Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News

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From the VA:

Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News

1. Webb Challenging VA On New Agent Orange Benefits. In continuing coverage, the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot (6/15, Bartel) says US Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) is “challenging the Veterans Administration’s desire to cover treatment for coronary heart disease, B-cell leukemia and Parkinson’s disease in Vietnam War veterans who may have been exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange.” After noting that Webb, who “said…VA hasn’t fully explained to Congress why it presumes those three ailments are linked to service in Vietnam,” recently wrote a letter to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki about the matter, the Virginian-Pilot adds, “A spokesperson for the VA said Monday that agency officials are in contact with Webb’s office.” The Roanoke (VA) Times (6/15) runs the same story.

2. Iowa Governor Appoints Veterans Home Commandant. The AP (6/15) reports Iowa Gov. Chet Culver has appointed David Worley as “commandant of the Iowa Veterans home in Marshalltown.” Worley “has served in a series of positions running veterans programs in Kentucky, including executive director of the Office of Kentucky Veterans Centers, where he supervises operations at the state’s three nursing homes serving veterans.” Worley, who “also ran programs dealing with homeless” veterans, “begins his new duties in Iowa on Aug. 1,” a point also made by the Mason City (IA) Globe Gazette (6/15, 17K).

3. VA Doctor, Other Specialists Concerned About Early Cancer Detection. The AP (6/15) reports, “It’s an unthinkable notion for a generation raised on the message that early cancer detection saves lives, but specialists say more tumors actually are being found too early. That is raising uncomfortable questions about how aggressively to treat early growths,” or “in some cases, even how aggressively” to test for them. Dr. H. Gilbert Welch of Dartmouth “and the Veterans Affairs Outcomes Group, who led” an “overdiagnosis study published last” month, “says raising the threshold at which tests signal suspicion could help.”

4. Lawmaker Pushing For DOD Registry Of Toxic Chemical Exposure Incidents. The Evansville (IN) Courier & Press (6/15, Straub) reports, “The Department of Defense is under orders to consider creating an official registry detailing incidents of personnel who are exposed to toxic chemicals during military service, such as an event involving members of the Indiana National Guard serving in Iraq in 2003. The provision, offered” by US Rep. Baron Hill (D-IN), is “included in a report attached to the National Defense Authorization Act.” Hill, “who has been pushing for the Department of Veterans Affairs to address the situation,” said the “measure ‘means we are much closer to both securing recourse for our Guardsmen exposed to chemical pollutants and preventing this from happening again.'”

5. Indiana’s War Dead Honored. The Indianapolis Star (6/15, Lopez, 239K) reports, “In Indiana there are 166, so far, and thousands more nationwide: men and women in the military who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.” On Sunday, the “eve of Flag Day,” the city of Westfield, Indiana, “honored the state’s war dead at The Fallen Hoosier Heroes Memorial for Enduring Freedom,” during a ceremony at which US Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) spoke.

6. Vet Groups Ask Obama To Allow For Replacement Of Mojave Cross. In continuing coverage, the Riverside (CA) Press-Enterprise (6/15, Goad) says a letter “signed by the heads of several veterans groups and copied” to US Attorney General Eric Holder, asks President Barack Obama to allow for the replacement of a war memorial cross that was “stolen a month ago.” The theft occurred after the US Supreme Court ruled that the cross could remain in the Mojave National Preserve “while a lower court revisited the question of whether it should be allowed” to stay there permanently. The Press-Enterprise adds, “When the cross was stolen, the Justice Department denied requests to replace it before the lower court reached a verdict.”

7. “Outraged” By Stalin Bust, Vets, Volunteers Protest At National D-Day Memorial. In continuing coverage, the Roanoke (VA) Times (6/15, Bowman) reports, “Veterans and volunteers at the National D-Day Memorial” in Bedford, Virginia, “outraged that a bust of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin has been placed there, protested Monday by picketing the memorial.” The “group chose Monday for its protest because the National D-Day Memorial Foundation was holding a private ceremony at the memorial to say goodbye” to departing foundation President William McIntosh, whose “position…has been that the memorial can’t tell the story of the June 6, 1944, Allied invasion of Normandy in its full context without acknowledging Stalin’s role as the leader of Russia, an ally.”

According to the Lynchburg (VA) News & Advance (6/15, Faulconer), the “protesters said they want the board and a new president to reconsider” the bust. The WSLS-TV Roanoke, VA (6/14) website published the same story, while an editorial in the Chattanooga (TN) Times Free Press (6/15) says “implicitly honoring dictator Josef Stalin with a statue” on US “soil is not appropriate.”

8. VA Provides Land, Funding For West Los Angeles Veterans Home. The Santa Monica (CA) Daily Press (6/15, Taborek, 42K) reports, “Nearly 400 elderly and disabled veterans will soon have a new housing and long-term care facility to call their own, following the official opening on Monday of the West Los Angeles Veterans Home,” which is located on land given to the state of California by the US Department of Veterans Affairs. After noting that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger “traveled to Los Angeles for Monday’s dedication ceremony,” the Daily Press adds, “The US Department of Veterans Affairs contributed approximately $142 million to the project, according to a press release from the governor’s office. An additional $111 million for the facility came from state general obligation bonds and lease revenue bonds.”

9. Ground Broken On Minneapolis Veterans Home Expansion. The Minneapolis Star Tribune (6/15, Wolfe, 347K) reports, “After five years of angst, upheaval and scores of citations for poor care at the Minneapolis Veterans Home, officials say the groundbreaking ceremony Monday for a new facility is emblematic of what they expect for aged veterans on the campus: excellent care in excellent facilities.” The current version of the home, meanwhile, “has received positive reports recently from federal Veterans Affairs nursing home inspectors and from special investigators sent by the US Department of Justice to review care.”

US VA Funding More Than Half Project’s Cost. Minnesota Public Radio (6/14, Shenoy) said the Minnesota VA was scheduled to break “ground Monday on a $29 million expansion of the Minneapolis Veterans Home. The expansion will include a 100-bed nursing care facility to replace a historic building demolished last year.” Minnesota is paying for “35 percent” of the project, while US VA is “funding 65 percent.”

10. Local Officials Urged To Support Proposed VA Project For Homeless Vets. The Kerrville (TX) Daily Times (6/15, Armstrong, 9K) reports, “Some of the same residents who spoke last week urging the city council to support” a proposed Veterans Affairs “project for homeless veterans brought their message to Kerr County Commissioners Monday.” The “city and county have not taken any action to support or oppose the proposed VA project. Elected officials on both boards have expressed frustration at the limited information coming from the VA and have said they have many unanswered questions.”

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