Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – July 25, 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. Rare ailment found in Iraq, Afghanistan vets.  Detroit Free Press  Meanwhile, Miller urged the US Department of Veterans Affairs to recognize the disorder in making disability rulings. The bones of Adolf Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess, were exhumed Wednesday from a grave in a small Bavarian town that had become a …

2. National cemetery project in works.  Bradenton Herald  With the backing of the US Department of Veterans Affairs, The Patterson Foundation announced Saturday its plan for an enhancement area at Sarasota National Cemetery.

3. Public hearing set for expanded housing for homeless veterans.  Alexandria Echo Press OF VETERANS AFFAIRS The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), in accordance with 38 USC Sec. 8161, et. seq., hereby provides notice of a public hearing to present VA’s proposal and receive views on an Enhanced-Use Lease (EUL) project at the St. Cloud …

4. Army colonel served as state veterans affairs director.  SignOnSanDiego.com  Robert Cardenas and Anthony Principi, former head of the US Department of Veterans Affairs, to help form the Fort Rosecrans and Miramar National Cemetery Support Foundation. The group fought environmental challenges and other hurdles to make the new …

5. New state law permits veteran status on ID or driver license.  Daily Commercial  Jennifer Carroll, who are both US Navy veterans. Carroll previously served as executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs. “The new feature gives veterans an easy way to show proof of their veteran status, which is not always an …

6. Third Parties Help Vets Understand Their Benefits.  GIBill.com  Improved communication and local partnerships also proved key to reaching veterans. “We discovered that it actually takes a sales force on the ground which has the information or, as important, knows who in the VA has the knowledge to solve a veteran’s …





7. Retiree & Veteran Affairs News 20 July 2011.  State Veteran’s Benefits Directory … The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a hearing last week to discuss military … how those experiences then led to a suicide attempt in 2004 that was broken up by his wife and local police. …

8. For wounded veteran, medical marijuana’s been a godsend.  Morning Sentinel  As a federal hospital, the Togus VA center is at a crossroads between state and federal law when it treats Maine veterans. Though patients who go there may be state-authorized to use medicinal marijuana, state law doesn’t apply there. …

9. Veterans to stand down in Ventura.  Ventura County Star  Representatives of the US Department of Veterans Affairs will be there to give out information about benefits that veterans might be eligible for and to screen the applicants to make sure they’re really veterans. On Friday, a Ventura County Superior …

10. New Laws Will Help Improve Veterans’ Quality Of Life For Veterans. Carmi (IL) Times Several recently enacted Illinois laws benefitting veterans. One, which takes effect next year, bars utilities from disconnecting for non-payment the gas or electric service of active-duty servicemembers or veterans in the months of December through March, as Another creates a fund for public service announcements informing veterans of state and federal services for treating PTSD. A third gives servicemembers serving out of state an additional 30 days to renew driver’s licenses.

 

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  • Applications For Military Remembrance License Plate Now Available. Knox (ME) VillageSoup Any eligible Maine resident who is a family member of a fallen soldier can obtain a Gold Star Family registration license plate. Applications require proof a relationship to the deceased, and military paperwork, and an application from the state Bureau of Veterans’ Services. Maine also offers veteran’s license plates for any current or honorably discharged member of the military.

  • House Panel Backs Bill to Allow Veterans to Retain Access to Firearm Purchases. CQ A House Veterans Affairs panel on Friday “advanced a bill that would clarify the right of ‘mentally incapacitated’ veterans to buy firearms.” The Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs approved the measure (HR 1898), sponsored by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT), which provides that persons found to be “mentally incompetent” would not be prohibited from buying or transporting firearms, unless a judge or other judicial authority asserts that they are a danger to themselves or others. The American Legion supports the measure. The panel also approved three other veterans’ bills (HR 1826, HR 923 and HR 1025) on voice vote.

  • Meet Holly Petraeus: US Service Members’ Advocate At The CFPB. Daily Finance The Office of Servicemember Affairs, part of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency which officially began last week. Created to address the unique financial issues facing members of the military and their families, the OSA is headed by Holly Petraeus, the wife of General David Petraeus. In a short video on the CFPB website, she says the office’s mission is to protect servicemembers against predatory loans and other scams. In brief tips, she advises caution in making wire transfers as advance payments for loans, cars or job searches, and warns against identity thieves masquerading as job search sites.

  1. 14. USMC Pulls Controversial Water Contamination Booklet. ENC Today “Marine officials confirmed this week that a much-disputed pamphlet describing the history and effects of Camp Lejeune contaminated water had been pulled from the Marines’ official website. The 33-page illustrated glossy pamphlet was published last July by the Marine Corps and sent to every member of Congress, then posted on the page dedicated to Camp Lejeune water information on Marines.mil. The publication heavily cited a 2009 report by the National Research Council that was inconclusive about the effects of chemicals in the Lejeune drinking water and recommended that further study would be unable to produce a more definite conclusion.” The booklet had been challenged by former base residents and experts who claimed that it understated the significance of the known carcinogene benzene and failed to analyze proper concentrations of chemicals in the base water.

  • Improving The Care Of Female Veterans. American Forces Press Service The newly formed VA Task Force on Women Veterans “will go a long way in addressing key benefits gaps to female veterans, according to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. While support for women veterans has improved, ‘It has not been enough,’ Shinseki said during the 2011 National Training Summit on Women Veterans.” Shinseki told the Summit that the Task Force’s “near-term mission” will be to develop, working with VA’s Advisory Committee on Women Veterans and the Defense Department, a comprehensive VA action plan for resolving the main issue for women veterans, including obstetric and gynecological care, childcare, military sexual trauma, homelessness, aging and end-of-life issues, among others. A draft plan is due to the Secretary by January 1.

  • Back From War, Young Vets Struggle To Find Good Jobs. Reuters Difficulties that veterans, especially younger ones, are experiencing finding work that use the skills they learned in the military, noting that veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 had a 28.3 percent unemployment rate in the second quarter of this year. Among efforts to increase their employment prospects, the article notes, are a VA website to connect veterans with employers and a pilot project using counselors at eight colleges to assist veterans and their spouses find work. The Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes program, launched in March, also plans to hold 100 job fairs aimed at veterans. The director of VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service notes that the VA and Defense Department are working to document more clearly for civilian employers the skills military members learn.

  • More Aid For Veterans. New York Times The president and CEO of the Mental Health Association of New York City writes that an earlier column about the VA’s efforts to deal with veterans’ mental health issues “highlight the strides made by the Veterans Affairs Department while underscoring the need for additional resources by federal, state and local governments.” The letter adds that, “Crisis centers, V.A. courts and therapeutic entities provide the benefits that can mean the difference between lives marked by triumph over psychological torment, or ended prematurely by suicide. It will take capital — both monetary and political — to ensure that fewer veterans go untreated.”

  • Walter Reed To Close After More Than A Century. AP Walter Reed Army Medical Center, “the Army’s flagship hospital where privates to presidents have gone for care, is closing its doors after more than a century.” It notes that the hospital “was scarred by a 2007 scandal about substandard living conditions on its grounds for wounded troops in outpatient care and the red tape they faced. It led to improved care for the wounded, at Walter Reed and throughout the military. By then, however, plans were moving forward to close Walter Reed’s campus.” A government commission had determined that, in light of heavy maintenance costs, it would save money to consolidate the hospital with the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda and a hospital at Fort Belvoir.

  • Labor Department Issues Guide On Assisting Homeless Women Vets. Washington Post “Hoping to enhance the aid provided to women veterans, the Department of Labor released a guide Wednesday for groups that service former female soldiers who become homeless. The guide, ‘The Trauma-Informed Care for Women Veterans Experiencing Homelessness: A Guide for Service Providers,’ was introduced at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Theater at Arlington National Cemetery.” The guide points out that while Veterans Affairs has “taken steps to improve its response to homelessness among veterans, homelessness among women veterans is expected to rise.”

  • Blue Button Logistics Could Make VA Contest Problematic. FierceHealthIT The US Department of Veterans Affairs is “offering a $50,000 prize to anyone who can develop a personal health record (PHR) that uses the government’s Blue Button download method to import patient data from electronic health records.” The purpose of the contest “is to provide veterans cared for by non-VA doctors with the same ability to download their records as those who see physicians employed by the VA or go to VA hospitals.” It is “not clear, however, how” the contest winner could get the PHR installed on the websites of 25,000 physicians or how “Blue Button downloads of VistA data from VA providers would be combined with records from non-VA doctors if veterans see both.”

  • GAO: Problems Hinder Progress Of IT At Joint DOD-VA Medical Center. iHealthBeat “A Chicago medical facility run by the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs recently hired five full-time pharmacists to oversee prescription data because of problems with health IT systems, according to a new Government Accountability Office report, NextGov reports. The Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center is a five-year demonstration project assessing the effectiveness of combining DOD and VA medical facilities.” The report from GAO “said the lack of an integrated plan, a need for more on-site testing and a pending high-level review have contributed to delays” with Lovell’s health IT systems.

  • Health Fair Set For Women Vets. Danville (IL) Commercial News “Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System will have a women veterans’ health fair from 9 a.m. to noon Thursday, July 28, in Building 104, social activities room.” The fair will “honor the service of female veterans and bring about awareness of many health topics that affect women.”

  • Lawmakers Want VA To Pressure State On Veterans Homes. McClatchy “California lawmakers are now trying to use federal dollars as leverage to open long-stalled veterans’ homes in Fresno and Redding.” According to McClatchy, US Reps. Jim Costa (D-CA) and Devin Nunes (R-CA) “want Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to pressure California about opening the Central Valley homes.” They are “urging Shinseki to use…pending grant funding to ensure the Fresno veterans home opens sooner rather than later.”

  • After Tour, Reservists’ Mental Health May Suffer. Reuters According to a study of 4,991 UK military personnel who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, it is more difficult for reservists returning from either of the two wars to adjust to life at home than it is for full-time soldiers. The study, which appears in the Annals of Epidemiology, also found that reservists were less likely than full-time soldiers to feel supported by the military, and that reservists who felt a lack of support from the military or from civilian society were at greater risk of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, or of abusing alcohol. Reuters points out that both the UK and US militaries have programs that try to help reservists adjust after deployment.

  • Vet’s Plea For Help Ends Forum On NC Toxic Water. AP On Wednesday, 60-year-old Vietnam vet Anthony Taylor said he was exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune and that he wants someone to help him pay his medical expenses. He made his comments while speaking “at the close of the 20th meeting of the community assistance panel investigating water contamination at Camp Lejeune that may have poisoned as many as 1 million people until the wells were shut down more than 20 years ago.” The “Community Assistance Panel (CAP) meeting was sponsored by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, which is conducting its largest health survey ever of Camp Lejeune’s Marines and sailors, civilians and family members.”

  • Collaboration Seen As Vital In Solving Homelessness In State, Nation. North County Times “Agencies, legislators, businesses and volunteers all must work in greater collaboration to solve the nationwide homeless problem, a coalition of officials agreed” During The Road Home, a public forum held on Wednesday in San Diego. During the event, Anthony Love, deputy director of the US Interagency Council on Homeless, “said a recent estimate found about 75,000 homeless veterans in the United States, and the Obama administration has a goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015 through the federal program Opening Doors. As an example of collaboration, Love said, the Department of Housing and Development, Department of Labor and the Veterans Administration have introduced a homeless-prevention pilot program at five sites, including Camp Pendleton.”

  • Mortgage-Related Measures Backed By House Veterans’ Subcommittee. CQ The House Veterans Affairs’ Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity advanced HR 1263 and HR 1911, a “pair of bills that would expand foreclosure protections to veterans and their spouses.” The subcommittee also approved five other veterans-related bills, including HR 2274, which would require the Defense and Veterans Affairs “secretaries to provide Congress with a series of annual reports through Jan. 1, 2021 on the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program” and HR 2301, which would direct the VA secretary of to “make payments to educational institutions under the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program at the end of a quarter, semester or term,” and HR 2302, “which would require the VA secretary to report to Congress on VA-sponsored conferences.”

  • Under HR 2301, VA Would Get Post-9/11 GI Bill Invoices After Add/Drop Date. Army Times On Thursday, the House Veterans Affairs Committee’s economic opportunity panel “passed a plan to improve the accuracy of Post-9/11 GI Bill payments to schools, after modifying the bill in response to concerns from veterans groups about unintended consequences – including the possibility that a student could be barred from attending school while payments are being calculated.” The legislation, “HR 2301, is an attempt to cut down on situations in which a student ends up owing money to the Veterans Affairs Department because of an overpayment.” The bill would “send an invoice to VA for payment after the date when a student is allowed to add or drop classes, normally two or three weeks into the start of the term.”

  • Changes To Post-9/11 GI Bill To Kick In Soon. Army Times “GI Bill 2.0 starts Aug. 1 with sweeping improvements to help thousands of current and former troops – and some of their families – earn college degrees.” The improvements to the Post-9/11 GI Bill include “full in-state tuition for eligible students, reimbursement for key entrance exams and more money for disabled vets.” Complaints, however, are “likely to be heard in December when one adverse change kicks in – a halt to education benefits between terms.”

  • Blogger Spotlights Trouble Some Vets Have Had With For-Profit Colleges. Forbes James Marshall Crotty writes, “Anyone attending, investigating, or otherwise interested in for-profit colleges needs to watch this Frontline report. It is quite damning, if highly selective (no interviews with veterans who benefited from for-profit education or who were happy with the experience).” Crotty adds, “Hopefully this piece is a wakeup call to those colleges that are dependent on, or who are exploiting, the G.I. Bill for profit, to provide much better oversight and transparency to students from the armed services.”

  • Group Buys Land For Fayetteville National Cemetery. AP “A nonprofit Fayetteville organization has bought land adjacent to the Fayetteville National Cemetery that is to eventually be used to expand the cemetery for military veterans and their families.” On Monday, the “Regional National Cemetery Improvement Corp. finalized the purchase of just less than 1.5 acres. Corporation President Ron Butler told the Northwest Arkansas Times the land must be cleared and could be donated to the Department of Veterans Affairs in about 18 months.”

  • Wounded Soldier, Family Discover The Underwater World. KeysNet.com “Just seven months after he lost both legs and full use of his right arm following an attack in Afghanistan, a US Army Special Operations soldier has been reintroduced to scuba diving with his wife and son, who are learning to dive in Key West. Chief Warrant Officer Scott Schroeder of Clarksville, Tenn., his wife Laura and teenage son Zach are participating in a recreational therapy program that focuses simultaneously on injured soldiers, their spouses and children.” Their outing is run by the Task Force Dagger Foundation, a Texas-based non-profit.

  • MIA Soldier’s Sisters: ‘We Have Him Home.’ Citizens Voice The long-missing remains of a Korean War veteran “were laid to rest at the historic Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., on Thursday following a graveside service attended by more than 20 family members.”

  • A Troubled Navy Veteran Receives A Final Tribute From The Military. Miami Herald Recently deceased Vietnam vet William Gaunt, who struggled with alcohol and drugs after his wartime service, was “laid to rest with military honors Thursday at the South Florida National Cemetery in Lake Worth through a funeral-home chain’s homeless veterans burial program.” Since 2000, the “Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program has conducted free funerals for more than 900 servicemen and women nationwide, about 40 in Florida, said spokesperson Jessica McDunn. The program works with the VA, county medical examiners, hospitals and hospices, said Jay Barany, a manager at Kraeer Funeral Home in Margate, the Dignity affiliate that handled Gaunt’s service.”

  • WWII Navajo Code Talker Joe Morris Dies At 85. AP 85-year-old “Navajo code talker Joe Morris, one of more than 400 American Indians who used the language of their ancestors to relay secret battlefield orders during World War II, has died.” The AP adds, “The longtime resident of the Mojave Desert community of Daggett died Sunday after a stroke at the Veterans Administration Loma Linda Healthcare System, spokesman Dave Allen said Thursday.” According to the AP, a funeral has been “scheduled for Monday at East Hills Unity Church in Riverside, followed by burial at Riverside National Cemetery.”

  • Do Vets Prefer Email Or Snail Mail? NextGov “The House Veterans Affairs Committee is considering the 2011 Modernizing Notice to Claimants Act (H.R. 2383), which would allow the VA to communicate electronically with vets filing disability claims. At a committee hearing on Wednesday, Jeffrey Hall, assistant national legislative director of Disabled American Veterans, endorsed the idea,” although he said some vets “may strongly prefer written communication.” Ryan Gallucci, deputy director of the National Legislative Service at the Veterans of Foreign Wars, also testified, stating that his organization wants it set up so that vets can request email communication, rather than have it be mandated by VA.  Brewin concludes, “I think both the DAV and VFW are stuck in the past, ignoring the fact that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans — who communicate via Twitter and Facebook from combat zones — view snail mail as a quaint holdover from WWII.”

PENNSYLVANIA STATE TRAINING PREPARES NEW DEPUTY SHERIFFS FOR DUTY

US Fed News Service, Including US State News August 7, 2009 UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., Aug. 4 — Pennsylvania State University issued the following news release:

All new Pennsylvania deputy sheriffs are required to complete a training program to be certified for duty. While some of the training involves classroom lectures on the commonwealth’s crime, civil and motor vehicle codes, a hallmark of the Deputy Sheriff Basic Training Academy, conducted by Penn State’s Justice and Safety Institute (JASI), is the practical hands-on activities that let deputies experience firsthand some of what they will face on the job. The next training academy will begin Aug. 10. website pennsylvania child support

“The 19-week training program is interactive, so deputy sheriffs can apply what they are learning and make mistakes in a safe environment before they get out in the real world, where mistakes can have serious consequences,” said Academy Director Bob Stonis, who also is associate director of JASI Law Enforcement Training Programs.

Created in 2000 in response to a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that expanded deputy sheriffs’ law enforcement responsibilities, the academy prepares deputies for a full range of law enforcement and court-related duties. JASI has partnered with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency and the Deputy Sheriffs’ Education and Training Board to train nearly 1,600 deputies to date.

In addition to classroom activities, the training includes a day of patrol operations, where deputy sheriffs practice making traffic stops for motor vehicle violations, serving protection from abuse orders, interviewing people and conducting building searches. Academy instructors provide training scenarios and play the role of suspects.

According to the academy’s lead instructor for defensive tactics, Matt Simmonds, “the closer we can get to reality, the better the training.” Simmonds explained that academy staff wear impact-reduction suits for protection as deputies use defensive tactics learned in training to safely subdue and handcuff them. web site pennsylvania child support

Timothy Stringer, a Ferguson Township police officer, coordinator of the academy’s patrol procedures and an instructor of emergency/first aid response, defensive tactics and firearms training, said, “this scenario-based training is a practical final exam that covers everything we’ve done in the first 18 weeks.” The last day of class involves mock hearings, where deputies present their cases before magisterial district judges.

“They’ve done the physical work of making the arrest. Now they have to be able to document and present their case,” said Dominic Pelino, magisterial district judge in the Dauphin County District and academy instructor.

For Franklin County Deputy Sheriff Keith Homer “the level of the instructors is top notch.” Homer, class president of a recent training group, was an instructor and drill sergeant in the Air Force, serving four tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. “I absolutely love [the academy],” he said.

Penn State’s Justice and Safety Institute each year conducts three 19-week training programs and five two-week programs for deputies who have previous police training. The current 19-week class will participate in patrol operations training on Aug. 17 and mock hearings on Aug. 20. Graduation is set for Aug. 21.

Deborah Benedetti, 814/238-4895; Dave Aneckstein, 814/865-7600.

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