Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country

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

  1. Shinseki, Akaka Agree On Need To Reform VA Disability Claims System.
  2. Review Said To Offer Chance For Gulf War Syndrome Victims To Be Treated Fairly.
  3. Rural Veterans Health Care Advisory Committee To Meet In Tennessee.
  4. DOD, Shinseki Criticized For Burn Pit Statements.
  5. OPM Director Praises Shinseki.
  6. VA Hospitals In Pennsylvania Help Returning Vets Readjust.
  7. Iraq Memories Trouble Couple.
  8. Portland Vet Center Therapist Using Dreams To Treat PTSD.
  9. VA Psychologist Encourages Vets Suffering From PTSD To Undergo Treatment.
  10. Court Offers Chance To Veterans Who Commit Non-Violent Crimes.

Have You Heard
The Prosthetics Section at Houston ’s Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) has developed the first amputee guide for nationwide use in VA. It will be available soon on the VA Web for use by all clinicians. Recent combat in Iraq and Afghanistan has demonstrated the nature of modern warfare has changed with new causes of injury, improvements in body armor, and surgical stabilization at the front-line of combat. As of January 31, 2010, DoD reported approximately 960 individuals had suffered major limb amputations while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan . “Working every day with Veterans anticipating an amputation, new amputees, and family members, we saw a need for a resource and reference manual, “said Mark Benveniste, R.N., B.S., C.P., MEDVAMC certified prosthetist. “We wanted to help them meet the challenges ahead, let them know what to expect, and how to find the support they will need.” In addition to recently returned combat veterans, VA treats 45,000 Veterans with amputations caused by medical conditions such peripheral arterial disease, diabetic neuropathy, cancer, or infection. The book covers a wide range of issues related to amputation surgery; managing pain; instructions for taking care of the residual limb; living with an amputation, with and without an artificial limb; getting a prosthesis (artificial limb); and sports and recreation resources. Though useful to all amputees, this guide was written specifically for Veterans receiving care through the VA health care system and the health care professionals who work with them.

1.      Shinseki, Akaka Agree On Need To Reform VA Disability Claims System. In continuing coverage, the AP (3/2) reports Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and US Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) “have agreed that reforming the VA disability claims system must be a top priority.” On Friday, Akaka “said…in a Washington news release that he’s encouraged by the administration’s commitment to add thousands of staff to process veterans’ disability claims.” But Akaka “adds it appears the situation will get worse before it gets better, because it will take years and significant resources to fully train new VA claims staff.”

2.      Review Said To Offer Chance For Gulf War Syndrome Victims To Be Treated Fairly. In continuing coverage, an editorial in the St. Petersburg (FL) Times (3/2) says that if the “victims of Gulf War syndrome are ever to be treated justly” by VA, the “first step came last week,” when the agency “said it would review potentially thousands of disability claims and update regulations affecting veterans, suggesting that some may finally get the compensation they deserve for service to their country.” The Times notes that the Obama Administration has “charged a task force with redefining how ill veterans are treated,” then adds, “VA Secretary Eric Shinseki calls the task force’s recommendations a ‘new approach’ to how these veterans will be compensated by the VA. Those are promising words and hopefully not empty ones.”

3.      Rural Veterans Health Care Advisory Committee To Meet In Tennessee. On its website, WJHL-TV Tri-Cities TN, VA (3/1, Overbay, 45K) said an “advisory committee will meet at Mountain Home this week to find ways to improve health care for veterans who live in rural areas.” The panel, which is “made up of health care leaders from around the country,” will “meet for two days in Johnson City this week and hopes to submit a final report of its findings to the US Secretary of Veterans Affairs soon after.” East Tennessee State University’s East Tennessean (3/1, 148K) also covered this story.

4.      DOD, Shinseki Criticized For Burn Pit Statements. In an entry on the Huffington Post (3/2) columnist R. B. Stuart notes, “Defense officials say that health effects as a result of exposure to burn pit smoke are likely to be ‘temporary’ and should ‘clear-up’ once troops return home” from Iraq. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki “concurred, ‘Most toxic materials from burn pits may be eliminated from the bodies of exposed veterans in a matter of days or weeks.’ If burn pit smoke is so harmless, then I invite VA Secretary Shinseki and DoD officials to take their kids to Talil, Iraq this summer instead of Disney World.”

5.      OPM Director Praises Shinseki. In a Government Executive (3/2) column profiling Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry, Alyssa Rosenberg notes that Berry “says it’s been easy to reach out to senior administration leaders — including Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, who are chairing the council overseeing the veterans hiring initiative — because they see human capital issues as a priority.”

6.      VA Hospitals In Pennsylvania Help Returning Vets Readjust. The Philadelphia Inquirer (3/1, Slobodzian, 326K) reported that on Sunday, “about 360…members of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard’s 56th Stryker Brigade — home after nine months in Iraq — reported for duty” at the Veterans Affairs medical center in Philadelphia’s University City “to face another challenge: Adjusting to civilian life.” Typically, “post-deployment drills are held at military facilities.” After noting that the drill “was the first” at the VA hospital in Philadelphia, the Inquirer said another such “drill for about 400 soldiers was…held,” also on Sunday, at the VA hospital in Coatesville.





7.      Iraq Memories Trouble Couple. The Naperville (IL) Sun (3/2, Carlman, 15K) profiles Iraq veterans Sarah Raby and Keith Ellis, a couple who are “part of a swelling population of military veterans…bringing home from Iraq and Afghanistan memories of sights, sounds, smells and scars that now dog them, every day.” The Sun notes that Raby “sees a psychologist” at Hines Veterans Affairs Hospital “every few weeks.” According to a related story in the Naperville (IL) Sun (3/1, Carlman, 15K), the US VA “and other agencies project that between 15 percent and 35 percent of those involved in Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (which the Obama Administration…renamed Operation New Dawn) sooner or later will show symptoms of depression,” post-traumatic stress disorder, “or other psychological troubles as a result of their combat experiences.”

8.      Portland Vet Center Therapist Using Dreams To Treat PTSD. The Oregonian (3/2, Goldsmith, 276K) notes the work being done by at the Portland Vet Center by Lori Daniels, a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) therapist “who works with dreams. Dreamwork, as Daniels calls it, is based on the idea that we can rewrite our own nightmares and make them less troubling.” The Oregonian continues, “The results are often stunning, she says,” adding, “People have reported the nightmare doesn’t come back, or if it does, it’s not horrifying.”

9.      VA Psychologist Encourages Vets Suffering From PTSD To Undergo Treatment. On its website, the National Journal (3/2, 12K) notes that it met with Dr. Stacey Pollack, a clinical psychologist with the Department of Veterans Affairs, “for her perspective on the battle against” post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which “has increased in recent years.” Pollack, “who also serves as trauma services director” at the VA hospital in Washington, DC, “says that although she tries to encourage vets suffering PTSD to undergo treatment, ‘I don’t ever pretend to understand exactly what they go through.'”

10.    Court Offers Chance To Veterans Who Commit Non-Violent Crimes. According to a report aired by CBS Evening News (3/1, story 5, 4:30, Couric, 6.1M), the “return home can be a very tough adjustment” for Americans who “have served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” and “it’s led some to a life of drug abuse and crime.” But in Rochester, New York, Judge Patricia Marks has “started a special court designed to give veterans who commit non-violent crimes” a chance at probation if they promise to go straight. CBS noted, however, that “in the entire United States, there are only 17 veterans courts” like the one in Rochester.

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