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 Thanked For Helping Gulf War Vets.
  2. VA Official Credits Shinseki With Enhancing Female Veterans’ Services.
  3. Letter Writer Praises Obama, Shinseki.
  4. Wisconsin To Observe Medal Of Honor Day.
  5. Iowa Governor Honors Military Children, Signs Two Veterans-Related Bills.
  6. Senate Veterans Affairs Committee To Discuss Homelessness Among Veterans.
  7. VA Officials Planning To Add Social Media To Vets Health Portal.
  8. Podiatrist Pleads Guilty To Defrauding VA.
  9. Vietnam Vet Offering Last Salutes At Fort Snelling Cemetery.
  10. New Technology “First Step” In Remote PTSD Treatment.

Have You Heard
In his Second Inaugural Address in 1865, President Abraham Lincoln acknowledged the nation’s responsibility “to care for him who shall have borne the battle.” That same year, the president signed the law establishing the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers to care for veterans who had volunteered to fight for the Union in the Civil War. The National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, which has 11 branches, is featured in the National Park Service’s newest on-line Discover Our Shared Heritage travel itinerary. The branches of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers differ from other travel destinations because they still serve veterans. As active medical centers managed by VA, the branches welcome both visitors and volunteers. The itinerary provides guidance on how to make respectful visits. The National Home branches, with their expansive, park-like campuses and impressive historic buildings, are listed in or determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Essays in the itinerary give details about the history and development of the National Home system, what life there was like for veterans in the early years, and volunteering. The itinerary is available here and can be printed as a guide.

1.      Shinseki Thanked For Helping Gulf War Vets. The last item in the Washington Times (3/24, Fales, 77K) “Sgt. Shaft” column offers thanks “to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki for directing VA attention to Persian Gulf War veterans.” After noting that a “special task force has nearly completed a comprehensive report that will redefine how VA addresses the pain and suffering of ill veterans who deployed during the Gulf War in 1990 and 1991,” the Times quotes Gulf War vet John R. Gingrich, the task force’s chairman, who said, “Reaching out to Gulf War veterans is not only essential to our transformation of VA; for many of us it is also personal.”

2.      VA Official Credits Shinseki With Enhancing Female Veterans’ Services. In an editorial, the Roseburg (OR) News-Review (3/24) says its is “encouraging to see that the VA Roseburg Healthcare System seeks to better address” the needs of female veterans. Marcia Hall, the “women veterans program manager” for the system, “credits Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki with much of the progress in enhancing services to women veterans.”

3.      Letter Writer Praises Obama, Shinseki. In a letter to the editor of the Augusta (GA) Chronicle (3/24), South Carolina resident Victor Reilly praises Barack Obama for the job he has done as President. Reilly adds, “The Veterans Administration, with former Gen. Eric Shinseki in charge, is finally providing good care for the veterans of that war.”

4.      Wisconsin To Observe Medal Of Honor Day. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (3/24, Garza, 224K) reports, “Wisconsin will observe its first Medal of Honor Day Thursday, a day set aside to celebrate and honor members of the US armed forces who have been awarded the nation’s highest military award for bravery, the state Department of Veterans’ Affairs announced Tuesday.” The Sentinel adds, “In Wisconsin, 61 citizens have been recipients of the Medal of Honor, according to a news release” from the Wisconsin VA.

5.      Iowa Governor Honors Military Children, Signs Two Veterans-Related Bills. KDSM-TV Des Moines, IA (3/23, 9:39 p.m. CT) broadcast that on Tuesday, children “with close relatives in the armed forces received a special honor” from Iowa Gov. Chet Culver, who “was joined by several kids, military members, and a brass band to sign a proclamation declaring March the ‘Month of the Military Child.'” Culver “also signed” two veteran-related bills, one which “directs the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Public Defense to work with service members on their tax returns,” and one which “directs jail personnel to ask recently- incarcerated individuals if they are veterans.”

6.      Senate Veterans Affairs Committee To Discuss Homelessness Among Veterans. Near the end of “Today At A Glance”, CQ (3/24) notes that at 9:30 a.m. in 418 Russell on Wednesday, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee is scheduled to hold a “hearing on homelessness among veterans.”

7.      VA Officials Planning To Add Social Media To Vets Health Portal. Federal Computer Week (3/24, Beizer, 90K) reports, “Veterans Affairs Department officials plan to add social-media style tools to the portal veterans use to access health records, a VA official said” on Wednesday “at the 2010 FOSE conference. Veterans use the My HealtheVet to access records, keep health diaries and reorder prescriptions, according to Gail Graham,” VA’s deputy chief officer of health care information management. Federal Computer Week adds, “Veterans of all ages are using the portal, but younger service members returning from deployments want more functionality, she said.”

8.      Podiatrist Pleads Guilty To Defrauding VA. The Rochester (NY) Democrat & Chronicle (3/24) notes that on Tuesday, 44-year-old podiatrist Dr. Michael L. Akyuz “admitted…that he clipped the toenails of elderly patients while charging at least $400,000 in treatments he didn’t perform.” Akyuz “pleaded guilty in US District Court to the felonies of health care fraud and mail fraud for submitting false treatment vouchers to Medicare, Excellus,” and the US Department of Veterans Affairs “from June 1, 2003 to May 30, 2008.” He faces a sentence of “up to 51 months in prison.” WHEC-TV Rochester, NY (3/23, 6:01 p.m. ET) aired a similar report. WHEC (3/23) also covered this story on its website, as did the WHAM-TV Rochester, NY (3/23) website, which noted that the US Attorney’s Office “thinks Akyuz should pay more than $790,000 in restitution when he is sentenced in July.”

9.      Vietnam Vet Offering Last Salutes At Fort Snelling Cemetery. The Quad Community Press (3/24, Backus), a paper in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, notes that 61-year-old Vietnam veteran Loren Kramer “has been part” of the Color Guard at Fort Snelling National Cemetery “since 2003.” Kramer, who “visits the cemetery weekly, and performs up to 14 services a day for deceased” veterans, said he gets a “reward out of giving fellow veterans who fought for freedom a last salute.”

10.    New Technology “First Step” In Remote PTSD Treatment. NextGov (3/23, Brewin) reported, “The National Center for Telehealth and Technology, which is part of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, took delivery last week of its first transportable unit, said Matt Mishkind, acting chief of the center’s clinical telehealth division.” The delivery of the unit, which, among other things, “will treat members of an Army Reserve unit deployed in Iraq, linking them to clinicians at the Veterans Affairs hospital” in Honolulu, “marks a first step in meeting” the Army surgeon general’s challenge “to use technology to replace face-to-face” post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatment “sessions between clinicians and soliders.” NextGov noted that the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury is “also…developing other programs to treat the invisible wounds of war, including one that will use virtual reality to treat PTSD.”

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