya, 2.11M) reports, “Alarmed by the suicides of eight soldiers in the year’s first eight days, the Army’s No. 2 general told commanders to have face-to-face contact with GIs to remind them ‘each one is valued by our Army,’ according” to a “Jan. 8 memorandum provided to USA TODAY. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army’s vice chief of staff, reinforced that message last week, telling leaders in a videoconference they must pay extra attention to soldiers who are moving from one installation to another and may need more help, says Col. Chris Philbrick, head of the Army’s suicide task force.” USA Today says Chiarelli’s “message illustrates the continuing challenge the service faces despite an anti-suicide campaign that started last year.”

4.      Bill Would Expand Grant Programs For Homeless Vets. The Helena (MT) Independent Record (1/29, Doran, 14K) reports, “The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on Thursday passed” S.127, “a bill that…could create job opportunities and better housing for homeless veterans, particularly women and veterans with families.” The bill “would expand the Veterans Affairs grant program that pays up to 65 percent of the construction costs associated with building, expanding or modernizing veterans supportive housing, and would create a new grant program in the Labor Department for the reintegration of homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children into the labor force.” The Record adds, “With two amendments” by US Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), “these services would be delivered to the struggling veterans in Montana and across rural America.” The KULR-TV Billings, MT (1/28, Grigg) website noted that Tester “said he doesn’t want to see veterans in rural America fall through the cracks.”

5.      Vets Hope To Rid Vietnam Of Unexploded Ordnance. The Arlington (VA) Connection (1/29, Georgelas) notes that earlier this month, Barry McCaffrey, a retired general, “led a 40-person delegation of Vietnam veterans and their families on a humanitarian tour of Vietnam.” The “largest single focus of McCaffrey’s tour was to promote the work of Project RENEW, which aims to rid Vietnam of the 350,000 metric tons of unexploded ordnance.” The US government “recently awarded the project a $1 million grant, which McCaffrey hopes represents the beginning of regular funding for an effort which helps move Vietnam from its past.”
     Vietnam Vet Interviewed By Volunteers Conducting Homeless Count. The Naples (FL) Daily News (1/29, Freeman) reports, “Thursday was the first day of the Collier County Hunger and Homeless Coalition’s annual ‘point in time’ homeless count,” which involves volunteers “going to soup kitchens, homeless shelters and labor pools to interview people who are homeless and at risk of being homeless.” One of those interviewed Thursday was 64-year-old Vietnam vet Thomas Brady, who “sleeps in his car and goes to the Veterans Administration clinic when he needs a doctor.”

6.      Bond Hearing Delayed So Veteran Can Get PTSD Treatment. On its website, WGXA-TV Macon, GA (1/28, Smith) reported, “A bond hearing” for a veteran “accused of molesting two young girls” has been “delayed so the suspect can get treatment” for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at a Veterans Affairs hospital. 

7.      Insanity Plea Postpones Iraq Vet’s Trial. The Madison-based Wisconsin State Journal (1/29, Treleven, 103K) reports, “A trial set to begin next month” for Iraq veteran Perry E. Lucas, who is “charged with shooting one man to death and wounding another,” was postponed Thursday after Lucas’ attorney entered an insanity plea for his client. The attorney did so “after reviewing a Veterans Administration medical report and discovering that it gave rise to the possibility that Lucas was not in control of his actions on the night of the shooting.” 





8.      Several Prominent World War II Vets Pass Away. The AP (1/29) reports, “Retired Air Force Lt. Colonel Lee A. Archer, a Tuskegee Airman considered to be the only black ace pilot who also broke racial barriers as an executive” at General Foods Corp., “died Wednesday in New York City. He was 90.” The AP adds, “The Tuskegee Airmen were America’s first black fighter pilot group in World War II.”
     In an obituary, the Washington Post (1/29, Bernstein, 684K) notes the recent death of 91-year-old Frank G. MacMurray, “founding partner of Foxhall Internists, which became one of Washington’s most prominent medical practices.” MacMurray “served in the Army Air Forces during World War II. After the war, he completed…his residency at the Veterans Administration’s Mount Alto Hospital in Washington.”
     The Chicago Tribune (1/29, McClellan, 534K) reports 102-year-old Luis Leal, “an internationally recognized scholar of Mexican, Chicano and Latin American literature who was one of the founders of the field of Chicano literary studies, has died.” Leal “was drafted into the Army during World War II and served in the Pacific.” 

9.      VA IG Criticizes Anchorage Office. The Anchorage Daily News (1/29, Shinohara) reports Federal inspectors from the Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General “have given the Anchorage Veterans Administration Regional Office a poor review for its handling of Alaska veterans’ disability claims, citing lack of quality control and a 29 percent error rate that in some cases resulted in veterans being underpaid, facing unnecessary delays in obtaining benefits, or being initially denied services they might be entitled to.” 

10.    Judge Approves Debt Case Agreement Between US Government, Vets. The Wall Street Journal (1/29, Schultz, 2.08M) reports a Federal judge gave preliminary approval Thursday to a settlement agreement that calls for the US government to repay $7.4 million to veterans whose tax refunds and benefits were improperly withheld. The case is one of the first class actions to challenge debt-collection practices by the US government. 

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