From the VA:
Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News
1. VA Shortens Claims Paperwork. In its “Stripes Central” blog, Stars And Stripes (6/16, Shane) notes that on Tuesday, Veterans Affairs officials “announced…they’ve revised paperwork for first-time disability and pension claims, shortening the 23-page form down to a mere 10-page application.” After noting that in a “statement, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said” the revision “symbolizes ‘changes underway to make VA more responsive to Veterans and their families,'” Stars And Stripes adds, “VA officials said they’re working to ‘break the back of the backlog,’ and that simple changes like the paperwork reduction will make a difference in the long run.”
2. VA Praised For Research It Has Conducted On Treating Parkinson’s Disease. The second item in the “Sgt. Shaft” column for the Washington Times (6/16, 77K) gives, “Kudos to the Department of Veterans Affairs” for making “progress in advancing the quality of care for those suffering with Parkinson’s disease. Veterans and others with this malady who undergo deep brain stimulation (DBS) may benefit from research co-sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs and published recently in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.” The column notes that VA Secretary Eric Shinseki commented on this research, saying it and “other ground-breaking research on Parkinson’s disease ensure we provide the best care possible for Veterans with this common, debilitating disease.”
3. Minneapolis Veterans Home Breaks Ground On New Skilled Nursing Facility. In continuing coverage, the AP (6/15) said the “Minneapolis Veterans Home has broken ground on a new skilled nursing facility to replace a building demolished because of structural problems.” The US Department of Veterans Affairs is “funding 65% of the project to the tune of $19 million. The state is paying the rest, about $10 million.”
4. Panel: No Proof Lifestyle Measures Can Prevent Alzheimer’s. WebMD (6/15, Doheny) reported, “There’s no solid scientific proof that lifestyle measures can prevent Alzheimer’s disease or cognitive decline, according” to an independent panel “convened by the National Institutes of Health.” The panel, which “spent three days in April looking at data gathered by a team of experts from Duke University Medical Center” and the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center, “also says the evidence is ‘insufficient’ to support the use of pharmaceutical agents or dietary supplements to prevent cognitive decline or Alzheimer’s disease. Yet they suggest the ongoing research on omega-3 fatty acids, physical activity, and cognitive engagement — keeping mental faculties sharp – ‘may provide new insights into the prevention or delay of cognitive decline or Alzheimer’s disease.'”
5. VA Researcher Says Study May Help Veterans With PTSD. HealthDay (6/16) reports, “Sleep problems, irritability, concentration problems, jumpiness and feeling constantly ‘on guard’ are among the hyperarousal symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) associated with anger and hostility in US soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, researchers say. ‘Most returning veterans don’t have PTSD or difficulty with anger and aggressiveness, but for the subset of veterans who do, this study may help identify related symptoms and other risk factors,’ Eric Elbogen, of the VISN 6 Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center and the VA Medical Center in Durham, N.C., said in an American Psychiatric Association news release.” Elbogen, who said veterans “with…adjustment problems should seek” VA’s help, and “colleagues interviewed 676 veterans” for their study, which “was published in the June 15 online edition of the American Journal of Psychiatry.”
Science Daily (6/16) notes, “Focusing on certain PTSD symptoms may be key to treating anger among Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans, according to a study by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Veterans Affairs researchers.” Funding for the “study was provided” by VA, the “University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the National Institute of Mental Health.”
Study Finds High Rates Of Functional Impairment In Returning Soldiers Due To PTSD. Medscape (6/15, Cassels) reported that, according to a study published in the June issue of the Archives of Psychiatry, approximately 10% of US Army soldiers returning from Iraq have severe functional impairment attributed to PTSD or depression.
VA Psychologist: Burdens Placed On Service Members Often Minimized. After pointing out that loved “ones were reeling Friday” from the suicide of Army Pvt. Elizabeth Lynch-Gonzalez, the White Plains (NY) Journal News (6/12, Howard, 100K) reported, “The burdens placed on service members today are often minimized, said Dr. Joseph Amato, a psychologist and suicide prevention coordinator” at the Veterans Affairs Hudson Valley Healthcare System, who “said anyone can be at risk for suicide if stresses mount. That’s why individuals or loved ones must act at the first signs of trouble.”
6. VA Approves Contractor To Serve Veterans In North Dakota. The Dickinson (ND) Press (6/16, McBride) reports, “Veterans left without a local health clinic in May should have access to a new one by September if all goes as planned.” On Tuesday, US Rep. Earl Pomeroy and US Sens. Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad, all Democrats from North Dakota, “announced a new contract with CRAssociates.” After noting that Great Plains Clinic had “served southwestern North Dakota veterans until its contract ended May 1,” the Press said VA “approved the contract with CRA Monday.” The AP (6/16) publishes a similar article, as did the KQCD-TV Dickinson, ND (6/15, Howell) website, which ran a story that also appeared on the KFYR-TV Bismarck, ND (6/15) website.
7. Company Approved To Sell Breast Cancer Detection Equipment To Vets Hospitals. The Nashua (NH) Telegraph (6/16, Smith, 23K) reports, “Nashua-based iCAD, Inc.” has “received government approval to sell equipment for the early detection of breast cancer to veterans and military hospitals worldwide.” The “government, due to a recent influx of women in the military, has launched a program focusing on health care for women veterans. There were 1.8 million women veterans as of September 2009, according to the Veterans Administration.”
8. Officials Say VA, DOD Making Progress On EHRs. ExecutiveGov (6/16, Tuutti) notes, “The military and veterans healthcare communities are on the right track with how they document patient medical records, slowly transitioning into a near-paperless environment, officials said last week,” while speaking “at a June 11 electronic health records open house held in Arlington, Va.” The event centered around a “panel discussion on progress and plans the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs have achieved” in electronic health records.
DOD In Final Preparations Stage For Hampton Roads VLER Project. Government Health IT (6/16, Mosquera) reports, “The Defense Department is making final preparations to start exchanging selected patient information” with Bon Secours Health System, a “private healthcare provider in Hampton Roads, Va., as part of the its Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) community project.” That information was provided by military health officials at a June 11th briefing on the “second site of DOD’s joint project with the Veterans Affairs Department to share electronic records in a complex services environment.”
9. VA Named In Updated Version Of Drug Testing Lawsuit. The Jacksonville (NC) Daily News (6/16, Hodge) reports, “New accusations from military veterans who were unwitting subjects in drug testing between 1950 and 1976 add the department of Veterans Affairs to the list of participants in what they call ‘a chilling tale of human experimentation.'” Last year, “six veterans and two veteran advocacy organizations filed suit against the Department of Defense,” the US Army, and the Central Intelligence Agency, “asking for healthcare for physical damages sustained during” the testing. An “updated complaint” of the lawsuit “alleges for the first time that…VA was a party to these actions – guilty of what are largely crimes of omission: failure to notify veterans who participated in the experiments of risks to their health and incompletely informing those who were notified.”
10. Bath VAMC To Open New Clinic. The Williamsport (PA) Sun-Gazette (6/16, Clarke) reports, “Tioga County veterans soon won’t have to travel across the border to New York state to receive medical services through the Veteran’s Administration, it was announced Tuesday.” The Bath VA Medical Center, “in conjunction with Tioga County, will open a primary care office and outreach center for veterans next month…in Mansfield.” The Sun-Gazette quotes David J. West, Bath VAMC’s director, who said, “We are pleased to join county officials… in ensuring that veterans receive the highest quality care anywhere.”