Top 10 Veterans News From Around the Country

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

  1. Murtha To Be Buried Near His Home.
  2. Rieckhoff: VA’s Disability System Needs To Be Reformed.
  3. Surviving Spouses Continue To Try To End “Widows’ Tax.”
  4. VA Sets “Strict Guidelines” For Veterans Contracting Program.
  5. Wilson Remembered For Work In Afghanistan, Efforts To Help Vets.
  6. Vietnam Veterans Moving Wall Headed To Batavia VA This Summer.
  7. Artwork Part Of National Salute To Hospitalized Veterans Week In Indiana.
  8. Authors Tout Importance Of Anxiety Disorder Study Co-Funded By VAPAHCS.
  9. Committee Recommends Restoring Funding Cuts For Veterans Services In Kansas.
  10. Proposed Legislation In California Focuses On Court Trials For Mentally Ill Veterans.

1.      Surviving Spouses Continue To Try To End “Widows’ Tax.” The AP (2/11, Hefling) reports, “For a decade, war widows in matching yellow suit jackets and hats quietly and persistently have knocked on Capitol Hill doors seeking an end to the ‘widows’ tax,'” a “law that won’t allow surviving spouses to receive the retirement pay due them when their spouse died from a cause related to military service, and at the same time collect the full annuity – essentially an insurance policy most of their spouses opted to buy.” But even though there have been “pledges of help from scores of federal officials – including President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – their long quest remains unfulfilled.” Vivianne Wersel, chairwoman of the Government Relations Committee at Gold Star Wives of America, “said her group is pleased that so far this year they have enlisted more than 300 co-sponsors for their legislation in the House and more than 50 in the Senate, but they are still not confident that means Congress will pass it.”

2.      Artwork Part Of National Salute To Hospitalized Veterans Week In Indiana. In continuing coverage, the Fort Wayne (IN) Daily News (2/11) reports, “It’s been said a picture is worth a thousand words. If that’s so, then thousands of unspoken words will be contributing to the comfort of patients” this week at the Veterans Affairs hospitals in Fort Wayne and Marion, where artwork by faculty, students, and alumni from Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne will be displayed. After noting that one of the students “has often expressed to her colleagues at IPFW how well her family has been cared” for by the VA since her husband died while serving in Afghanistan, the Daily News says the artwork project “is part of the National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans Week activities.”

3. Wilson Remembered For Work In Afghanistan, Efforts To Help Vets. The AP (2/11, Stengle) reports 76-year-old Charlie Wilson, the “former congressman from Texas whose funding of Afghanistan’s resistance to the Soviet Union was chronicled in the movie and book ‘Charlie Wilson’s War,’ died Wednesday.” After noting that Memorial Medical Center-Lufkin spokeswoman Yana Ogletree said the preliminary cause of death was cardiopulmonary arrest, the AP says US Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) “called Wilson ‘a lifetime public servant with a fiery passion for the people of east Texas, our men and women in uniform, our veterans and our freedoms.'”
The Washington Post (2/11, Langer, Shapiro, 684K) points out that Wilson was a Navy veteran, as does the CNN (2/11) website. USA Today (2/11, Kiely, 2.11M), meanwhile, says in Wilson’s “view, his biggest achievements as a member of Congress were local,” including the “creation of a veterans hospital in Lufkin,” a point that was also made in a story aired by Fox News Channel’s Special Report (2/10, 6:10 p.m. ET), and by reports in McClatchy (2/11, Batheja), as well as the websites for KLTV-TV Tyler, TX (2/10, Hemness) and KTRE-TV Lufkin, TX (2/10). KTRE, which also noted that the “Lufkin VA clinic was renamed after Wilson in 2005,” quoted Dr. Anthony Zollo, the clinic’s director, who said in a press release that VA “is a richer organization because of…Wilson.” The Houston Chronicle (2/11, 427K) runs the same quote.

4.      Murtha To Be Buried Near His Home. In continuing coverage, The Hill (2/11, Tiron, 21K) reports 77-year-old US Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) “will be buried in his district” Tuesday, “not far from his home in Johnstown, Pa.” Murtha, the “first Vietnam War veteran to be elected to Congress,” had been “eligible for burial” at Arlington National Cemetery but his family decided against that, according to Matthew Mazonkey, the lawmaker’s spokesman.

5.      Vietnam Veterans Moving Wall Headed To Batavia VA This Summer. The Batavia (NY) Daily News (2/10, Baker, 13K) reports, “Those who served and are serving the nation will be honored in a special way this summer” at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Batavia. Plans are “‘under way for bringing the Vietnam Veterans Moving Wall to the Batavia VA grounds June 24-28,’ said Royce Calhoun, assistant medical center director, VA Western New York Healthcare System.” The wall is a “half-sized replica of the actual Vietnam War Memorial Wall” in Washington, DC.

6.      VA Sets “Strict Guidelines” For Veterans Contracting Program. In continuing coverage, Government Executive (2/10, Brodsky) reports, “The Veterans Affairs Department has set strict guidelines for bidding on contracts set-aside for veteran-owned small businesses. Entrepreneurs will be allowed only one company at a time in the contracting program and must work full time in the business, according to a final rule published on Monday in the Federal Register.” Government Executive adds that while the “rule is final, VA is accepting comments on the owner-involvement change through March 10.” A similar story appeared as the last item in the “Federal Eye” blog for the Washington Post (2/10, O’Keefe, 684K).

7.      Committee Recommends Restoring Funding Cuts For Veterans Services In Kansas. The Marysville (KS) Advocate (2/10, Ranney) reported, “Budget cuts have taken a toll” on services provided to veterans in Kansas, as was told to the state’s House Social Services Budget Committee on Monday. The committee “later voted to recommend that the full House Budget Committee restore the funding cuts.”

8.      Proposed Legislation In California Focuses On Court Trials For Mentally Ill Veterans. The Los Altos (CA) Town Crier (2/10, Burr) noted that “Los Altos resident Duncan MacVicar, a veteran,” has written “legislation to facilitate military veterans’ receiving a proper trial in…cases” involving mentally ill veterans. Current law in California “authorizes judges to sentence mentally ill veterans to a treatment process instead of jail if found guilty of a crime, but only in the case of misdemeanors. MacVicar’s proposed amendments, currently under discussion in the state Senate,” would, among other things, “permit a veteran to submit a psychiatrist’s formal evaluation to prove his or her mental condition(s).”

9.      Rieckhoff: VA’s Disability System Needs To Be Reformed. In an op-ed for Minnesota Public Radio (2/10) Paul Rieckhoff, the executive director and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said “nearly 425,000…injured veterans” are “stuck waiting” for their disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. And “just recently,” according to Rieckhoff, “we heard from VA Secretary Eric Shinseki that the wait time is likely to rise until 2013.” Rieckhoff argues that “we need all Americans” to “support our veterans fighting for disability reform” at the VA, as his organization will do this week during its “annual Storm the Hill campaign.”

10.    Authors Tout Importance Of Anxiety Disorder Study Co-Funded By VAPAHCS. Science Daily (2/11) reports, “People with generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, have abnormalities in the way their brain unconsciously controls emotions. That’s the conclusion of a new Stanford University School of Medicine study, and the study authors say the findings could open up new avenues for treatments and change our understanding of how emotion is regulated in everyday life.” The study, “published online in this month’s American Journal of Psychiatry,” was funded by the National Institutes of Health “and the residency-research program of the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System.”

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