Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News

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From the VA:

Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News

1.      Homeless Vets, Supporting Military Families: Among Obama’s “Top Priority” Issues. CBS News’ “Political Hotsheet” website (8/13, Knoller) reports that, after signing a border security measure Thursday, President Obama issued a statement saying that securing the nation’s southwest border has been “a top priority” since he took office, then adds, “But if you think Mr. Obama can have but a single ‘top priority,’ you’d be wrong. He’s got a load of them.” In addition to border security and economic recovery, the Administration has applied the “top priority” label to ending homelessness among veterans, saying in August last year that he had “directed Secretary Shinseki to focus on a top priority: reducing homeless among veterans.” Similarly, in May 2009, another Obama statement said that military families.” Other issues to which the Administration has attached a “top priority label include: free trade agreements, energy security, education reform, revamping student loans, boosting small business exports, swine flu immunizations, hurricane preparedness, health aid for 9/11 first responders, building ties with Mexico and Canada, environmental protection and consumer measures.

 2.      Nebraska Dedicates Its First State Veterans Cemetery. In continuing coverage, an op-ed in the McCook (NE) Daily Gazette (8/13, 6K) by Nebraska treasurer Shane Osborn notes that dedication of the state’s first veterans cemetery, at Alliance in Box Butte County.

 3.      Maine Schedules Briefings For Female Veterans. In a ReadMedia release (8/13), the Maine Veterans’ Services announces that the Advisory Commission on Women Veterans is holding a series of veterans briefings around the state, to provide female veterans with networking opportunities and information on medical, educational, family support, disability and other benefits.

 4.      California DVA Plans Women Veterans Conference. The Modesto Bee (8/14, 73K) reports that the California Department of Veterans Affairs “said it will hold its third annual CalVet Women Veterans Conference on Oct. 7-8 in Clovis. The state agency said its conference committee is planning the program and is seeking donations for the conference, set for the Clovis Veterans Memorial Building.”

 5.      VA Will Test Paperless Claims System In Rhode Island. In continuing coverage, CMIO (8/13, Byers) reports that the VA “has selected its regional benefits office in Providence, R.I. to test a paperless system and new procedures to improve processing of Veterans’ claims for disability compensation to support VA’s transformation of the claims process for Veterans, their families and their survivors. The pilot, which initially focuses on compensation benefits, is expected to start at the Providence facility in November, with completion in May 2011.”

6.      Defense Budget Will Likely Include Some Increased Tricare Premiums. The syndicated “Military Update” column, appearing in the Everett (WA) Herald and elsewhere (8/14, Philpott) reports, “Defense Secretary Robert Gates has signaled that the department’s fiscal 2012 budget request to Congress early next year will include recommendations to raise health care premiums for some Tricare beneficiaries. If past proposals are a reliable guide, the target of higher fees is likely to be military retirees rather than active duty families. The Bush administration had tried for three straight years to raise fees for working age retirees. Congress blocked those efforts.” In the Pentagon press conference where he debuted proposals to reduce military budget overhead, Gates said that health cost controls would be proposed in the months ahead, stressing that “Health-care reform is on my agenda.”

 7.      Agencies Advance Use Of Health IT. Federal Times (8/13, Spoth, 40K) reports on efforts to build the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN), “an ambitious project that aims to get federal agencies to use common standards to record and store health records electronically.” Doug Fridsma, acting director of office of interoperability and standards within the HHS’s Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, “compared the NHIN to the Internet — a set of services, standards and policies that allows for a free, secure flow of information between diverse sources.” He noted that the Veterans Affairs and Defense departments “are using the NHIN to exchange information on veterans and active-duty service members.”

8.      VA Pilot Program Aims To Curb Veteran Suicides. The website of Grand Junction, Colorado-based KREX-TV (8/13, Hilsheimer) reports that the Grand Junction VA Hospital “is launching a pilot program aimed at helping veterans who may be thinking about suicide. Starting in August, the VA is putting up signs at Grand Valley Transit bus stops and in GVT buses advertising the suicide prevention hotline number.” With 20 signs placed around the city, the Grand Junction VAMC “got the idea from an identical program in Washington, D.C., which ended up reaching thousands,” and is the only other VA location thus far to adopt the pilot program.

 9.      Researchers Look For Better Ways To Diagnose TBI. The Stars And Stripes (8/13, Robbins) reports, as scientists and physicians are looking for better ways to diagnose traumatic brain injury, “new research could lead to definitive tests that could be used downrange in the next three years, said Ibolja Cernak, a scientist who has studied the effect of blasts on the body for more than a decade.” Cernak and other researchers say that blasts produce a different, more complex type of brain injury, in which brain cells “stay inflamed longer after a blast-related concussion than a normal one,” which brain imaging may be able to detect. Researchers are also looking for biomarkers in blood or spinal fluid that would indicate mild TBI.

10.    Vietnam Awards Scholarships To Disabled Victims Of Agent Orange. The San Francisco Chronicle (8/13, Haghighi, Waxmann, 318K) reports, “In an effort to raise awareness and provide support for Agent Orange victims and people with disabilities in Vietnam, the Ho Chi Minh City Red Cross held a ceremony this week to offer 237 scholarships to children with disabilities. The Aug. 10 ceremony was held at the War Remnants Museum, which chronicles the Vietnam (American) War and its consequences through photography and exhibitions. And it came on Agent Orange Day, which is a day that the US military began spraying the defoliant over lands in South Vietnam.” It was Vietnam’s second annual observation of Agent Orange Day.

 

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