Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News

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Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today's News

From the VA:

Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News

1.      VA Expanding Agent Orange Benefits. The Webster (NY) Post (9/7) reported that veterans exposed to Agent Orange “will have an easier path to accessing health care and qualifying for disability compensation under a recent regulation that takes effect in November” when a new rule “expands the list of health problems the VA will presume are related to Agent Orange and other herbicide exposures.” Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki said that expanding the benefit “was the right decision, and (President Obama) and I are proud to finally provide this group of veterans the care and benefits they have long deserved.” The Post also profiles Vietnam veteran Mark Adams, “whose troop commander during the war was” Shinseki. Lawyers and Settlements (9/7, Turner) also covers this story.
     Congress To Hold Hearing On Expanded Agent Orange Exposure Benefits. The Air Force Times (9/7, Maze) reports, “Sweeping new presumptions about what medical conditions in Vietnam veterans are the result of exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange could lead to benefits for up to 250,000 more veterans,” and “the $42.2 billion expansion of disability compensation and medical treatment is raising questions about just how generous the federal government should be.” In the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee upcoming hearing to discuss the expanded benefits, “two particular concerns” are “the overall costs of the policy change and the inclusion of ischemic heart disease – a condition faced by many older Americans who never served in Vietnam.” Still, the VA noted “that five separate studies have shown a link between exposure to the herbicide and the heart disease.” Bradley Mayes, director of VA’s Boston Regional Office and the former compensation and pension service director who worked on the new Agent Orange rules, said that “because it is impossible to determine the origin of the disease, VA policy errs on the side of veterans.”

2.      Shinseki Praises VA Study On Fatty Arteries Risks. The Lake County (CA) News (9/6) reported that a study led by Dr. Deepak Bhatt, chief of cardiology at the VA Boston Healthcare System and director of the Integrated Interventional Cardiovascular Program at VA and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and published online Aug. 30 by the Journal of the American Medical Association “found that patients with deposits of fatty plaque in their arteries are at especially high risk for life-threatening cardiovascular events if they have diabetes, disease in multiple arteries or a history of heart attack or stroke.” VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said that the study’s results “are likely to be of great significance to physicians-particularly cardiologists-in VA and worldwide.” VA Chief Research and Development Officer Dr. Joel Kupersmith said, “this study illustrates the importance of basic clinical information in determining the best care for the individual patient.”

 3.      Shinseki Tours McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (9/8, Boren, 175K) reports that during a visit to the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki me with veteran Josh Maloney, who received a hand transplant last year and has healed enough to pursue a career as an automotive mechanic. Sens. Bob Casey and Arlen Specter, and Rep. Jason Altmire joined Shinseki on the tour.
     KDKA-TV Pittsburgh (9/7, 5:34 p.m. EDT) broadcast, “The Secretary of Veterans Affairs joined two US Senators to see how wounded warriors are being treated with innovative programs developed here in Pittsburgh.” KDKA (Martino) added, “Two US senators, a congressman and a cabinet secretary were crammed into a small lab to learn about soft tissue reconstruction for our fighting men and women. They were impressed.” A text version of the segment appears on the KDKA-TV website.

 4.      Hartford Veterans Eligible For Tax Exemptions. The Hartford Courant (9/8, VanderMey, 147K) reports, “Veterans in town are eligible for a $1,500 property tax exemption if they provide proof of honorable discharge to the town clerk’s office on or before Oct. 1, 2010.” There are additional applications for exemptions for veterans being accepted, such as “a state exemption for veterans making less than $32,300 if they are single and $39,500 if they are married, as well as a East Hartford-specific exemption for veterans making less than $43,300 if they are single and $50,500 if they are married.”

5.      Georgia Programs Seek To Help Veterans Find Employment. The Augusta (GA) Chronicle (9/8, McManus) reports that “thousands of unemployed veterans” are struggling, “looking for work in Georgia post-deployment.” However, “in Richmond County, programs to help disabled and unemployed veterans are trying to make the job hunt a little easier,” including the VA Transition Services Center in Augusta, which is “the only transition program in the country that operates independently of the VA hospital.” There are “common challenges that come with military employees.” Brian Peterson, the manager of diversity and inclusion for the Society for Human Resource Management, said that “most of the problems employers have with veterans have to do with how battlefield experience can translate to civilian jobs,” although “veterans can also bring mental and emotional baggage to the workplace.” Vocational Rehabilitation counselor Senita Thorne said that “the Georgia Department of Labor Vocational Rehabilitation Program in Augusta is working to make sure employers are prepared when hiring such veterans.”

 6.      Iowa Gubernatorial Candidate Releases Proposals For Helping Veterans. The Des Moines Register (9/7, Beaumont, 115K) reports that Iowa gubernatorial candidate Terry Branstad (R) proposed “enhancing employment networks for returning veterans by creating the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs veterans job bank.” He also said he would “require stricter oversight of the $9 million Vetrans [sic] Trust Fund…to prevent diverting money for the general fund.”

7.      VA Gives Arizona Senior Citizens Center Magni Sight Machine. The Eastern Arizona Courier (9/5, Saunders, 6K) reported that the Veterans Administration gave the “generous gift” of a Magni Sight machine to the Graham County Senior Citizens Center in Safford. “This desktop machine has a tray on which to place the letter, book or other reading material,” and “the print is reproduced and magnified onto a large screen.” Machine users do “not have to be a member of the Senior Center or a military veteran.” Julia Davis, outpatient blind rehabilitation specialist for the VA, will give a presentation on September 30 “to further assist those with vision difficulties.”

 8.      Wisconsin To Hold Women Veterans Conference. The Madison (WI) Capital Times (9/7, Novak) reported, “Women veterans from all branches of the military are invited to the fourth annual Wisconsin Women Veterans Conference, being held Oct. 22-24 at the Wisconsin Military Academy at Fort McCoy.” It will have “women-only workshops on combat-related trauma and military sexual trauma, as well as bio-feedback training, on-site massages, and the therapeutic value of diving.” Additionally, there will be lectures on “changes to women’s health care through the US Department of Veterans Affairs.” Secretary Kenneth Black of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs said in a news release, “Our goal is to provide programs and services that meet the needs of veterans today and in the future.”

 9.      Study Suggests Mushroom Hallucinogen Helps Cancer Patients. HealthDay (9/8, Gardner) reports that a controlled dose of psilocybin, the main ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms, “appears to reduce anxiety and lift spirits in people battling advanced cancer,” according to a study that will be published in the January 2011 print issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry. Patients and their families reported “improvements up to six months after their single-dose experience with the substance.” However, there are questions of if such hallucinogens will reach patients who might benefit from it. Keith A. Young, vice chair for research in the department of psychiatry and behavioral science at Texas A&M Health Science Center and core leader at the VA Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans, said, “It’s slow going justifying this particular application and the data are not overwhelming,” adding, “These particular results probably warrant more study, but are not overpowering.”

10.    ESPN Profiles Vet Paralympian. On ESPN (9/7), Marty Smith profiles George Mason University Patriot Masters swimmer Paul Hurley, a veteran who lost his leg in Bahrain. “Through the US Paralympics program, Hurley recently began training with Dominic Latella,” who said that Hurley is “the one I’m looking to as a recruiting tool for other Paralympians, other wounded warriors who are interested in other activities beyond just rehab.” Hurley is one of four people chosen “as public examples of the impact the GI bill has on veterans,” and he “will immerse himself in the NASCAR circus for the first time as one of four guests of TRG Motorsports” on September 11, when “TRG’s No. 71 team and driver Landon Cassill will carry the colors of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, with hopes of educating veterans who may not know they are eligible for the program.”

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