Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News

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From the VA

Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News

1.      Concussions, Combat Stress Taking Toll On Vets, US Government. AFP (8/30, De Luce) reports, “Even as President Barack Obama prepares to declare an end to the combat mission in Iraq,” veterans of the conflict are “waging another war at home against the debilitating effects of concussions and combat stress. The wounds plague hundreds of thousands of soldiers and veterans, exacting an emotional cost on families and a growing financial burden for the US government and society.” After noting that the US “military and veterans’ agencies have struggled to cope” with the conditions, AFP focuses on the post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury (TBI) that afflict Iraq vet Mike McMichael, who, after having trouble getting the Department of Veterans Affairs to formally recognize his TBI, “said…VA has learned how to better treat” that condition.
     Parents Of Deceased Iraq Vet Concerned About Mental Health Services Gap. In an op-ed for the Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger (8/29), Greg and Linda Bean, whose Iraq veteran son committed suicide, say the “long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan” have “revealed the limits of the ability of Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to implement timely, effective and well-coordinated mental-health programs.” According to the Beans, who claim that pending “legislation, offered by US Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Rep. Rush Holt, would help close the gap in mental-health services for members of the Individual Ready Reserve,” point out that Holt has “called upon Defense Secretary Gates and VA Secretary Shinseki to not wait for the legislation to be passed, but instead to use their executive authority to implement its provisions now.”

2.      Connecticut Holds Veterans “Stand Down” September 10. The Redding (CT) Pilot (8/25, Bartlett, 2K) reports, “Gov. M. Jodi Rell earlier this week said that Connecticut veterans in need will have access to dozens of vital social outreach services during ‘Stand Down 2010’ on Friday, Sept. 10, at the State Veterans Home campus on West Street in Rocky Hill.” The governor said that the event “offers an effective way for veterans to regain their independence and dignity,” with over 50 government and private agencies providing assistance there. It is the 15th year that the state has sponsored such an event, which will offer veterans free transportation from pick-up points around the state.

3.      Wisconsin County Offices Report Large Increase In Veterans Seeking Help. The Janesville (WI) Gazette (8/27, Birkelo) reports that a “growing number of Rock County’s 14,000 veterans are seeking help through the Rock County Veteran’s Service Office.” The veterans service officer reports an increase in workers being laid off from General Motors and other firms checking to see if they are eligible for VA health care, while younger veterans are more interested in education and tuition benefits. The influx has meant increased office and in-home appointments, It has also led to federal benefit payments to county veterans more than doubling between 2001, when they were just over $17 million, and over $38 million in 2009.

4.      Small Business Wins Larger Share Of Federal Contracts In FY 2009. In a Business Wire (8/27) release, the Small Business Administration announces that small businesses “won a record $96.8 billion in federal prime contracts in Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 (Oct. 1, 2008-Sept. 30, 2009), an increase of more than $3 billion from FY 2008.” The agency’s fourth annual small business procurement scorecard calculates that the amount “represents 21.89 percent of all federal spending – an improvement over FY2008.”

5.      Two VA Initiatives Tagged As Riskiest Federal IT Projects. The Washington Post (8/30, Censer, 684K) reports, “More than two dozen projects across 15 federal agencies,” including two at the Department of Veterans Affairs – one called “Benefits 21st Century Paperless Delivery of Veterans Benefits” and one called “Medical 21st Century HealtheVet Pharmacy” — have “been tagged as the highest-risk federal information technology projects.” After noting that the “Office of Management and Budget and agency chief information officers will be giving” those projects a “close look as they develop 2012 budget plans,” the Post says Vivek Kundra, the Federal CIO, recently “indicated the move reflects a significant change in the federal government’s IT spending. ‘We need to end a culture in Washington where we continue to throw good money after bad money,’ he said, citing a Department of Veterans Affairs financial modernization program that was launched in 1998, killed in 2004, relaunched in 2005 and once again terminated last month.”

6.      Iraq Leaves Generation Of US Army Officers Cautious, Humbled. According to a front page story in the Washington Post (8/30, A1, Jaffe, 684K), the careers of a generation of US Army officers “have been defined by the chaos and contradictions” encountered in Iraq, during “one of America’s longest and costliest wars.” The Post, which points out that Monday will “mark the official end” of US combat operations in Iraq, the Post says so far, the lessons US Army officers are “taking from their Iraq experience are ones of humility and caution that surpass the post-Vietnam War period.” By way of example, the Post refers to Iraq veteran Capt. Casey Thoreen, who said that because a country can spend vast amounts of money fighting a counterinsurgency for many years and “still not get anything out of it,” such a fight “better be worth it.”

7.      Obama Recommits Country To Gulf Coast Repair, Notes Vets Hospital Groundbreaking. McClatchy (8/30, Mascaro) reports, “Five years after Hurricane Katrina, President Barack Obama recommitted the nation to ongoing repair of the Gulf Coast as the region’s fragile recovery hung in the balance and his own popularity needed shoring up amid disappointment with the administration’s handling of the Gulf oil spill.” During a speech in New Orleans, Obama “pledged to finish the largest civil-works project in the nation’s history — shoring up the failed levees — by next year.” He also “noted the June groundbreaking on a new veterans hospital.” The Fox News (8/29) website published a similar story, noting that the President gave his speech at Xavier University.

 8.      Research May Benefit Veterans, Others. Ron Seman’s syndicated “Veteran’s Beat” column, appearing in the Tallmadge (OH) Express (8/29, 8K).

9.      Veterans: The Blue Button Gets You Electronic Health Records. An op-ed for the Huffington Post (8/30) by Craigslist founder Craig Newmark.

10.    Vets Cemetery Grant Praised. In the fourth “Beads & Boos” item, the Alexandria (LA) Town Talk (8/30, 30K) gave beads to the “approval of a $6.14 million grant to build the Louisiana State Veterans Cemetery at Leesville.”

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