Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News

Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today's News

From the VA:

Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News

1.      Report: Army Suicides Hit New High In 2009. ABC News’ This Week (8/8, 10:10 a.m. ET) broadcast that a new US Army report “says the stress of repeated deployments and lack of support for soldiers is having devastating consequences for a small but growing number” of US soldiers. According to ABC, for the “past two years, the suicide rate for soldiers has surpassed that for civilians. And last year, Army suicides hit a new high, 239 soldiers took their own lives a toll that’s having an impact on Army readiness and on families across the country,” including the family of deceased Iraq vet Timothy Bowman, who, after losing to Timothy to suicide, “took up the fight to raise awareness of the psychological strain that was pushing too many servicemen over the edge.”
     When asked about the report on the same program , General Peter Chiarelli, the Army’s vice chief of staff, said, “We’re looking for new ways to be able to deliver behavioral health, such as virtual behavioral health, where we literally bring up a network –using the Internet” — of “doctors…from all over the United States who can, in fact, provide a good, good look at our soldiers when they return.” Chiarelli also admitted, however, that he is concerned about soldiers taking drugs, stating, “We know that we had over 106,000 soldiers last year who had a prescription of three weeks or more for some kind of anti-depressant, anti-anxiety medicine.” Chiarelli did tell ABC, though, that “we’re not sending any soldier into harm’s way who’s taking a drug that we feel would somehow endanger him or others.”
     VA Attempting To End Veteran Homelessness. The San Francisco Examiner (8/8, Aldax) also discussed veteran suicides, stating that a “recent Veterans Affairs report revealed…as many as 18 veterans try to take their own lives each day.” The Examiner also said that while “cities still struggle to find homes for downtrodden veterans of the Vietnam War, they are now starting to see an influx of soldiers returning from the Middle East who have become homeless due to the barrage of illnesses, injuries and shortcomings that trail them home.” The Examiner did add, however, that VA “is in the midst of a five-year plan to end and prevent current and future homelessness.”

 2.      Nebraska’s First Veterans Cemetery To Be Dedicated Later This Week. The AP (8/9) reports, “The community of Alliance will host a celebration” Friday “to dedicate Nebraska’s first veterans cemetery. Thousands of people are expected to turn out” for the “dedication, which will feature a speech” from Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman. The AP adds, “The Department of Veterans Affairs provided almost $3 million for the project.”

 3.      Wisconsin VA Helps Form Civil War Commission. The AP (8/9) reports, “The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs and the Wisconsin Veterans Museum have formed a commission to plan for observance of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. The commission will bring together museums, libraries, historical societies and veterans’ organizations to develop educational programming and generate public interest in Wisconsin’s role in the war.” The AP adds, “Commemoration of the war will run between 2011 and 2015.” WISC-TV Madison, WI (8/8, 10:05 p.m. CT) aired a similar report.

 4.      VA Adding Employees At Buffalo Office, Improving Fort Gibson National Cemetery. The Buffalo News (8/8) reports, “Stimulus money led to an increase in the job rolls” at Veterans Affairs’ Buffalo office. The News added, “The Buffalo office hired 152 employees to help process veterans’ claims for benefits, especially disability compensation, thanks to funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, officials said.” After noting that VA officials “said the new employees helped free up highly trained professionals from routine administrative work, also speeding up the application process,” the News added, “Nationally, $150 million of a total of $1.8 billion in stimulus directed to the VA resulted in hiring 2,700 temporary and permanent employees.”
     According to the Muskogee (OK) Phoenix (8/9, Purtell), “veteran Ed Smith said he’s glad to hear about big improvements planned for the Fort Gibson National Cemetery. The Department of Veterans Affairs has allotted $141,375 for improvement projects and equipment purchases there.” The money, received by VA “through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” is “one slice of approximately $50 million for 391 projects at national cemeteries and other sites managed by the National Cemetery Administration.”

 5.      VA To Be Represented At National Veterans Justice Training Conference. KJRH-TV Tulsa, OK (8/8, 10:56 p.m. CT) broadcast, “Tulsa is the spot for a national veterans justice training conference this week.” On Monday, “judges, Washington, DC, representatives, and Veterans Administration employees from across the country will be…in Tulsa” for the conference, which is “aimed at educating people about veterans in the criminal justice system.” KJRH added, “The Tulsa Veterans Treatment Court is one of four mentoring training courts in the nation and serves as a model for other states.”
     VA, Court Program Assisting Vets In Michigan. The Pontiac, Michigan-based Oakland Press (8/8, Zaniewski) noted that Judge Brian MacKenzie, who “presides over the Veterans Court” in Michigan’s Oakland County, “said the program is like a combined mental health court and sobriety court that aims to help people who, because of their military service, are suffering from post-traumatic stress or have developed addictions and then broke the law.” After stating the court “has a partnership” with the US VA, the Press added, “MacKenzie said the program has formal agreements with the VA hospitals in Detroit and Ann Arbor.”

6.      Parents Of Deceased Vet Concerned About Son’s Burial In Arlington National Cemetery. In continuing coverage, the Houston Chronicle (8/9, Wise) reports, “Recent headlines decrying dysfunctional management, mishandled remains and chaotic record keeping at Arlington National Cemetery put Stephanie and David Dyer’s already frayed nerves on edge,” because the records kept at Arlington National Cemetery of the Houston couple’s deceased, veteran son “listed the wrong Social Security number.” And, while a spokeswoman for the cemetery stated that an “individual’s Social Security number does not factor in to where” that “individual is buried,” Stephanie Dyer “would prefer her son’s final resting place to be Houston National Cemetery, which is administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, not the Army.”
     Paper: Scandal An “Unnecessary Burden For Families.” In an editorial, the Kennewick, Washington-based Tri-City Herald (WA) (8/8) said management of Arlington National Cemetery “has been atrociously sloppy. This realization comes as a painful shock and an unnecessary burden for families who thought their loved ones were properly buried there.” The Herald concluded, “This scandal needs to be resolved as soon as possible.”

 7.      Virginia Company Wins VA Contract For Education And Training Services. Near the end of “Government Contracts Awarded,” the Washington Post (8/9, Mizell) reports, “PricewaterhouseCoopers of McLean,” Virginia, “won a $3.6 million contract from the Department of Veterans Affairs for education and training services.”

 8.      Motorcycle Riders Raise Money For Vets In Oregon, Michigan. KDRV-TV Medford, OR (8/8, 11:05 p.m. PT) broadcast, “Bikers are touring southern Oregon today to raise money for and pay respect to local veterans. The Roaring Ride, which is put on by the Rogue River” Veterans for Foreign Wars “post, made stops at the Eagle Point National Cemetery” and the Veterans Affairs Domiciliary Dom in White City. KDRV added, “With nearly fifty bikes present, organizers hope the event serves as a reminder that there are still local veterans in need of assistance.”
     After noting that one in “five homeless Americans is a veteran,” the WWLP-TV Springfield, MA (8/8, Ogirri) website said over 150 “motorcycle riders from across western Massachusetts rode…to raise money for those vets.” The event raised money for a “new limited-equity housing project” that “is in the works for the Gordon H. Mansfield Veterans Community in Leeds, which will provide veterans with an opportunity to complete the transition from homelessness to home ownership.”

 9.      Missing Man May Have Been Driving To Vets Cemetery. The Palm Beach (FL) Post (8/9) says Lowell Martin Borges, a “74-year-old man with Alzheimer’s on his way to either a Wal-Mart” or a veterans cemetery, is missing. On Sunday night, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBSO) “put out an alert…asking for the public’s help in finding…Borges, who also suffers from diabetes.”
     The WPTV-TV West Palm Beach, FL (8/8, Co.) website also covered Borges’ disappearance, reporting, “He drove his vehicle to a local Wal-Mart or the VA Cemetery and has not returned since, according to PBSO,” which “considers Borges a Missing/Endangered Adult.”

 10.    Excess Radiation From CT Scans. In a letter to the editor of the New York Times (8/9, A18), Geoffrey W. McCarthy, a “retired chief medical officer for…VA,” writes, “Your article about radiation overdoses reflects the conflict between traditional risk management and the principles of patient safety. Errors in medical care are inevitable; the root causes of these radiation overdoses have been identified, but no apologies made,” says McCarthy, who argues, “Disclosing the error afterward…is a necessary organizational change on the patient safety journey – one pioneered by the Veterans Administration.”


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