Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News

Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today's News

From the VA:

Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News

1.      Critics Seek Congressional Inquiry Into Use Of Seroquel As PTSD Treatment. The AP (9/4, Perrone) reports, “Thousands of troops suffering from PTSD” have received Seroquel “over the past nine years, helping make Seroquel one of Veteran Affairs’ top drug expenditures and the No. 5 best-selling drug in the nation. But several soldiers and veterans have died while taking the pills, raising concerns among some military families that the government is not being upfront about the drug’s risks. They want Congress to investigate.” Iraq veteran Andrew White, whose doctors “recommended progressively larger doses of Seroquel,” was at one point “prescribed more than 1,600 milligrams per day — more than double the maximum dose recommended for schizophrenia patients. A short time later, White died in his sleep.” A VA investigation “concluded that White died of a rare drug interaction. He was also taking an antidepressant and an anti-anxiety pill, as well as a painkiller for which he did not have a prescription. Inspectors concluded he received the ‘standard of care’ for his condition. It’s unclear how many soldiers have died while taking Seroquel, or if the drug definitely contributed to the deaths. White has confirmed at least a half-dozen deaths among soldiers on Seroquel, and he thinks there may be many others.” Spending for Seroquel “by the government’s military medical systems has increased more than sevenfold since the start of the war in Afghanistan in 2001, according to documents obtained by the Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act. That by far outpaces the growth in personnel who have gone through the system in that time.”

 2.      Three Original Navajo Code Talkers Survive. The Walpole (MA) Times (9/5, Fonseca) reports from Albuquerque: “Tourists hurry inside a shop here to buy books about the famed Navajo Code Talkers, warriors who used their native language as their primary weapon. Outside, on a walk sheltered from the sun, nine of the Code Talkers sit at a table autographing the books. … One of these men, who signs his name as Cpl. Chester Nez, is distinguished from the others. Below his signature, he jots down why: 1st Original 29. Before hundreds of Code Talkers were recruited from the Navajo Nation to join the elite unit, 29 Navajos were recruited to develop the code — based on the then-unwritten Navajo language — that would confound Japanese military cryptologists and help win World War II. Of the Original 29, only three survive. Nez is one.”

 3.      Wounded Warrior Project Founder Profiled. The Newark Star-Ledger (9/5, Augenstein) reports that “since [a] Vietcong mortar took his leg,” John Loosen “has made it his mission to help new generations of returning service members: first in his life’s work and later as an original member of the Wounded Warrior Project, which in only eight years has become one of the largest veterans groups in the country. Founded in 2002 by veterans who were concerned about the first soldiers coming home from Afghanistan, a majority of Wounded Warriors’ board of directors have Purple Hearts. The group is one of several formed in recent years by older veterans who are motivated to help the stream of returning vets recovering from traumatic injuries.”

4.      Waco VA Center Undergoing Stimulus-Funded Renovation. The Houston Chronicle (9/5) reports, “Several renovation projects are under way at the Waco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, resulting in the shuffling of staff and programs. The Waco Tribune-Herald reported Saturday that the work includes Building 1, the main building on the campus facing the Avenue of Flags, which will be converted to a medical tower with various clinics. The project is funded through $7.9 million in federal stimulus funds the hospital received last year.”

 5.      Texas Veterans’ Ride To Draw Attention To VA Hospital Request. KRGV-TV Harlingen, TX (9/4) reports on its website, “Valley Veterans continue to push for a full scale Veteran’s hospital. Saturday morning members of the RGV Vets and Wounded Vets Foundation, along with South Texans for a VA Hospital, held a motorcycle ride to bring attention to the issue.”

 6.      West Virginia VA Medical Center Holds Annual “Welcome Home” Event. The Hagerstown (MD) Herald-Mail (9/5, Umstead) reports, “Tony Pirrone donned white face paint and a brightly colored wig and clothing, but he was no ordinary clown Saturday at the Martinsburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center’s third annual Welcome Home American Heroes Celebration. Pirrone, who passed out candy and entertained children at the celebration at the Thunder Over the Blue Ridge Air Show and Open House, is a member of the medical center’s newly formed Clown Brigade.”

7.      New York Rally Held In Honor Of Troops. WHEC-TV Rochester, NY (9/4) reports on its website, “A rally was held in Wayne County Saturday to help troops fighting overseas. The Patriot Guard Riders held the event in the town of Ontario. They raised money to help wounded service members and their families.”

8.      Parker Says Military Sometimes “Over-Enthusiastic” About Afghan Successes. The AP (9/5, Dozier) reports that British Lt. Gen. Nick Parker, the outgoing deputy commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, said Saturday that the military commanders there “were probably a little bit over-enthusiastic” about the Marjah campaign and are likely to be more circumspect in the future about predicting successes. Parker “said it was ‘nobody’s fault’ that the Marjah campaign has gone slower than expected, but is simply a product of the ‘complexity of the environment we’re operating in.'” Parker, who leaves at the end of September, said that security gains in Marjah are now “persistent,” yet “he said no one should be drawing conclusions, or raising expectations that the positive security trends will continue.”

9.      Gates Says Afghan Troops “Still Got A Long Way To Go.” David Ignatius writes in his Washington Post (9/5, 605K) column, “This contrast between commanders’ high hopes for Afghanistan and stubborn realities on the ground is the strongest impression during a visit here. … President Obama’s goal is to gradually transfer responsibility to the Afghans so the United States can begin withdrawing troops next July. ‘They’ve still got a long way to go,’ [Secretary] Gates told me.”

 10.    Mullen Urges Turkey To Support Moves Against Iran. Bloomberg News (9/4, Gienger) reported that Joint Chiefs chairman Adm. Mike Mullen on Saturday “urged Turkey to help ensure Iran doesn’t gain the capacity to make atomic weapons and to extend the period of its commands in Afghanistan.” He was in Ankara to meet with General Isik Kosaner, the new head of Turkey’s armed forces; Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Mullen said the US and Turkey agree that Iran must not achieve nuclear weapons capability and “we just need to reinforce” that belief and “do all we can to make sure that doesn’t happen.” Mullen also “sought to dispel reports in Turkish media” that the US is pressing Turkey for access to land routes for the removal of war-fighting equipment from Iraq. The US has no such plans, he said.
     The AP (9/5, Fraser) also reports the story, noting that Mullen “did not plan to ‘question or rebut’ Turkey” about its vote on UN sanctions, but “welcomed Turkey’s stated intention to abide by those sanctions.


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