From the VA:
Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News
1. Hall Encouraged By VA’s Test Of Paperless Claims Processing System. In continuing coverage, US Rep. John Hall (D-NY) writes in a post for the “Congress Blog” for The Hill (8/13, 21K), “Last week, the Veterans Administration announced that it was starting a pilot program to test its new paperless claims processing system.” Hall says that while this “project is long overdue” and that veterans “and Members of Congress should…still” call on VA to enact further reforms, it is “encouraging as…VA continues to improve its service to our veterans and become an organization for the digital age.” Hall concludes his post by praising VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, arguing that VA “has made great strides in improving the way we care for our veterans and changing its culture into a Veterans advocate rather than an adversary.”
Service Officer: Online Benefits Application Part Of VA Attempt To Go Paperless. On its website, KTXS-TV Abilene, TX (8/12, Skow) said veterans “may be able to access medical benefits sooner,” because the Department of Veterans Affairs is allowing them to fill out their medical benefits application and “send it online. Abilene Veterans Services Officer Jimmy Defoor,” who “believes a younger generation of vets will…easily” utilize this new tool, “says, ‘This is…VA’s effort that they keep talking about, trying to go paperless with everything.'” After noting that Defoor “says the department is still about 20 years away from being able to do just that,” KTXS pointed out that a veteran, whom KTXS does not identify by name, “says the backlog in…VA is ‘unconscionable.'” KTXS-TV San Angelo, TX (8/12, 6:04 p.m. CT) aired a similar report.
2. Nebraska Veterans Cemetery To Be Dedicated Today. On its website, KCSR-AM Chadron, NE (8/12, Fankhauser) reported, “The Nebraska Veterans Cemetery being constructed near Alliance will be dedicated” on Friday, “with an entire day full of activities, including a speech” by Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman.
3. Research Initiative Directed By VA Doctor “Bearing Fruit.” In a front page story, the New York Times (8/13, A1, Kolata, 1.09M) says the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) is “bearing fruit with a wealth of recent scientific papers on the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s using methods like PET scans and tests of spinal fluid.” After noting that over 100 studies being conducted under the initiative to “test drugs that might slow or stop” Alzheimer’s, the Times points out that Dr. Michael W. Weiner “of the San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs…directs ADNI.”
4. Study Co-Funded By VA Finds Prostate Cancer Drug Is Not Being Widely Prescribed. In continuing coverage, HealthDay (8/13, Reinberg) reports, “Even though a major study found that the drug finasteride could reduce the risk of prostate cancer by 25 percent, it is still not being widely prescribed for that purpose, Veterans Administration researchers report” in the “September issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.” The “study was funded by the VA National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and the US Department of Defense — Prostate Cancer Research Program. Although the doctors” in the study “all came from the VA medical system,” Dr. Linda Kinsinger, the study’s lead researcher, “said these results most likely mirror what is happening throughout the United States.”
5. Families Concerned Agent Orange Use May Have Led To Cancer Cluster Near Fort Detrick. In continuing coverage, the WTTG-TV Washington, DC (8/12, Chavez) website said that on Thursday night, residents of Frederick, Maryland, “continued their fight to prove that chemical contamination at Fort Detrick is causing deadly cancer clusters.” After noting that nearly “150 people showed up for the Frederick County Health Department’s first hearing to determine whether there is a cancer cluster in Frederick,” WTTG said many of the families living near Fort Detrick are “concerned that the fort used chemicals like Agent Orange in the past and now they are suffering.” Fort Detrick, meanwhile, “says it’s cooperating with the investigation and is leaving it up to health officials.”
The Frederick (MD) News-Post (8/13, Eckstein, 38K) also takes note of Thursday’s hearing, and, in a separate article, says its own archives, “government documents and Fort Detrick’s website all chronicle the Army post’s Vietnam-era testing of Agent Orange, a defoliant that has since been proven to cause cancers, Parkinson’s disease, skin conditions and more.” The Gaithersburg (MD0 Gazette (8/13, Heerbrandt), however, reports Detrick scientists “said this week they only recently found out that field research on Agent Orange was conducted at the base.”
6. Official Says VA Has Adopted Standard Identifier For All Vets To Use. In continuing coverage, NextGov (8/12, Brewin) reported, “The Veterans Affairs Department has adopted a standard identifier for all veterans to use in all its systems, including one to build electronic health records that will follow them from enlistment to death, VA’s chief information officer said on Wednesday. The identifier will apply to the department’s entire universe of beneficiaries and will support data exchange for a joint project with the Defense Department called the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record for active-duty military personnel and veterans, which President Obama announced in April 2009, CIO Roger Baker said during a press briefing.” NextGov pointed out that VA adopted the Electronic Data Interchange Personal Identifier “standard six weeks ago.”
7. Congressman Donates Frequent Flyer Miles So WWII Vet’s Widow Can Attend His Funeral. CNN Newsroom (8/12, 10:44 a.m. ET) broadcast that the widow of decorated World War II veteran Vernon Baker has said she cannot afford to make a trip to see her husband be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. However, US Rep. Walt Minnick (D-ID), who is himself a veteran, told CNN in a phone interview that he has donated some of his frequent flyer miles so that Baker’s widow can attend the funeral. Minnick, who also told CNN he has encouraged his constituents to contribute money for the widow’s travel, went on to say that he thinks he will introduce legislation in Congress so that in the future, assistance will be available to military family members going through the same thing Baker’s widow has been experiencing.
8. Senate Resolution Notes Ted Stevens’ WWII Service. In continuing coverage, the AP (8/13) notes that on Thursday, the US Senate “expressed its ‘profound sorrow and deep regret’ over the death of former Sen. Ted Stevens, a commanding presence there for four decades.” Among other things, a memorial resolution noted Stevens’ “service as a pilot during World War II.”
9. Ceremony To Honor WWII Vets, Mark Anniversary Of War’s End. The Alexandria (LA) Town Talk (8/13, 30K) reports, “A ceremony to honor World War II veterans and mark the 65th anniversary of the end of that war is set for 10 a.m.” Friday, “Aug. 13, at Veterans Memorial Plaza at Alexandria City Hall.” The event is “part of the ‘Keep The Spirit Of ’45 Alive’ National Day Of Remembrance.”
10. South Pacific Island Searched For WWII Vets’ Remains. CNN Newsroom (8/12, 10:22 a.m. ET) broadcast that a US military unit specializing in “finding the remains of missing Americans around the world lost in battle” is currently in the South Pacific, searching for the unmarked graves of World War II vets left behind on the island of Tarawa. After noting that one of the “deadliest battles of World War II” took place on that island, CNN said it is the “first of six sites to be excavated.” CNN added, “Historic researchers believe more than a hundred Marines could be found during this mission.”