Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News

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Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today's News

From the VA:

1.      VA Funding Transitional Housing Facilities In South Dakota, South Carolina. The Butte County (SD) Post (10/8, Dailey) reports, “Housing for homeless women veterans moved a step closer with a $412,422 grant for C-VISN based in Belle Fourche to develop a 28 bed female veterans’ transitional housing facility” and to purchase one van. After noting that C-VISN stands for Community Volunteers in Service of the Neighborhood, the Post points out that VA Secretary Eric Shinseki “made the announcement of the grant along with similar grants in 39 other states. ‘These grants wouldn’t have happened without the extraordinary partnerships forged with community organizers,’ said” Shinseki. The Rapid City (SD) Journal (10/8) publishes the same story.
     The Charleston (SC) Regional Business Journal (10/8) says, “Crisis Ministries homeless shelter and soup kitchen in Charleston will receive about $1.2 million” from the US VA to “build transitional housing for male veterans who are homeless. The grant is among $41.9 million” VA “awarded to community groups in 40 states this month to provide beds for homeless veterans.”

 2.      Project ARCH Headed To Kansas. In continuing coverage, the Pratt (KS) Tribune (10/8, Rose, 2K) says, “Pratt County veterans who drive to Wichita for medical services” at the Robert J. Dole Veterans Affairs Medical Center “will be able to get care right at home, as a result of Pratt’s selection as a pilot site for Project ARCH (Access Received Closer to Home). Just where the services will be provided has not been determined, said Ken Allensworth,” the hospital’s strategic planner. The Tribune notes that VA Secretary Eric Shinseki has commented on Project ARCH, saying its intention is to “expand VA’s ability to serve veterans who live far from VA facilities.”

 3.      VA Considering Three More Sites For New Hospital In Kentucky. Business First Of Louisville (10/8) reports, “The US Department of Veterans Affairs announced Thursday that it has added three sites in Jefferson County that will be considered for a new medical center for veterans, according to a news release. The additional possible sites for the new Robley Rex VA Medical Center are ‘greenfield’ sites, generally defined as property that is minimally improved and located in a mid-to-low density area.” Business First points out that in the news release, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki says a new hospital will “improve…customer service in a pleasant environment for patients.”
     According to the Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal (10/8, Shafer), the three new sites under consideration by VA, located “near Holiday Manor, Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant and the new Mercy Academy,” will “be evaluated along with two previously discussed sites: land adjacent to the existing Robley Rex VA hospital off Zorn Avenue, which many veterans prefer; and a five-block area north of Broadway and near University Hospital, which has support of city” and University of Louisville officials.

4.      County VA Director Appointed To Advisory Council In Pennsylvania. According to the Hazleton (PA) Standard Speaker (10/7, Ragan), Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell has “appointed Carbon County Veterans Affairs Director Henry Desrosiers to the Gino J. Merli Veterans Center advisory council,” which “makes recommendations to the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.”

 5.      Virginia Wounded Warrior Program Organizes Deer Hunt. The Roanoke (VA) Times (10/8, Sturgeon) noted that on Thursday, the “state-run Virginia Wounded Warrior Program” organized a deer hunt for veterans in Radford. The Times says the program “provides behavioral health and rehabilitation support to veterans and their families through the Virginia Department of Veterans Services. Virginia is home to 800,000 veterans.”

 6.      Baker Does Not Anticipate Increase In VA IT Spending In Fiscal 2012. FierceGovernmentIT (10/7, Perera) reported, “The Veterans Affairs Department will likely not request additional information technology funding for fiscal 2012, its chief information officer told a Senate panel Oct. 6. ‘We will request no increase — sorry, I’m not allowed to talk about the president’s budget — but I would not anticipate the VA requiring an IT increase going into [fiscal] ’12,” said VA CIO Roger Baker while testifying before the Senate Veterans Affair Committee.” Baker’s agency is the “only cabinet department in which the CIO has authority over the entire department’s IT spend–approximately $3.3 billion in fiscal 2010, which ended on Sept. 30.”

 7.      CBO Estimates Substantial Increase In Vets’ Health Costs Over Next Decade. CQ (10/8, Donnelly) reports, “Spending on veterans’ health care could soar by tens of billions of dollars in the next decade, according to a report issued Thursday” by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which found that by fiscal year 2020, Veterans Affairs appropriations could rise by as much as 75 percent to $85 billion, from the $48 billion appropriated for VA in fiscal year 2010. According to CQ, most of the increase in costs would “come from meeting the needs of an aging population of veterans as medical inflation continues.”
     CBO Also Says Legislation To Improve Post-9/11 GI Bill Would Cost $1.3 Billion. The Army Times (10/8, Maze, 104K) says “A bipartisan bill to improve the Post-9/11 GI Bill – paying book allowances to active-duty members, adding non-degree vocational training as a covered benefit and expanding eligibility for National Guard and reserve members – has a $1.3 billion problem. That is what the Congressional Budget Office, the non-partisan arm of Congress responsible for determining the cost of pending legislation, estimates the package would cost over five years.” After noting that under “congressional budget rules, that expense would have to be offset by cuts in other entitlement programs or an increase in revenue,” the Times adds, “Supporters of the bill believe it can be made cost-neutral through a ‘few tweaks,’ said a representative of a major veterans group who asked not to be identified.”

8.      MilCon-VA Bill One Of Only Two Fiscal 2011 Spending Bills Passed In House. In a story noting that House Republicans “have asked that earmarks be kept” out of “any spending bills advanced in the lame-duck session that will follow the Nov. 2 midterm elections,” CQ (10/8, Young) reports, “Only two of the 12 fiscal 2011 spending bills,” including the Military Construction-Veterans Affairs bill (HR 5822), “have been passed by the House,” while the Senate has “not acted on any of the spending measures.”

 9.      Indictment Accuses Man Of Stealing VA Disability Payments. The WNCT-TV Greenville, NC (10/7, Brown) website said Michael Hamilton is “accused of pretending to be a Marine Corps Colonel” and “stealing thousands of dollars” from the Department of Veterans Affairs. An indictment “says…Hamilton lied to officials at the Office of Veterans Affairs about injuries sustained during battle and about the medals he received during his service. The US Attorney’s office said those lies allowed Hamilton to receive more than $30,000 in disability payments” from VA since 2007.

 10.    GAO Says VA Should Review Ambulance Contract Provider Decision. The Roseburg (OR) News-Review (10/8, Morse, 18K) reports, “The Government Accountability Office has sided with a Douglas County public ambulance service” called Medcom, “finding that Veterans Affairs should review its decision to strip the service of a lucrative contract to transport veterans from Roseburg to other VA hospitals.” The News-Review adds, “The ruling, announced earlier this week, will compel…VA to reevaluate the bids from the two ambulance services… said” VA attorney David Fagan.

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