Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country

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  1. Shinseki, Pentagon Seek To Ease Concerns About TRICARE, VA Benefits. 
  2. Shinseki Announces Awarding Of New Orleans Hospital Pre-Construction Contract. 
  3. Kentucky Vets Home Employee Fired Over Facebook Postings. 
  4. Colorado Lawmaker Wants Medical Marijuana For Vets With PTSD. 
  5. Perea-Henze Confirmed As VA Assistant Secretary Of Policy And Planning. 
  6. Bills Passed In House Would Benefit Homeless, Disabled Veterans. 
  7. Trial Delayed For Man Accused Of Falsely Claiming To Have Purple Heart. 
  8. World War II Vets From VA Hospital Share Stories With Students. 
  9. New Vet Center Opens In Illinois. 
  10. Cheyenne VAMC Operating Clinic For Women Vets. 

 

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Top 10Three nurses who served in World War II were recently honored in a special women veterans ceremony in Bismarck, N.D. Mildred Vernon, Lorraine Froehlich and Delores Henke were each given bronze medals designed by Linda Marquart, VA Women Veteran Program Manager at the VA Medical Center in Fargo, N.D. Vernon’s grandson, Owen, a Marine Corps veteran, had mentioned to Marquart in passing that his grandmother had served as a Second Lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps after completing her nurse’s training. Marquart told him that his grandmother deserved a medal for her service, which she created to do something special for these women. Serving in the military was not always “the thing to do” back in the 1940s, said Marquart, but these women chose to serve and paved the way for the careers of military women serving today. Vernon, who enlisted in June 1945, was stationed at Fort Francis Warren near Cheyenne, Wyo. She took care of wounded American soldiers brought back from the Pacific Theater after the war ended, as well as a German POWs interned locally. Henke, a native of Kidder County, N.D., served in Oregon, Washington and California during her service, and Froehlich, who enlisted in 1943 at the age of 20, served in North Carolina, including Camp Lejeune.

 

1.      Shinseki, Pentagon Seek To Ease Concerns About TRICARE, VA Benefits. In continuing coverage, the Fox News (3/23) website reports, “The Pentagon on Monday was seeking to ease concerns by members of the Armed Services that the health insurance overhaul passed by Congress will not affect benefits given to active duty military and retired veterans. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on Monday said the House voted over the weekend to clarify that the TRICARE medical insurance program ‘already meets the bill’s quality and minimum benefits standards.” Meanwhile, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said in a statement Sunday that he is “confident” the legislation that was up for vote in the House “will provide the protections afforded our nation’s veterans and the health care they have earned through their service.”
     Stars And Stripes (3/23, Shane) reports military and VA “officials spent the weekend refuting allegations” that the healthcare “reform legislation approved by Congress will harm Tricare programs or Veterans Affairs health benefits, instead promising that servicemembers and veterans will see no change in their coverage. Before Sunday’s vote approving the massive health care overhaul,” Shinseki “released a statement saying that none of the proposals would force veterans to purchase new health care or change the way current benefits are delivered. ‘Fears that veterans’ health care and Tricare will be undermined by the health reform legislation are unfounded,'” Shinseki said, making a comment that was “echoed” by Gates “after Sunday’s vote. The WMBB-TV Panama City, FL (3/22) website published Shinseki’s statement.
     Legion Commander Notes Assurances From President, Secretaries Of Defense, VA. The second item in the “Inside The Beltway” column for the Washington Times (3/23, Harper, 77K) quotes Clarence E. Hill, the American Legion’s national commander, who said, “I have been assured personally by the President, secretary of defense, VA secretary, speaker of the House, majority leaders and numerous other senators and representatives … that nothing in the national” healthcare “reform legislation will change current [Department of Defense] and VA health care eligibility or practices.”
     Candidate For Murtha’s Seat “Outraged” At Bill’s Passage. The Somerset County (PA) Daily American (3/23, Ganassi, 13K) notes that Bill Russell, a Republican candidate for the late John Murtha’s House seat, “said he was outraged at the passage” of the healthcare reform bill, and “expressed concerns for Veterans Affairs and TRICARE plans. ‘This legislation does not entirely recognize Veterans Administration and Department of Defense health care programs as acceptable forms of health care coverage,’ Russell said.”
     Blogger: VFW’s PAC “Little More” Than Republican Party Subsidiary. In an opinion piece on the Huffington Post (3/22), Richard Allen Smith, editor of the VoteVets.org blog VetVoice, said the political action committee for Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) “operates as little more than a subsidiary of the Republican Party, as does the leadership of their parent organization.” Smith noted that prior

to Sunday’s House vote, VFW’s leader said the President “and the Democratic leadership are betraying America’s veterans.” Smith, however, said VFW “ignored” a statement from Assistant VA Secretary Tammy Duckworth, who said “healthcare that Veterans receive through the VA system…will be safe and sound under health reform,” and “TRICARE will continue to be available for all eligible servicemen and women, and their families.” 

2.      Shinseki Announces Awarding Of New Orleans Hospital Pre-Construction Contract. In continuing coverage, the WGNO-TV New Orleans, LA (3/22) reported, “Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki has announced the award of a $3.3 million contract by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for pre-construction services for VA’s new medical center in New Orleans. ‘This contract brings VA’s health care system closer to the Veterans of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast,’ said Secretary Shinseki,” who added, “The contract is proof of VA’s commitment to Louisiana’s Veterans, to provide them with 21st century, Veteran-centric care.'” WGNO noted that last “year, VA spent nearly $1.5 billion in Louisiana on behalf of the state’s 312,000” veterans. WVUE-TV New Orleans, LA (3/22, 10:04 p.m. CT) aired a similar report. 

3.      Kentucky Vets Home Employee Fired Over Facebook Postings. WLEX-TV Lexington, KY (3/22, 6:03 p.m. ET) broadcast, “One person has been fired from their job at the Thomson-Hood Veterans Home” in Wilmore, Kentucky, “for posting comments on Facebook that included a veteran’s name,” and that violates Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act rules, “according to the Veterans Affairs executive director. David Worley says that employee, who was on probation, was let go after they found the comment,” as well as pictures that had been taken in the home, where employees are not allowed to have cameras, posted on Facebook. 

4.      Colorado Lawmaker Wants Medical Marijuana For Vets With PTSD. According to the AP (3/22), Colorado state Rep. Sal Pace, a Democrat from Pueblo, “wants veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder to be able to use medical marijuana.” The AP noted that Pace said he would try non Monday to amend proposed medical marijuana regulations to allow its use by veterans if they get a recommendation from a psychiatrist. The Denver Post (3/22, 282K), which published a similar story, said the “Washington-based Marijuana Policy Project is backing Pace’s amendment, as is Sensible Colorado, a patient-advocacy group.” KKCO-TV Grand Junction, CO (3/22, 10:06 p.m. MT) also aired a report on this story. 

5.      Perea-Henze Confirmed As VA Assistant Secretary Of Policy And Planning. The second story in “People On The Move” for CQ (3/23, Dumain, Kim) reports, “Raul Perea-Henze was confirmed as assistant secretary of policy and planning at the Department of Veterans Affairs. He previously worked as a senior executive in global health policy and medical operations for Merck and Co. and Pfizer.” CQ adds that during the Clinton Administration, Perea-Henze “served as deputy assistant secretary of Commerce for management and budget, and as a senior health care adviser in the White House.” 

6.      Bills Passed In House Would Benefit Homeless, Disabled Veterans. CQ (3/23, Mulero) reports, “The House on Monday easily passed a pair of non-controversial veterans’ benefits measures, including” HR 4810, which aims “to improve services for homeless and low-income veterans.” According to CQ, HR 4810 “would increase to $200 million, from $150 million, the annual authorization for the Veterans Affairs Department to carry out comprehensive service programs for homeless veterans,” and “would direct VA to work with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide veterans with assistance for basic essentials, security deposits for rental units and payment of the first month’s rent.” After noting that the House “also passed, 407-0, a bill (HR 4667) that would increase the amounts paid to veterans for disability compensation and to their survivors for dependency and indemnity compensation,” CQ says that later in the week, the House is “expected to pass several other” veterans-related benefits measures, including HR 3976, “which would extend mortgage protections for servicemembers and adjust wages for veterans enrolled in on-the-job training programs.”  

7.      Trial Delayed For Man Accused Of Falsely Claiming To Have Purple Heart. The AP (3/23) reports Charles Welshans’ “trial on charges he defrauded $24,844 from the US Department of Veterans Affairs by falsely claiming to be a Purple Heart recipient has been rescheduled for April 12.” Welshans, who “has pleaded not guilty to the charges,” is “free on $5,000 bond.” 

8.      World War II Vets From VA Hospital Share Stories With Students. On its website, WKBT-TV La Crosse, WI (3/22) reported, “Tomah High School students studying the history of World War II learned about it Monday from soldiers who were in the war. World War II veterans” from the Veterans Affairs medical center in Tomah “spoke to over 200 students.” 

9.      New Vet Center Opens In Illinois. The Orland Park (IL) Prairie (3/22, Warthen) reported, “Orland Park veterans can now receive counseling locally as the Department of Veteran Affairs and Readjustment Counseling Services opened its new Orland Park home” last Thursday. The Prairie added, “The Orland Park Vet Center will provide services to both veterans and family members of veterans, according to team leader Theresa Hartmann,” who said the center’s all-veteran staff is “very excited to be serving the veterans of Orland Park and the surrounding area.” 

10.    Cheyenne VAMC Operating Clinic For Women Vets. The Cheyenne-based Wyoming Tribune Eagle (3/23, Dynes, 15K) reports, “Almost half a million female veterans get health care through” the US Department of Veterans Affairs, “and the number is expected to grow by 30 percent in the next five years. But a VA health-care system used to providing care for men had to adjust to accommodate the growing female population.” The Tribune Eagle notes that the Cheyenne VA Medical Center “opened its Women’s Health Program in 1999 with the goal of providing comprehensive care for female veterans,” and today, that clinic’s staff “strives to make sure that female veterans know the service is available.”

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