Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News

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From the VA:

Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News

1.      On Verge Of Suicide Following Oil Spill, Iraq Vet To Seek Help At VA. In an online story about how the Gulf oil spill has affected the surrounding community, NPR’s “Morning Edition” (12/1, Elliott, Peñaloza) pointed out that one of those in the community is 27-year-old Aaron Hofer, who “has been largely out of work” since the spill happened. After noting that Aaron’s wife “says she has finally convinced her husband, an Iraq war veteran, to get help at the Department of Veterans Affairs,” NPR quotes Aaron, who said, “If it wasn’t for my children, I probably would have already committed suicide.”

 2.      Veteran Trauma Court Operating In Colorado. The KUSA-TV Denver, CO (12/1, Wolf, Bolton) website noted that in Colorado Springs, Colorado, there is a “Veteran Trauma Court, a first in the state.” In 2010, the court’s “first trial year,” it “has been able to work on the cases of more than 40 veterans,” including an Iraq vet who asked KUSA not to reveal his name. According to KUSA, which referred to the vet as “James,” a Veterans Affairs “clinician determined James had symptoms” of post-traumatic stress disorder and “arranged for him to get medication and treatment.”

 3.      VA Aims To Improve Hospital Performance With New Online Tools. In continuing coverage, Federal News Radio (12/2) reports, “The Veterans Affairs Department is raising the bar for its health care centers with some new online tools that allow vets to compare the performance of the…153 hospitals” operated by the department. Federal News Radio adds, “The goal is to inspire further improvements at the hospitals, VA officials told Government Health IT.”

 4.      School In Washington State Recognized As Veteran-Friendly. The Vancouver (WA) Columbian (12/1, Vogt, 37K) noted that on Tuesday, Washington State University (WSU) Vancouver was “recognized…as a veteran-friendly campus. In an afternoon ceremony, a memorandum of understanding was signed by Mike Gregoire, a veteran and the husband” of Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire; “John Lee, director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs; and Hal Dengerink, chancellor of WSU Vancouver.” The agreement “ensures that students get access to the state VA for reviews of their needs and assistance in obtaining benefits.”

 5.      Opinions Differ On Whether Mayor Would Be Right Choice For Connecticut Vets Job. The Bristol (CT) Press (12/2, Collins, 8K) says that while many “Bristol leaders say they would support the appointment of Mayor Art Ward to serve as the state’s veterans commissioner if Gov.-elect Dan Malloy chooses” Ward, “not everyone’s on board.” Lori DeFillippi, who “organizes many of the veterans events in Bristol, said Ward ‘would not be a good choice,'” because it “would ‘mean nothing for Bristol’ since there hasn’t been a veterans service officer in town since Al Santucci retired two years ago.” Although DeFillippi “said…Ward ‘doesn’t seem to be worried about filling’ the position at City Hall,” Ward “said recently he expects the military to provide two veterans service officers who will work at City Hall soon.”

 6.      New Superintendent Hired For Kansas Veterans’ Home. The Dodge City (KS) Daily Globe (12/2) notes that on Wednesday, the “Kansas Commission on Veterans’ Affairs announced the hiring…of the new superintendent for the Kansas Veterans’ Home at Winfield.” Steve Dunkin, currently superintendent of the “Kansas Soldiers’ Home at Fort Dodge, will succeed Jim Hays as superintendent of the veterans’ home in Winfield. Hays will retire Dec. 30 after 12 years as superintendent at the Winfield facility.”

 7.      Union Says Pay Freeze Would Hurt VA Nurse Recruitment. In continuing coverage, Modern Healthcare (12/1, Carlson, 72K) reported, “If President Barack Obama wants to cut federal expenditures, one vocal labor union of nurses says, he should start by ‘ending the costly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq once and for all’ instead of freezing the wages of front-line nurses in the Veterans Affairs system.” National Nurses United (NNU), “whose 160,000 registered-nurse members include 7,000 Veterans Affairs RNs, blasted Obama’s announcement of a two-year wage freeze for all nonmilitary federal workers.” In a news release, “NNU co-president Jean Ross said…the cuts would make recruitment efforts of VA nurses even more difficult, adding ‘salt to the already festering wound’ of the Obama administration’s sustained opposition to expanding collective-bargaining rights for VA nurses.”
     VA Email: Freeze “Not A Reflection” Of “Excellent Work” Done For Vets. The Columbia-based Missourian (12/2, Brewer, 17K) notes, “An e-mail from the Veterans Administration explaining the economic incentive for the proposal was passed on to local employees…said” Public Affairs Officer Stephen Gaither “of the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital.” According to the Missourian, the email read, “The proposed freeze is not a reflection of the excellent work you do for our nation’s veterans.”

 8.      VA Assisting Homeless Vets In South Dakota. The KELO-TV Sioux Falls, SD (12/1, Wilson) website said Chris Nelson, a “decorated Vietnam vet who overcame his haunting memories from war moved on with his life,” is now “helping other vets do the same as the manager of the Berakhah House.” Nelson “is the Veterans Housing Coordinator for Volunteers of America Dakotas, who, along with the Veterans Administration, produced a program that’s helping homeless vets get off the streets and back to work.” KELO added, “Last year alone,” VA “assisted nearly 250 homeless veterans in the Sioux Falls area.”

 9.      Tahoma National Cemetery Workers Discover Theft Of 11 Memorial Plaques. In continuing coverage, the AP (12/1) reported, “Workers at the Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, Wash., have discovered that 11 bronze memorial plaques” which were “donated by various veterans groups” have “been ripped from their granite foundations.” On Monday, the cemetery’s director “said…he thinks the theft happened sometime over the weekend.” The AP adds, “Besides the 11” plaques “that were stolen, three more were damaged,” while another “11 or 12 remain unharmed.”

 10.    Protest Against VA’s T4 Procurement Withdrawn. In his “What’s Brewin'” blog for NextGov (12/1), Bob Brewin wrote, “In early September, I reported that Vetrepreneur LLC, a Herndon, Va.-based service-disabled veteran owned business, had filed a protest against the Veterans Affairs Department’s humongous Transformation Twenty-One Total Technology (T4) IT procurement.” Brewin, who pointed out that the protest to the Government Accountability Office claimed the procurement “did not fit with requirements of the Veterans First Contracting Program which requires VA to ‘give priority to a small business concern owned and controlled by veterans,'” noted that on Tuesday, he “called Robert Hesser, president of Vetrepreneur,” who “said he withdrew his complaint because VA told GAO the Vetrepreneur’s small size precluded it from filing a protest, an argument he could not dispute.” But according to Brewin, Hesser “said even though he withdrew his protest, nothing in VA’s response to GAO addressed the contractual and solicitation discrepancies Vetrepreneur protested.”

 

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