Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country


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

  1. Over $41 Million To Improve Audie L. Murphy VA Medical Center.
  2. American Legion Travels To DC, Advocates “Ambitious Agenda.”
  3. Doctors Seeing Neck, Back, Joint Pain In Returning Veterans.
  4. VA Psychologist Interviewed.
  5. Veterans, Their Families Deal With PTSD.
  6. VA Requests Information On PC Contract.
  7. Administration’s IT Head Cites VA In Example Of Increased Transparency.
  8. VA Researches Predict Effects Of Salt-Reduction Campaign.
  9. Tobacco Use Growing Problem For Military.
  10. Professor Looking For New Funds To Research Gulf War Syndrome.

Have You Heard
It’s time to talk during National Patient Safety Awareness Week March 7-13. Did you know you can help improve patient and health safety by encouraging open discussion of safety concerns? Join the VHA Office of Health Information Technology (IT) Patient Safety in recognizing this year’s Patient Safety Week’s theme: “Let’s talk! Healthy conversations for safer health care”. Since 2003, the VHA IT Patient Safety office has managed a non-punitive system for reporting patient safety issues and concerns, emphasizing analysis, understanding, and feedback into the IT engineering process. IT Patient Safety promotes a culture of safety, working in partnership with other programs such as the National Center for Patient Safety; Patient Care Services; Office of Nursing Services; Bar Code Resource Office; and Office of Information and Technology to support education programs and best practices such as user-centered design and standardized information technology principles. Patient Safety Awareness Week is a national education and awareness-building campaign that encourages hospitals and health care organizations across the country to plan events to promote patient safety within their own organizations. Learn more at the National Patient Safety Foundation’s Web site.

1.      Over $41 Million To Improve Audie L. Murphy VA Medical Center. Defence Professionals (3/3) reports VA Secretary Eric Shinseki “announced the award of two contracts totaling $41.5 million to create a ‘polytrauma center’ that cares for the most severely injured Veterans and to improve the existing wards at the Audie L. Murphy VA Medical Center.” Robins and Morton received $37.2 million to build the polytrauma center, while Strategic Perspectives Development will receive $4.3 million to upgrade and expand ward 4-A. Shinseki said, “America’s veterans have earned the very best that this nation has to offer.”

2.      American Legion Travels To DC, Advocates “Ambitious Agenda. “The Shenandoah Valley News (3/3) reported that Shenandoah veteran Marlin Tillman “joined a delegation of Iowa members of The American Legion here to fight for funding to care for the nation’s veterans of past wars and to protect benefits for those now serving” after he heard “a presentation by VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and some members of Congress.” The delegation “visited their members of Congress March 2 as part of The American Legion’s 50h Washington Conference.” National Commander Clarence E. Hill’s “ambitious agenda” includes reducing claims processing time, repealing the Disabled Veterans Tax, “allowing veterans to use their Medicare benefits at VA and enhancing the new Post-911 GI Bill benefits to include vocational institutions.”

3.      Doctors Seeing Neck, Back, Joint Pain In Returning Veterans. The Houston Chronicle (3/3, Wise, 427K) reports that Dr. Drew Helmer, lead primary care physician of the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center’s clinic for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans said that “more than half of returning veterans evaluated at the medical center…have been diagnosed with…back, neck and joint pain from overuse or accidents.” According to Helmer, “It rises into really an epidemic level in this population.” Similarly, a Johns Hopkins study found that musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders are the top reasons for evacuation from Iraq and Afghanistan. That study attributed the injuries to longer tours of duty and heavier equipment than before.

4.      VA Psychologist Interviewed. The “Insider Interviews” blog of National Journal (3/3, Williams, 12K) talked with Stacey Pollack, a clinical psychologist in the Department of Veterans Affairs and the director of trauma services at the VA Medical Center in Washington, “for her perspective on the battle against PTSD.” Pollack decided to switch her focus to working with PTSD after working as a summer extern at the Baltimore VA. She added, “It’s really rewarding to work with someone who has done their duty for our country.” She said her center is luck because it has one of the three War-Related Illness and Injury Study Center programs. When asked, Pollack said “that the VA administration has certainly put its money where its mouth is” in making mental health a top priority, citing her staff’s increase from six to 25.

5.      Veterans, Their Families Deal With PTSD. KDLH-TV Duluth, MN, (3/3, 11:07 p.m. EST) broadcast, “There is a desperate effort underway to intervene” for veterans with PTSD “before it’s too late.” Project New Hope is a retreat program that gives veterans and their families a place to turn. “Jeff Hall with the Us Department of Veterans Affairs says retreats like Project New Hope provide the right psychological tools for support.”
KBJR-TV Duluth, MN (3/3, 7:05 p.m. EST) broadcast a segment focusing on Cheryl Softich, whose son killed himself after returning from combat. “Jeff Hall, an outreach worker with the Department of Veterans Affairs, says PTSD and suicide are ever-growing issues to be met head-on. … Hall stresses getting help is the first step in preventing veterans from taking their own lives.”

6.      VA Requests Information On PC Contract. According to NextGov (3/3, Brewin), the Department of Veterans Affairs “said in its request for information for its enterprisewide PC Refresh contract that it plans to award one indefinite delivery-indefinite quantity contract on a purchase or lease basis, with plan to release a request for proposals within three months.” After noting that VA “owns about 240,000 PCs,” NextGov added, “The new contract will provide an additional 360,000 computers to supply recently opened clinics and to support VA’s mission, officials said in a statement of work, which described the department’s requirements.”

7.      Administration’s IT Head Cites VA In Example Of Increased Transparency. The San Francisco Chronicle (3/4, D1, Evangelista, 318K) reports on the west coast tour of Vivek Kundra, the first federal chief information officer. In talking about his accomplishments, he cites the VA in talking about his efforts to “make government more transparent by clearly displaying data showing the progress of more than 7,000 information technology projects.” The Chronicle said Kundra said “the spotlight forced the Department of Veterans Affairs to review 45 IT projects, ending 12 of the projects and saving $54 million,” but added, “he also said veterans still have to wait more than 160 days to receive benefits partly ‘because the VA is still passing manila envelopes’ to process claims.”

8.      VA Researches Predict Effects Of Salt-Reduction Campaign. The “Booster Shots” blog of the Los Angeles Times (3/3, Kaplan, 776K) reports that in a study published Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine and the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System “used a computer model to estimate would what happen if consumers and food-makers here copied a British salt-reduction campaign.” They concluded that by Americans between the ages of 40 and 85 cutting their salt intake by 9.5%, it would prevent “strokes in 513,885 people and heart attacks in 480,358 others. Total savings to the healthcare system would top $32 billion.” In contrast, a sin tax on salt was predicted to be less effective.

9.      Tobacco Use Growing Problem For Military. The Ventura (CA) County Star (3/3, Gregory) reports, “Recent studies show that tobacco use is a growing, deadly and expensive problem for the military.” A 2009 study by the Veterans Health Administration “found that 50 percent of U.S. troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan come home addicted to tobacco,” and a June 2009 report released by the Institute of Medicine urged “the Veterans Administration to implement comprehensive tobacco-control programs.”

10.    Professor Looking For New Funds To Research Gulf War Syndrome. The Log Cabin Democrat (3/3, Spradlin) reports, “University of Central Arkansas professor Patrick Carmack is working on what could be a monumental step in the detection and treatment of neurological disorders,” dealing with “an emerging pattern of damage to the brains of” those with Gulf War Syndrome. The research continued with a $75 million grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs, but “legal issues between UT Southwestern and the VA brought the project to a gridlock” and the “VA agreed to release paperwork it had for contracts and reimbursement if the research team agreed to terminate the contract this May.” He added that “the VA has been fighting against the initial amount of $75 million and is trying to retain the $30 million left in the contract.”

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