Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country


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

  1. VA Using National Center To Train IT Workers.
  2. Judges, States Offering Leniency To Vets.
  3. Vets Service Officer: Cemetery Not Threatened By State Legislature Proposal.
  4. Health Inspectors Find Problems At Rhode Island Vets Home.
  5. Minnesota Legislators Move To Change How Military Plate Fund Money Is Used.
  6. Vet Hopes North Carolina Will Legalize Medical Marijuana.
  7. Scientists Hope Memory Altering Techniques Can Be Used To Treat PTSD.
  8. Study: Aggressive Treatments Do Not Lower Heart Problem Risk In Diabetes Patients.
  9. Ethicists Criticize Organ Donation Study Co-Conducted By VA Researchers.
  10. VA Grant Money Used To Assist Homeless Women Vets.

Have You Heard

Women at War
In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re running a series of photos on VA’s Flickr page
depicting women at war. The image above—taken in 1983—is of the Air Force’s first all-female crew to fly an overseas mission.

1.      VA Using National Center To Train IT Workers. Federal Computer Week (3/16, Lipowicz, 90K) reports, “The Veterans Affairs Department has expanded its use of virtual technologies and distance learning in its new National Information Technology Training Academy,” which “began operating a month ago in West Virginia. The goal of the center is to train up to 200 VA employees at a time to strengthen their IT support skills and to improve transparency and information sharing in the department, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said March 12.”
CIO Prepared To Cancel Troubled IT Projects. The Federal Times (3/16, Neal, 40K) reports, “Veterans Affairs Department Chief Information Officer Roger Baker has a message for his IT staff: If their projects get out of hand, he will cancel them,” as was done last month with 12 projects that were behind schedule and over budget. The Times adds, “By standing up and killing failing projects, Baker hopes to change the culture at VA to deliver savings through better technology. He also wants the IT department to roll out projects incrementally, introducing new technology as it becomes available rather than waiting for an entire project to be complete.”

2.      Judges, States Offering Leniency To Vets. The New York Times (3/16, A14, Schwartz, 1.09M) reports, “Many veterans…have returned from Afghanistan and Iraq burdened by post-traumatic stress, drug dependency and other problems. As veterans find themselves skirmishing with the law, judges are increasingly finding ways to provide them with a measure of leniency.” States, meanwhile, are “forming special courts to ensure that veterans in court receive the treatment their service entitles them to.”
Tulsa County Veterans Court Reps Meet With Congress, VA. On its website, KOTV-TV Tulsa, OK (3/15, Wright) reported, “Representatives from the Tulsa County Veterans Treatment Court returned Sunday from Washington. They were in the nation’s capital to talk to Congress about expanding the program,” and while there, they also “met with members of the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

3.      Vets Service Officer: Cemetery Not Threatened By State Legislature Proposal. The Redwood Falls (MN) Gazette (3/16, Krause) reports the “veterans cemetery project in Redwood County is not being threatened by a new proposal at the state legislature” which says the land must be within Redwood County borders. The Gazette adds, “The veterans cemetery project, said Marty Caraway, Redwood County veterans service officer, is still on track” and much of the design and development work for the project has been done. The Gazette notes that Caraway “said the cemetery needs approximately 50-70 acres of land.”

4.      Health Inspectors Find Problems At Rhode Island Vets Home. The AP (3/15) noted that last month, an “unannounced inspection” of the “troubled Rhode Island Veterans Home” by the “state Health Department…found poor attention to the medical needs of two residents and an insufficient level of activities for others. According to the AP, the Providence Journal (3/15, Salit, 133K) “reported that a resident who complained of possibly ill-fitting dentures waited longer than three months to see a dentist,” while another resident “waited longer than policy dictates for treatment of constipation” and “some residents with dementia” did not get the “proper amount of therapeutic activities.” The AP notes that after a “2008 study of the home found” problems at the home, including “‘dysfunctional’ policies,” a “new administrator was named.”

5.      Minnesota Legislators Move To Change How Military Plate Fund Money Is Used. The Minneapolis Star Tribune (3/16, Brunswick, 347K) reports states legislators in Minnesota “moved quickly Monday to close what they saw as loopholes in how money from the state’s ‘Support Our Troops’ license plate money is used, after revelations that money from the plates partially funded the salary of a political appointee in Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s office last year.” After noting legislation “was introduced that would restrict the use of the fund and require reporting to the Legislature if transfers are made from the account,” the Star Tribune said money from the plate “is split between the Department of Military Affairs for family members of deployed service members and the Department of Veterans Affairs for grants for homeless and needy veterans.”

6.      Vet Hopes North Carolina Will Legalize Medical Marijuana. The Gaston County (NC) Gazette (3/16, Barrett, 28K) reports Iraq veteran Joshua Cook is “one of many North Carolina residents who hope their illegal use of marijuana might soon become acceptable in the eyes of the law.” State Reps. Kelly Alexander Jr. and Nick Mackey, “two Mecklenburg County Democrats, are co-sponsoring legislation that would make North Carolina the 15th state in the nation to legalize the medical use of the drug.”

7.      Scientists Hope Memory Altering Techniques Can Be Used To Treat PTSD. According to the Wall Street Journal (3/16, D1, Wang, 2.08M), new techniques that scientists are developing to alter memories could one day be used to treat people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other anxiety-related conditions. The Journal says such techniques, which involve replacing bad memories with less fearful ones, include treating patients with a hypertension medication propranolol, as well as studying whether behavioral therapy can be used to modify memories.

8.      Study: Aggressive Treatments Do Not Lower Heart Problem Risk In Diabetes Patients. In continuing coverage, WebMD (3/16, Laino) reports, “Lowering blood pressure and blood fat levels to below current guidelines did not bring down higher risks of heart problems for diabetes patients, according to new results” from the “Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) trial,” a “landmark federal study.” WebMD adds, “The new results show that lowering systolic blood pressure — the top number — to 120 rather than the usual recommended 140 did not lower heart attacks, strokes, or death from cardiovascular causes, reports William Cushman, MD,” of the Veterans Affairs hospital “in Memphis, Tenn.”
US News & World Report (3/16, Kotz) notes that Cushman, the VA hospital’s chief of preventive medicine, “emphasizes…previous research has shown that diabetics can significantly lower their risk of heart attacks and strokes by getting treated with high blood pressure medications if they have a systolic blood pressure above 140 or a diastolic (lower number) pressure above 90.”
The Memphis Daily News (3/16, Wilemon) reports, “Research led by…Cushman” is the “focus of an article published Sunday in The New England Journal of Medicine.” Cushman “is the lead author of the article about a nationwide, eight-year study to determine whether more intensive drug therapies are needed for diabetics at risk for heart disease.”

9.      Ethicists Criticize Organ Donation Study Co-Conducted By VA Researchers. The Philadelphia Inquirer (3/16, Goldstein, 326K) reports, “With 106,131 Americans now on waiting lists for an organ — 83,754 of them for kidneys — researchers at the University of Pennsylvania” and the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center “sought to find out whether financial incentives would increase living organ donation. Their findings — that payments would draw more participants without relying disproportionately on poor people — are highly controversial,” and several ethicists have “criticized the study.” The Inquirer adds, “The idea of paying donors for organs has long been taboo because of concerns that it would unduly influence some people — particularly the poorest — to donate without fully appreciating the risks.”

10.    VA Grant Money Used To Assist Homeless Women Vets. On its website, WVEC-TV Hampton Roads, VA (3/15, Farrell) reported, “In 2004, Doctor Mickey Collins and her husband, Waverly, founded Malachi House International, Inc. in 2004 as a training and educational organization to help people who were poor or homeless build better lives for themselves.” Four years later, they applied for and received a grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs, using that money to “purchase properties where former military members could live as they received help for post-traumatic stress (when needed), as well as career/job training while they searched for employment. All of the veterans receiving assistance are women, among the estimated 6,500 female veterans who are homeless.”


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