Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country 2/3/10

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

    1. Walcoff: Vets Should Be Prepared For Claims Processing To Take Longer In 2011.
    2. Shinseki Part Of Winter Olympics Delegation.
    3. White House Interested In Colorado Program For Transitioning Combat Vets.
    4. Shinseki’s Involvement In Effort To Update War Memorial At Duke Noted.
    5. VA, DOD Ask For $2.8 Billion In Health Technology Funding.
    6. OPM Launching Veterans Employment Website.
    7. VA To Ask For Repayment Of Emergency GI Bill Checks.
    8. Center VA Doctor Helped Create Spreads Awareness About Repetitive Head Injuries.
    9. VA Rapidly Expanding Its Medical Foster-Home Program.
    10. Iraq Vet Stresses Importance Of Clinic For Women At Lebanon VAMC.

Have You Heard
VA Research Week is April 26-30, a time to recognize VA researchers throughout the country for their extraordinary contributions to advancing Veterans’ health and science, in general. VA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) focuses on developing and funding research that improves the lives of Veterans. One component of ORD is the Health Services Research and Development Service (HSR&D). HSR&D funds 14 VA Centers of Excellence (COEs) located throughout the country. Each COE develops its own research agenda, is affiliated with a VA medical center and collaborates with local schools of public health and universities to carry out its mission. “The research at each COE serves to energize the facility and network with which they are affiliated, and provides a constant source of innovation, creativity and support,” says Seth Eisen, M.D., director, Health Services Research and Development Service. COEs are located at Ann Arbor, Mich.; Bedford, Mass.; Boston, Mass.; Durham, N.C.; Hines, Ill.; Houston, Texas, Indianapolis, Ind.; Little Rock, Ark.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Palo Alto, Calif.; Pittsburgh/Philadelphia, Pa.; Seattle, Wash.; Sepulveda, Calif.; and Tampa, Fla. Check each out on line at HSR&D Centers of Excellence

1.      Walcoff: Vets Should Be Prepared For Claims Processing To Take Longer In 2011. The Army Times (2/3, Maze, 104K) reports, “The 2011 Veterans Affairs Department budget unveiled Monday by the White House includes what VA officials called an ‘unprecedented’ 27 percent funding increase for the Veterans Benefits Administration, some of which will be used to hire 4,000 permanent employees to process benefits claims.” However, in an “admission that comes as no surprise to few who have been watching VA struggle with a backlog of benefits claims, Michael Walcoff, VA’s acting undersecretary for benefits, said veterans should be prepared for the average claims processing time to be longer in fiscal 2011 than it is today.” But the Times did note that in a “statement, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said there are long-term plans to harness technology to speed claims, such as establishing a paperless processing system and changing procedures to reduce steps as part of promised transformation.”

2.      Shinseki Part Of Winter Olympics Delegation. The AP (2/3) reports that Vice President Joe Biden, “along with his wife, Jill, and members of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet,” including Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, “are heading to Vancouver next week” for the Winter Olympics, where they will “represent the United States at the opening and closing ceremonies, meetings” with US “athletes and other events.” The fourth item in “Digest” for the Washington Post (2/3) also covers this story.

3.      White House Interested In Colorado Program For Transitioning Combat Vets. On its website, KOAA-TV Colorado Springs, CO (2/2) said the Obama Administration “is taking a closer look at a Southern Colorado pilot program for combat soldiers transitioning to home life. A group from Pikes Peak Behavioral Health Group just returned” from the White House, “where they were invited to tell President Obama’s Director of Veterans Affairs and Wounded Warrior Policy about the local Wounded Warrior Peer Support Program.”

4.      Shinseki’s Involvement In Effort To Update War Memorial At Duke Noted. The Chronicle (2/3, Koh), a daily student newspaper at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, profiles Duke graduate student Jeremy Block, “one of three finalists for graduate Young Trustee.” Block “said one of the most meaningful experiences he has had at Duke was his effort to update the war memorial next to the Chapel. The Chronicle notes that in October, US Secretary of Veteran Affairs Eric Shinseki, “Grad ’76, came to rededicate the war memorial.”

5.      VA, DOD Ask For $2.8 Billion In Health Technology Funding. In continuing coverage, NextGov (2/3) reports, “The Defense and Veterans Affairs departments have asked for $2.8 billion for health information technology for fiscal 2011, nearly 4 percent of the federal government’s entire IT budget. The spending reflects the scale of the health care systems the two departments operate and the importance that Defense and VA,” which “asked for $1.3 billion in fiscal 2011,” place “on relying on health IT to manage the care for the 15.5 million soldiers and veterans it serves.” Meanwhile, in an information box accompanying a story on negative congressional reaction to President Obama’s 2011 budget proposal, USA Today (2/2, Wolf, 2.11M) reports, “Working with the Defense Department, the VA is planning to develop a lifetime electronic medical record for all troops and veterans.”

6.      OPM Launching Veterans Employment Website. The second item in the “Sgt. Shaft” column for the Washington Times (2/3, Fales, 77K) says the US Office of Personnel Management “is launching FedsHireVets.gov, a critical component of President Obama’s veterans employment initiative.” The website “will become the main source for veterans employment information and resources for both veterans and hiring officials. This launch represents phase one of an ongoing effort to help the men and women who have served our country in the military and their families find employment in the federal civil service.”





7.      VA To Ask For Repayment Of Emergency GI Bill Checks. In continuing coverage, the Army Times (2/3, Maze, 104K) reports, “The Veterans Affairs Department is seeking to recoup $3,000 emergency payments sent last year to about 80,000 people whose Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits were delayed — including some active-duty members who were not supposed to get the checks.” The Times adds, “People who got the payments, considered by VA to be advance pay of benefits, will be contacted about repayment options, officials said.”

8.      Center VA Doctor Helped Create Spreads Awareness About Repetitive Head Injuries. The Boston Globe (2/2, Lazar, 325K) said the turnout of “200 parents, coaches, and students” at a forum in Wayland, Massachusetts, to hear Dr. Anna McKee speak “was a sign of the success of the nation’s first center to study chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Created by McKee,” who “has studied thousands of brains at the New England Veterans Administration brain bank she directs in Bedford,” and “three partners 17 months ago at Boston University Medical School, the center has quickly spread awareness about the dangers of repetitive head injuries, largely by targeting the National Football League.” But according to the Globe, McKee “and her colleagues think” CTE may be silently damaging the brains of athletes in other sports.

9.      VA Rapidly Expanding Its Medical Foster-Home Program. The St. Paul (MN) Pioneer Press (1/31, Olson) said pairings between veterans and host families “are forming across the country” as the Department of Veterans Affairs “rapidly expands its medical foster-home program for veterans who need daily assistance but can still do plenty for themselves. The VA hospital at Fort Snelling has one of 24 active foster-home programs” in the US, and another “48 VA hospitals are creating them.” And, while the “foster-home program started as a solution for aging veterans,” homes are “also being readied for younger veterans in need of long-term care.”

10.    Iraq Vet Stresses Importance Of Clinic For Women At Lebanon VAMC. In continuing coverage, the Lebanon (PA) Daily News (2/3, Gillhoolley, 19K) reports, “As both a veteran of Iraq” and a Lebanon Veterans Affairs Medical Center “employee, Cleona resident Danielle Klinger understands the need for the new $2.5 million Women Veterans’ Health Clinic and renovated primary-care facility at the South Lebanon Township medical center. ‘I think it’s important for female veterans to have that place to come to where they feel that it’s their special area dedicated to them,'” Klinger “said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday.”

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