From The VA
VA honored three facilities on Earth Day for their efforts in ensuring a healthy and sustainable environment for current and future generations. VA’s Chief of Staff John R. Gingrich presented the 2010 VA Green Routine Awards to Martinsburg VA Medical Center’s “Waste Watchers” Program; Portland VA Medical Center’s recycling education program; and to the Oscar H. Johnson VA Medical Center for innovative recycling. The Martinsburg VA Medical Center’s Nutrition and Food Service Staff developed the “Waste Watchers” program that diverted 17 tons of food waste from landfills by turning it into compost. The Portland VA Medical Center’s Green Environmental Management Systems (GEMS) Team incorporated recycled materials into interior design and construction projects and successfully encouraged the use of carpools and public transportation. Through active participation of the employees, the medical center reduced medical waste by more than 20 percent and reduced energy use and waste disposal costs. The Oscar H. Johnson VA Medical Center’s GEMS Team developed new recycling opportunities – moving from white paper to things such as fluorescent light bulbs, pallets, cooking grease, compostable items, and aluminum cans. Those efforts reduced the facility’s hazardous waste disposal by approximately 91 percent and reduced regulated medical waste by 24 percent. Each facility team received an award made of 100% recycled glass symbolizing sustainability. For more information go to “Green Routine.”
Top Veterans Stories in Today’s News
- Admiral Mullen urges leadership to address unmet needs of returning combat veterans, families Washington, DC – Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called on America’s foundations and philanthropists to actively reach out in service of the nation’s veterans this week, saying time is of the essence. “Outside my window at night, I can look on the streets of Washington and see my peers from Vietnam who are homeless and who are sleeping on the streets at night,” Mullen said. “We did not do a good job of addressing the problems of those veterans from Vietnam.”
- Vets Affairs wants developer ideas for Lincoln campus Lincoln, Nebraska – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has started soliciting ideas for building a new VA clinic and converting the 60-acre Lincoln campus into a new use. The VA will get a new modern clinic, most likely on its campus in Lincoln, in exchange for allowing a developer to use all or part of the Lincoln campus for up to 75 years, under what is called an extended-use lease.
- Vets salute Obama on funding Washington, DC – President Obama is struggling to fulfill campaign promises to pass energy and immigration measures, but he’s poised to notch another victory for a stump-speech vow: to make sure veterans’ funding isn’t held hostage to the government’s bad finances.
- Veterans organization says climate change a security threat Florence, South Carolina – During the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Robin Eckstein as was an active duty soldier assigned to the 123 Maintenance Support Battalion, part of the 1st Armored Division. Part of the mission of the 123rd was to provide transportation, fuel and water support to troops in position for the assault. In the days leading up to the invasion, the 123rd moved convoys carrying fuel and water to outposts surrounding Baghdad. The seven-ton trucks were slow moving targets as they criss-crossed the desert with supplies for the forward operating bases. Each day, Eckstein said, she felt it was a roll of the dice as to what they would encounter in what she called a “logistical nightmare.” Each day, she said, she realized more problems that come with reliance on foreign oil.
- Service Members Send Wounded Cyclists Off at White House Washington, DC – Men and women in uniform from across the services gathered on the White House’s south lawn April 28 to give wounded service members a send-off as they began a bike trip from the nation’s capital to Annapolis, Md. The White House to the Lighthouse Challenge, the fourth such trek hosted by the Wounded Warrior Project, is a four-day ride taken by service members who have been injured in combat. Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki met with the troops before they mounted their bikes and took a ceremonial lap around the south lawn.
- Subcommittee chairman cancels veterans suicide hearing out of frustration with VA Washington, DC – The chairman of a House panel that oversees the Veterans Affairs Department has asked VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to explain an apparent “emerging pattern” of noncompliance with congressional requests for information about veteran suicide and other issues. Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Ariz., canceled a hearing on suicide prevention efforts, which was scheduled for Wednesday, saying he was upset about the witnesses the agency wanted to send.
- Ackerman Bill Seeks To Aid Vets Blocked From Appeals Process And Denied Benefits Washington, DC – Legislation has been introduced by Congressmember Gary Ackerman to fix a broken appeals process that is denying more than 200 war veterans the chance to appeal for their benefits after missing “a rigid and arbitrary deadline” set by the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims, known as the Veterans Court. U.S. Senator Arlen Spector (D–Pennsylvania) recently introduced a bill similar to Ackerman’s in the Senate. The Fair Access to Veterans Benefits Act would require the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims, Veterans Court, to hear appeals of administrative decisions denying veterans benefits when circumstances beyond their control—often the very service-connected disabilities that entitle them to benefits—render them unable to meet the deadline for filing an appeal, said Ackerman (D–Bayside/Long Island).
- Senator: Caregiver benefits an empty promise Washington, DC – In all of the hoopla over Congress finally passing a bill aimed at helping family caregivers of catastrophically disabled veterans, warnings from one lawmaker that the final legislation is unfair to more than 35,000 families and nobody may see promised benefits were mostly overlooked. The warnings come from Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a physician and a deficit hawk who opposes most new spending unless it is offset. Coburn is also the lawmaker who single-handedly held up the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act, which delayed work on writing a compromise until last week.
- Veterans’ Affairs department installs new $250K telephone system New Britain, Connecticut – The state Department of Veterans’ Affairs has installed a new $250,000 telephone system to service its main Rocky Hill campus including the state Veterans Home. The new system went live Monday afternoon. As part of the system modernization, all agency departments and facilities at Rocky Hill have received new telephone numbers. The agency’s new main telephone number is (860) 616-3600.
- U.S. veterans bear witness to the horrors of the Holocaust Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Sixty-five years ago, tank driver Joe Vanacore was part of the 4th Armored Division’s push east into Nazi Germany. In early April, he was aiming the bulldozer blade of his 30-ton Sherman tank at the gate of a barbed-wire enclosure his battalion had discovered. He rammed through, and later described what he could make out through the periscope from inside his tank: “The first thing I saw was this big pile of bodies, about five, six foot high, like a haystack. I didn’t realize they were bodies — my mind didn’t tell me they were bodies until I got a little closer.”