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

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

  1. Vets Praise Murtha.
  2. VA Debuts Open Government Web Page.
  3. Desert Storm Vet To Oversee Montana VA.
  4. Advocates Hope To Raise TBI Standards Of Care.
  5. Duckworth Seen As “Favorite” For Illinois Lt. Governor.
  6. Massachusetts Town Votes To Merge Veteran Services.
  7. Families Battling To Reopen Vets Home Pharmacy In Louisiana.
  8. VA Officials Finalize Veteran-Owned Small Business Requirements.
  9. VHA Initiative Seeks Ideas On How To Use IT To Improve Health Care.
  10. Resolution Would Encourage VA To Help Utah Build Additional Vets Home.

Have You Heard
Did you know that the Board of Veterans’ Appeals publishes a law journal? The Veterans Law Review, founded by Board Chairman James P. Terry, encourages frank discussion of relevant legislative, administrative, and judicial developments in veterans’ benefits law. The 2nd volume of the Veterans Law Review is slated for national distribution later this month. For more information, including guidelines for submitting an article for the 3rd volume of the Veterans Law Review, visit Law Review.

1.      Vets Praise Murtha. In continuing coverage, the WJAC-TV Johnstown, PA (2/9) website noted that veterans at the Veterans Affairs hospital “in Altoona say Rep. John Murtha helped them when no one else could.” The lawmaker “died Monday…after suffering complications from gallbladder surgery.” WJAC pointed out that one of its reporters asked about Murtha while visiting “vets during the VA’s National Salute to Veteran Patients,” a program that was started 18 years ago “to increase community awareness of the VA’s role in providing comprehensive medical care to the nation’s veterans.”
Navy Doctors Reviewing Murtha’s Surgery. The New York Daily News (2/10, Sisk, 588K) reports, “Navy doctors Tuesday were reviewing the seemingly routine gall bladder surgery on 77-year-old” Murtha, “who died of complications Monday. ‘Navy medicine has in place a detailed process for oversight on standards of care,’ said a spokeswoman for the Bethesda Naval Medical Center, where Murtha’s surgery was performed on Jan. 28.” The Daily News points out that Murtha “was the first Vietnam vet in Congress.”

2.      Advocates Hope To Raise TBI Standards Of Care. According to the KGET-TV Bakersfield, CA (2/9) website, traumatic brain injury (TBI) “advocates are on a mission to raise the bar on the standards of care. Advocates say it’s time victims of ‘this silent epidemic’ be given a voice.” KGET added, “The wife of former marine John Kerchner says it took her five years to persuade the Veterans Administration to approve coverage for her husband’s rehabilitative care” at the Centre for Neuro Skills in Bakersfield.

3.      VA Debuts Open Government Web Page. Federal Computer Week (2/10, Lipowicz, 90K) notes that on Tuesday, the Veterans Affairs Department was scheduled to debut VA.gov/Open, “its new Web page that highlights ongoing VA open government initiatives to improve transparency and public engagement.” The page “includes a link to a new VA dashboard application that shows the status of the VA Office of Information Technology projects.” Federal Computer Week adds, “The projects with the worst records are VistA Imaging and Deployment Toolkit, with four failed indicators each.”

4.      VHA Initiative Seeks Ideas On How To Use IT To Improve Health Care. In continuing coverage, the eighth item in the “Morning Federal Newscast” on the Federal News Radio (2/9) website said the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) “turns again to both employees and contractors for ideas. This time,” Federal Computer Week “reports, the topic is how to improve health care services using IT and electronic health records.” The “Innovation Initiative will accept ideas through February 21.”
Bob Brewin also notes the initiative in his “What’s Brewin'” blog for NextGov (2/10), although he does not say it is for contractors as well as employees. He does approve of the initiative, however, writing, “Wow, what a concept. A management that believes its employees — not contractors — have the inside track on how to improve things.”

5.      VA Officials Finalize Veteran-Owned Small Business Requirements. The Federal Computer Week (2/10, Weigelt, 90K) reports, “Veterans Affairs Department officials have finalized the eligibility requirements for businesses to get a verified status” as a veteran-owned small business (VOSB), “which entitles them to compete for certain set-aside contracts.” Under a “rule published in the Feb. 8 Federal Register,” officials “from the Center for Veterans Enterprise, an office in the VA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, have the authority to verify any information given by a business as part of the application process to become a recognized VOSB.” Federal Computer Week adds, “The Government Accountability Office has revealed numerous attempts to scam the government out of money by posing as a fake small business.”
VA Rep To Participate In Program For Business-Minded Vets. The Salem (MA) Gazette (2/10) reports, “The Enterprise Center at Salem State College and the office of Rep. John F. Tierney, 6th Congressional District, will present a free program for military veterans, ‘From Military Service to Entrepreneur: A Panel Discussion and Forum for Veterans Interested in Growing or Starting a Business,'” on Monday, February 22nd “at the Enterprise Center, 121 Loring Ave., Salem.” The Gazette notes that Jerry Pinsky, the director of Supported Self Employment at the Bedford Veterans Affairs Medical Center, will participate in the panel discussion.

6.      Duckworth Seen As “Favorite” For Illinois Lt. Governor. In continuing coverage, the Chicagoist (2/10, Gilmer) reports, “With Scott Lee Cohen now out of the race for Lt. Governor” of Illinois, the “question remains: who will replace him? Speculation is already focusing” on US Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs Tammy Duckworth, who “is apparently a favorite with Gov. Pat Quinn.”
The WBBM-AM Chicago, IL (2/9) website and “The Fix”, a Washington Post (2/10, Cillizza, 684K) blog, publish similar stories, while Chicago Sun-Times (2/10, 292K) columnist Michael Sneed reports, “Although Duckworth is at the top of Quinn’s original wish list, he will defer to the choice of the Dem State Central Committee led by state party chief Mike Madigan.”





7.      Desert Storm Vet To Oversee Montana VA. The Helena (MT) Independent Record (2/10, Kidston, 14K) notes that on Tuesday, the Veterans Affairs Montana Healthcare System “announced the appointment of a new director, replacing former director Joe Underkofler, who retired in October after 37 years with the VA. Robin Korogi, a Desert Storm veteran, will oversee the Montana VA and its 1,000 employees.” The Montana VA “also plans to break ground on a 24-bed impatient mental-health facility at Fort Harrison next week.” A later version of the Record (2/10, Kidston) story says Korogi “becomes the first woman to lead the Montana VA.” The AP (2/10) and the websites for KPAX-TV Missoula, MT (2/9) and KULR-TV Billings, MT (2/9, Bray) also cover this story.

8.      Resolution Would Encourage VA To Help Utah Build Additional Vets Home. The AP (2/10) reports, “A House committee will consider a resolution that would urge the federal government to support a new nursing home for Utah’s veterans. House Resolution 9 would encourage the US Department of Veterans Affairs to help Utah with efforts to build an additional home.” The AP notes that the Utah VA “currently runs a full-time facility in Salt Lake City and a partially operational one in Ogden.”

9.      Families Battling To Reopen Vets Home Pharmacy In Louisiana. The Shreveport (LA) Times (2/10, Prime) reports, “Families of veterans at the Northwest Louisiana War Veterans Home in Bossier City are battling to reopen a pharmacy closed there in recent weeks as part of a state drive to lower costs and economize. The families won a small victory in recent days as the state Department of Veterans Affairs chose to retain the home’s full-time physician, Dr. Roy Fleniken.” However, the families “believe Fleniken, who will have to monitor contracted physicians at the other homes, and who still will lose physicians assistants and the pharmacist who by law was the only person able to dispense medications, may be stretched too thin.”

10.    Massachusetts Town Votes To Merge Veteran Services. The Boston Globe (2/9, Castello, 325K) reported, “The Wellesley Board of Selectmen voted Monday night to regionalize the town’s veterans services with three other local towns last night. The town will be petitioning the Massachusetts Department of Veteran Services to establish a regional veteran service district with Needham, Dover, and Weston.” The Globe noted that Needham and Weston have also “approved the merger,” while “Dover selectmen will vote on Thursday.”

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