Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – September 01, 2011


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


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1.   Texas is tops in US at putting vets in jobs.  San Antonio Express  That’s about 18000 more jobs than veterans filled in the second most-successful state, North Carolina. Part of Texas’ production is due to the size of its veteran population. The US Department of Veterans Affairs reports that Texas is home to nearly …
2.   Tulsa agency gets $1 million to aid veterans.  Tulsa World  The agency is one of 85 – and the only one in the state – to receive a Department of Veterans Affairs Supportive Services for Veterans’ Families Program grant. The grant will be used to fund the Barrier Removal and Residence Exchange for Veterans, …
3.   Vice-Chair of Veteran’s Board resigns reportedly over Scocos rehire.  WHBL Sheboygan  Walker hired Scocos last week to fill a vacancy at the top of the state Veterans’ Affairs Department. The veterans’ board fired Scocos in 2009 amid concerns about reported over-spending and mismanagement. Moran was one of five board members who voted …
4.   Lansing native trio continues its marathon effort to raise awareness/funds.  Waukon Standard Anyone who knows of a veteran or veterans family who may be struggling with PTSD/TBI and is not receiving the appropriate care is asked to call Becker at 563-535-3098 or their local Veterans Affairs Office for assistance in guiding them to the …
5.   VA victory: Silver Cross to be converted in 2013.  Braidwood Journal  24, the Secretary formally approved the VA’s purchase of the 4.4-acre property. Durbin said that while in the planning stage, he and other state and local leaders will continue to reach out to area veterans organizations to see how they can create the …
6.   Funding for honor guards at vet funerals cut.  Houston Chronicle  “As we take a look at the service organizations, many of them are struggling financially,” Veterans Affairs Deputy Commissioner Reggie Worlds said. “This was a way to assist them to provide that dignified burial by providing some reimbursements. …
7.   Obama Draws Line On Possible Cuts To Veterans Programs. New York Times President Obama, in a “somber” speech at the American Legion national convention, “vowed…that he would not allow cuts in programs for veterans as Congress and the administration look for ways to balance the budget.” The Times adds that the President “repeated his assertion of earlier this summer that after a decade of war, it was time to turn the country’s attention to domestic prosperity. ‘It’s time to focus on nation-building here at home,’ Mr. Obama told 6,000 members of the country’s largest veterans group, who clapped politely.”  AP  “Obama said the Americans who have worn the uniform since Sept. 11 have put the nation in a position of strength and have earned their place among the greatest of generations. ‘Every day for the past 10 years, these men and women have succeeded together as one American team,’ Obama said.” The AP says that “since taking office, Obama has set a course for drawing down both wars after a decade of continuous conflict,” and he “spoke of ending, not of winning, the Afghanistan war. ‘As our mission transitions from combat to support, Afghans will take responsibility for their own security, and the longest war in American history will come to a responsible end,’ he said.”
8.   Obama Call For Destigmatizing PTSD, Respect For Service Members Who Commit Suicide. CBS Evening News “President Obama sends condolence letters to the families of fallen troops,” but “until last month, that did not include the families of service members who take their own lives. … After our Elaine Quijano reported on the case of Army Specialist Chance Keisling who committed suicide during his second tour in Iraq, the President changed the policy” and “today at the American Legion Convention…he explained his decision.” President Obama: “These Americans did not die because they were weak. They were warriors. They deserve our respect. Every man and woman in uniform, every veteran needs to know that your nation will be there to help you stay strong. It’s the right thing to do.”
9.   Final Resting Place, And Battleground. New York Times  In Houston, Texas, “controversy exploded” when the national cemetery’s new “director began enforcing a little-noticed 2007 policy” instituted after “complaints about religious words or icons being inserted unrequested into veterans’ funerals,” prohibiting “volunteer honor guards from reading recitations — including religious ones — in their funeral rituals, unless families specifically request them.” Steve L. Muro, the under secretary for memorial affairs, said, “We do what the families wish,” and John R. Gingrich, the department’s chief of staff, said, “If the family wants prayers, the family will get them.” The “outraged members of local veterans organizations who have long infused their ceremonies with references to God,” have sued the VA and “turned the national cemetery into a battleground over the role of prayer in veterans’ burials.” The dispute has “generated angry letters and Internet commentary against the” VA.
10. Seattle, King County To Set Up Special Veterans Courts. Seattle Times  “Seattle will open a special court Sept. 20 for military veterans charged with nonviolent crimes.” Court officials say the new court is meant “to give some vets charged with misdemeanor offenses a chance to obtain substance-abuse and mental-health treatment while still being held accountable for their actions.” Meanwhile, “King County is on track to create its own Veterans Treatment Court on Jan. 1,” with the County Council “expected to approve the one-year pilot project Sept. 12.” The US VA would provide “medical and mental-health services,” having “set up an office two years ago to help local governments get help for troubled vets.”


Have You Heard?

VA launched its Paralympic Program Website as part of an ongoing commitment to support the rehabilitation and recovery of disabled Veterans through participation in adaptive sports. “Adaptive sports participation among disabled Veterans has many proven benefits such as increased independence, reduced dependency on pain and depression medication and stress reduction,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “Providing resources for disabled Veterans to participate or compete in adaptive sports supports the holistic wellness of Veterans, which is a key component of VA’s Veteran-centric care.” One of the highlights of the new Website is the “Success Stories” page, which features disabled Veterans and their stories of how participating in adaptive sports has positively impacted their lives. Veterans, who participate in adaptive sports at any level as well as Paralympic competitors, are encouraged to submit their stories and share their challenges and triumphs with the entire Veteran community. The site also provides users with a comprehensive overview of the benefits of disabled Veterans participating in adaptive sports, sports by disability, training allowances, the VA Paralympic Grant Program, and resources for caregivers and VA clinical personnel.  The website is located at

More Veteran News


  • State Cuts Money For Funeral Honor Guards. Duluth News Tribune  Minnesota “eliminated money to help pay for honor guards at veterans’ funerals,” requiring “groups like the American Legion…to come up with more of their own money to give final honors to veterans who have died.” While almost $265,000 was allocated to provide military funeral honors each year since 2008. State “Veterans Affairs Deputy Commissioner Reggie Worlds said the state allocated $100,000 a year for the program,” and this year “the honor guard reimbursement was among the programs” the Governor and the state legislature cut to deal with a projected $5 billion budget deficit.
  • Arlington National Cemetery Officials Seek To Account For The Dead.  Washington Post  “Soldiers from the Old Guard, the Army unit that mans the Tomb of the Unknowns and performs many of the funerals at Arlington National Cemetery,” have been, since June, “taking photos of every single grave” there. The photos are put into database and double-checked against paper records scanned into the system in a congressional-mandated “effort to ensure that everyone in the country’s preeminent military burial ground is buried in the right place.” Following discovery of “widespread problems” at the burial ground, “some members of Congress, along with some veterans organizations” say it should be “turned over to the Department of Veterans Affairs.” The Army, which is seeking to avoid that change, invited members of the media to witness the efforts to account for those buried at Arlington.
  • VA’s IT Project Management Oversight Needs Work, IG says. Federal Computer Week  VA’s Office of the Inspector General reviewed the VA’s Project Management Accountability System at the request of Roger Baker, the VA’s assistant secretary of information and technology. Belinda Finn, assistant inspector general for audits and evaluation, wrote in her report that while “the VA has made progress in its IT management under the new system it needs ‘a great deal of work.'” She cited the need for effective “management controls to ensure PMAS’ data reliability, verify project compliance and track project costs,” as well as needing “a detailed plan for implementation.” Finn made six recommendations, all of which Baker agreed with, including “that Baker create a detailed plan for PMAS implementation.”
  • Interview With Roger Baker, US Veterans Affairs CIO: Modernizing Government.  Washington Executive  An interview with VA CIO Roger Baker. He said his position is “pretty much like being the Chief Executive Officer of a $3 billion IT services organization,” as, “unlike any other departmental CIO in the federal government, I actually have control of all of the resources and all of the money that do all of the IT services.” He added that his former position as CEO of Dataline “was the best training for this job,” as “you think about customer service and you think about maximizing return on investments and all of the same things that a CEO would think about.”
  •  VA Victory: Silver Cross To Be Converted In 2013. Braidwood (IL) Journal After “more than three years and countless letters, meetings and public appeals for support,” there is now a final agreement “to transform the emergency room facility at Joliet’s Silver Cross Hospital into an outpatient ‘mega-clinic’ for the” VA. While at first “the VA expressed little interest in converting the facility, but the push by local veterans and Illinois lawmakers eventually led VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki to open negotiations with Silver Cross.” Sen. Dick Durbin said, “This is going to be a big deal for the VA, a big deal for Illinois, Will County and for the region.” He added that “there was still some paperwork to get in order, but the VA expected to have the new mega-clinic operational by March 2013.”
  • As VA Appeals Court Ruling, Vets And The Nation Face Consequences.  Healthcare Finance News The VA “appears to be dodging its responsibilities to veterans in need of mental healthcare by seeking to appeal a ruling made by the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco last spring” that allows veterans’ groups to sue the VA to force it “to overhaul its procedures so that veterans in need of healthcare, in particular, in need of mental health services, will get those services in a timely manner.” As a result of “the VA’s stonewalling,” there is “an increased burden on the nation’s healthcare system and dire consequences for the veterans in need of services.”
  • VA Open Source Health Software Site is Open for Business.  NextGov  The VA’s “open source electronic health record software website went live today with a pitch that it will serve as the nexus for an ‘open source community designed to unleash innovation in electronic health record software.'” However, Brewin suggests the VA “change its name and ungainly acronym, Open Source Electronic Health Record, or OSEHRA,” because “even Steve Jobs would have a hard time getting anyone to buy — let alone love — an OSEHRA.”
  • Soldiers’ Brains Bear Scars Of Emotional Wounds.  Los Angeles Times  “Booster Shots” blog reports, “Eighteen months after they have returned from a war zone, soldiers bear an unmistakable sign of emotional trauma deep inside their brains.” However, “in most, a key node of the brain’s fear circuitry returns to normal, perhaps keeping mental illness such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from developing,” according to a study published online Aug. 30 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry. HealthDay  After using functional magnetic resonance imaging scans to assess activity in the amygdala “region of the brains of 23 soldiers who were sent to Afghanistan for four months,” researchers “compared the results of these scans to those of 16 soldiers who were not sent to Afghanistan before deployment, shortly after deployment, and again 18 months later.” Shortly after deployment, soldiers’ scans showed certain activity in the amygdala. However, “there were no differences in amygdala function between the two groups of soldiers 18 months after returning.”
  • VA Center Opens Clinic For Women. Amarillo Globe News  “The Amarillo Veterans Affairs Health Care System opened an expanded clinic Tuesday to accommodate women” with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour of the Lady Liberty Women Veterans Clinic at the VA’s Thomas E. Creek Medical Center. Katrina Goldby, women veterans program manager at the Amarillo VA hospital, said that “the number of women veterans is expected to grow by 30 percent in the next five years,” and, in anticipation, “the hospital doubled its dedicated space for female patients…hired a physician especially trained in women’s health to provide primary care, established a private waiting area for women and children and expanded room sizes for ease of treatment.”
  •  Vets Agency Gives Businesses The Boot.  AP  The Westside Los Angeles VA campus is evicting three of about two dozen private entities holding land use agreements with the agency, “apparently because they don’t meet the requirements of a recently enacted master plan for the 387-acre medical center parcel.” The leases for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Los Angeles’ Tumbleweed Charter Buses Inc., and Sodexo Inc. “are central to an American Civil Liberties Union complaint filed against the VA in June that accuses the agency of neglecting homeless veterans who need care after traumatic military experiences.” A statement by the VA said “it was evaluating its leases in light of a recently released master plan for the campus.” Meanwhile, “ACLU attorney Mark Rosenbaum said he interpreted the suspension of the leases as an acknowledgment that they had never been lawful.”
  •  Program Helps Veterans Adjust To College Life. University Of Alabama Crimson White   Adjusting “from life as a soldier to life as a college student can be a difficult process for many veterans.” That is “why the University of Alabama is working with the Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs Medical Center to set up a new program to help these veterans returning to college. The program, called the Veteran-Student Academic and Wellness Program, helps to ensure that veterans returning from places like Iraq and Afghanistan have a safe haven within reach while transitioning from military life to college life.”
  • Renovations Make VA Facility Building Feel More Like Home. Chillicothe Gazette The newly-renovated Community Living Center at “the Chillicothe Veterans Affairs Medical Center campus will bring added space and sunshine for 41 long-term care patients.” It replaces “a World War 1-era building that contained no windows in the dining hall and a ‘cramped’ living environment.” Each floor is set into “neighborhoods” with their own public gathering and dining areas. VA Medical Center Director Jeff Gering said, “We wanted to make it more like home, three neighborhoods connected by a Main Street.
  •  Veterans’ Groups Press For Valley VA Hospital. Brownsville (TX) Herald  “Leaders of Rio Grande Valley veterans’ groups are demanding to know why a plan to expand the new Department of Veterans Affairs surgical center” in Harlingen, Texas, stalled. A spokeswoman for Rep. Ruben Hinojosa said the congressman and “two top DVA officials” will hold a meeting on Thursday “to discuss the hospital situation” and “the current availability of health care for veterans in the Valley, including at the two VA facilities in Harlingen and four Valley hospitals that have VA contracts.”
  • Lawmakers, Local Veteran Leaders Brainstorm For VA Hospital. Joliet (IL) Herald-News  On Monday, veterans “and political leaders met…for a brainstorming session on potential uses” for the Silver Cross Hospital, in addition to the planned Veterans Affairs mega-clinic. Among the suggestions made at Monday’s meeting were that VA “could start a training program in which nursing students would commit to working five years at veterans facilities.” The “meeting lasted less than an hour with no decisions made, but everyone agreed they would get together again to continue the discussion.”
  • VA Hospital Using Facebook To Talk With Vet’s.  KKCO-TV The Veterans Affairs hospital in Grand Junction is “hoping Facebook can help them better communicate with veterans around the Western Slope.” Page on Facebook “has been up and running for a few months and now the hospital is ready to make the page public. Officials say the initial focus will be to help vets understand who is eligible for VA medical care and helping direct them to people that can help them access other benefits.”

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