Top 10 Veterans News From Around the Country

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

  1. VA Doctor, Others Say Drug May Aid MS Treatment
  2. New Jersey Honors Vets, Offers Benefits Information
  3. VA Tells Recipients Emergency GI Bill Benefits Must Be Repaid
  4. Contractor Stabilizing Headstones At Kerrville Veterans Cemetery
  5. VA Looking To Track Physician Response To Computerized Alerts
  6. Mississippi Governor Joining Vietnam War Education Center Effort
  7. Tester Helps Break Ground On Mental Health Facility For Veterans
  8. Shinseki, Other Administration Officials To Mark Stimulus Anniversary
  9. Research Shows “Bonding” Hormone Might Help Some Autism Sufferers
  10. Study: US Veterans Encountering Barriers As They Seek PTSD Treatment

Have You Heard
The VA joins the American Heart Association and partner organizations in raising awareness of heart disease in women during the month of February. Heart disease is the leading cause of death of American women — Veterans and non-veterans, alike. It can also lead to disability and significantly decrease one’s quality of life. Despite this, many women do not recognize heart disease as their leading health threat, and many women fail to make the connection between risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and their personal risk of developing heart disease. African-American and Hispanic women in particular are at risk, with high rates of obesity, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. VA understands the health care needs of Women Veterans and is committed to meeting these needs. Women are now the fastest growing subgroup of Veterans. Their number will increase dramatically in the next 10 years, and VA health care will be there for them. Find out more about VA health care for women Veterans at Women Veterans Health Care

1.   VA Doctor, Others Say Drug May Aid MS Treatment.HealthDay (2/17) reports, “Adding the drug daclizumab to standard treatment with interferon beta may reduce multiple sclerosis disease activity more than interferon beta alone, a new study reports.” The study “was released online Feb. 15 in advance of publication in the April issue of The Lancet Neurology.” Medical News Today (2/16) noted that the study was the result of work done by a number of people, including Dr. John W Rose, who is affiliated with the Veterans Affairs hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah.

2. New Jersey Honors Vets, Offers Benefits Information.In an online version of a story set to appear on the front page of its February 18th edition, the Bloomfield (NJ) Independent (2/17, Walter) reports, “Local veterans received some recognition last week and information about benefits they are due, when the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs presented 19 local veterans with honorary medals. Held Feb. 2” at a kiosk in the Monmouth County Mall, the “medals ceremony was an outreach to veterans that aims to provide them with information about benefits they are entitled to for service to the country.” According to the Independent, “retired Army Col. Stephen G. Abel, deputy commissioner for veterans affairs,” spoke during the ceremony, telling those present, “We will be here for the next three days manning this kiosk, talking to veterans that served our country in uniform about their benefits.”
State Effort Underway To Provide Military Funerals For Abandoned Vets. In an online version of a story set to appear on the front page of its February 18th edition, the Old Bridge (NJ) Suburban (2/17, Booton) reports, “Decades after some of New Jersey’s war veterans have passed away, their cremated remains sit abandoned in funeral homes across the state.” Now, however, the New Jersey chapter of a “nonprofit organization called Mission of Honor has been working to locate and identify these veterans, and to provide them with a proper military burial, as was done recently in Sayreville for three area veterans.” The Suburban notes that New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine has “signed legislation…giving Mission members greater freedom to enter funeral homes and acquire cremains.”

3.  VA Tells Recipients Emergency GI Bill Benefits Must Be Repaid.The Air Force Times (2/17, Maze) reports, “About 122,000 people now have received word from the Veterans Affairs Department that they must start paying back the $3,000 advance payments of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits they received late last year. A second warning letter will come this week, officials said.” After noting that the “advance payments were made…when it became clear VA would be late paying living stipends and book allowances to students using the new program for the fall term,” the Air Force Times adds, “The names of anyone who does not respond to VA’s request for recoupment will be turned over the Treasury Offset Program, which can garnish salaries or tax refunds to collect money owed the federal government.”

4.   Contractor Stabilizing Headstones At Kerrville Veterans Cemetery.According to the Kerrville (TX) Daily Times (2/16, Armstrong, 9K), headstones at the Kerrville Veterans Cemetery, the “final resting place for more than 400 veterans from Ohio, Missouri, North Dakota, Texas and across the country,” have “shifted and tilted. That’s where contractor Walco Inc.,” which is currently making the headstones more stable, “comes in. ‘What the Veterans Administration is doing to honor the veterans is to make it a picture perfect cemetery,’ said” Ton Stehle, a supervisor at Walco, which “has done similar work in Houston, San Antonio and Hot Springs, S.D.”

5.  VA Looking To Track Physician Response To Computerized Alerts.Government Health IT (2/17, Mosquera) reports, “The Veterans Affairs Department wants” a vendor “to be able to track when and how its physicians respond to medical alerts sent to them via the agency’s computerized patient record system (CPRS),” which is “part of the Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA).” The VA’s “notice about the alert project is online.”

6. Mississippi Governor Joining Vietnam War Education Center Effort.The Jackson (MS) Clarion Ledger (2/17) reports, “Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has joined the leadership team for the campaign to build the Education Center at The Wall, the Vietnam War memorial” in Washington, DC. Barbour “joins the governors of Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Texas on the leadership team. The purpose of the team will be to recruit supporters, lead grass-roots efforts to raise awareness and gather photos of the individuals from the governors’ states whose names are on The Wall.”

7. Tester Helps Break Ground On Mental Health Facility For Veterans.The Helena (MT) Herald Record (2/17, Kidston) reports, “Gripping golden shovels, a team of health care providers broke ground Tuesday on a $6.7 million facility that will allow veterans to receive long-term mental health care without having to leave Montana. Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat and member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, joined” a “team of doctors and directors on the grounds” of the Veterans Affairs hospital at Fort Harrison, “opening a chapter of care that officials say will greatly improve the mental-health needs of Montana’s vets.” The Billings (MT) Gazette (2/17) publishes the same story, while the KXLH-TV Helena, MT (2/16, Banks) website said, “VA plans to finish construction” on the new facility in 2011.

8.  Shinseki, Other Administration Officials To Mark Stimulus Anniversary. The “Federal Eye” blog for the Washington Post (2/17, O’Keefe, 684K) notes that today, the Obama Administration “will dispatch 12 Cabinet secretaries, a handful of assistant and deputy secretaries and a few other agency administrators to more than 30 cities and towns in 18 states to mark the first anniversary of the economic stimulus plan.” The Post adds, “Highlights of the week” include Wednesday, when Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki “is scheduled to hold an event in Chillicothe, Ohio,” at a VA hospital “that has eight stimulus projects slated for completion.”
The Cincinnati Enquirer (2/17, Korte, 189K) publishes a similar story, as does the “Swampland” blog for Time (2/17, Scherer, 3.37M), which says the “total combined budget for all eight projects” at the VA hospital that Shinseki will visit “is $8.3 million. Construction contracts totaling $2,208,000 are currently underway for two of the projects.” The “Hotline On Call” blog for the National Journal (2/17, Wilson, 12K) also notes that Shinseki will be in Ohio.
Biden: Veterans, Others Helped By Stimulus. In an op-ed for USA Today (2/17, 2.11M), Vice President Biden argues that the stimulus plan is working, in part because “more than half” its “spending has gone to cut taxes or provide relief to seniors, veterans and the unemployed.”

9.  Research Shows “Bonding” Hormone Might Help Some Autism Sufferers.HealthDay (2/16, Gardner) reported, “People with high-functioning autism or Asperger’s syndrome were better able to ‘catch’ social cues after inhaling the hormone oxytocin, new research” in “this week’s issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” shows. Oxytocin, “which is produced in abundance when a mother is breast-feeding her baby, is known as the ‘bonding’ hormone.” HealthDay quoted Keith Young, the “neuroimaging and genetics core leader at the VA Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans at the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System,” who said, “There’s no doubt that oxytocin has a big effect on social interactions in anyone.”

10.  Study: US Veterans Encountering Barriers As They Seek PTSD Treatment.In a story about research on barriers US veterans encounter when seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), HealthDay (2/16, Dotinga) reported, “Some types of veterans are less likely to receive recommended care: males, veterans who are under the age of 25, those who live in rural areas and those who got their diagnoses at primary-care clinics and needed referrals to mental health programs, according to the report published online Feb. 9 in the Journal of Traumatic Stress.” HealthDay, which also noted that between 2002 and 2008, “nearly 50,000 veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars received” PTSD diagnoses, added, “Dr. Karen Seal, the study’s head researcher and a practitioner at the San Francisco Veteran Affairs Medical Center, said in a news release that most veterans did attend at least one mental-health appointment. But problems — including those at the system and personal levels — led to lack of follow-up.”

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