From the VA:
1. VA Grant To Fund Improvements At Georgia State Veterans Memorial Cemetery. The WSB-TV Atlanta, GA (10/28) website noted that on Thursday, Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki announced that a grant of almost $1.8 million has been awarded to continue to develop and improve the Georgia State Veterans Memorial Cemetery at Milledgeville. WSB quoted Shinseki, who said, “State cemeteries will forever commemorate their service and sacrifice to our nation.” The WTOC-TV Savannah, GA (10/28) website also took note of VA’s grant.
2. Chiarelli Wants To Increase Smart Phone Usage, Partner With VA On Behavioral Health. NextGov (10/29, Brewin) notes that it interviewed Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the US Army’s vice chief of staff, who “told Nextgov the utility and economics of smart phones and related gadgets such as small tablet computers argue for their adoption Armywide.” Chiarelli “also said he wants to start a virtual behavioral health program with the Veterans Affairs Department ‘as soon as possible’ to compensate for the shortage of Army mental health professionals, and he already has discussed the project with VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.”
3. Veterans Forum To Be Held In Montana. KXLH-TV Helena, MT (10/28, 5:39 p.m. MT) broadcast, “A forum to help Montana veterans find better jobs and better understand education and healthcare benefits is coming up.” According to KLH, US Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) has “announced the event will be held November 10th, the day before Veterans Day.” The event, which “will take place at the Best Western Heritage Inn” in Great Falls, Montana, “kicks off…with a ‘Stand Down’ in which donated clothing for Montana veterans will be accepted.”
4. Ceremony Honors Alabama Residents Killed In War On Terror. According to the AP (10/28) Alabama Gov. Bob Riley “honored the 122 Alabama residents who have died in the war on terror during a ceremony Wednesday at the Capitol.” The deceased residents’ “names…were read out loud, and seven new names were added to a state memorial” located in the Capitol. After noting that during the ceremony, Riley “accepted a flag designed by George Lutz, the father of a soldier killed in Iraq in 2005,” and said it would be displayed as part of the memorial, the AP added, “Lutz…is seeking to have the flag displayed in all 50 states.”
5. VA Supporting Effort To Address Needs Of American Indian Veterans. The Flathead Indian Nation’s Char-Koosta News (10/29, Azure, 4K) reports, “Researchers from Brigham Young University Social Department will be on the Flathead Indian Reservation the first week of November to conduct interviews with American Indian veterans to learn more about their experiences accessing healthcare services to address their health needs.” Carol Ward, the lead BYU researcher, “said the project is supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs regional administrative office in Salt Lake City.”
6. Director Of Nonpartisan Group Says Number Of Vets In Congress Is Likely To Drop. The Army Times (10/29, Maze, 104K) reports, “The number of veterans serving in Congress is likely to drop as a result of Tuesday’s elections, according to the executive director” of the Veterans’ Campaign, a “nonpartisan group that teaches veterans how to run for political office.” On Thursday, Seth McCormick Lynn, who stressed that fewer veterans in Congress would lead to “increasing polarization and partisanship” because veterans “share a common bond that transcends” party affiliation, “said…the number of veterans in the Senate – now 26 – might increase as a result of the election. But in the House of Representatives, the number of veterans is certain to decline from the current 95.”
7. Experts Worried About Homeless Rate Of Iraq And Afghanistan Vets. According to the WBIR-TV Knoxville, TN (10/28, Becker) website, experts on “both…the national and local” level are “seeing what they call a troubling trend. More and more younger veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are going from serving their country to life on the streets much faster than the generation of veterans who served in Vietnam.” WBIR, which noted that almost a year ago, the US Department of Veterans Affairs “announced a goal of ending homelessness among veterans in five years,” offers a quote from Burt Rosen, the President and chief executive officer of Knox Area Rescue Ministries (KARM), who said, “I absolutely applaud” VA’s “effort but if our experience at KARM mirrors anything else that you’re seeing across the country that is a very, very daunting task.”
8. After Being Missing For 67 Years, WWII Vet Buried At Riverside National Cemetery. The Escondido, California-based North County (CA) Times (10/28, Walker, 71K) reported, “‘There’s always hope.’ That was the message Wednesday from Fallbrook’s Burt Risser” to other families of missing in action veterans. Risser made his comment after “laying his uncle,” Claude Ray to “rest precisely 67 years after the World War II airman went missing while on a reconnaissance flight.” Risser, several other family members, and “about 60 mourners paid their final respects to…Ray during a military funeral at Riverside National Cemetery.”
9. Restoration Work At JFK Grave Site Underway. The Washington Post (10/29, O’Keefe, 605K) reports, “On Thursday, workers began a week-long project to re-stain the letters” in “John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural address,” which is hand-carved into granite near Kennedy’s eternal flame at the Arlington National Cemetery. The Knights of Columbus, a “Catholic lay organization, is paying about $6,000 for the restoration to mark the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s inauguration.” Kennedy, the “nation’s first Catholic president, was a member” of the Knights of Columbus.
10. VA: Small Area Of Brain Could Be Key To Understanding PTSD. The Minnesota Public Radio (10/28, Benson) said a new study, published this week in the Journal of Neural Engineering, “suggests that a small area of the brain, just above the right ear, could be the key to understanding” how post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) works. Researchers from the Veterans Affairs hospital in Minneapolis “say brain scans of PTSD patients show unusual activity in the part of the brain responsible for memory. The same researcher team reported last January that they had developed a scan that can identify people with PTSD with 95 percent accuracy.”
The St. Paul (MN) Pioneer-Press (10/28, Snowbeck) also took note of the new study, reporting, “Beyond representing a step forward in evaluating treatments for PTSD, the finding also could help combat a stigma that prevents some patients from seeking treatment, said Brian Engdahl,” a VA “counseling psychologist…who conducted the research. ‘The veterans themselves see what we’ve found, and many are relieved to see physical evidence of the emotional injury they have lived with all this time,’ Engdahl said,” adding “This can reduce their self-blame, and it helps destigmatize this disorder.”