* Find out What’s Inside Today’s Local News for Veterans *
- Veteran Homelessness Fell 18% Last Year.
- Returning Veterans Face High Unemployment Rate.
- Learning Tree Inks IT Training Contract With VA.
- Minnesota VA Deputy Backs Governor On ‘Support Our Troops” License Plate Funds.
- Advocacy Groups Seek State Veterans’ Home For Cedar City, Utah.
- Pat Tillman’s Legacy: Helps Military Veterans In College.
- NBC Profiled Paralympic Games, Veteran Skier.
- Female Combat Veteran Says Gender’s The Reason Her PTSD Went Untreated.
- HBO Stages Events For WWII Veterans, Offers Message Service For Service Members.
- VA Construction Set To Start In New Orleans.
1. Veteran Homelessness Fell 18% Last Year. The online version of the Gloucester County (NJ) Times (3/13) hails “Good news out of the national Department of Veterans Affairs this week as the VA announced that the number of veterans out on the streets on a typical night dropped 18 percent. The VA is entering the second year of its initiative to eliminate homelessness among those who have served within the next five years. An estimated 107,000 veterans were homeless each night last year,” a reduction from 131,000 in 2008 and 154,000 in 2007. A statement from Secretary Eric Shinseki said the reduction was achieved “through enhanced collaboration with other federal, state, faith-based, veteran service organizations and community partner.”
2. Returning Veterans Face High Unemployment Rate. The AP (3/13, Hefling) reports, “The unemployment rate last year for young Iraq and Afghanistan veterans hit 21.1 percent, the Labor Department said Friday, reflecting a tough obstacle combat veterans face as they make the transition home from war. The number was well above the 16.6 percent jobless rate for non-veterans of the same ages, 18 to 24.” The jobless rate is also significantly higher than the 14.1 percent recorded for young veterans in the same age group in 2008. An American Legion official added that many of the jobless “are members of the Guard and Reserves who have deployed multiple times” and return home to find that their jobs have been eliminated in company downsizings.
3. Learning Tree Inks IT Training Contract With VA. The AP (3/12) reports, “Learning Tree International, which sells professional development courses for IT workers, said it has contracted with the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide training services. The one-year agreement, with options to renew, is worth up to $60 million. The training started Feb. 22, the company said late Thursday.” During the first year of the contract, Learning Tree says it anticipates revenue of $10-$15 million.
4. Minnesota VA Deputy Backs Governor On ‘Support Our Troops” License Plate Funds. The political blog in the Minneapolis City Pages (3/12, Snyders) reports that the deputy commissioner of the state Department of Veterans Affairs “rushed to” the defense of Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), accused by an opposition lawmaker of “diverting money from the ‘Support Our Troops’ license plate campaign into the governor’s office.” Claiming that about $30,000 was used to pay the salary of a Pawlenty employee working on faith-based initiatives, instead of going to either the state Department of Veterans Affairs or the Department of Military Affairs. Michael Pugliese, the state veteran’s deputy, claimed that the employee in question worked quarter-time for Veterans Affairs, which “got good mileage” out of the arrangement, due to the employee’s contacts with and outreach to religious groups in connection with veterans issues.
5. Advocacy Groups Seek State Veterans’ Home For Cedar City, Utah. The St. George (UT) Spectrum (3/13, Arnold, 22K) reports, “Iron County veterans and local and state dignitaries met Friday with representatives from the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs to discuss the potential new veterans nursing home to be placed in Southern Utah. As one of the last acts of the legislative session, $12.8 million was reserved from federal reimbursement funds to go toward two nursing home projects — one in Utah County and the other in Southern Utah.” Participants in the meeting aimed to persuade the state VA officials to locate the southern home in Cedar City. The account notes that the US Department of Veterans Affairs will assume 65% of the project’s cost.
6. Pat Tillman’s Legacy: Helps Military Veterans In College.USA Today (3/13, Stripling, 2.11M) reports, “If the late Pat Tillman is remembered for his selflessness, then it seems fitting that the foundation created in the professional football star-turned-soldier’s name would ask the same of the veterans it serves. Now partnered with eight universities across the country, the Pat Tillman Foundation’s Tillman Military Scholars program offers funding to veterans who demonstrate a record of service to their communities and pledge to continue those activities.” The foundation, which honors the professional football player who rejected a lucrative contract to serve in the army in Afghanistan, where he died in a Friendly fire incident, handed out $642,000 to its first class last year, and ultimately plans to provide $3.6 million yearly.
7. NBC Profiled Paralympic Games, Veteran Skier. NBC Nightly News (12/6, story 7, 2:20, Williams, 8.37M) reported, “Well, the opening ceremonies are tonight for the Winter Games in Vancouver; not the Olympic Games, but the Paralympics. While it doesn’t get the attention the other games get, this is a huge event for hundreds of athletes from around the world, including a team of 50 from the United States. As for the flag bearer for Team USA tonight? Our report from NBC’s Peter Alexander.” NBC (Alexander) added, “Heath Calhoun never imagined he’d be an Olympian, much less a Paralympic athlete.” Heath Calhoun, Paralympic skier: “Just puts a smile on my face every time I pull something out of my bag and it says ‘Team USA’ on the back of it.” Alexander: “When Calhoun carves his way down the slopes of Whistler next week, it won’t be the first time this 30-year-old has represented America. In November 2003, Calhoun was on patrol with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division in Mosul, Iraq, when his Humvee was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade.” Calhoun: “I can remember looking down at my legs and seeing that my pants were torn, that blood was starting to pool in the back of the truck.” Alexander: “The attack robbed him of both legs. At home, Calhoun began the struggle to move on with his life, but never thought he’d move quite like this.”
8. Female Combat Veteran Says Gender’s The Reason Her PTSD Went Untreated. NPR (3/13, Gildea) reports that decorated war veteran Marti Ribeiro, after eight years in the Air Force with tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan, “was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder by military doctors at a hospital in San Antonio, where she was stationed. She says doctors recommended she apply for benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs,” but after transferring to Oklahoma City, encountered difficulty in receiving appropriate care there. Ribeiro claims that her gender can be the only reason for her difficulty getting treatment there, and says “she’s given up on the VA’s ability to provide free counseling. She’s found a good therapist for herself and her daughter, through private insurance.”
9. HBO Stages Events For WWII Veterans, Offers Message Service For Service Members. The AP (3/12, Zongker) reports, “Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Elizabeth Dole welcomed 250 veterans to the World War II memorial Thursday to honor their service and introduce a TV miniseries on the battles of the Pacific. HBO and a nonprofit group brought the veterans to Washington to mark the premiere of a 10-part series called ‘The Pacific.'”
The Honolulu Advertiser (3/12, 130K) adds that HBO “Pacific Tribute Campaign kiosks” at the Battleship Missouri Memorial “will allow visitors to thank veterans and active military with a 30-second video message.” The messages, recorded in high-definition video, will be collected through Memorial Day; HBO will produce a montage of the entries. Visitors can also opt to send a personalized message to a friend or relative on active duty.
10. VA Construction Set To Start In New Orleans. WVUE-TV New Orleans (3/13) reports that the Veterans Administration “said Friday, soon, some of the first construction in the new biosciences corridor in lower Mid-City will begin. The VA said the city and state have acquired a key building in the VA hospital footprint, and have turned it over to them.”
But WWL-TV New Orleans (3/12, Woltering) notes that the owner of a property taken by the state for the Veterans hospital will likely sue, claiming he was inadequately paid. Louisiana State University expropriated the old City Hall annex on Canal Street for a little over $3.7 million; the owner had been asking $20 million.