Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News

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From the VA:

Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News

1.      Roudebush VAMC, Indiana Health Information Exchange Team Up For Pilot Project. In continuing coverage, the Indianapolis Business Journal (8/26, 15K) reports, “The Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Indiana Health Information Exchange have long used electronic medical records to help improve efficiency and reduce errors in medical care. Now, the two organizations are going to work to make their systems talk to each other in a pilot project spearheaded” by the US VA, which “will invite veterans who receive medical care both at Roudebush and at private health care providers around central Indiana to sign up for the pilot.” The Journal notes that the “VA hospital in Indianapolis will communicate with the Indiana Health Information Exchange using” the Nationwide Health Information Network, which was “set up by the US Department of Health and Human Services.”
     According to Government Health IT (8/26, Mosquera), the pilot project is “another step in advancing the virtual lifetime electronic record (VLER) program,” which is the Obama Administration’s “effort to develop a single electronic record to manage all administrative and medical information of military service members and veterans from their induction through the remainder of their lives. ‘This new technology allows safer, more secure, and private access to electronic health information, which, in turn, enhances our ability to continue providing Veterans with the quality care that they have earned,'” VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said in a prepared statement.

 2.      Shinseki Confident Lawmakers Will Support Agent Orange Claims Eligibility Expansion. According to the Stars And Stripes (8/25, Shane) “Stripes Central” blog, veterans groups “praised the Department of Veterans Affairs last year when officials announced they would add three new diseases to the list of ‘presumptive illnesses’ connected to the use of the Vietnam-era defoliant Agent Orange. But senators concerned about the cost and precedent of such a change put a 60-day hold on money related to the change.” After noting that those senators “have asked…VA for more information on why Agent Orange claims should be expanded,” Stars And Stripes pointed out that in a speech this week “before the Veterans of Foreign Wars,” VA Secretary Eric Shinseki “said he’s ‘happy’ to explain the rationale behind the move, and confident lawmakers will support the change.”

3.      Vets Honored In Louisiana. KLFY-TV Lafayette, LA (8/25, 6:17 p.m. CT) broadcast, “More than 100 veterans in Evangeline Parish were honored” Wednesday with the “Louisiana Veterans Honor Medal during a ceremony at the Northside Civic Center in Ville Platte.” After noting that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and “members of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs recognized the veterans for their service in the armed forces,” KLFY added, “In 2008, Jindal signed legislation creating the veterans honor medal program in order to recognize and honor all of Louisiana’s veterans.” The Opelousas (LA) Daily World (8/26, Bastien, 14K) publishes a similar story.

4.      Hundreds Attend Vets Cemetery Dedication In Maine. In continuing coverage, the York County (ME) Journal-Tribune (8/26, Wells, 9K) reports, “The lone bugler sounded ‘Taps,’ and the retort of a 21-gun salute pierced the air” when the “Southern Maine Veterans Cemetery was dedicated” earlier this week. According to the Journal-Tribune, veterans and “their families from around the corner and from across the county and neighboring New Hampshire, about 400 in all, gathered Tuesday to mark the first phase of completion for what will, for many of them, be their chosen resting place.” Similar stories appear in the Sanford (ME) News (8/26, Sullivan) and on the WPFO-TV Portland, ME (8/25) website.

 5.      Tribute To US Army Planned At NH State Vets Cemetery. The Concord (NH) Monitor (8/26, Duckler, 20K) reports, “A tribute to the US Army, at a cost of $150,000, will finally rest in peace at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen by Memorial Day of next year.” This week, the New Hampshire Army Monument Committee, which “formed last December to add to the existing memorials already in place at the cemetery, announced…that its vision for honoring the Army is ready to take shape.” According to the Monitor, the “monument will include computer-enhanced photographs, enclosed in glass, depicting the country’s soldiers.”

 6.      Walter Reed Patients, Staff Possibly Exposed To Elevated Radiation. The Washington Post (8/26, B4, Davenport, 684K) reports, “Two packages of radioactive material sat under a counter in the main lobby of Walter Reed Army Medical Center for 44 hours, possibly exposing patients and staff to elevated radiation, according to an investigation by federal regulators. The packages were delivered May 1 to the hospital’s concierge, who stored them under the counter, according” to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), a spokesman for whom “said that the agency is not aware of anyone being harmed.” According to the Post, the NRC “has scheduled a Sept. 1 hearing to help determine what, if any, enforcement action” it will take. The “Post Now” blog for the Washington Post (8/26, 684K) publishes the same story.

 7.      Vets Benefiting From VA Medical Foster Home Program. The KELO-TV Sioux Falls, SD (8/25, Grant) website said that thanks to Veterans Affairs’ Medical Foster Home Program, US veterans are “now being welcomed into homes by people they’ve never met and are being treated like family.” Since the “program began in South Dakota two years ago, five homes have opened their doors” to eight vets.

 8.      Nonprofit Working With VA To Assist Homeless Vets. Voice Of San Diego (8/26, Mann) reports, “Veterans Village of San Diego (VVSD) is a local nonprofit that has had tremendous success” helping “transform homeless veterans’ lives.” After noting that the VVSD is led by Phil Landis, Voice Of San Diego adds, “In most cities, veterans’ organizations and the federal Veterans Administration (VA) are at odds with each other.” Landis, however, “says VVSD and the San Diego VA are partners, modeling a cooperative relationship that shows the rest of the country a better way.”

 9.      School Recognized By VA As Veterans Day Regional Site. The Northfield, New Jersey-based Shore News Today (8/26, Marino) reports, Middle school social studies teacher Mary Ann Devine, the push behind” a “movement to honor veterans” at Northfield Community School, “was notified by the Veterans Day National Committee and the Department of Veterans Affairs that Northfield Community School is now recognized as a Veterans Day Regional Site. The letter stated confidence that this coming Veterans Day celebration at the school will set an example for the rest of the nation to follow.”

 10.    Lapsed Contract Affects Vets On Martha’s Vineyard. The Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts-based Martha’s Vineyard Times (8/25, Hefler, 16K) reported, “Island veterans with a Veterans Administration (VA) health plan must now seek pre-approval through a clinic manager in Hyannis in order to obtain medical treatment and prescriptions on Martha’s Vineyard. According to VA and Martha’s Vineyard Hospital (MVH) officials, the change in services resulted from a lapsed contract that recently came to light.” The Times said a “new agreement is currently being discussed.”
     In a separate story, the Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts-based Martha’s Vineyard Times (8/25, 16K) noted, “Regarding the expired contract between the VA and MVH,” a VA fact sheet “states, ‘The Providence VA Medical Center has been in contact with the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and is reviewing options to ensure all eligible Veterans on Martha’s Vineyard receive care similar to the community standard on the Island.'”

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