Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – September 08, 2011

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

 

We encourage you to browse our list so that you can take what you want and keep what you need

 

1.   Veteran plans to hand-pedal 530 miles to 9/11 sites.  The Herald-Mail  “They can start again the next day,” he said. Czyzewski said the US Department of Veterans Affairs paid for his German-made hand bicycle after he saw another disabled vet riding one at the air show in Martinsburg, W.Va., three years ago.
2.   MSU dedicates new Veterans Center on Sept. 12.  Montana State University  York said that the number of veterans attending MSU spring semester was 565, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs. That is more than three times the number of veterans served when York first started at MSU 16 years ago. …
3.   “Fake Colonel” Sentenced.  WITN  Hamilton was charged with embezzling $30000 from the US Department of Veterans Affairs, making false official statements, and wearing a uniform and medals he did …
4.   Veterans Cemetery Was Used As Private Dump.  Fox News  State Department of Administration officials say the company contracted to clean up the garbage has submitted $37000 in bills, with more likely to come. That’s more than double the $18000 the state Department of Veterans Affairs estimated the effort …
5.   Annual ‘Stand Down’ For State’s Veterans In Need.  Patch.com  The Department of Veterans Affairs is hosting Stand Down 2011 in Rocky Hill next Friday, Sept. 9. This annual event aims to help any veteran who is homeless or in need of assistance. This year the department expects more than 1000 …
6.   VFW Post 1916 to play host to state Loyalty Day in 2012.  Reedsburg Times Press  The Wisconsin Department of Veteran’s Affairs and the Wisconsin Veterans of Foreign Wars have selected Thurber-Greenwood VFW Post 1916 to play host to the state of Wisconsin’s 2012 Loyalty Day in Reedsburg on April 28, 2012. “This is an extreme honor …
7.   Westover Vets Fight For Agent Orange Benefits.  New Haven Independent  Now, Carter and Bailey are spearheading an effort to get the US Department of Veterans Affairs to recognize that the crews who manned the “spray planes” stateside from 1972 to 1982 were exposed to lingering Agent Orange contamination and should receive …
8.   State officials honor veterans with Distinguished Service Medal.  NJ.com  Chief Warrant Officer Patrick Daugherty of the New Jersey National Guard said many veterans inquire right away with that very federal body – the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Without knocking the VA, Daugherty said many don’t realize there’s …
9.   Group Calls For Homeless Veteran Center In Brevard. Florida Today  Brevard County, Florida, Commissioners will be asked “to support a plan that allows homeless veterans to take refuge at the vacant state corrections facility in Sharpes.” George Taylor of National Veterans Homeless Support said, “We’ve got so many veterans coming home, and because of lack of work that’s available we need that facility to help them transition back into society.” However, Stockton Whitten, assistant county manager, noted that the building belongs to the state, so the commission doesn’t have any power over it.
10.Bank Rejects Homeless Veterans’ Housing. Gainesville (FL) Sun  “The hotly debated plans to turn a foreclosed hotel near Newberry and Tower roads into a transitional housing facility for homeless veterans appear to be dead” after the bank that owns the Gainesville Hotel & Conference Center asked for the special-use permit allowing the facility to be revoked. A attorney for the bank informed Alachua County it “‘no longer desires to use the property’ as a transitional housing facility for homeless veterans.” The VA previously “awarded the Alachua County Housing Authority a grant of approximately $1.9 million to purchase a property and will pledge operational costs for 20 years.”

 

Have You Heard?

The DHS National Cyber security and Communications Integration Center has issued the following awareness bulletin:

Malicious users seeking to exploit interest related to the 10 year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks will likely use subject lines related to the incident in phishing-mails on or around September 11, 2011. Network administrators and general users should be aware of these attempts and avoid opening messages with attachments and/or subject lines related to 9/11.

This NCCIC Bulletin is being provided for your situational awareness because of the malicious cyber activity that is commonly associated and that precedes high profile events or the anniversaries of significant events. Both government agencies and private organizations could possibly become recipients of malicious activity, most commonly in the form of socially engineered spear-phishing emails. These emails will appear to originate from a reputable source, with the email subject closely aligned to the event and usually of interest to the recipient. The email in most cases will contain a malicious attachment with a subject name relevant to the event alluring the recipient to open. The attachment when opened will launch malware into the users system in most cases in the form of a key logger or remote access Trojans.

As always, please avoid opening emails from unknown sources.

More Veteran News

 

  • State Veterans Cemetery Is Expected To See Its First Interment. Paragould (AR) Daily Press  “The new Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery at Birdeye is expected to see its first interment in November.” Cemetery director Mark Frank said, “This is the perfect area and site for a veterans’ cemetery.” He added that “officials expect 150-200 burials a year in the new cemetery, which is expected to serve veterans within a 70-mile radius of the site.” It “will feature pre-prepared gravesites with burial vaults in the ground. For services, the topsoil will be removed along with the cover to receive the casket.”
  • House Moving Forward With Jobs Bill for Veterans. CQ  “The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee is moving ahead this week with a measure aimed at helping unemployed veterans rejoin the workforce” by giving opening Montgomery GI Bill benefits to 100,000 unemployed veterans, ages 35 through 64. The bill also would “strengthen work-leave protections afforded under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act” and create “a retraining grant program for homeless veterans.” Unlike the veterans jobs bill the Senate passed, this bill isn’t targeted at veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both bills “would make it mandatory for service members, before returning to civilian status, to go through the Transition Assistance Program.
  •  Sometimes Disabled Vets Lose Out In Divorce Settlements. Washington Times While federal regulations bar attachment of VA Service-Connected Disability Compensation, “divorce is a state matter and states regularly do what they want. The federal government does not challenge a state’s division of property in divorces settlements, and sometimes the veterans lose out.” The article also discusses the issues at Arlington National Cemetery then, without transition quotes “a recent defense of the VA Cemetery system” by Steve Muro, VA’s Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs. Muro said, “Our focus at the National Cemetery Administration always has been and always will be on veterans and their families – and how we can best serve them in their hour of need. … At all VA national cemeteries, families are free to choose and use the burial rites and rituals that are meaningful or sacred to them. During interments, the name of God or Jesus is not only allowed, it is freely spoken at VA national cemeteries across the country.”
  • Seizure Disorder Diagnosed Later In Veterans Than Civilians: HealthDay  A new study in Neurology showing that veterans with psychogenic non-epileptic seizure, which are “emotion-related seizures that are not caused by epilepsy” but rather “have a psychological origin” may “go undiagnosed for much longer than civilians with the condition.” Researchers are uncertain why that is the case, but suggest that “limited number of epilepsy monitoring units in VA medical centers” may contribute to the delay. Researchers “said a delay in diagnosis can prolong a patient’s disability.”  WebMD (9/7, Warner) quoted “Martin Salinsky, MD, of the Portland VA Medical Center and Oregon Health and Sciences University” as saying, “People with psychogenic seizures are often diagnosed with epilepsy and given drugs to treat epilepsy that do not help and can have serious side effects.” Salinsky also speculated that another reason for frequently misdiagnosing veterans with epilepsy “may be a tendency to accept a diagnosis of epilepsy in veterans because of their high rates of traumatic brain injury, which can often lead to epilepsy.”
  • The Silent Battle For Servicewomen: Sexual Assault. Philadelphia Inquirer Women in uniform “are being sexually harassed, abused, and assaulted at an alarming rate by their fellow soldiers and officers.” According to military leaders, “that misogyny is undermining troop readiness.” According to the VA, “one in five female veterans seeking health care say they have been subjected to sexual intimidation, threat, assault, or rape.” The agency “has been trying to spread the word that help is available, free and confidential.” While “the military maintains that sexual assault among troops is similar to date rape among college students,” Patricia Hayes, chief consultant for the VA’s health care for women, notes “that on a university campus, the victim can distance herself from her attacker.” Also, “when a soldier has been assaulted by someone in her unit, ‘there’s an incredible sense of betrayal,'” she said.
  • Calling All Women Veterans. Steubenville (OH) Herald Star The Ohio Women’s Veterans Conference, which is “co-sponsored by the Ohio Department of Veterans Services Advisory Committee on Women Veterans and the Department of Veteran Affairs, Veterans Administration Healthcare System of Ohio,” taking place in Columbus, Schelley Brooks, the assistant service officer with the Jefferson County Veterans Service Commission and member of the ODVS Advisory Committee, is doing legwork “to have a local presence at what she says will be an important gathering of Ohio’s women veterans.
  • Group Speaks Out About Veteran Suicide. KJCT-TV  “In conjunction with National Suicide Prevention Week, the Grand Junction VA held a course” at Colorado Mesa University on the rise in veterans suicides “A speaker from Denver talked to veterans and civilians about recognizing warning signs” and about PTSD.
  • Oregon Guard Ranks High In Soldier Suicides. KTVZ-TV  According to Oregon Partnership, “the Oregon National Guard is tied with Minnesota for the nation’s highest suicide rate, with 18 confirmed since 2007.” Furthermore, the Army is said to be “investigating 11 suspicious deaths among Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers so far in 2011, raising the possibility the base could surpass its previous peak of nine suicides in a year.” The group offers “real-time, anonymous counseling and crisis intervention for current service members, veterans and their families, as well as the general public” through its Military Helpline and suicide prevention Lifeline.
  •  Combat-Wounded Veterans Try To Climb Mount McKinley. Tampa Tribune In Denali 2011, the Combat Wounded Veteran Mountaineering Challenge, wounded veterans climbed Alaska’s Mount McKinley “to run groundbreaking tests on how prosthetics and transplanted lungs do under the duress of extreme weather and altitude. And they are here to prove that those who are severely hurt in battle can still accomplish greatness.” While the team stopped about a mile short of the summit, “the mission, to all concerned, is a stunning success.”
  •  War Gives Way To Financial Strife For Returning Veterans. Huffington Post  “The financial implications” of combat “are more nuanced” than the physical, “yet they reach large numbers of people for whom the consequences endure well after their tours of service have ended.” The allotment system that can save soldiers the hassle of reconnecting with creditors when they move also enable soldiers “to avoid learning how to manage…money” by paying all a soldier’s bills from their salaries. Additionally, “One in five veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or major depression, which can impose professional limitations, making it that much harder to secure a job and cover the bills.” Berlin illustrates these issues with the difficulties Brendan O’Byrne faced when he left the military.
  • VA Paying Billions To Agent Orange Victims. Warner Robins (GA) Patriot The VA “paid out more than $2.2 billion in retroactive benefits to Vietnam era veterans and their survivors since an August 2010 change in regulations” to assume that ischemic heart disease, hairy cell leukemia and other chronic B-call leukemias and Parkinson’s disease are related to Agent Orange exposure. In a news release, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki said, “VA is committed to ensuring veterans and their families receive the care and benefits they have earned.”
  • Classes Teach Coping With Mental Illness. Coos Bay (OR) World  The VA and the National Alliance on Mental Illness will offer Family-to-Family classes to tech “how to cope with a loved one’s mental illness.” The classes teach how “to defuse explosive situations and bring down high emotions, then deal with the underlying issues in a calmer moment.” VA counselor Mel Tucker said, “The classes show people how important it is to meet other families and find out how they’re dealing with the stress and emotion of it.” Tucker added that “the classes are for any family with a member who has any major mental illness, including post-traumatic stress disorder,” although the group meeting at the North Bend VA clinic “is particularly designed to meet the needs of veterans’ families, Tucker said.”
  • Veteran’s Crisis Line Saves Lives. WPIX-TV “When you think of the VA, some of the recent criticism of it…may come to mind, but at a small hospital in Canandaigua, New York, help is immediate and saves lives. … It was 2007 when Dr. Jan Kemp of the Veterans Administration was given a task: create a team of around the clock caring and confidential people…to talk a nation of veterans and their family through tough times and some, from even taking their own life.” VA’s Dr. Jan Kemp was shown saying, “We started out with under 100 calls a day…as of last month we have over 500 calls a day and we have had a total of over 450,000 people call.” WPIX added, “The veterans crisis line has saved 17,000 ready to end at all.” A short text version of this story can be found on the station’s website.
  • VA Opening Up Its E-Health Record. Federal News Radio  The VA took “a major step toward opening its electronic health record system to open source development” by launching the Web portal “where collaborative development on the electronic health record system will take place.” VA CIO Roger Baker said, “This has been two years in the making, and it’s huge.” Soon, the VA will “release the entire VistA system to the open source world.” According to Baker, “making the code freely available and conducting development work in the open will VA modernize its health record system in a more agile fashion over time, and others in the health IT world will be able to benefit from work VA has already done.”
  •  Who’s Satisfied At Their Job. Erie (PA) Times-News An article in the August issue of Academic Medicine found that VA “physicians who spend at least 20 percent of their time in research activities are more likely to have greater job satisfaction and report more favorable job characteristics.” Additionally, there was “higher job satisfaction among physicians conducting research in VA facilities located on the same campus or within walking distance of an affiliated medical school.” VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said, “Research and continuous learning are vital to improving the health and health care of Veterans.”
  • Some Maine Vets Upset At Closing Of Remote Clinic. AP  “Some Maine military veterans are upset that the Department of Veterans Affairs is planning to close a mobile health clinic in the town of Bingham.” 400 veterans from Somerset, Franklin and Piscataquis counties will have “to get medical help at the VA Maine Healthcare System in Togus.” The closing “is expected to save Maine’s VA system between $100,000 and $200,000.”
  • VA Will Not Extend Logan And Williamson Contracts. Huntington (WV) Herald-Dispatch  “The Huntington VA Medical Center will not extend the contracts held with LRB&T Corp. for the Logan and Williamson Community Based Outpatient Clinics when they expire on Sept. 30.” The VA-contracted Williamson Community Based Outpatient Clinic was closed in August when a routine inspection found “concerns for patient safety as well as sanitation/cleanliness issues, according to Huntington VA Medical Center director Edward Seiler.” VA Medical Center staff and administration say they plan to “conduct a market survey of the area to determine the interest of potential contractors in the event they pursue the option of a contract clinic.”
  • VA Offers Gift Cards For Female HIV Testing. Milwaukee Business Journal  “The Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center’s Women’s Health Program is giving away $20 gift cards” for the Pick ‘n Save or the medical center’s canteen “to women who come in for HIV testing in September” as “part of a grant received from the organization’s national HIV program.”
  • VA National Contracting Oversight System Inadequate, IG Says. Federal Computer Week  A VA IG audit found the Electronic Contract Management System (eCMS) used by the VA’s National Acquisition Center “is underused and inadequate for oversight.” Belinda Finn, assistant IG for audits and evaluation, found eCMS “must be supplemented by a second system” and its reports “are not reliable because information is missing or incomplete.” She also found that “contracting officers were not being held accountable for the untimely awarding of contracts.” The report’s recommendations include “that controls be established to monitor the use of the eCMS, along with performance requirements to hold contracting officers accountable for using the required system.” The recommendations were agreed with by VA officials who plan “to complete all corrective actions by September 2012.”
  •  SAIC Gets Government IT Contract. AP  “Science Applications International Corp. said Tuesday it was among 15 contractors that received a contract from the US Department of Veterans Affairs for information technology services” that “is part of the VA’s Transformation Twenty-One Total Technology program, which will improve the department’s information technology infrastructure in order to improve the quality of health care and benefits for veterans, their families and survivors.” Under the five-year base period contract that could be worth up to $12 billion overall, “SAIC will provide information technology services as needed, including services needed to integrate systems, networks, software and other information technology products.”
  • Sailor Who Deserted Long Ago Is Wanted Again In Norfolk. Norfolk (VA) Virginian-Pilot  James Everett “was sentenced to 21 months in prison after pleading guilty to fraud by using his now-dead brother’s first name to receive more than $60,000 in Veterans Affairs benefits.” He deserted from the Navy in 1985 after serving over 20 years, and now hasn’t reported to serving a 21-month sentence for fraud.

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