Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News

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From the VA:

Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News

1.      Shinseki, Walz Tour Vet Facilities In Minnesota. KEYC-TV Mankato, MN (9/1, 6:06 p.m. CT) broadcast that on Wednesday, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and US Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) toured the Mankato community based outpatient clinic, which “has expansion plans in the works,” and the “Radichel Town Homes, which provide long-term housing for homeless disabled vets.” The station, which points out that Shinseki “says…homelessness has become a major issue for vets across” the country, also noted that the Secretary “says he likes what he sees…in Mankato and that it could be a great model for other rural” US areas.
     Lawmaker Praises Secretary’s Efforts To Expand VA Care. According to the Minneapolis-based Minnesota Post (9/2, Kimball), the purpose of Shinseki’s visit to the VA clinic and the Radichel Town Homes was to “learn more about ways to expand health care in rural areas.” Walz, “who’s seeking re-election to his southern Minnesota congressional” seat, “noted that many vets in rural areas have trouble finding VA care, and…he’s glad Shinseki is working to expand access outside the metro area.” The Post adds that 89-year-old World War II vet Lyle Pearson is “looking forward to primary care being offered at the Mankato outpatient clinic.”

     The Mankato (MN) Free Press (9/2, Fischenich, 22K) says that in addition to touring the VA clinic and the Radichel Townhomes , Shinseki and Walz, a “member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs,” also attended a “meeting with local veterans that Walz said allowed for frank discussion of how Shinseki’s agency was performing in providing services.” Walz, who “praised Shinseki’s efforts to improve access to care for veterans living outside large metropolitan” areas, “said Mankato offered Shinseki a case study in how to help homeless veterans. Shinseki agreed, calling the Radichel Town Homes ‘a wonderful example of what can be done when we bring a community together to help veterans.'”

2.      Head Of Wisconsin VA Board To Resign, Take Active Duty Army Assignment. The AP (9/2, Foley) reports, “The head of the Wisconsin Board of Veterans Affairs will resign to take an active duty assignment with the Army, she told” the AP on Wednesday. Marcia Anderson, a “longtime member of the US Army Reserve” who “plans to formalize her resignation in the coming” days, “said she has been called up to serve at least one year at Fort Knox in Kentucky as the deputy commanding general for the Army’s human resources command.” Anderson has “been a lightning rod for critics of the agency,” in part because she “was instrumental in last year’s firing” of then-Wisconsin VA Secretary John Scocos for what she “called poor management of the veterans agency and replacing him with department administrator Ken Black.”

 3.      Study Of VHA Doctors Finds Reluctance To Prescribe Prostate Cancer Drug. The Chicago Tribune (9/2, Maugh, 488K) reports, “Most physicians are reluctant to prescribe the drug finasteride to prevent prostate cancer in older men with elevated risk of the disease, despite evidence that the drug can reduce risk by about a quarter, researchers say.” In the new study, which appears “in the September issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention,” Dr. Linda S. Kinsinger “of the Veterans Health Administration National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and her colleagues surveyed a random sample of 325 VHA urologists and 1,200 VHA primary care physicians to determine how their prescribing practices changed from 2000 through 2005, a period that included the widely heralded finasteride trial.”

4.      VA Planning For Two New National Cemeteries In Florida. The Brevard, Florida-based Florida Today (9/2, Moody, 78K) reports, “The Department of Veterans Affairs wants to build a national cemetery in or near Brevard County.” On Wednesday, VA “announced…that it is looking for land to build a new cemetery to serve veterans in East Central Florida. It also plans one for the Tallahassee area.” A similar story appears in the Orlando Sentinel (9/2, Lelis), as the first “in Brief” item for the Sarasota (FL) Herald Tribune (9/2, 92K), and on the WFTV-TV Orlando, FL (9/1) website.

5.      Woman Gets Jail Time For Stealing VA Benefits. The Harrisonburg (VA) Daily News Record (9/1, DeLea, 29K) noted that on Tuesday, 47-year-old Karen Karnes Couch, “who pleaded guilty in June to stealing US Department of Veterans Affairs survivor’s benefits erroneously deposited into her deceased mother’s bank account,” was “sentenced…to 10 weekends in jail,” four “months of house arrest and five years of probation.”

6.      VA Spearheading Pilot Health Information Exchange Project. In continuing coverage, the second “Company News” item for the Indianapolis Business Journal (9/2, 15K) reports, “The Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Indiana Health Information Exchange will now work to make their systems talk to each other in a pilot project spearheaded” by the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Roudebush will be communicating with the Indiana Health Information Exchange using the Nationwide Health Information Network, a “new ‘gateway’ set up” by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

7.      Following Vets Comments, Lawmaker Tries To Get Simpson Off Deficit Commission. In continuing coverage, the “Pueblo Politics” blog for the Tucson-based Arizona Daily Star (9/2, Bodfield, 116K) notes that US Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) is “demanding the Republican co-chairman of President Barack Obama’s deficit reduction commission get a new line of work.” After noting that Grijalva is “calling Simpson out for a Tuesday remark” that Vietnam veterans receiving benefits for diabetes “are now, in a way, not helping us to save the country in this fiscal mess,” the Daily Star reports that White House spokesman Adam Abrams “said the president obviously disagrees with the comments and the sentiment behind them,” but he “also pointed out Simpson is the Republican co-chairman of a bipartisan commission so ‘it should come as no surprise that we will sometimes strongly disagree with his positions.'”
     Coverage of this story was also aired by MSNBC’s Countdown With Keith Olbermann (9/1, 8:21 p.m. ET), which took note of Simpson’s comments, as did MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show (9/1, 8:32 p.m. ET) and the second “DoD Report” item on the Federal News Radio (9/1) website. The “Veteran Veritas” blog for the Tucson (AZ) Citizen (9/2, Brewer) criticized Simpson for making the comments.
     Paper Says There Is A “Lack Of Proof” For VA’s New Agent Orange-Related Benefits. In a related editorial, the Spartanburg (SC) Herald Journal (9/1) sided with Simpson, expressing concern about Vietnam vets receiving benefits for diabetes. After noting that this week, Veterans Affairs “said…it will add heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and some other illnesses to the list of conditions that might” be Agent Orange-related, “without any proof,” the Herald Journal argued that there “needs to be a fair and ongoing assessment of what illnesses are Agent Orange-related and a willingness on the part of politicians to stop paying claims related more to aging than service in Vietnam.”

8.      Dorn VAMC Sponsoring Free Meal For Iraq, Afghanistan Vets. The State (9/2), a newspaper based in Columbia, South Carolina, notes that on Thursday night, “Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom veterans and family members are invited for a free meal as part of ‘An Evening for Heroes.'” The meal, the “first of what is expected to become a monthly dinner,” is sponsored by the Dorn Veterans Affairs Medical Center and “supported by donations. The dinner will be at 7Grill, 111 Sparkleberry Lane.”

9.      While Deployed, Guardsman’s Family Assisted By His Employer. In its “Making A Difference” segment, NBC Nightly News (9/1, story 10, 3:20, Williams, 8.37M) aired a report on a 35-year-old US soldier from Iowa named Matt Strasser, whose “family has gotten crucial support from his employer” during Strasser’s two combat tours of duty. NBC, which noted that Strasser is getting ready “for his third tour of duty with the Iowa National Guard, his second to Afghanistan,” said the soldier works at the “Augustine And Sons farm, with long-time employer and friend, Dan Augustine.” According to NBC, Augustine is “setting an example and by doing so, making a difference.”

     NYTimes: Task Force Lays Out Suicide Prevention Mandate For Congress, Pentagon. In an editorial, the New York Times (9/2, A34, 1.01M) says “military and civilian experts” from the Task Force on the Prevention of Suicide have conducted an “ambitious, yearlong study,” one “ordered by Congress in facing the fact that the suicide tally” for the US military “has been increasing despite intensified prevention programs.” After noting that the task force said the main factors contributing to the increasing tally include lengthy combat deployments, the continuing stigmatization of seeking mental health services, and the lack of a top-level Pentagon antisuicide office and suicide prevention policy, the Times argues that the task force has “laid out a mandate for Congress and the Pentagon to target suicide as a most vital wartime mission.”

10.    McCaffrey Discusses Substance Abuse Treatment For Vets, Active Law Officers. The AP (9/2) reports, “The mental health and substance abuse problems affecting returning troops and active law officers are getting attention” from former Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Barry McCaffrey, a retired Army general who was to headline a forum in Wilmington, North Carolina, on Wednesday. According to AP, the forum was to focus on how to combat the aforementioned problems.
     On its website, NEWS14-TV Charlotte (9/1, Fertig) reported, “McCaffrey said the Wilmington Treatment Center serves a national model in how its workers help military members and veterans recover from alcohol addiction and substance abuse.” The Wilmington (NC) Star News (9/2, Hotz) publishes a similar story, while the WWAY-TV Wilmington, NC (9/1, Herrera) website reported, “The Wilmington Treatment Center has assisted more than 2,000 men and women in the military and after their service over the past seven years, as well as their families.”

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