Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – May 31, 2011

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Veterans! Here’s your Top 10 News stories of the day compiled from the latest sources

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  1. Many benefits offered to military veterans.  Eagle Tribune  You could certainly do research on your own by accessing the Internet site www.vba.va.gov or going to your area library, but it is in your best interest to contact your local Veterans’ Services Officer (VSO). Residents in every city and town in this …
  2. Miles City veteran Frank Stoltz remembers Black Death March.  Billings Gazette…The US Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 3500 Allied soldiers died in marches, the assumption being that many died on the winter marches at war’s end. Often prisoners died for lack of medical care, Stoltz said. One soldier in Stoltz’s group …
  3. Conditions dire for homeless veterans.  The Augusta Chronicle  About a third of the homeless population in the United States are veterans, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Pain gave way to fear when he discovered his legs didn’t work. Fear turned to frustration as secondary multiple sclerosis …
  4. ‘Lest we forget …’.  Monitor  In 1868, the head of an organization of Union Civil War veterans established Decoration Day to decorate the graves of those who died during the US Civil War, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs website. The day was designated as May 30 …
  5. OVDA drops mortgage rate.  Hermiston Herald  The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs (ODVA) has lowered its 30-year term fixed home mortgage rate to 4.125 percent to qualified veteran home buyers. A state of Oregon veteran benefit, the ORVET Home Loan Program is separate from the federal VA …
  6. Veterans urged to beware of benefits scams.  Pittsburgh Tribune-Review  “There are honest people out there” trying to do veterans a good turn, he said, while others are “clearly predatory.” Scams targeting aging veterans are “something we see popping up,” said state Veterans Affairs spokeswoman Joan Nissley, who was unable …
  7. Help Is Out There.  West Virginia MetroNews  He says if veterans have questions, they can call the Division of Veterans Affairs or their local VA offices. “Any veteran that can get in contact with their local veteran’s service organization, that’s a step in the right direction.
  8. Website collects veterans’ war experiences, plans Memorial Day publicity push.  New York Daily News  More than 215000 US veterans live in the city’s five boroughs, according to data from the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Among them is Navy and Marine veteran Ismael Bruno, who joined TogetherWeServed.com in 2008 after returning from a tour in Iraq …
  9. Pilot project aids veterans in job search.  Kansas.com  11, 2001, is 21.9 percent, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. That compares to 9.1 percent for non-veterans. * There are more than 100000 homeless veterans nationwide, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, with about 1.5 …
  10. World War II veterans: The ranks are thinning, but still strong.  Pittsburgh Post Gazette….If projections from the US Department of Veterans Affairs are correct, it will be several decades before Americans will have to say farewell to the last veterans of World War II. About 2 million US veterans of that conflict remain from among the more …

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  • Scouts help to honor Union soldiers’ memory.  Topeka Capital Journal  Family members requested a new marker from the US Department of Veterans Affairs. In the early years of the Memorial Day weekend program at Topeka Cemetery, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War’s approximate 30 Topeka members would nearly wear …
  • Veterans Affairs changes clinic plan.  The Register-Guard  The US Department of Veterans Affairs is looking for more land than originally proposed for its planned $40 million medical clinic in Eugene or Springfield, the agency said Friday, after announcing a new request for proposals on the …
  • Bergen Veterans Honored in Medal Ceremony.  Patch.com  Ralph Young, a Vietnam veteran from Mahwah, received a distinguished service medal. “It was wonderful,” said Ronald Giles of Hasbrouck Heights. “Just wonderful. Very dignified.” Giles received a New Jersey Distinguished Service Medal, the state’s …
  • Fighting for Veteran Services as Need Grows.  Patch.com  They say this would serve the Department of Veterans Affairs and veterans’ best interests, considering that New York State has one of the nation’s highest veteran populations. Today, a VA spokeswoman confirmed what spokeswoman Nancy Winter told Patch …
  • Tracing the origins of Memorial Day.  Delmarva Now  According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died while in military service. As Memorial Day creates a three-day weekend for most, it is also viewed as the unofficial start of summer and is a time …
  • Holiday’s mythic, mixed-up origins.  Access Atlanta  Some 25 places claim to have been the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1866, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, with Georgia’s own Macon and Columbus on the list. “Many of them [were] in the South, where most of the war dead were buried,” …
  • Honoring WWII vets in our midst.  MyCentralJersey.com  In 2010, New Jersey was home to 55400 World War II veterans; about half as many as there were in 2005, according to estimates from the US Department of Veteran Affairs. The servicemen and women who were 18 at the war’s end, in 1945, are now 84. …
  • Ex-Marine Maj. Gen. to help city honor vets.  Northern Virginia Daily  … which sets aside time to pay respects to servicemen who have died in war, traces back to after the Civil War. Decoration Day was established on May 5, 1868, to decorate the graves of fallen veterans, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Stein Hospice honors vets with escort ceremony.  The Beacon  Stein is also a partner in “We Honor Veterans,” a national initiative launched last year by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, in collaboration with the US Department of Veterans Affairs. The program helps hospice professionals meet …
  • New motorcycle plate to honor vets.  Brattleboro Reformer  “These license plates are one way we can honor our veterans who have served our state proudly in protecting our freedom.” State Rep. Michael Hebert, a Vernon Republican and Marine veteran, said since there are roughly 20 different specialty plates …
  • Local News Briefs: May 27, 2011.  Grand Junction Free Press  The trip is free for veterans, but guardians are asked to pay a fee of $950 to accompany the veteran and provide care. ACLU lawyers filed suit this week in federal district court against three Colo. State Patrol officers — and two training supervisors …
  • Local veteran awards state governor.  Anniston Star  502 Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) and member of the state Board of Veterans Affairs, recently presented Gov. Bentley an award for being the first Vietnam Veteran to reach the highest office in Alabama. The presentation took place in the governor’s …
  • A final resting place.  Gazette.net Montgomery County Sports  More than 79000 veterans are buried in the five state-operated cemeteries, said Christopher Piscitelli, director of cemetery and memorial programs with the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs. The first state veterans cemetery opened in Hurlock in …
  • Officials ink sale agreement for Lebanon’s VA home.  Lebanon Express  … director for the Oregon Department of VA. The first home, located in The Dalles, is a 151-bed facility which recently won two national awards for veteran care, and is ranked in the top 10 out of 140 state-operated veteran homes, Willis said. …
  • Report: Pa. Veterans Received $1.5 Billion in VA Benefits in 2010.  Patch.com  Pennsylvania veterans received more than $1.5 billion in compensation and pension benefits in the 2010 federal fiscal year, a release stated. According to a recent statistical report from the US Department of Veterans Affairs, Pennsylvania has 964132 …
  • Time left to say ‘thanks’ to the great generation.  Westport-News  The World War II veterans are quietly and too quickly slipping away. Nationally, we are losing about 850 each day, the government estimates. On Veterans’ Day last fall, the US Department of Veterans Affairs estimated that barely more than 10 percent of …

  • Local Chamber Helps WWII Veteran See DC. San Tan Valley (AZ) Today The local American Legion Post “has successfully raised the funds to send WWII hero and Arizona treasure Walter ‘Phil’ Jordon on an Honor Flight to Washington D.C.” A large contribution from the San Tan Regional Chamber ensured that the local vet would be able to be on the June 7 flight from Phoenix to Washington, DC.

  • Paw Paw Couple Joins Gov. Rick Snyder For Signing Of Bill On Gold Star License Plates. Kalamazoo (MI) Gazette “A Paw Paw couple whose son died in Iraq joined Gov. Rick Snyder on Thursday as the governor signed legislation creating a ‘Gold Star Family’ license plate that allows immediate family members of fallen servicemen and women to honor their loved ones. David and Laura De Roo of Paw Paw lost their son, Army Sgt. Gabriel De Roo, on Aug. 20, 2006, in Mosul, Iraq.” Mrs. De Roo founded and serves as current president of a local chapter of the Blue Star Mothers of America.

  • Illinois Unveils Veteran’s Exhibit At Lincoln Library. AP Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn “started the Memorial Day weekend by unveiling the Portrait of a Soldier memorial exhibit at Springfield’s Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Quinn was joined yesterday by Air Force Col. William Cobetto of Hillsboro and families of service members. Cobetto says 235 service members from Illinois have died abroad since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001.”

  • USFK To Interview Ex-Employee In Agent Orange Probe. Korea Times “The US military in South Korea said Saturday it will interview one of its former civilian employees who claims he witnessed the burial of toxic chemical Agent Orange inside a US army camp in the South in the 1970s. South Korea and the US are jointly investigating claims by retired US soldiers that they had helped dump large amounts of the toxic chemical in 1978 inside Camp Carroll in Chilgok, 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul. In another claim that could support the allegations, Koo Ja-young, a former South Korean contract worker living in Washington, told Yonhap News Agency earlier this week that he had witnessed the burial of Agent Orange at that time.” A 33-year employee of US military forces in Korea, Koo claimed that other harmful chemical were buried elsewhere at the installation, naming its bachelor officers’ quarters and base fire department.
  • US Army Dumped Chemicals In Imjin River In 1960s. Korea Times “A new allegation has surfaced over the US Army’s involvement in the disposal of toxic chemicals, including Agent Orange, into Korean waterways during its massive defoliation campaign in the 1960s. According to a document that The Korea Times obtained Sunday, a US veteran claimed that he released 25 to 100 gallons of leftover herbicide agents into major waterways, including the Imjin River, and by roadsides on a daily basis. ‘It was common maintenance practice for us to release the remaining agents on to road ways, road sides, in rivers including the Imjin River or into creek beds,’ Steve Witter stated in a letter to the State of Washington in 2004.”

  • NBC Publicizes Federal Appeals Court’s Harsh Words For VA Mental Healthcare. NBC Nightly News  A federal appeals court “has come down hard on the Department of Veterans Affairs, accusing it of ‘unchecked incompetence’ in providing mental healthcare for vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.” Correspondent Lisa Myers cites the case of former Marine Clay Hunt, who after being diagnosed with PTSD after combat duty in Iraq, committed suicide. His mother says he had to fight to get help from VA. “If he had had better care, he maybe would not be dead today,” she states. Myers also notes that the court found “85,000 vets languish on waiting lists for mental healthcare. The seriously depressed sometimes wait more than eight weeks to see a mental health professional.” She added that the agency “would not comment on the ruling or on whether it will appeal, but officials say they have placed high priority on reducing backlog and improving mental healthcare.”

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  • Top Veterans Affairs Official Visiting Alaska. Alaska Public News Radio Secretary Shinseki “will be in Alaska on Memorial Day” and will participate with Sen. Mark Begich at Memorial Day events in Anchorage, before they “travel out to rural Alaska that afternoon, which Begich says will give Shinseki insight into what Alaskan veterans face when trying to get services. Begich says it’s important that Shinseki really see what it means when you can’t hop in a car and drive across the state for treatment. To that end, they’ll go together to Bethel and the village of Kwigillingok.” With Sen. Lisa Murkowski, they will also hold a listening session in Anchorage on Tuesday afternoon.

  • After Combat, The Unexpected Perils Of Coming Home. New York Times For combat veterans ending tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, “One would think that going home would be the easiest thing troops could do. But it is not so simple. The final weeks in a war zone are often the most dangerous, as weary troops get sloppy or unfocused. Once they arrive home, alcohol abuse, traffic accidents and other measures of mayhem typically rise as they blow off steam. Weeks later, as the joy of return subsides, deep-seated emotional or psychological problems can begin to show.” Some veterans also face the challenge of reconnecting with their children and spouses grown more independent in their absence.

  • Troubled Veterans And Early Deaths After Iraq. New York Times “an obscure government database called the Beneficiary Identification Records Locator Subsystem death file” contains records for veterans d benefits since 1973. It “provides a detailed portrait of the mental and physical wounds of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the high rate of suicides and risky, sometimes-fatal behaviors.” A Freedom of Information request revealed that the VA “is aware of 4,194 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who died after leaving the military. More than half died within two years of discharge. Nearly 1,200 were receiving disability compensation for a mental health condition, the most common of which was post-traumatic stress disorder.”
  • Aging And Returning Vets Putting A Strain On VA Benefits System. York (PA) Daily Record York County’s Director of Veterans Affairs Phil Palandro, assessing the challenges awaiting the VA from “10 years’ worth of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans seeking assistance in the form of PTSD treatment, drug and alcohol counseling or assistance with job placement,” sees the agency as “strapped.” He says, “They’re working hard. There’s not enough of them.” Even though he sees the agency doing a much better job caring for veterans than it did in the years immediately after Vietnam, “he said the agency is still understaffed and underfunded at the state and federal level, resulting in a backlog of claims. He said local veterans frequently have to wait months for claims to be processed.”

  • Elmira Museum Struggles To Attract Female Veterans. Elmira Star-Gazette “As the Vietnam War Museum begins its third year, organizers say they are seeing more visitors and receiving more donations of photos and other items from veterans and their families. But the members of the Vietnam Veterans of America Maj. Robert H. Schuler Jr. Chapter 803 of Elmira, the operators of the museum, say they face a big challenge this Memorial Day weekend: how to attract more female Vietnam veterans from the area to their chapter and museum.”

  • Veterans Memorial At Lake Nona Still Work In Progress. Orlando Sentinel “In the shadow of the Orlando VA Medical Center taking shape at Lake Nona, a 4-by-8-foot red, white and blue banner announces: ‘Future Site of Veterans Memorial Park.'” Vietnam-era veteran Jerry Pierce, who leads the Central Florida Veterans Memorial Park Foundation, “has been working to build the region’s largest veterans memorial next to the hospital at the Medical City in southeast Orange County.” The group says that it has raised $400,000 of the $1.5 million needed to complete the memorial, and having added a professional fundraiser, it now plans to start construction in January and to complete work by the time the new Orlando VAMC opens in October next year.

  • Nurse At Truman VAMC Wins Award For Excellence. Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune Faith Andrulot, a licensed practical nurse at Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital, “was one of six national recipients of the Excellence in Nursing Awards from Eric Shinseki, secretary of Veterans Affairs, in an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. Andrulot, an employee at the hospital since 1994, works on the red team in primary care.”

  • Mobile Clinic Brings Care To Local Vets. Sterling (CO) Journal-Advocate “On a weekend that we are remembering those who died for our country it seems appropriate to also honor our veterans and to note that many are dedicated to providing services throughout the year to those veterans. One of the current important services is that of healthcare that is brought to the veteran by the Cheyenne VA Medical Center’s (CVAMC) outreach program. The VA Mobile Telehealth Clinic is set up at the American Legion every Tuesday with hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The clinic is a part of the Cheyenne VA Medical Center’s outreach and emergency management programs.”
  • 50K Vets’ Graves In Mass. Get First Flags. AP “Hundreds of volunteers have traveled to Bourne to plant 50,000 flags at a military veteran’s cemetery that until now has forbidden flags on the markers. The effort Saturday at the Massachusetts National Cemetery was organized by the family of Army Sgt. 1st Class Jared Monti, a Medal of Honor recipient killed in Afghanistan in 2006.” The cemetery “was designed to display rows of flags along the road in, but not near its flat markers, so it’s easier to maintain the grounds. Under a new agreement, the flags can be placed at markers on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, and removed a week later.”

  • La. Museum Says Memorial Day Losing Identity In US. AP A survey done for the National World War II Museum in New Orleans “found that Memorial Day was losing its identity as a day to honor those who died defending the United States. ‘We asked for the study to be done because we had a feeling the understanding of Memorial Day was tapering off,’ said museum president Nick Muller. ‘And it confirmed what we had been gathering anecdotally. Eight out of 10 people said they did not understand what the holiday was for.'”

  • Fiscal Worries Delay Opening Of Seneca County Veterans Cemetery. Rochester Democrat & Chronicle Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery may not open, because the Seneca County, New York board of supervisors “now isn’t certain it can afford it.” The remains of at least 60 veterans are awaiting interment there. Local officials, who received 162 acres of land from New York State for the facility, “say they didn’t know until February that the county would have to pay for the cemetery’s operation.”

  • United Warrior Survivor Foundation. CBS Evening News  “Since 9/11 more than three hundred elite special operations US personnel have been killed in Afghanistan and elsewhere.” Correspondent Elaine Quijano profiles the United Warrior Survivor Foundation, who provides support to widows of Special Forces troops.

  • Veterans’ Advocate Will Go To Prison. Peoria (IL) Journal Star “An East Peoria man who had worked the past few years to help disabled veterans get additional money from the federal government was sentenced Thursday to just less than three years in federal prison. Authorities say John Haeffele stole more than $400,000 from the trust fund of a severely disabled woman.” Haeffele had been appointed legal guardian and fund trustee for a 30-year-old woman with severe epilepsy, but put unauthorized withdrawals into his own account. He pled guilty last fall to one count of mail fraud; he will spend three years on supervised release after completing his 33-month prison sentence. A company Haeffle led also offered fee-based service for assisting veterans and their families with VA benefits.

  • Marine Corps League Auxiliary Sends Care Packages From The Heart To Troops. St. Petersburg (FL) Times Members of the Marine Corps League Auxiliary Holiday Unit 130 “gather once a month to send off care packages to members of the military stationed overseas — many of whom they don’t even know.” Many of them wives or relatives of Vietnam era veterans, they include in every package they send a Marine Corps flag, and a note thanking the recipient for serving.

  • Doghouse Decorating Event In Temecula Will Benefit Veterans. Riverside (CA) Press-Enterprise “Volunteers are sought to help complete doghouses that have been donated for an upcoming event to benefit disabled veterans. On Sunday, the Temecula Vet Center will host the event, which runs from 4 to 6 p.m. Participants are asked to bring a paintbrush and decorations that they think would be appropriate.” Next month, during “Dog Days of Summer” events, thee doghouses will go on display on the town mall, then be auctioned off, with proceeds going to two non-profits assisting disabled veterans.


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